July 2008

North to South Tour - Day 30

07/24/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Dubois, Wyoming
To: Lander, Wyoming
Today: 75 miles - 1703 miles total

A tale of two rides, in one day.

We had a nice stay at the Rocky Mountain Lodge. It is located on the northwest side of town. The owner is a fellow cyclist, and went out of his way to make sure SeeMore was taken care of properly! Thank you! We were debating whether to take a day off in Dubois or venture on. We needed to visit the bank, which didn't open to 9:00. Because it was going to be a hot day (temperatures in the high 90's) and it was going to be a high mileage day, we needed to be on the road early. Dubois is a one street town, with a population of about 1,000 people. It has charm, but not really that much to do. So we had breakfast Cowboy Cafe, and were not disappointed. After the bank and an Rear Admiral break, we were on our way at 9:30 am.

The red buttes and the Wind River for the first 10 miles were beautiful and had us captured. Then the landscape changed to nothing but sage bush and desert. Rte 26/287 was very quiet (BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING OUT HERE!); we had a tailwind and we were losing elevation on the rolling landscape. We must have been averaging 18 mph, which for SeeMore, is a Tour de France winning speed. We made it to Crowheart (population 165, maybe) with little effort, and had Gatorade. You know you're in the a remote area, when they charge you 50 cents to fill up your water bottles. We then continued to sail to the rest area near the intersection where 26 breaks away from 287. A great place to have lunch. The information sign at the rest area describing this area as a dry, desolate, desert is very accurate. So we had cycled 35 miles by then, and I made the comment...if there was a stop beyond Landers....this would be an easy 100 miler day. Boy was I wrong.

We had a short but steep climb for the first 2 miles on Rte 287, then as we were almost on top of the butte, a white 2003 Honda van with a group of teenagers in it...threw a water balloon at SeeMore, hitting me in the left shoulder blade. It didn't break until it hit the ground, and because we were so surprised...we did not get the license plate. It was really no big deal, but in the middle of sage bush after sage bush....it woke us up! We all had moments in our teenage years that we have something we thought was cool, it was just payback time for us. Then we started down the butte, and what should have been fast sailing, turned to a hard grind against the wind. Imagine miles and miles of sage bush, it looks like your going down hill...and your pedaling as hard as you can, going 5 mph. Then things went from bad to worst. There were dark clouds on the horizon, and the wind started to gust at 50 mph (we are guessing). It blew SeeMore clear across the road, after correcting and getting back on our side....the wind blew SeeMore again across the road AND blew his front chain off. About a quarter mile, down the road there was a side road which we finally cycled to. We were 8 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of sage bush with gusting wind. So we just sat for an hour and a half. At some point, the wind knocked SeeMore over. He was leaning pretty heavy on a stop sign post, and he is no light weight (at 100 + pounds), so you can see just sitting there on the side of the road was quite challenging!

With the black skies heading away from us, we resumed our cycling into Fort Washakie (population 300, maybe). As you can imagine, it was a tough ride. We filled up our water bottles again (50 cents per) and had an ice cream sandwich and candy bar to go along with our Gatorade. The last 15 miles into Landers was headwinds, crosswinds, or tailwinds. We are here in Landers living large in a hotel. We are a little weather beaten, but are in good spirits.

North to South Tour - Day 29

07/23/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Colter Bay, Grand Tetons NP
To: Dubois, Wyoming
Today: 66 miles - 1628 miles total

Todays ride is dedicated to Aunt Sheila and Uncle Al, we're in cowboy country now!

Touring lesson number 157, Never sleep near the group camping sites if you can, especially if a youth group of young energetic teenagers pulls in a 10 pm and have to prepare dinner and wash up after. the Rear Admiral was kept up by all the noise coming from the group sites. As for me...well I was in the Prince of Wales II, it was raining....and it was a dark deep sleep. For the second straight day, we packed up a soggy Prince of Wales II, and headed for breakfast buffet, this time at Colter Bay. The buffet was very good, and priced correctly. Then we cycled the rest of Grand Teton's National Park from Colter Bay to Moran Junction. The Rear Admiral asked for so many photo stops, that I didn't think we would get anywhere today. Which was just fine with me. The scenery was spectacular. Too soon we were at Moran Junction. Next up, 26 miles to the top of Togwotee Pass (9,658 ft.) and another Continental Divide crossing (our eighth for this trip). The elevation in Moran Junction is about 6800 ft.

We have been asked many times if we ride SeeMore up all of these passes. The answer is this: in all the miles we have been with SeeMore, we have only walked SeeMore once, for about 50 feet in Nova Scotia....until the Rear Admiral called me a wimp.....(talk about hurting a man's pride). Today we did not walk SeeMore again, however, today we did "cheat". We weren't given a choice. Due to road construction on Rte 26/287 (they are trying to widen it), we had to ride with Seemore in the pilot truck through two construction zones. At the first flag person, we were told that the construction was 2 miles long and we were not allowed to cycle it. So when the pilot truck came by, SeeMore, the Rear Admiral, and I were hoisted into the back of the white pick-up truck. We gained 300 free feet of elevation as we rode in the pilot truck. At the second flag person, again we were not allowed to cycle. This time we rode in another white pick-up truck (the pilot truck) for an 8th of a mile, gaining 150 free feet of elevation. So can we count climbing Togwotee pass? We will let you be the judge. Togwotee Pass was a steady climb, only a couple of times were we in the lowest gear. The Rear Admiral's main comment was that this was one of the prettiest "non-parks" climbs we have done in all of our riding. I have to agree. Rte 26/287 was not very busy (we expect this to change when the road widens) and we had most of the ride to ourselves thanks to the two major areas of construction. We could tell when the pilot truck lead a group of vehicles, because there would be a line of vehicles....then when they were gone it became very quiet. The views were mountain meadows with a profusion of wild flowers. Nine miles down the other side of the pass, we stopped for a Philly cheese steak, fries, and a hot fudge brownie sundae! Ride...eat....ride....eat.....

We are living large, in a hotel in Dubois, Wyoming. The Rear Admiral's sister Shelia and her husband Alan once called Dubois home . Tonight on the phone we got good advice from them about where to eat, and what to do from them. We promise not to wander too far off the road into the sagebrush during the ride to Rawlins. Living one pedal at a time, putting one foot in front of the other sure feels right, even if you don't have cowboy boots.

North to South Tour - Day 28

07/22/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Grant Village, Yellowstone NP
To: Colter Bay, Grand Tetons NP
Today: 47 miles - 1562 miles total

We had an EXCELLENT buffet breakfast at Grant Village after we packed up a soggy Prince of Wales II. We then cycled 20 miles to the south entrance of Yellowstone. Our cylcing found us following along Firehole River and the large canyon it formed. We stopped for a short hike to see some falls, and then crossed the Continental Divide (our seventh time on this trip). After exiting Yellowstone southern gate, we cycled along the John Rockafeller parkway, it seems like there was an explosion of wildflowers along both sides of this highway. What a beautiful ride, and this was before the first views of Jackson Lake and the Tetons.

We then entered Grand Teton's National Park, and there was Jackson Lake and the Teton's. WOW!!! Imagine riding for a couple of hours, with a large lake and snow dotted mountains. The neat thing about the Tetons, is that there are no foothills, the mountains look like grow right out of the lake. The Rear Admiral took photo after photo, and we stopped and stopped. This is one of the Rear Admiral's favorite National Parks.

We stopped in Colter Bay, and set up camp at 2:30, then spent the rest of the day staring at the scenery. Before returning to our campsite, we spent some time at the visitor center. We watched a presentation on the Grand Tetons. It answered a number of questions I have been asking myself. Are the Rockies getting taller, and why Jackson Hole? The Grand Tetons are indeed growing at the same time that the valley is shrinking. The Grand Tetons are getting more impressive with every earth shift in this region! Also, a "hole" is another name for a valley. The first trappers that came west would always call the valleys between the mountains a "hole". So, it is the town of Jackson, which is located in Jackson Hole (along with Jackson Lake). I have mistakely called the town, Jackson Hole, for a long time. Guess who was at the campsite next to ours? Yup, our fellow bicycle tourist Lavern. We never expected to see him again! Here in Colter Bay we are at the hiker/biker sites, which are also clustered together with the group camping sites. It is a beautiful campground and as we set up and dry out it is very quiet and peaceful.

The Prince of Wales II had time to dry out, but it looks pretty good for another soaking. The clouds coming over the mountains are casting dark shadows, and there is a smell of rain in the air. No showers tonight, because of the extra long line at the showers.

North to South Tour - Day 27

07/21/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: West Yellowstone, Montana
To: Grant Village, Yellowstone NP
Today: 58 miles - 1515 miles total

Everyone....Go and Cycle Yellowstone, but read this log entry first.

First, unless you are running on a bad tire and need to find a bicycle shop, don't go into West Yellowstone. It is very busy with tourist and over priced. Most of the restaurants and grocery stores are very crowded and as a result we had a HORRIBLE dinner at the Coachman Steakhouse on Madison Avenue. Don't go don't go don't go! It sealed our experience with West Yellowstone. We are not into the tourist scene, so if you like gift shops or nick nacks, West Yellowstone is for you. Even in the morning when we had pancakes at Old Town Cafe, and they were shorthanded; the pancakes and LumberJack special were ok but it sure took a long time.

We had a very FULL day today. We started at 7:00 am, and ended at 7:00pm. We entered the west gate of Yellowstone National Park and for the first 14 miles to Madison Junction there was a TON of traffic! Throughout our time in Yellowstone National Park there was little to no road shoulder. However, after the first (seeming never ending) group of visitors passed us, We totally stopped caring about the cars/buses/trucks/campers. We obeyed the road laws, and stayed as far to the right as possible (and safe), but we "zoned" them out. We just followed the mantra "we have as much as a right to be there as anyone else, so tough nuggies!", IT WORKED. Here are some other secrets. Pedal into every turn off, pull in, picnic area, overlook, etc. Most people are trying to get from point A to point B, and these allow you quiet oasis (and great views) of Yellowstone. If there are two lanes, take the right one....ride in the very middle. Traffic has to go between 25 mph and 45 mph, and in most cases you can be seen from a great distances. If you going to eat in Yellowstone (and we highly recommend it, both the price, quality and quantity of the food), eat at an odd time. AND you do not need reservations to camp, there are plenty of hiker/biker sites.

Signs of the forest fire that decimated Yellowstone Park in 1988 is disappearing. There is a lot of young tree growth, and these trees were planted natural by Mother Nature. It was amazing to see the difference from the last time we were here in 2000. Although we did not see a lot of wild life, we had a BLAST. We saw geysers, mud pots, painted pots, funnels, waterfalls, hot springs, and Old Faithful (but he did not blow!). We took in walks and hikes, and just enjoyed it ALL. After lunch (2:30) at the Old Faithful cafe, we climbed two mountain passes; Craig Pass (8,261 ft.) and Gary's Pass (actually our name for it - 8,391 ft.). "Gary's Pass" was our tallest pass, to date, and we have now crossed the Continental Divide 6 times! These passes were just steady rides, and since we were already at 7300 ft. at Old Faithful, they were less challenging.

We cycled into the Grant Village campground tired (and just ahead of the rain!) but not from the cycling. We were tired because of everything we did during the day. We didn't rush, we had plenty of time for everything...it was just one thing after another. We set up The Prince of Wales II and stored everything inside. Got on SeeMore, and cycled to the showers as the rain came down. Why did we need showers, when Mother Nature was doing such a fine job! But the Rear Admiral says SHOWERS, and that is what we do. We ended up eating our backpacking dinner in the rain. Later, after dinner, we had a neighbor stop by and talk to us about cycling. He is from St. Louis, and he recommend doing the Katy trail....which is on our list.

For me, this was the best way to see Yellowstone....on a bicycle.

North to South Tour - Day 26

07/20/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Cameron, Montana
To: West Yellowstone, Montana
Today: 65 miles - 1457 miles total

The Prince of Wales II provided both occupants with a restful night sleep. Two tent sites over from us, was Lavern! What a riot it has been bumping into him! Oatmeal and Oranges comprised our breakfast, we decamped, and were on the road at 8:00. We countinued this adventure by cyling down (south) Rte 287 through the Madison Valley (photo above). Unlike the rest of Montana, there are very little "for sale" signs in this rich area. 11,000 ft - snow dotted mountains were on our left side for the whole ride until we entered the Missouri flats. Our riding was pretty much up and down today, and we did end the day at 6500 ft. (we started off 5300 ft). After the Missouri flats, we were completely surrounded by mountains and trees. What a beautiful ride today!

We stopped by the Earthquake Lake visitor center and watched the presentation on how it was formed. Just like in Frank, Alberta, there was a giant earthquake (hence the name for the lake) in 1959 which triggered a landslide of epic proportions. The landslide (photo below) killed 28 people, and blocked the Madison river....forming Earthquake Lake. Again, Mother Nature will never be tamed.

Wild flowers, birds and forest helped us cycle up towards the junction of Rte 191 and Rte 287. We stopped at a fly fishing shop / cafe for lunch. The food was ok, but there were 6 people running the establishment, and 18 customers wanting lunch. It took us over an hour to have lunch. Our bill came to 12 dollars.....so if one divides 12 by 6 (forgetting the cost of the food, electric, heat, building, etc.) one must conclude the real money making endeavor is the fly fishing store. Since we are not in a rush (if we were...we would not be traveling by SeeMore express) it gave our legs plenty of recoup time. The rest of Rte 287 follows Hebgen Lake, and it was a real treat cycling along the shore of this large lake.

When Rte 191 merges with 287 (our last 8 miles into West Yellowstone) the traffic got heavy. Two miles from West Yellowstone, SeeMore's back tire found a wire (from a blown retread truck tire) and started to hissssssss. So our 13 dollar tire almost made it 70 miles into West Yellowstone! Again, we took everything off SeeMore and then patched the tube. This might sound like sour grapes...but I hope not. We are so blessed that the small town of Ennis Montana had a tire in the first place AND that this inexpensive tire carried a whole lot of weight for 70 miles! SeeMore is now sporting a new touring tire in the back (it is NOT yellow!).

Tonight we are in tourist town USA, West Yellowstone. We are living large in a hotel room. Again we have somewhat nostalgic accommodations, the kitchenette has a Norge refrigerator and the decor in the room is from the same era. There are some vacancies in town. We are sure that this town would be a lot busier, if the gas prices weren't so high. So we are hoping this trend of a smaller crowed follows us into Yellowstone. We been busy doing laundry, food shopping, and exploring West Yellowstone. We will be in the National Parks for a couple of days, so our log might have to wait a bit.

North to South Tour - Day 25

07/19/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Twin Bridges, Montana
To: Cameron, Montana
Today: 59 miles - 1392 miles total

Congratulations Rick and Jennifer! We are truly sorry to miss your wedding!

We had quite an adventure today. We got off on the wrong foot, The Rear Admiral and I were not in tandem this morning as we cycled out of Twin Bridges. The Rear Admiral DID NOT like the cadence I was offering. What she did not understand was that we were experiencing headwinds and a slight climb. I was in between gears, and not too happy....either, too high or too low. The disagreement lasted about 15 seconds. But I just want to state, for the record, that she was right and I was wrong!

During the morning we were on "quiet" Rte 287, and the cycling was great. We spent the late morning and lunch exploring Virginia City. Virginia City is an old (1860's) mining town that at one time had almost 10,000 residences in the hills surrounding Nevada City and Virginia City. It was a treat to look at the old architecture and furnishings, and walk the wooden sidewalk. In the bank/now jewelry store where they still use the original vault, the gentleman behind the counter showed us red garnets that were found in the area (along with gold). There was alot of dredging mining done around here in the late 1800 early 1900's. This type of mining uses a very big dredge which chews along the riverbed spitting out pile of rock and gravel. As you ride along you see this long winding tails of rock mounds. We read a sign stating that some of the gold taken out of this area, actually helped to finance Harvard University? We had lunch in town, chicken hawaiian sandwiches(which were very tasty). And then it was time to climb up out of this valley, and into Madison Valley. The pass had no name (so we named it SeeMore's pass), it was a steady climb to reach 7000 ft. a little steeper then a few others we've done. We made it to the top in about an hour and it was going down is when the adventure really started for today.

It is a very steep drop into Madison Valley, and at 30 mph; SeeMore's back tire blew! There was a rip in the sidewall, we are not sure what caused it. I thought it was maybe the rear brakes, but under close examination...it doesn't appear so. We slowed down, and finally stopped. SeeMore stayed very stable, but still it got our hearts beating pretty fast. We were about 10 miles from Ennis, and had a whole in the sidewall of the rear tire. I patched the tube, and folded up a dollar bill and placed inside, over the hole in the tire. We put everything back on SeeMore and continued slowly down the very steep hill, until we were at the bottom....when the dollar bill trick failed, and the tire popped again, with a really nice loud backfire, BANG! Again I took everything off SeeMore, patched the tube, used duck tape to fill the gap, refilled the tube, and then put everything back onto SeeMore. I have used a lot of "I"s in the paragraph above, but it was a true team effort. The Rear Adminal made the experience painless.

We limped into Ennis and found the hardware store, where they had one bicycle tire left....the exact size we needed. However, SeeMore now has a yellow sidewall back tire.....it clashes with his orange paint job. We just keep telling him, it's a fashion statement. After 3 tire changes, we needed pie! So we went to the Ennis cafe, and had fresh strawberry pie and homemade banana cream.

Tonight we are in the beautiful Madison Valley. The snow dotted Cedar Mountains are on our east (we are traveling south) and this is RICH ranch land. Cameron is so small, it doesn't have a population on our map. The Prince of Wales II is up, and we are looking forward to some much deserved shut eye.

North to South Tour - Day 24

07/18/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Jackson, Montana
To: Twin Bridges, Montana
Today: 88 miles - 1333 miles total

Happy Birthday Dustin! We miss you!

We are sitting in the Twin Bridges Library, and they close at 7:00 on a Friday. So I am going to write this in haste....there will be a lot of mistakes.

The above photo captures our view of Big Hole Valley for the morning pedal. This valley is 460 square miles and you can see FOREVER! We made it up Big Hole Pass without stopping, it was just a steady climb. At the top of the pass was an exhibit on Lewis and Clark and beaverslides. Beaverslides (see photo below) are large hand-manufactured devices made from lodge pole pine and fir, which they use to stack the hay they grow each year to get their livestock through the winter. After the exhibit, we went down the other side of Big Hole Pass and SeeMore has a new maximum speed record, 51.1 mph! It is SeeMore's gift to Dustin for his birthday. The next Pass was 18 miles after Big Hole. Badger was also just a steady climb, and when we reached the summit, we celebrated with an orange. Rte 278 has very little traffic on it, and was a pleasure to bike.

We cycled down into Dillon Montana, just missing a bad hail storm. Bill came up riding his sleek bicycle when we were about 1 mile from Dillon center. He had just come down the pass behind us, and was caught in the storm. He "escorted" us to Papa T's, a local restaurant. The portions were large, the service was good, and the price was inexpensive. Thanks Bill!!!!

From Dillon to Twin Bridges we cycled Rte 41, and for the first 10 miles we had very wide shoulders! Then the shoulders disappeared, but the traffic didn't. We cycled into Twin Bridges with a very bad lighting/rain shower closing in fast.

Tonight we are in Twin Bridges (population 400), at the Kings hotel. We are being taken to the cleaners for this 1950's room, but we will be warm and dry...ready for tomorrow's adventure.