2014 Cycle Greater Yellowstone, Day 0
People keep asking how our cycling vacation was on Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014.
Bugman responds “Great!”
I reply “Challenging!”
It was certainly both of those.
You cannot beat the scenery on this ride. It was my first time seeing the Tetons (also my first time being in Idaho), and I think I am in love. My photos (mostly taken from the backseat of a tandem bicycle) do not do the scenery justice.
And the experience is not just seeing the scenery. On a bike, you are IN the scenery. It’s visceral. You can smell the sagebrush and the pine. You can feel the gushes of cool air cascading down the mountainsides. Much preferable to a car tour!
But with mountainous scenery comes climbing those mountains. The official CGY site boasts of 20,000 feet of climb over the 2014 course. Somehow, my mapping software, which we had trouble with because our phones kept dying while searching for signal in remote areas (wish I had read this discussion thread before the ride), measured 31,681 feet of climb!
I am proud that we did not SAG, not even on the rainy, windy days.
I think we had an easier time last year, since we missed the two main mountain pass climbs due to mechanical failure and forest fire, plus we’d been training for a marathon in 2013. This year, we rode every mile on the route, save for the “square” west of Driggs/Victor and the optional Sinks Canyon ride. This is definitely a ride you need to be in good shape for!
Yet this was not a ride solely for the stereotypical thin, young cyclist. There were a lot of 60-70-year-olds, as well as people like me, who buy cycling clothing in XL sizes and up.
When cycling in remote, beautiful mountainous areas, you also have to expect environmental challenges that are part and parcel of many a distance cycle tour: road construction, rain, the occasional jackass driver.
But the incredible organization and support offered by CGY helped to counterbalance those challenges. Yes, there were a few breakdowns in the organizational system along the way, but nothing critical. Though by the way some of the whiners on the trip responded, you would get the impression they thought the organizers were TORTURING THEM ON PURPOSE. Geez, people. Get a grip!
Speaking of people, I don’t know what the difference was between last year’s CGY and this one, but we made a lot more “ride friends” this time around.
A shout out to Bob and Linda from Oregon, Tom and Pat from Minnesota, Rhonda and Kurt from Georgia, Jody from Cody, and to Greg, Tom, Al, Mark, Greg, and all the other people we shared great meals and conversation with, whose names currently escape me (whether due to memory loss over time, or perhaps the quantity of beer consumed that particular evening).
Here’s the CGY rider map from 2014. It was fun when we could match up the people we met to their pins on the map. It was pretty easy to find our pins. Bugman and I were the only two from western Nebraska; a total of four of us represented the Cornhusker state this year.
It was kind of funny that several people recognized me and/or Bugman from last year’s blog posts. I was pleased that a few of them said something along the lines of “Oh! I read your blog! It’s part of why we signed up for the ride.”
“That’s called ‘impact factor,’” Bugman said.
So, to give a brief overview of life on the CGY ride for the newbie, some general info and images.
This is a well-supported ride. There are caterers and shower trucks, first aid service and SAG wagons, water and snack stops, gear haulers and (usually) plenty of porta-potties.
You can camp in your own tent, rent a Sherpa Service tent, or get a shuttle ride to and from hotel rooms along the way.
Every night in camp, there is locally-sourced adult beverages and entertainment.
And throughout the ride, there are hundreds of volunteers who support this little traveling city of cyclists, who help with food service, site setup, cleanup, rest stops, information services, and on-course encouragement. I’m grateful to these folks, and to the businesses and landowners who helped make this ride possible, enjoyable, and incredible.