Wow! So, today was our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary (and my youngest sister’s 50th birthday! Happy Birthday, Linda!). What did we do to celebrate? We got up BEFORE the crack of dawn to try to beat the snow predicted for Beartooth Pass. We left camp about 6:15 AM. Steve rides so much faster than I do, that we decided today we would ride separately, at our own pace. On most days, he would either ride at my pace or ride ahead and circle back. The great thing about rides like CGY is that everyone looks out for each other, so you are never really alone. Our CGY friends are the best! Plus, CGY has the best SAG (Support and Gear) ever and I am not kidding.
Cyclists were asked not to leave camp until 7:30 AM due in an effort to avoid congestion as vans carried workers to the Stillwater Mine. I LOVE a later start-time! Riders could take a longer route today, all the way to Nye, then back to Absarokee and on to Red Lodge. The ride to Nye was an out-and-back. We had heard that it was a beautiful ride and decided to do the full ride.
We stopped for a quick rest-stop in Fishtail, then headed to Nye; all uphill. There was a headwind for most of the morning which is never terribly fun. Headwinds make me have to pedal harder and I have more trouble relaxing to enjoy to surrounding beauty. We also had to contend with big, big trucks going to the mine. Thankfully, the trucks were informed of our presence and were courteous and usually gave us room on the road.
In Nye, our rest-stop was at their one-room school-house. We had the best cookies and lemonade from a sweet girl raising money for her 4-H club! The school has less than ten students and the teacher lives in a little house behind school. I cannot imagine what it would be like to teach in a school like this; it is still the frontier in this area of the country! (Notice the old merry-go-round in the school-yard.)
We arrived in Red Lodge late in the afternoon of the 15th, parked our car in long-term parking at the Red Lodge High School, and walked back to the park in the center of town where we were camping. On the way, we saw these two bucks sparing.
We arrived at Yellowstone National Park on the afternoon of August 13. Yellowstone is amazing on so many levels. There is such a variety of landscapes; every vista creates a new definition for beauty. Though we wished to be different from every other visitor-tourist, we were compelled to take multiple pictures of the abundant wildlife. The bison and elk, in particular, were fun to watch and are magnificent creatures. Our visit was the perfect prelude to our ride through the greater ecosystem; Yellowstone is a treasure worth protecting.
I am sure that you’ve wondered what happened to us! I have neglected this blog, partly trying to figure out how to write about our most recent adventure. In August, we cycled in Wyoming and Montana with Cycle Greater Yellowstone. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition organizes the tour as a fundraiser. Their mission is to protect the ecosystem surrounding Yellowstone National park to ensure its wildness for us and for future generations. They advertise the trip as “a wonderful and economical way to spend a rewarding week experiencing one of the most extraordinary landscapes on earth.” There is no question about the extraordinary landscapes, but the “rewarding”-part is what I have struggled to think about and explain.
We participated in Cycle Greater Yellowstone tour last year when it began on the western side of Yellowstone in Jackson Hole, WY. It was a hard ride, with a couple of days of really, really cold and nasty weather. The scenery was spectacular and we loved meeting the interesting people from all over the country. The ride was extremely well-organized, with great support, wonderful food, and nice overnight stops.
Day 7 began in Auburn and took us back to where we started in Cortland, NY! It has been a fun week. We rode 45 miles today and a total of 398 miles this week! Steve easily went over the 400 mark because he frequently rides ahead then circles back to find slow-me. We saw more pretty, pretty farms; many of today’s were dairy farms with all the accompanying smells that we love (seriously!). We rode through the village of Skaneateles, along the shore of Skaneateles Lake, to the banks of Otisco Lake, through the town of Preble, through the village of Homer, to Cortland.
Wow! Day 6 was 59 miles from Geneva, through the village of Cayuga, the village of Union Springs, the village of Aurora, to the city of Auburn. All along the way today, we saw yard sale after yard sale and wished we could stop to look. The route took us along more highways today, which is not quite as fun as back country roads. It requires more vigilance. We saw more farms…. We had lunch in a nice little place, Foster’s Pub, in Aurora that served the very best loaded grilled cheese sandwich.
Day 5 was considered a lay-over day, if we wanted it–meaning that riding was optional. The long ride was 100-miles; the regular route was 48. I’ve done one 100-mile ride (century) in my life and swore never to do another. So far, so good, on that promise! We rode 52 miles to Sampson State Park, a re-purposed WWII training base and also went through the nice little town of Waterloo, then back to Geneva. Waterloo bills itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day. (A nice bit of trivia!) We stopped at one winery, but it was early and they were closed.
Day 4 was probably the very best day of riding. We rode 58 miles from Keuka to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. The weather was as perfect as you can get, cool (for us) and a little breezy…weather that in Georgia would be nice-fall-weather. The ride included hills, but lots of long descents, which are so very fun! What you don’t want to see when cycling and approaching a long downhill is a sign that says “fresh oil, loose stone.” Fresh oil and loose stone are what we refer to in Georgia as “tar and gravel,” or in BRAG-terms “shake and bake,” and it is pretty tricky to ride on with road bike tires. Thankfully, we both made it to the bottom without incident!
Day 3 was a 48 mile circle out into the countryside and back to Keuka College. It was nice being able to leave the tent up and not having to pack up before leaving. Normally, we take down the tent and pack up our belongings that are then transported by baggage truck to the next camping site. Normally, bags are unloaded by the time we arrive, we find our bags and put up our tent before showering and relaxing. Because this was an out-and-back, we got some extra relaxation time!