Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Century in Yellowstone!---100.8 miles Aug 5

Today was a great day! One if the best rides ever! I started at Flagg Ranch, which is about two miles from the south  entrance to Yellowstone Park. Once in the park, I had a significant climb of about 800 ft, but of more concern, as I was warned, was the lack of shoulders on the road. Traffic was way heavier than I wanted it to be on a Monday morning, but fortunately, the climb had a lot of straight always, and the visibility for the traffic was pretty good. I had no troubles, and many thumbs up from the four wheelers. Even the motor homes and people towing were pretty good. I have been very fortunate with traffic this entire trip. From the beginning, I followed the Lewis River upstream, which is just a beautiful river. Of course, any river in the mountains is my favorite natural occurrence . At about 7800 ft, I came to Lewis Lake, from which the Lewis River was draining. Lewis Lake is a HUGE lake, but nothing compared to Yellowstone Lake. I then took a short break at Grant Village Visitors Area, where the roads picked up shoulders, even though they are only about two foot, rather than the four foot that bikers like.  After some rollers, I came to Yellowstone Lake. I was going around the shoreline, when Pam and Buddy caught up and pulled over. They had waited back in Moran Junction for the mail to come, so we could receive all our mail which was forwarded to us, general delivery. I was about 35 miles into the ride, and Buddy joined me for the last 65 miles or so. Yellowstone Lake is a big body of water. It had its own sea gulls, in Wyoming! There were some whitecaps and the wind blowing across it was pretty potent, but it soon turned into a tail wind. We picked up the Yellowstone River and followed it downstream.  We had a great ride into the next visitor area, called Canyon Village, and we stopped and had some lunch. Buddy used bicycle clips or the first time in his life today, and he seems to like them. Way back in North Carolina, I bought a new pair of shoes and clips, and Bud fits into the old shoes, which really aren't that old.
From Canyon Village, we had a climb past a  thermal basin and up to about  8200 ft. Then the fun part of the ride began. We rode downhill to Norris Village, another visitor area. We turned north there, towards the north entrance to the park. The road became less traveled since we weren't doing one of the loops inside the park, and the shoulders disappeared for the last 22 miles out of the park. As we approached the north areas of the park, we were pleasantly surprised by the downhills, the scenery, particularly Mammoth Village, and the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Mammoth Village is the oldest, most historical visitors site in the park, and the village is basically made up of old Fort Yellowstone, where the Calvary was stationed to police the park, before the National Park Service was formed.    From there we ride screamer downhills out of the park and ended our day at about 5200 ft, in the town of Gardiner, Montana. According to my Garmin GPS, I climbed 3667 ft today over 100 miles, but descended 5108 ft, and most of it was at the last twenty miles. That is a nice way to finish after such a long day. The very north end of the park became very rocky, with huge boulders, as we descended  down to meet the Yellowstone River in Gardiner, after we had lost it for a while. In Gardiner, we left the park by way of the famous Roosevelt Arch, which Teddy Roosevelt had built, and it is the iconic symbol of Yellowstone, the very first national park. Pam had found a campsite on a hill overlooking town, gone shopping, and made macaroni and cheese, with ham and cauliflower in it for some carbohydrate deprived men. Buddy once again increased the furthest ride of his life to over 65 miles. It was the easiest century ride I can ever remember doing, as well as one of the most beautiful.
As we rode through the park we got a great feel for what we wanted to see in the northern half, and the next day or two will be for recovering, and visiting new sections of this huge park.

The last part of the trip from Norris Village to Gardiner was a nail biter in a motorhome!  The road is very narrow, no shoulders, (if you go off the road, you go off the cliff), and very tight, windy curves!  When I got to the campground, I met the two motorcyclists who followed me down most the crazy part, and they said I did an awesome job coming down the mountain!  They were very impressed!  Yea, me!!


Looking down at the Lewis River


This road actually crosses the Continental Divide 3 times!

Yellowstone Lake

SAG wagon (that's a support vehicle for cyclists) alongside the Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone River - which is, by the way, the longest river in the US without a dam!

Name that butt!

It's a bighorn sheep!

Top of the Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance to Yellowstone

My men finishing their bike ride thru Yellowstone.  It was gonna be a great picture until the red truck pulled into the way!

Ok, this is a little better


Side of the arch

Side of the arch
Relaxing in front of the motorhome, looking down off the hillside.  View was great!

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