We know: You have questions. There's a lot to an event like this, and to your decision to be part of it. So we've attempted to answer the main questions we've been getting. Of course, if you don't find your answer here or somewhere else on the site, just shoot us an email and we'll follow up pronto.
To keep it as simple as possible, we've broken the questions down into the four following categories. Just click on a question to see the answer.
Will the event sell out?
More than likely it will sell out by the New Year.
I want to bring my non-riding friends and family; how can I bring them along?
Each rider must have a separate registration. If your child under 18 wants to ride, register him or her as part of your own registration (it'll make sense when you see the registration form). Any child under 18 must ride with his or her parent. For non-riders, we have a Travel Partner program set up so your travel companions can still come along and enjoy the week. Get the details elsewhere on this site under Planning. There will be activities in towns each day as much as possible, and we also plan to offer adventure-excursion options (for an additional fee). Options may include river rafting, fly fishing, hiking, shopping, and more. But two things: Travel Partners can't ride a bike on the route, and they can't bring a vehicle along; they have to travel by CGY vehicles, for safety and logistical reasons. We do not allow any personal vehicles or vehicle support on the route.
Can I volunteer?
Are you free for the whole week? Are you ready, willing and able to be a part of a power team that will be responsible for creating one of the most awesome and memorable cycling experiences ever? If so, then, yes, you can. Volunteer Information.
How do I make changes to my current registration? Or what if I have to cancel?
You can make changes by emailing Event Coordinator Jennifer Drinkwalter. Changes and cancellations must be in writing; we can't take cancellations or changes via phone call. You can see our Cancellation policy here.
Can I ride just one day, or just part of the week?
This event is based on all the riders being there all week. If you can only ride part of the week, you can register for the entire week and arrange with us to join or leave the event as needed.
What is the total elevation gain for the week?
What kind of gearing will I need for the climbing sections?
If you typically ride with a standard or compact double, your needs probably won't change for this ride. If you're not a strong climber, you should consider a triple crankset (three chain rings in the front). In either case, make sure you have enough gears to have a good range for extended uphills and downhills. Both the Chief Joseph and Beartooth pass are long sustained climbs of 4% to 7% grades. Day 2, Absarokee to Red Lodge has some steep short climbs of 8-12% across the rolling foothills.
What hours are the riders allowed on the course?
You'll have plenty of time to finish the route each day, but we know people have different daily rhythms. So the course will typically open at 7 am. each day, and it will officially close at 5 p.m. each day. Please don't start before 7 a.m. unless you are told to do so for weather or other purposes; the course will not be patrolled/monitored, and you will not be covered by our insurance or safety systems. Similarly, if you're still on the course at 5 p.m. you'll be offered a ride to the next camp in a SAG van.
How often will there be rest stops?
We will plan each route to have stops out every 15-25 miles. It will vary some depending on terrain and the sites available for stops. Please use your map provided on the first day to check the mileages you will have opportunity to eat and drink.
Could the route change from what is on the website?
Yes, it could. The route as described here is based on our advance planning, but between planning and the actual event, any number of things can change, including road construction projects, acts of nature, bureaucratic wrangling, etc. We'll adjust as needed.
Prep And Logistics
What kind of training is necessary for the ride?
There are two main elements involved: you must be able to do the miles and the climbing, and you must be able to comfortably ride at least five days out of six, including the first two days in a row. This is NOT a ride you can just casually show up for; you'd better have worked on building miles and seat time, as well as climbing. Weather will play a role - wind, rain, heat, snow - we’ve had it all. We have multiple 60+ mileage days with two long mountain passes. Start training in the spring as soon as the weather allows, and concentrate on extended climbs for mountain passes (low grades approximately 4% - 6%) as well as riding long on successive days.
What should I carry on my bike each day?
There are three main considerations here: food and drink, clothing, and mechanical gear. While we will have multiple water and rest stops along each day's route, in the end you're responsible for carrying enough liquid with you on the bike. We recommend two water bottles at a minimum, or the equivalent amount in any other hydration system. Always fill up at each stop. Hydrating at elevation is tricky, especially dry elevation. With our low humidity, you may not feel yourself sweat all day, but you're losing fluids - we promise. Keep drinking. If you come from a low elevation, your body will be working overtime to accommodate to higher elevation, increasing your need for fluids. Do not take drinking fluids lightly. Food should not be a problem if you're smart about having a steady intake; between breakfast, rest stops and lunch, you'll have plenty of food choices. If you do find yourself needing fuel on the route, SAG vans have snacks. Mornings can be brisk at the altitudes of our host towns, so you'll want to dress warmly to start out each day. Plan in layers; we'll have spots along the route where you can take off some clothing and drop it; it'll be delivered later that day. We will provide you with one emergency blanket to keep on you throughout the week should there be an emergency. You are in the mountains and weather comes in, even when it's unexpected. We'll have bike mechanics in camp and at the major stops of each day's route, and our SAG vans will be equipped to help out with minor mechanicals. But if you don't want to wait for a SAG van, it's wise to carry a basic flat-repair kit and pump or CO2 cartridges. Other than that, you really don't have to carry anything special. You might like to have a camera because the scenery will demand some photo stops along the way.
What do the SAG vans provide?
SAG stands for support and gear. They'll be stocked with water, snacks, a few bike-repair supplies, pumps, etc. Each SAG will have a driver as well as radio communication with event and course officials. They can also get in touch with our ambulance crews or law enforcement if needed. If you need a SAG's help, flag one down on the road. If you have a mechanical breakdown, they'll help you fix it if possible, get you to the next stop that has a mechanic, or carry you into camp. If you can't continue on the route because you're sick or exhausted, the SAG can take you to the next camp. But they will likely have to stop for other riders along the way, so you may not go directly to camp.
Where will we stay in each town?
We'll work with each host community to choose a site that works for them as well as for our needs. This can include centrally located parks and school grounds; we try to stay within walking distance of the core of each town whenever we can. But occasionally we encounter a section of route where it's not easy to find as much room as we need. Or maybe there's not really a town around. So we may have to set up our camp in the nearest suitable place. We will designate areas in camp for riders to pitch tents. We'll have our infrastructure set up nearby. If you're staying in local lodging, we have shuttles in each town, to get you and your baggage to and from camp.
Are hotels available in each town?
Where can I get information during the event?
In each camp there will be a centrally located Help Desk, where customer service volunteers will be available from early morning until bedtime to answer your questions and help with as many needs as possible. Don't hesitate to ask their help.
What if I have special dietary needs?
We will have vegetarian options available at every meal and all rest stops, as well as gluten-free items at every meal. While we will have gluten-free menu items, we do not have a gluten-free kitchen. We have limited availability to meet restricted dietary requirements on the road. If you require a special diet that we cannot accommodate, we can work with you to put your special food and snacks in our refrigerated units. Allergies: We must be told in your survey prior to the ride and it helps to email us the information as well. Please contact us.
What will cell/Internet/WiFi coverage be like?
Unpredictable and somewhat limited. Cell coverage will come and go depending on where we are on the route. Coverage is not always dependable in towns based on providers. We will not be able to provide an independent WiFi signal; if such a resource exists in a given town, our Help Desk volunteers will know about it. Of course, remember that one of the big draws for riding out in country like this is to get away. So go ahead and unplug yourself!
How can I keep my electronic devices charged?
We're planning to have a charging center set up in the CGY camp whenever possible, to make it more convenient than having to go into town to charge devices. However, we can't guarantee that charging will be available everywhere we go.
Nature, Weather, And The Cause
What kind of wildlife will I encounter on the route?
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is renowned for its wildlife, and chances are good that you'll see mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, eagles, hawks and possibly elk, moose, fox and bighorn sheep. Also possible are grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and bison, simply because in August many of these animals are at high elevations. Always be prepared to encounter wildlife on the road. These animals are wild and unpredictable. Stay at least 100 yards from bears and wolves, and 25 yards from all other wildlife.
Should I be concerned about grizzly bears or wolves?
Though Greater Yellowstone sports robust populations of both, they tend to shy away from people and will avoid large groups. Nevertheless, it is always important to be "bear aware." If you do see or encounter a bear, keep your distance. As for wolves, they also avoid people, and there has never been a documented case of an attack on humans in the contiguous United States. If you happen to see a wolf from the road, enjoy the moment – you're one of the lucky few in the world.
What will the weather be like?
Weather in Greater Yellowstone is highly unpredictable, even in August. Averages tend to be warm and dry (70s-80s) and nights cool (30s-40s), but be prepared for anything from stifling heat to snow. A typical day will begin clear and cool, with temperatures warming quickly by late morning. Afternoon cloud cover and thunderstorms are common. When storms do move through, they tend to last an hour or two and depart, leaving sunny days and clear nights. Because you'll be at elevations above 5,500 feet almost all week, you'll need all kinds of weather gear and sunscreen. Another factor in the area is the possibility of forest fires. Each summer is different - we're serious about that statement.
What is my entry fee used for?
Your entry fee covers the cost of staging current and future Cycle Greater Yellowstone events.