2016 Cycle Greater Yellowstone Day 4: Whitehall to Dewey

When I woke up and got out of my tent just before before 5am, the moon was setting over Whitehall High School, looking peach-like, orange from the smoke of distant wildfires and fuzzed by thin clouds. The sunrise was lovely as well.

1 sunrise

As we rolled out of town, we passed some of the numerous murals for which Whitehall is known.

2 mural

Some Whitehall businesses have incorporated the mural theme into their signage as well. I like it!

4 business sign

Vintage small-town theater alert!

3 theater

My view from the back of the tandem. Not bad.

5 my view

We passed a tethered llama, which looked agitated at our presence. I wondered about llamas’ spitting range.

6 tethered llama

Recalling the hay bale roping dummies from the Sudan School on Day 1, here’s a more anatomically correct one:

7 roping dummy

Headed into the mountains.

8 into the mountains

Montana, where things are so fertile, the wood of your deck just might sprout back into a tree. 😉

9 pine growth

Had to take a picture of this old “prancing pony” gate for my mom.

10 prancing pony gate

I appreciated the message of the sign and acknowledged the fact that the number of characters was limited, but the grammatical incorrectness of the “BIKES ON ROAD / DRIVE CAREFUL” sign still irked me every time I saw it. #editorproblems

11 bikes caution

After we passed through a narrow-ish cut, I turned the camera behind us and took a picture. This looks like it would be a tough section of road for snow-clearing operations.

12 view behind

Our embedded photographers sent their camera-bearing aerial vehicle into the sky and captured cyclists streaming into this cut. There’s a video posted on the Cycle Greater Yellowstone Facebook page, but I can’t figure out how to share just the video link. Maybe it’ll wind up on the CGY Vimeo page. (It’s fun to watch the time lapse films of Tent Sherpas setting up camp and of previous rides’ routes and camps.)

13 drone pilots

I had plenty of time to look at the rocks as we slowly climbed upward. I kept seeing faces and fanciful beings in the rock forms. We also got scolded by a lot of rock-crevice-dwelling chipmunks. The morning light made the rocks glow with a warmth they did not yet contain. I was glad to be doing all this climbing in the cool of the morning.

14 morning light rock

Given that we had more than two hours of constant climbing, we needed to take periodic breaks to rest and eat. (We remembered lessons from prior rides and made sure to eat as we were climbing.) When we stopped at one driveway for a rest, a passing cyclist called, “Are you checking out the real estate?” I decided that would be a good euphemism. We’re not taking a break . . . we’re “checking out the real estate.” (See also: “checking out the view” and “reading the historical point signage.”)

15 checking out real estate

On this day, we generally experienced courteous driving. Then there was this person. Sigh. We heard a barking dog in the distance – a sound that always piques a cyclists’ attention due to the tendency of loose dogs to chase bikes. But the sound kept getting closer, unnaturally quickly. barkbarkbarkbarkbark – silence- barkbarkbarkbarkbark – silence- BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK – silence – BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK! I looked in my rear view mirror and figured it out – it was a dog riding in a vehicle, barking furiously every time the vehicle passed a cyclist. And the driver left the rear passenger-side window open so the dog could startle every single cyclist it passed. Not nice.

16 barking dog

Entering Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

17 beaverhead deerlodge NF

At a rest stop, I decided the peanut-butter-filled chocolate Clif bar was the BEST THING EVER! Ah, one of the benefits of prolonged exercise: eating becomes almost a transcendental experience. Please mentally add halo rays and a heavenly chorus soundtrack to this photo:

18 calories

There were a hojillion of these moths flying across the road in the forest. These little things can be crazy hard to key out. When I asked Bugman what it was, he grimaced and said, “A moth . . .”

19 moth

We summited Pipestone Pass and failed to recognize that a pullout on the opposite side of the road was the official marker of this Continental Divide crossing (6,418 feet), since it didn’t have the green elevation sign we were accustomed to seeing. So, we missed a photo opportunity, alas.

The descent was fun, despite the un-smartness of the highway crew that decided to repaint the center lines on that section of highway – on the same day that several hundred cyclists would be on that route. Actually, by the time we got to the descent, the painting crew was pulled over taking a break. The only thing we had to deal with was the cones along the centerline, which made it harder for motorized vehicles to pass us. I heard another cyclist express appreciation for the painting project, which she believed had slowed drivers down.

As we approached Butte – “The Richest Hill on Earth,” I was awed. That open pit copper mine looked as big as the town itself!

20 butte

Confirmed! See Google maps image:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 2.56.51 PM

I found it somewhat creepy that the tailings pond had such a lighthearted name. Yankee Doodle Tailings Pond? Sounds like a recreation area rather than a hazardous waste management area.

I really got sucked into an internet rabbit hole reading about Butte and its mining history. I overheard a fellow cyclist shuddering about Butte and its status as a Superfund toxic waste cleanup site. She had known people who worked in and around other contaminated sites who were dying of cancer in their 20s and 30s. It just absolutely irks me that companies have been allowed to profit from a business that then sticks the government with a huge cleanup bill from the aftermath. For economics nerds, this is considered a market failure. Negative externalities galore! Fingers crossed that things are changing for the better. Attitudes towards our environment are a lot different now than they were in the 1950s.

While the warren of mining tunnels under Butte were begun in the 1800s, that gigantic open pit was created since 1955. See this blog post for a historic photo overlaying the current extent of the mining pit, which ate up the communities of Meaderville and McQueen and the Columbia Gardens. Another part of Butte that struck me was the ramparts of copper slag was saw. I neglected to take a picture, but here’s one from another blogger’s post.

Berkeley Pit, which filled with acidic water after mine pumps were shut down, has become a tourist attraction, despite things like the need to employ hazers to chase off migratory waterfowl lest they be poisoned by the water.

Still, there’s a lot of recreation opportunities around Butte, and some interesting museums as well. I would have liked to explore Butte a bit rather than just passing through.

Ah, the innovative smaller-city multitasking business: heating stove and brewing/winemaking supplies sold alongside recreational vehicles:

21 butte multitasking

At announcements the day before, we’d been warned about the traffic we’d face heading through Butte. Perhaps it’s because we hit the city before the lunch rush, and perhaps it’s because we were lucky with traffic lights and courteous drivers, but I didn’t find it that bad.

And look! Sharrows! Butte acknowledges the existence of bicyclists!

22 butte sharrows

A few of the auto towing/wrecking/repair business slogans we saw on our journey through the western outskirts of the city cracked me up.

See you in the ditch!

You meet the nicest people by accident!

A great place to take a leak!

After lunch, we wound up on several miles of a really nice bike path. Bummer we had to dismount to get over a berm put in place to protect the path from heavy equipment.

23 blocked path

This “gritty Duke” billboard would come to mind later in the ride: “Don’t much like quitters, son.”

24 duke sign

A man walking his dogs stepped off the path to let us and another cyclist pass. Turned out the other cyclist was a local, not a CGY rider, which confused a course monitor stationed to direct CGY traffic around a confusing bit of construction at the end of the bike path.

We were routed through an industrial area with one of the bumpiest railroad crossings I’ve ever encountered. Did we heed the course monitor’s admonition to dismount and walk over the tracks? Oh yes, we did!

25 bumpy tracks

And now we get to the part of the route where I feel a little sheepish. In the Day 0 post, I described encountering some event cyclists on the shoulder of I-90, and said I would never want to ride on the interstate.

Well . . . due to a lack of other road options, we wound up riding 3 miles on I-15.

26 onto interstate

I was nervous. More nervous than I was about riding through Butte traffic. But I needn’t have been. With the nice, wide shoulder, the two lanes for traffic, and the patrol car stationed at the on ramp . . .

27 state trooper

I felt way more comfortable riding on the interstate than I did on Highway 287. Ugh, here we are with the “DRIVE CAREFUL” issue again, despite having enough room for the more correct “CAREFULLY.” Oh well. They’re consistent, I guess.

28 bikes on road

It was getting hot out, and the day was starting to wear on me. When I saw the wisp coming out of the top of this cloud, I imagined it as the buried undead stretching a withered arm up out of the grave. Brains . . .

29 cloud

116 – here’s our exit!

30 exit

So long, I-15. We’re headed for a frontage road.

31 I-15

Another 5 miles, and we hit a much-needed rest area. Time to wet down the arm coolers again! Aaaaahhhh! A female bikepacker happened by the rest area and was really excited by the prospect of actual toilets. She hesitated, asking if she would be allowed to use one. We heartily invited her over. Bicyclists supporting bicyclists! I hadn’t realized that the reason I was seeing so many bikepackers is that western Montana is crisscrossed by several cross-continental “adventure cycling routes.”

32 bikepacker bike

A bummer about this rest area – there had been a road surfacing project there recently, and there were blobs of road tar lying around disguised in sheaths of pebbles. The bike mechanics warned me about it, and I told Bugman, too, but it was too late. We went to try to take off, and he couldn’t get his left shoe clicked into the pedal. It was like a board game: tar ball cleat clog – move back two spaces!

33 tarball in shoe

The rock Bugman was using for a tool to clean his cleat just wasn’t cutting it. A kindly bike mechanic came to his rescue, using a screwdriver to scrape out the bulk of the offending tar.

34 tarball in shoe

The next couple of times we stopped, we had to re-clean his shoe cleat with whatever rock or stick was at hand, because the remaining tar would glom onto significant quantities of debris. Nasty stuff!

The next 10 miles were hot, hilly, and deserted. It’s the kind of place where you start to wonder if you’ve taken a wrong turn because you’re seeing no one and nothing except circling vultures.

35 vultures

Finally, finally! A turn, and a sign! We’re headed for . . . the Big Hole? I had no idea what the Big Hole was, and, coming after our journey through open-pit mine territory, I was a tad apprehensive.

36 divide and big hole

But Wisdom was near!

37 wisdom

The Big Hole is not a mining scar but a river. A rather lovely river!

38 big hole view 1

I was rather glad to have this gorgeous scenery to distract me from the pain my bike saddle was causing me.

39 big hole view 2

I was ever so glad to arrive at our campsite in tiny Dewey, where a colorful beetle landed on Bugman. We contemplated it along with CGY volunteer Bruce. Bugman thinks it’s a spruce zebra beetle.

40 spruce zebra beetle

I bypassed the Sno Kone booth in camp, thinking I could get some later. (I was wrong, alas – the booth was abandoned by the time I came back.)

44 sno cones

The ride had been hard on me today, and all I wanted was to get out of my bike clothes and rest. It turned out that our campsite was adjacent to the Big Hole River, and cyclists were finding their way down there to soak in the cold, clear water. We joined them forthwith!

41 big hole river play

The water was gaspingly cold at first. It was probably a good balm for sore muscles and a sore bum. We had to keep an eye out for trout-fishing boats floating downstream, though.

42 fly fishers

This was excellent trout habitat. Another CGY rider had brought along swim goggles, and he could see a number of trout darting around near where we were swimming. Bugman scoped out the shallows and found numerous invertebrates that are a part of the trouts’ food chain, including mayfly niads:

42 mayfly niad

I showered right away after leaving the coolness of the river. That was probably a good move. My swim shorts had collected rock algae and a few invertebrates!

We did some more pod laundry and hung it to dry in nearby trees. Laundry ornaments! Note: it’s acceptable to hang laundry on a cedar tree. Not so much a pine tree, which may ooze sap all over your clean laundry. #learningfromexperience

43 laundry tree

The campsite where we stayed (I’m still not sure what kind of property it was, or who it belonged to) was dotted with numerous “varmint holes” – for lack of a better word.

45 varmint hole

Some problem-solving campers piled sticks into a particularly large hole that just happened to be in a main travel path.

46 blocked varmint hole

Dinner that night just didn’t seem to appeal to me. Beef stroganoff. Bleh. I choked down some buttered noodles topped with steamed broccoli and cheese from the salad bar. I knew it didn’t bode well if my appetite wasn’t raging after a 64-mile ride with plenty of climbing. I was going to need to fuel up for the extended climbing I would face the next day. My body just wanted to rest. Other things were starting to break down, too. My air pillow sprung a leak, and a strap on one of my sandals broke.

After announcements that night, a short documentary about the struggle to prevent a dam being built on the Clark Fork River was shown in the dining tent. (I imagine it was no small feat to get a screen and projector out there in rural Dewey.) I thought maybe the film would be available online (alas, only the trailer is), so I skipped the film in favor of hurriedly setting up our tent as rumbling storm clouds drew near.

We did get a little rain. Thankfully not enough to turn the campsite into an utter mudpit. The sound of thunder crashing through the mountain valleys was most impressive, as was the sight of the rain-drenched sunset.

49 rainy sunset

The moonlight of that sleepless night blended softly into the dawn. At least I probably got more rest in the tent than I would have in the old cabin in the adjoining field.

48 accommodation

day 4 stats
daily mileage and climb unknown, since Strava doesn’t work in areas with no cell signal
low temp 45
hi temp 87
precip 0.03 inches
wind 5-24 g 32 SE

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

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A change of scenery, critters, and cross training, Part 2

So, yeah, I went to Hawaii and rode a tandem on a coastal pathway and saw Hawaiian monk seals.

Before you go getting too jealous, there’s this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.43.23 PMWe touched down on Saturday evening. By Tuesday I was feeling a hint of chest discomfort that grew into full-blown coughing-up-crud misery that lasted the rest of the trip.

I can hear your little violins.

Then there was the fact that it was February – the heart of the rainy season on Kauai.

What the beach at Hanalei Bay looks like in the rain.

What the beach at Hanalei Bay looks like in the rain, complete with raindrops on the camera lens.

The scenic overlook at the end of Waimea Canyon Drive - in the rain.

The Kalalau Valley Overlook – in the rain. (Photo by Pa Bug)

And we hardly saw any bugs. Granted, most tourists would consider a lack of creepy-crawlies a positive, but when you’re traveling with an entomologist, it’s a huge disappointment. Perhaps we can blame the chickens.

Kauai is positively crawling with feral chickens. In fact, the vast majority of the avian, insect, and plant life we saw was non-native. The islands' ecosystems have really been brutalized by exotic species introductions and corporate-scale human development. It surprised me and made me feel sad and also a bit guilty, since here I was, visiting the islands and helping contribute to the problem.

Kauai is positively crawling with feral chickens. In fact, the vast majority of the avian, insect, and plant life we saw was non-native. The islands’ ecosystems have been brutalized by exotic species introductions and corporate-scale human development. It surprised me and made me feel sad and also a bit guilty, since here I was, visiting the islands and helping contribute to the problem.

I did find a little jumping spider while I was shopping for a sweatshirt. I texted it to Bugman. He laughed.

I did find a little jumping spider while I was shopping for a sweatshirt. I texted the picture to Bugman. He laughed. Darn. I can’t find the Hawaiian word for “jumping spider.”

I’d really wanted to go hiking and snorkeling and kayaking while on Kauai, but given my illness, the rain, and the fact that the main purpose of our short visit to the island was to accompany a couple of lovely people who have about a 30-year head start on us in the game of life, that just didn’t work out. I’ll have to manage to find a way to go back again!

But enough of the whining – there are more lovely things to share about the trip!

WARNING: excessive vacation-picture-posting follows:

Really, how can I complain about the precipitation? It's not frozen!

How can I complain about the precipitation? It’s not frozen!

The misty rain in the Waimea Canyon area made it easier for me to breathe with my chest cold and created beauty as it collected on the flora.

rain on blossomsWe did have a break in the cloud cover that afforded us spectacular views of Waimea Canyon at the lower-elevation overlooks that weren’t right on the coast.

This place is just incredibly beautiful.

This place is just incredibly beautiful.

Also, rain in Hawaii rocks, because rainbows.

The view to the west from our hotel balcony.

The view to the west from our hotel balcony, as we were packing our bags to go home. Aloha!

I did not get to snorkel, but I did have a chance to walk the beach every morning (that’s cross-training, right?) and to poke around in tidepools.

Ma and Ba Bug snuck a pic of us as we were walking on the beach. <3

Ma and Ba Bug snuck a pic of me and Bugman as we walked on the beach. ❤

Sand flower. A tree at the shoreline was dropping these tiny, waxy flowers, which would embed themselves in the sand or go floating off across the still water in a sheltered area of the beach.

Sand flower.
A tree at the shoreline was dropping these tiny, waxy flowers, which would embed themselves in the sand or go floating off across the still water in a sheltered area of the beach.

I had fun watching crabs come out of their sandy burrows. This little guy was about the size of a dime. Others we saw were closer to the size of softballs.

I had fun watching ‘ohiki (ghost crabs) come out of their sandy burrows. This little guy was about the size of a dime. Others we saw were closer to the size of softballs.

Crab burrow sand art

Crab burrow sand art

Nonsequitur image, but interesting in comparison. This is a photo from Glass Beach - literally a dump - which has become a tourist attraction because of all the beach glass. There were no pieces of beach glass larger than grains of sand because they all get picked up by tourists. Some people even take home jars full of this beach sand, leading to complaints about destruction of this attraction. I wonder, though - is it really a genius campaign to get tourists to clean the trash off beach?

Nonsequitur image, but interesting in comparison. This is a photo from Glass Beach – literally a dump, which has become a tourist attraction because of all the beach glass. There were no pieces of beach glass larger than grains of sand when I visited because they all get picked up by tourists. Some people even take home jars full of glassy sand, leading to complaints about destruction of the attraction. I wonder, though – is it really a genius campaign to get tourists to clean the trash off the beach?

Bugman taking a picture at dawn on Waipouli Beach, in a protected area that yielded some marine critter finds.

Bugman taking a picture at dawn on Waipouli Beach, in a protected area that yielded some marine critter finds.

Juvenile mamo (aka Hawaiian sergeant major damselfish) were abundant.

Juvenile mamo (aka Hawaiian sergeant major damselfish) were abundant.

A cryptic goby - perhaps an ‘o‘opu ‘ohune (brown tidepool goby)

A cryptic goby – perhaps an ‘o‘opu ‘ohune (brown tidepool goby or cocos frill goby)?

Another goby - a wee little one who did NOT want his picture taken, this time from Salt Pond Beach Park.

Another goby – a wee little one who did NOT want his picture taken, this time from Salt Pond Beach.

My favorite vertebrate - the puhi kapa (snowflake moray eel)

My favorite vertebrate of this tidepool  – the puhi kapa (snowflake moray eel)

On to the invertebrates - a healthy-sized loli (black sea cucumber)

On to the invertebrates – a healthy-sized loli (black sea cucumber)

A wee little kualakai (sea hare, or sea slug)

A wee little kualakai (sea hare, or sea slug)

A tiny anemone in a tidepool at Waipouli Beach, with some corraline algae in the background

A tiny anemone in a tidepool at Waipouli Beach, with some corraline algae in the background

Slightly larger anemones from a tidepool at Salt Pond Beach Park.

Slightly larger anemones from a tidepool at Salt Pond Beach.

Another place in which we had success viewing coastal and marine vertebrates was Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

A beautiful view from just outside the park gate.

A beautiful view from just outside the park gate.

You can see kohola (humpback whales) off the coast in the wintertime by watching for their misty spouts. Bugman managed to catch a few images of one whale that tail-slapped 4-7 times, three times in a row. I know you can identify humpback whales by the markings on their flukes. Wish there was an online catalog somewhere where I could try to identify this individual!

You can see kohola (humpback whale) off the coast in the wintertime by watching for their misty spouts. Bugman managed to catch a few images of one whale that tail-slapped 4-7 times, three times in a row. I know humpback whales can be identified by the markings on their flukes. Wish there was an online catalog somewhere where I could try to identify this individual!

Bugman got some decent shots of 'a (red-footed boobies), which were nesting at the time of our visit. My favorite bird was the koa‘e ‘ula (red-tailed tropicbird).

Bugman got some decent shots of ‘a (red-footed boobies – I picked this shot because the red feet are visible), which were nesting at the time of our visit. My favorite bird was the koa‘e ‘ula (red-tailed tropicbird).

We had plenty of interesting sightings of nene (Hawaiian goose) around the islands, too. This picture was taken at Smith's Tropical Paradise.

We had plenty of sightings of Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered nene (Hawaiian goose), around the islands, too. This picture was taken at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

To wrap up this post, a couple of artsy-fartsy beach pictures taken at sunrise on a rain-spattered, windy morning – our last on Kauai.

angry sunriseblack splashUp next – culinary Kauai!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

2014 Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 7 Dubois to Moran Junction and the day after

I do not have a whole lot of pictures from the last day of the ride, as my camera was mostly wrapped in plastic, safely stowed away. It was another rainy ride, and with an ascent over a mountain pass, a darned cold one, too. I really regretted not having my rain pants.

It was hard to leave the nice, warm building in Dubois. As tempting as it was to linger over breakfast, we were under deadline pressure. We were scheduled to meet a bus at Moran Junction that would take us back to our Day 0 camp in Teton Village.

It was hard to leave the nice, warm building in Dubois. As tempting as it was to linger over breakfast, we had a deadline to meet. We were scheduled to meet a bus at Moran Junction that would take us back to our Day 0 camp in Teton Village. We got the bike out of the tennis court corral and hit the road, our bike shoes still damp from the day before and overnight rain.

We got the bike out of the tennis court corral and hit the road, our bike shoes still damp from the day before and overnight rain. Bugman had a thick windblocker cycling jacket on over his short-sleeved jersey in addition to his regular shell. I wore a cozy long-sleeved jersey under my shell, on top of a short-sleeved jersey. We both had fingerless cycling gloves topped with fleece mittens. Our bike trunk was stuffed with our rain jackets and long pants.

Good morning, horses.

Good morning, horses.

Only 53 miles to our destination.

Only 53 miles to our destination, and lunch.

The mountain peaks were shrouded in cloud, still half-asleep. That's kind of how I felt that morning.

The mountain peaks were shrouded in cloud, still half-asleep. That’s kind of how I felt that morning.

We dodged a couple of rain showers early, but our luck didn’t last. With the wind chill, dampness, and thin bike socks, Bugman’s feet started to ache from the cold.

About 10 miles in, at the top of a small hill, we pulled over so Bugman could try to get some circulation back in his feet. Nearby, a course volunteer was sitting in his pickup truck, keeping watch on the cyclists.

I trotted over to ask about the possibility of purchasing a dry pair of socks from the CGY store and having them sent ahead to the next rest stop. Instead, the volunteer dug around in his gear and found a pair of thick wool hiking socks. He had Bugman get into his truck and turned the heat up full blast. Bugman changed out of his wet socks and held his feet under the heat register for a few minutes before putting on the dry woolies.

“Ahhh! Much better!” Bugman said. He later commented that, if it were not for that volunteer and his wool socks, he probably would not have been able to finish the ride that day.

I was glad when the rain let up, not just because the misery abated, but because we could see the fantastic scenery.

I was glad when the rain let up, not just because the misery abated, but because we could see the fantastic scenery. Bugman wound up peeling off the detachable sleeves from his thick windbreaker jacket. The exertion of the climb generated some heat.

Clouds were starting to roll in again across the tops of the mountain peaks. It was getting colder.

Clouds were starting to roll in again across the tops of the mountain peaks. It was getting colder the higher we rode.

Early Christmas?

Early Christmas? It just about felt cold enough.

At a rest stop around mile 25, we noshed some snacks. I remember there were volunteers cheering for us at that stop – including a boy hollering “wakka wakka!” Fozzie Bear fan, perhaps?

Bugman was getting chilled again, so he pulled on a pair of thick fleece pants over his bike shorts.

Near noon, and we were nearing the top of the pass. On and off drizzle kept things chilled and damp.

High noon, and we were nearing the top of the pass. On and off drizzle kept things chilled and damp.

Yay! We made it to the top of the pass!

Yay! We made it to the top of the pass!

Oops! We blocked the sign with our hoisted bike. Togwotee Pass, elevation 9,584 feet. Oh, and that's pronounced "TOE-guh-tee."

Oops! We blocked the sign with our hoisted bike. Togwotee Pass, elevation 9,584 feet. Oh, and that’s pronounced “TOE-guh-tee.”

At this stop, Bugman put the sleeves back on his windblocker, in anticipation of the windchill on our way down the mountain.

A lot of fellow cyclists stopped to celebrate at the apex of this mountain pass. It had been a hard climb. But we had miles to go before lunch and the end of the ride.

A lot of fellow cyclists stopped to celebrate at the apex of this mountain pass. It had been a hard climb. But we had miles to go before lunch and the end of the ride. And the rain wasn’t done with us yet.

Crossed the continental divide again. Now for 17 miles of 6% grade downhill. If it had been a warm, dry day, the descent would have been exhilarating. In the rain, possibly in the sleet, with it cold enough to see your breath, it was not so fun.

Crossed the continental divide again. Now for 17 miles of 6% grade downhill. If it had been a warm, dry day, the descent would have been exhilarating. In the rain, with it cold enough to see your breath, it was not so fun.

Our descent of Togwotee Pass was pretty miserable, but we kept at it because we knew there was an end in sight. Every sag wagon that went by was packed full. We were determined not to add to the passenger load. A couple of times, we passed cyclists changing flat tires in the rain. I felt bad for them!

The rest stop at mile 39 was a godsend. They had coffee! Hot coffee! I threw back a couple of cups along with some trail mix and felt a lot better. I also finally broke down and pulled on my running capris, which I had been using as pajamas and had packed in the bike trunk that morning, just in case.

I encountered a girl in the line for the porta potty who was having a complete meltdown. She was upset because she had been picked up with a flat tire by the sag wagon and then was asked to exit the vehicle at the rest area. She was apparently thinking she was going to be abandoned on the mountain there, and was trying in vain to get cell signal to call her father to come pick her up. She did ultimately get back onto another sag wagon to get the rest of the way down the mountain. I suspect the volunteer crew was rounding up people off the cold, wet mountain and gathering them at the rest stop, where at least there was some help. I wonder if there weren’t some people suffering from hypothermia up there. I was uncomfortably cold, but not life-threateningly so. But I had on several layers of clothing. I could definitely see how someone who was less prepared might be having serious trouble.

ggg

The ride organizers had made much ado about the views we were supposed to have of the Tetons as we descended the pass, but the rain scuppered the vista. We weren’t able to see the mountains ahead until we descended out of the clouds and were on the flat again.

It continued to drizzle pretty much the entire last portion of the ride. You couldn’t get too close to another cyclist, or you risked spraying them or getting sprayed by the water coming up from the tires off the wet road. I could feel my feet squelching in my shoes.

The end of the ride was pretty anticlimactic. We showed up at Moran Junction, lay down our bike to be packed onto a truck, scarfed lunch, and then stood soggily in line, waiting for the buses that would take us back to Teton Village. A volunteer offered a blanket, in case someone was desperately cold.

As the course closed down, the sag wagons were pressed into service as cyclist transport back to Teton Village, and it was on one of these that we found our way back. There was a pleasant camaraderie among the cyclists, particularly as we had another mini-adventure when our driver chose to take Moose-Wilson road from the north instead of taking the south route via highways 26 and 22 through Jackson. There were portions of that road that were unpaved and mighty bumpy! Too bad we didn’t see a moose or bear spring from between the trees. That would have made a good story.

At Teton Village, we walked through the mud in our bike shoes to get to the campsite where we could pick up our luggage from the tent Sherpa guys. As soon as we had our bags, I immediately put on dry socks and shoes. So much better!

Since our bike was not back in camp yet, we climbed wearily into our car for the 20-minute drive to our B&B in Jackson – the Alpine House.

The car-window view of the mist-shrouded Tetons was breathtaking.

The car-window view of the mist-shrouded Tetons on the drive to Jackson was breathtaking.

Warm showers, dry clothes, chocolate chip cookies from the B&B, and we were feeling much better. Bugman washed his borrowed wool socks, and we drove back to Teton Village with them draped over the air registers in the car to dry. We packed our bike on top of the car, returned the borrowed socks, and headed over to find the after-ride party in the Commons Area.

When we finally found someone who could tell us where the Commons was, we were disappointed. The Commons was an outdoor area, and the party had been cancelled due to the chilly weather. Oh well. We didn’t enjoy the afterparty last year all that much anyway – the music was too loud.

We headed back to Jackson, ate an intemperate amount of pizza, and crashed into bed.

The next day on the drive home, we retraced our mountain pass route and found . . . snow!

Bugman scrapes some snow off the continental divide sign to throw the first snowball of the season. I am so bummed I did not think to make and photograph a miniature snowman. That would have been my earliest-ever snowman, on August 24!

Bugman scraped some snow off the continental divide sign to throw the first snowball of the season. I am so bummed I did not think to make and photograph a miniature snowman. That would have been my earliest-ever snowman, on August 24!

The final image of Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014: our bike atop the car, on frosty Togwotee Pass. Next year, I will for sure bring my rain pants!

The final image of Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014: our bike atop the car, on frosty Togwotee Pass. Next year, I will for sure bring my rain pants!

Ride summary

Distance and elevation gain (per the official route stats) were 55 miles, 2,610 feet

Min temp: 42, Max temp: 55, Winds 10-25, gusting to 30 mph, Precipitation: “none”?? Well, maybe it was dry at the airport . . .  [data from Dubois]

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

2014 Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 6 Lander to Dubois

Day 6, August 22, was my and Bugman’s 16th wedding anniversary, and a challenging day for a ride. I gave Bugman an anniversary card with an illustration of a tandem bike on it, and it would wind up rain-soaked in our non-waterproof bike trunk.

There was rain overnight, and the dawn was chilly that morning in Lander, but at least we had a dry start. Check out this timelapse video of the bike corral emptying out that morning.

The warmth of the sun was most welcome, but it wouldn't last long.

The warmth of the sun was most welcome, but it wouldn’t last long.

I'm not sure what the story was behind this shredded-looking tipi. A sculpture, maybe? It made me feel sad.

I’m not sure what the story was behind this shredded-looking tipi. A sculpture, maybe? It made me feel sad.

Welcome to the Wind River Indian Reservation. The photo was slightly out of focus, so I enhanced it by tweaking the color saturation.

Welcome to the Wind River Indian Reservation. The photo was slightly out of focus, so I made it prettier by tweaking the color saturation.

Reflections on Ray Lake

Gray reflections on Ray Lake.

As we were heading into Fort Washakie, it started to rain. We pulled over, put on our rain gear, and cycled up what was probably the steepest climb of the day in a gentle rain. My Gore Tex jacket was cozy, and I got to feeling a bit cheeky. As the photograhper / videographer car pulled up alongside us, I called, "Come on out - the weather's fine." "Do you like riding in the rain?" the guy asked. I grinned and replied something to the effect of "as long as it's in liquid form."

As we were heading into Fort Washakie, it started to rain. We pulled over, put on our gear, and cycled up what was probably the steepest climb of the day in a gentle rain. My Gore Tex jacket was cozy, and I got to feeling a bit cheeky. As the CGY photograhper / videographer car pulled up alongside us, I called, “Come on out – the weather’s fine.” “Do you like riding in the rain?” the guy asked. I grinned and replied something to the effect of “as long as it’s in liquid form.” No hail rider am I.

The rain began to let up, and I pulled my camera out from under my jacket to photograph the scenery.

The rain began to let up, and I pulled my camera out from under my jacket to photograph the scenery.

There were some strange landforms in the area. Those regular hills made me think of the Sidney Army Depot.

There were some strange landforms in the area. Those regular hills in the distance made me think of the Sioux Army Depot near Sidney, Nebraska.

There's the photograhper / videographer car. Ckick! Right back at ya!

There’s the photograhper / videographer car. Click! Right back at ya!

With the sun out and the day warming, cyclists stopped en masse to strip off rain gear.

With the sun out and the day warming, cyclists stopped en masse to strip off rain gear.

And away they go!

And away they go!

Here's a lovely bit of downhill.

Here’s a lovely bit of downhill.

Aaaand - another construction zone. We were given instructions on how to handle this intersection at evening announcements the night before. We were to pull up and wait until traffic was told to proceed, let all the cars got first, and then travel through the construction in a bike mob. We were also told there would be a surprise waiting for us there. Bugman and I were at the back of the pack and didn't have to wait long, so our surprise was, there was no surprise. Other riders further ahead of us got candy bars and trinkets.

Aaaand – another construction zone. We were given instructions on how to handle this intersection at evening announcements the night before. We were to pull up and wait until traffic was motioned to proceed, let all the cars go first, and then travel through the construction in a bike mob. We were also told there would be a surprise waiting for us there. Bugman and I were at the back of the pack and didn’t have to wait long, so our surprise was, there was no surprise. Other riders further ahead of us got candy bars and trinkets.

In the construction zone: cyclists pass a giant dump truck.

In the construction zone: cyclists face a giant dump truck.

A view forward of the pack of cyclists on a packed-dirt section of the road. (Dumb camera decided to focus on the edge of Bugman's helmet instead of the riders ahead. Thank GOODNESS it was not raining when we went through here!

A view forward of the pack of cyclists on a packed-dirt section of the road. (Dumb camera decided to focus on the edge of Bugman’s helmet instead of the riders ahead. Thank GOODNESS it was not raining when we went through here!

A random snap behind reveals a friendly fellow biker.

A random snap behind reveals a friendly fellow biker.

I see rain in our future. *sigh* We pulled over, put on the rain gear, and rode through pretty heavy rain to our lunch stop.

I see rain in our future. *sigh* We pulled over, put on our gear, and rode through pretty heavy rain to our lunch stop.

It was still raining when we got to the lunch stop at the fire station at Crowheart. But people were still smiling!

It was still raining when we got to the lunch stop at the fire station at Crowheart. But people were still smiling!

Any port in a storm! Many cyclists took refuge under the lunch truck. Hey! I recognize those cyclists! It's Kurt and Rhonda from Georgia!

Any port in a storm! Many cyclists took refuge under the lunch truck. Hey! I recognize those cyclists! It’s Kurt and Rhonda from Georgia!

When these cyclists vacated their spot, Bugman and I took their place. A fellow cyclist commented, "Did you ever think you'd be eating lunch under a truck?" Nope, can't say that I have.

When these cyclists vacated their spot, Bugman and I took their place. A fellow cyclist commented, “Did you ever think you’d be eating lunch under a truck?” Nope. New life experience for me.

We had a brief period of wonderful sunshine at lunch, but the clouds returned, as did the rain, intermittently. I liked how the clouds and road curved in this photo.

We had a brief period of wonderful sunshine at lunch, but the clouds returned. I liked how the clouds and road curved in this photo.

It was another busy day for the sag wagon.

It was a busy day for the sag wagon.

Some blue sky! Come over here, blue sky! Over here!!

Some blue sky! Come over here, blue sky! Over here!!

The road descended into a valley with beautifully colored rock.

The road descended into a valley with beautifully colored rock.

Here's our rain jacket selfie, with our bike trunk wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. The bag kept it from getting soaked from above, but the tires kicked up water from the road, which seeped into the bag from below.

Here’s our rain jacket selfie, with our bike trunk wrapped in a plastic grocery bag. The bag kept it from getting soaked from above, but the tires kicked up water from the road, which seeped into the bag from below.

Here's a better view of that beautiful rock behind us in the previous photo. Reminds me of Quebrada de Humahuaca in northern Argentina.

Here’s a better view of that beautiful rock behind us in the previous photo. Reminds me a bit of Quebrada de Humahuaca in northern Argentina.

Our last rest stop of the day was at Antlers on the Wind. If you are ever in need of a hunting knife with a fancy antler grip, this is the place to go.

Our last rest stop of the day was at Antlers on the Wind. (If you are ever in need of a hunting knife with a fancy antler grip, this is the place to go.) The snack was ice-cold popsicles. We riders, nearly becoming popsicles ourselves, mostly declined the offered treat.

Pretty place for a tire change, no?

Pretty place for a tire change, no?

We went inside to warm up a bit - and found some antlers!

We went inside to warm up a bit – and found some antlers!

After we left the rest stop, we were walloped with wind and rain. I packed the camera away in a plastic bag, and we slogged uphill, into the wind, in the rain, for about 10 miles. That was pretty miserable. And cold. Good thing we had our mittens with us.

The rain finally quit, and we made an unscheduled stop at River Park Drive so Bugman could eat something. He was bonking. Good thing we'd hoarded our lunch cookies.

The rain finally quit, and we made an unscheduled stop at River Park Drive so Bugman could eat something. He was bonking. Good thing we’d hoarded some cookies!

Our phone batteries were dead, so we weren't sure how much further we had to go. We asked a fellow cyclist with a bike computer, and they replied "5 miles." A few miles down the road, we saw this awesome family cheering and ringing cowbells alongside the road. That was so wonderful! I'm quite sure it's what got me those last couple of miles into town.

Our phone batteries were dead, so we weren’t sure how much further we had to go. We asked a fellow cyclist with a bike computer, and they replied “5 miles.” A few miles down the road, we saw this awesome family cheering and ringing cowbells alongside the road. That was so wonderful! I’m quite sure it’s what got me those last couple of miles into town.

The Dubois laundromat. Oh my.

The Dubois laundromat. Oh my. That’s got to be the most interesting laundromat entrance I’ve ever seen. Dubois had a cute-looking downtown, but we didn’t stop. Bugman and I were cold and hungry, and we wanted to get to camp.

Our camp that evening was in the city park in Dubois (another pronunciation learned – it’s doo-BOYZ). There wasn’t much grass to speak of where the Sherpa tents were pitched, which meant we had mud right outside the tent. I’d heard a fellow camper mention having used cardboard from the recycling stations as a doormat for their tent, so I went in search of some. All of the recycle bins were empty. I asked a volunteer where I might find some, who asked another volunteer, who knew that the manager of the Family Dollar across the road was volunteering. A text message later, and we were told we could pick up some empty boxes at the Family Dollar. Yay!

Taking a warm showed and getting into dry clothes helped my mental state tremendously, but the continued rain was making me cranky, and I was beginning to be glad the ride was almost over.

I was ever so glad there was a building available to serve as a mess hall at this site.

There were rumors of snow at elevation along our route the next day.

Ride summary

Distance and elevation gain (per the official route stats – I’m giving up on the inaccurate elevation on my mapping software) were 76 miles, 2,815 feet

Min temp: 44, Max temp: 55, Winds 8-20, gusting to 24 mph, Precipitation: “none”?? Well, maybe it was dry at the airport . . .  [data from Dubois]

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Rainy Sunday ride

With our weeklong August bike ride approaching ever-nearer, Bugman and I need to get some time in the saddle.

So, last Sunday, we decided to head out on the road, despite the fact that it was drizzling. (And despite the fact that I was developing a cold. Interestingly, my running-faucet nose completely shut off when we were out on the road. I never needed the hankie I stuffed in Bugman’s back pocket. Was it the fresh air??)

As we walked the bike into the street in front of the house, a man driving the opposite direction (I think he said he was from Melbeta? Or was it Minatare??) stopped his car next to us to chat about the bike.

“What’s it made out of?”

“Uh ….”

I guess when you have a geeky-cool bike, it’s expected that you are a bike geek and know all the specs. (For the record, it is “Reynolds 631 air-hardened steel zonally-butted tubing.”)

“How far are you guys going?”

“Oh, maybe 50 miles.”

“Fifty? Five-O?”

He looked a bit dubious.

After the driver pulled away, we were passed by a cyclist in a tie and purple shirt.

“Heading out?” he called.

“Yep.”

I wonder if he was dubious, too.

I had looked up the radar before suggesting our route that morning. Based on the way the clouds were developing, I figured we might get a little wet on occasion but could probably avoid the worst of the weather by heading west. I figured if we went west on Highway 92 and north at Lyman to Henry, we could take Highway 26 back and go through more towns on the way home, where there would be shelter if we needed it.

We headed out and got a few blocks away before I realized I forgot my cycling gloves. After nearly forgetting my helmet. *sigh*

Just as we pulled into the driveway again, there was a crack of thunder.

Crap.

Do we really want to go out?

But I got all my bike stuff on, and I really want to ride!

I looked at the radar again. It looked like it would be OK if we headed west.

So we did.

And we got wet.

It was pretty miserable for a few westbound miles there. My shell jacket was nearly soaked through, and it was darned windy (~30mph). I didn’t mind it so much, but Bugman seems to have a lower tolerance for recreational discomfort than I do, and I felt guilty for dragging him out into the elements. (C’mon, hon – we are HARDCORE!)

A look back at the dark clouds above Scotts Bluff.

A look back at the dark clouds above Scotts Bluff.

Before we hit the hill up to the Mitchell turnoff, I was reconsidering.

We paused to consume some sport beans and consult the maps and radar again.

“What if we cut it short and turn north to Morrill?” I suggested.

Bugman was game for my crazy scheme. (That’s what I love about him – he usually is.)

We continued on through wind and occasional rain. It was lovely to see the countryside so green, with hints of blue flax along the road. We were serenaded by meadowlark after meadowlark.

We were also spotted by several friends along our route – got a few honks and hollers and a Facebook comment: “Just passed you and Jeff on that tandem for the second time today! Saw you on 92 at about 10 am too! In the rain!”

And now, for the photo ‘splanation:

Green! With horses.

Green! With horses.

Yay! After 15 miles, the turnoff to Morrill and a chance to have the wind whip as us from our left instead of our right.

Yay! After 15 miles, the turnoff to Morrill and a chance to have the wind whip at us from our left instead of our right.

We were chirped at along what seemed to be a miles-long prairie dog town. Those little critters sure do make a mess of a nice, green pasture.

We were chirped at along what seemed to be a miles-long prairie dog town. Those little critters sure do make a lumpy mess of a nice, green pasture.

Joseph and the amazing technicolor ... roof? I am noting this place because from underneath a trailer closer to the road, two dogs ran out into the road after us. Next time we ride this way, I'll know to be prepared.

Joseph and the amazing technicolor … roof? I am noting this place because from underneath a trailer closer to the road, two dogs ran out into the road after us. Next time we ride this way, I’ll know to be prepared.

Had a lovely surprise, forgetting about the Kiowa Wildlife Management Area. Since it wasn't raining, we decided to pull off for a peanut butter sandwich picnic.

At mile 19, had a lovely surprise, forgetting that the Kiowa Wildlife Management Area was on our route. Since it wasn’t raining, we decided to pull off for a peanut butter sandwich picnic.

The Ostenberg Overlook is a lovely spot.

The Ostenberg Overlook is a lovely spot.

Alas, some doofuses had left their shotgun shell litter behind. We cleaned up this, plus a whole other sandwich bag full of litter, and packed it out.

Alas, some doofuses had left their shotgun shell litter behind. We packed out a whole sandwich bag full.

Ready to head back out!

Ready to head back out!

As we slow down with a coal train ahead, I warily eye the thin band of mammatus clouds above us.

As we slow down with a coal train ahead, I warily eye the thin band of mammatus clouds above us.

The park in Morrill where I had planned to stop for lunch if it was raining. It seems so inviting with the "visitors welcome" sign.

The park in Morrill where I had planned to stop for lunch if it was raining. It seems so inviting with the picnic shelter and the “visitors welcome” sign. This is also where we turned east and got the wind to our backs!

In Mitchell. "Ice cream? We have six dollars in quarters." "OK."

In Mitchell. “Ice cream? We have six dollars in quarters.” “OK.”

It was a good ride. 38.64 miles, no sore bum. (Thank you, new cycle shorts, talc, and lots of standing.)

PS – the shoulder on Highway 26 eastbound out of Mitchell stinks. BBBBUUUUMMMMPPPYYYYY!

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw

Tough cookie: 6 miles in rain and ice pellets

Today I ran six miles in rain and ice pellets.

Bugman gamely offered to go with me, bless him, but I told him he really didn’t have to, so he begged off (and did the dishes while I was gone! ♥).

When I left the house, it was about 35 degrees, with the wind out of the northeast at 38 mph, gusting to 47, with a light rain. As they say, there is no bad weather – just bad clothing. I was actually pretty comfortable … until the ice pellets started falling. Ow.

“WHY?!??” you may be thinking. “Why in the world would anyone go for a 6-mile run in weather like that?!??”

I give you:

KATIE’S TOP 10 REASONS TO RUN 6 MILES IN RAIN, WIND, AND ICE PELLETS:

  1. It’ll give me something to blog about.
  2. According to the weather forecast, it’s only going to get worse. Might as well get the run over with.
  3. It’s better than the dreadmill at the gym.
  4. You’ll be the only person to appreciate that flock of sandhill cranes calling as they fly east along the river.
  5. You can be the first person to detect the ice pellets and make a report through the PING Project.
  6. Everybody will think you’re badass.
  7. You can burn off that half-bag of 50% off Easter peanut M&Ms you snarfed, or crack open a well-deserved Cornstalker.
  8. No need to sweat – the rain soaking through your clothing will cool you off very efficiently.
  9. You can test out your bad-weather clothing. What if you get similar weather during the race you plan to run? How else will you know what to wear?
  10. When you haven’t seen real rain in about 8 months, it feels really good to get out in it.
Snapped during today's run, just as the ice pellets began falling. The North Platte River is low - so low!

Snapped during today’s run, just as the ice pellets began falling. The North Platte River is low – so low!

Regarding #9, here’s what I wore to stay relatively comfortable during my 72-minute run:

  • runners ballcap – the brim kept the rain out of my eyes and, when tilted at a crazy angle to deflect the wind, kept the ice pellets from stinging my face
  • fleece earband
  • My thickest running pants (usually reserved for subzero temperatures)
  • My thickest zipneck running shirt (again, usually reserved for subzero temperatures)
  • Thin windshell jacket
  • Smartwool socks
  • 180 glomits – my favorite piece of running gear ever (gloves with a windproof mitten shell and breathable palm)
  • el cheapo sandwich bag to keep my iPhone dry (the touchscreen still works through the plastic)

By the time I was done, there was a coating of ice on my ballcap brim and I was carrying about 5 extra pounds of water in my clothing, but I was not frozen.

I must send out a fist bump to the drivers on West Overland who moved over when they saw me running towards them so I wouldn’t have to squash into the mud, and also to the driver on 20th Street who stopped to let me cross.

I guess that would be an addition to my top 10 list – courteous drivers who yield to sopping-wet, crazy runners.

Copyright 2012 by Katie Bradshaw