Day 2 of Cycle Greater Yellowstone backtracked us back to Beall Park in Bozeman again. The full route included a 50-mile out-and-back down Paradise Valley, but, given that there was no rest day this year, our training was minimal, we had already ridden Paradise Valley in 2013, and the day was supposed to be hot, we opted for the shorter route of 35 miles of mostly hills back to Bozeman, which Jennifer Drinkwalter had described the day before as “up, down, up, down, up, up, down.” Not quite, but, still – hills. All uphill for pretty much the first 14 miles.
I started out the morning in a bad mood. I hadn’t slept well – for the third night in a row. We couldn’t buy a replacement water bottle for the hot day ahead, as the mechanics were sold out and the CGY help desk couldn’t help. We got on our bike and found it had a new, loud ticking sound that wasn’t there the day before. What the heck? Maybe our bike had fallen over in the wind the day before after we’d parked it (against a tennis court net, which offense apparently had enraged the local tennis court boosters – oops).
Yeah, I had a case of the Mondays on vacation. I was feeling junky.
Thank goodness there was another rider – Ken from Illinois – who was babying a sore knee and “going slow” (AKA “our pace”) who rode with us and kept us distracted from the hill with conversation. That really helped! (Thanks, Ken!)
Here’s us with Ken at the first water stop on the 35-mile route, at Montana Grizzly Encounter.
The Grizzly Encounter place was a total surprise to me – I hadn’t been aware there was anything special. We all got to go inside to see the bears, which had been rescued from some unfortunate situation or another and couldn’t make it in the wild.
A wall of the compound made a good bike parking surface.
Me and Dixie Hooper (a super enthusiastic gal I met last year as part of the CGY ambassador program) and a new friend. (Photo by Dixie’s beau, Andrew.)
First things first: what to do if you encounter a bear at close quarters:
Bugman watching the two bears out in the display yard that morning.
A wee tiff?
Back out on the road again (with our sun sleeves freshly wetted down – ahhhh, so cool!), we passed the quaint, octagonal Malmborg School.
Whoa. That’s a heckuva snowplow!
My view from the back of the tandem. Not bad!
Our next rest stop was at Lower Bridger School, which we had ridden past in 2013. We even got to go inside!
Next, we headed up Kelly Canyon Road. And I mean *up*. I have two words for that short-but-wicked ascent: UFF and DA. I got no pictures of us walking our tandem up the last yards to the summit – too demoralizing. It was simply too steep for us to continue pedaling and stay upright. We met some local cyclists up there, including a couple on a tandem. They commiserated with the steepness of the climb, noting that the grade was 18% at some point. Eighteen percent! Egads! No wonder we had to walk.
The coast down the other side was quite nice.
Closer into town, we got stopped by a train. Made me think of my dad.
Somewhere after crossing this train track as we approached Bozeman, traffic got hairy. No honkers, but plenty of risky passing. Made me nervous! Also, we managed to roll into Bozeman during the traffic-y lunch hour. Not very fun. We wound up dismounting and walking our tandem across one particularly busy intersection. It’s just too hard to get started quickly when a traffic opening briefly appears.
Earlier that morning, as the Tent Sherpa crew was packing up the tent city while I prepared for our leisurely 8am start on this “short route” day, I had asked the crew if they might consider reorienting the layout for double-occupancy tents to allow access to both tent doors. In previous years we’d been able to use both tent doors and vestibules for access and gear storage, but this year, the tents had been set up so close together that we couldn’t use the back door or vestibule. When we rolled into camp in Bozeman, we found this:
Yup – that’s our tent, on the end, with both doors accessible. There would be some similar accommodation for the rest of the double tents for the rest of the trip. Awesome crew!!
Our bag lunches were waiting for us in camp. For once, I was able to get into the shower without waiting in line. We took the opportunity to do laundry while there was no waiting as well. (So THIS is what it feels like to be a speedy person and get into camp early!) We were able to buy a new water bottle from the mechanics’ restocked supply, too.
Then, we wandered the shops of downtown Bozeman for a bit. (Well, I shopped, Bugman tagged along and checked work emails on his phone.) I mostly bought gifts, but I did buy two things for myself: a Halloween dishtowel with a cycling skeleton, and a book of poster art of National Parks done in the style of the old New Deal/WPA posters.
As Bugman and I were headed back to camp, a young man on a bicycle hopped a curb towards us. As he did so, something fell from his bike, which he then ran over. He skidded to a stop next to us. “Dammit!” he said, looking back at what I now realized was a torn-open can of beer. “I biked six miles with that beer!”
I sympathized with the guy, but Bugman and I also got a good chuckle. #hipsterproblems
When we hiked back up to long-term parking in the fairgrounds parking lot to offload our purchases, we could smell smoke and could see a plume rising to the north. Uh oh.
During announcements, Jennifer noted that the crew was keeping an eye on a grass fire near our morning route. That evening, flakes of ash fell on us in camp. Luckily, the fire was extinguished by nightfall, and the wind that came up in the night didn’t appear to restoke it.
Day 2 stats
2,360 feet of climb
10.6 mph avg speed
low temp 47
hi temp 92
wind 8-22 g 30 NE
Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw