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Day 5 - Missoula, Montana to Butte, Montana
134 miles
4850' climbing

I rejoined a smaller Team Extreme for the day. Robert from New York was starting to have some trouble with his achilles tendon and was trying to take things easier. Let me regress for a minute here. It almost seemed that riders could only come on this trip if they found another rider sharing their name, since in our small group, we had two Roberts (and a Bob), two Pamelas, two Craigs, two Martys, two Johns, two Eds, two Kurts, two Jerrys, three Mikes and three Dans. This is why I sometimes refer to folks by name and state!

Just before lunch, we encountered another friendly policeman who watched as riders rolled up to a stop sign, looked and turned right if clear, without coming to a complete stop. He then pulled up alongside us and announced over the loud speaker that we had broken the law. This was our last bad encounter with law enforcement in the 3400 mile trip. I really am a very cautious law abiding rider, never running traffic lights, and always careful at stop signs, but when I can clearly see that no cars are approaching a stop sign, I do not think it is necessary to put a foot down.

Our group shrunk a little after lunch, since we had a major climb. The climb was about 5 miles of 8% with a few switch backs and some really great views. We seemed to be following a stream at first, but as it got steeper, the stream became a waterfall. At the top we were rewarded with incredible views of Georgetown Lake, surrounded by beautiful snow covered peaks. I stopped for a few photos and connected with Ray and Robert. The other riders had started down the great descent on the other side. A flat about halfway down gave us a second chance at picture taking and regrouping.

At the final rest stop, Robert was really starting to have trouble with his achilles, and I was feeling a bit tired myself. The three of us tried to stay together, but Robert really seemed to need to ride alone. He kept insisting we go on. So we split up for the final 20 miles. It was a tough section, with a lot of interstate riding, headwinds and long gradual grades. The last few miles were kind of scary, as we hit bridges with only one lane open and no shoulder. I rolled into the hotel really wiped out. I didn't think I could feel much worse. (Little did I know that I would consider this one of my better days later on). I talked to Pete about a booster shot the next day in the form of a tandem ride. We decided to ride from the first rest stop to the second. Jim and Diane would get the pleasure of riding the bike over the Continental Divide. Then we'd get to change pedals and my saddle and head out.

Robert decided that his tendon needed a day off and planned to take the sag the next day. It was a tough decision. We all came to do the whole ride, and it had to be heartbreaking to have to sag. The flu and various injuries had already taken a lot of riders down for a few days. Robert would definitely not be the only one to take a ride in the van. I would certainly do whatever I could to avoid it short of endangering my life. In the end, it was cool that no distinction was made between those who rode every inch and those who didn't. I'm really proud that I made it all under my own steam, but if that van had come along at the right time on the West Yellowstone day, it might have been a different story.