2015 Cycle Greater Yellowstone – trip report (David, Gordon, Nancy)
A fabulous, well-run strenuous ride, with spectacular mountain passes, super helpful staff and volunteers, good plentiful food, weather extremes, and a lot of serious riders. Best rides: Chief Joseph highway, Beartooth Pass (despite smoke, rain and snow!)
Temps were fine (except for the snow and rain;) and camping was easy (except for the snow and rain;). Did the happy dance in Cooke City hotel room (27 degrees overnight) that David wisely booked in advance (camping at 7700 feet even in August is iffy) and on one rainy day. Worthy cause – to protect wider Yellowstone ecosystem. Rides are outside Yellowstone, route varies each year. New route to past this fall Limited to 350 rides. Planned activities for non-riders. http://www.cyclegreateryellowstone.com/
Read on for more details…
What is Cycle Greater Yellowstone? It’s a 7 day ride that supports the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. http://www.greateryellowstone.org/mission/ It’s mission is protect the ecosystem, waters and wildlife that surround Yellowstone. Yellowstone is 2 million acres. Zoologists and ecologists recognize it’s not big enough range for genetic diversity of the big mammals – bears, bison, elk, etc. Need 20 million acres to maintain genetic diversity and a broader range for sustainable big mammal populations, and the ecosystem that supports them (otherwise, inbreeding and unhealthy populations). Greater Yellowstone coalition works with people to preserve the land – state and local governments – via conservation easements ad habitat protection. Ride is all volunteer except for 2 employees. Beer and drinks donated. Appear to have low overhead. Most of the money goes to the cause. Can princess ride by doing hotels, or Sherpa service, massage. Ride supports local towns’ 4H kids fundraising – cookies, donuts, sherpa service in towns we ride through.
These are from mostly our “pre-trip”:
- Clothing: Bring full rain gear. Bring hot and cold weather riding gear.
- Sleeping: Due to weather, consider princessing the whole time, esp if 2 people share a room. cold at 6 am in Powell, but probably just low 50s. Had breakfast in the gymnasium – Or you can do tent sherpa for 250 each if you share a tent (otherwise 500 solo), or camp for no extra cost.
- Snacks: No need to bring food, unless you are particular. Mostly cliff or candy bars, chips or Cheetos, packaged cookies. Plenty of calories available.
- Route: Varied, incredible scenery most days. Does NOT go into Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks. If you want to see these, add extra days. Do extra days before the ride, if possible, to acclimate to elevation.
- Training: This is a strenuous ride. There are long rides and a lot of climbing, as well as winds. Mileage is similar to ALC but more climbing. (30,000 feet elevation (including optional ride day) v. 20,000 feet for ALC). Training is essential if you want to do it all and not get sagged in. But sagging is easy, available, and not discouraged by the staff. All of us sagged a bit due to weather, high winds.
- Showers, porto-potties, laundry: all good, well maintained. Chairs set out for shower line. Laundry wash basins and soap provided. Some towns had coin-operated laundry.
- Food: Plentiful. Good. Always real food. Good vegetarian options. You can eat pretty healthy on this ride.
- Volunteer staff: The road and camp crew were a bunch of enthusiastic, energetic, idealisstic young people. Super helpful and accommodating. People were super nice and responsive and there for the riders.
- Director: Jennifer was great. Excellent with doing things on the fly, amazingly responsivee to changing conditions – e.g., construction, weather.
- Sag people were very understanding about picking people up, not explanation needed. Also would let you ride if you wanted to.
- Mechanics were spectacular – super helpful, very competent, professional.
- Riders: Oldest 80, youngest 16, average age 55. Virtually all white, professional, straight, except for a few closet cases. Experienced riders. Not recommended for novices
- Road conditions: Very good, some highway riding, but decent shoulders