Sunday, June 17th
This was our first day of cycling, and it didn't start out in the most encouraging manner.
While we were breaking camp, thunderstorms hit (though the rain was not that hard). In spite of the weather, we broke camp and started cycling, since we had a lot of miles to go before we would reach Bridge Bay, where we had a reservation for the next night. We were on the road at 9:10 AM.
Emily followed Malan's to Old Faithful, and ferried them & their bicycles back to wherever the would find us on the road. We did this to avoid overtaxing their conditioning, since they were only conditioned for about 16 miles.
The rain had stopped, but the road was wet as we climbed out of the Madison river valley, following the Firehole river.
Early Morning Along the Firehole River, Climbing Out of the Madison River Valley
After climbing out of the Madison River valley, the going got easier, and the road began to dry.
Later in the morning, still climbing, but the road beginning to dry
We saw people fishing in the river. Soon, Emily met us, ferrying Malan's back from Old Faithful (where they had left their car).
We said goodbye to Emily & Mikal, who headed back to Logan in their van (in the background)
Preparing Collette's Bicycle Before Starting Cycling
Mark put a new, more comfortable seat on Collette's bike, made some adjustments, and then they joined us pedaling toward Old Faithful.
We all posed just north of the lower geyser basin
Aere & Malcolm, Just North of the Lower Geyser Basin
We continued along the highway, and took a foot-tour of this geyser basin.
Colors in the Lower Geyser Basin
Constantly Active Geysers in the Lower Geyser Basin
We then continued cycling toward the Old Faithful area.
Aere, Mark, and Collette, Near the Black Sand Basin
At Old Faithful, we had lunch, since we needed the calories. This turned out to be a mistake, because it took a really long time to get our lunch at the restaurant, where it was a rush time.
We said goodbye to Mark & Collette, who continued touring Yellowstone in their car. We then continued on toward West Thumb. It was already 3:00 PM, and we had a long way to cycle before we would arrive at Bridge Bay.
The storms seemed to be building in the west, but we were going east, and kept ahead of them. It even got warm enough to take off my windbreaker for awhile, but soon the cold air from the building storms overtook us, and the windbreaker went back on.
This was a long climb, that seemed to last forever. Finally, we reached the first continental divide.
At Isa Lake at the First Continental Divide, We were feeling proud of ourselves, and took a victory shot.
No sooner had we put the camera away, and resumed pedaling, the universe seemed bent on putting us in our place, and suddenly cold winds came from the west, and there was snow everywhere in the air.
Since it was downhill for a ways, we made good time coasting, and got ahead of the storm, to our great relief. But it was a really long climb again, and by the time we reached the second continental divide, the storm had overtaken us again.
Malcolm, at the Second Continental Divide
Again, snowflakes were in the air everywhere! We thought about deploying the shelter, but Malcolm said we should go as far as we could until the road got too bad, and then it would be time to deploy the shelter. Malcolm: It had been warm enough to take the coat off, but I found myself going on a long downhill, fast, while wearing a T-shirt with snowflakes swirling around.
So we forged on, and again managed to outdistance the storm, though we could see snow squalls around the valley. It was an exhilarating glide down to Yellowstone Lake. As we turned north toward Bridge Bay, I told Malcolm that this part of the trip should be flat and easy, since we would be following the shoreline of Yellowstone Lake.
We immediately ran into a big hill to climb, and I began to worry about our chances of reaching Bridge Bay before dark.
There were a lot of similar hills to climb, though there were also sections that were relatively flat. All the while, there was a strong, cold wind coming from the south. This was (thankfully) a tailwind.
White-caps crashing into the shore of Yellowstone Lake - it was cold
The hills never seemed to end. And the last hill before Bridge Bay was the longest climb of all. I began to bitterly regret committing us to such long mileage on the first day of cycling, without having looked at any topographic information. I seriously began to wonder if I even had the physical ability to finish this segment of the trip.
At long last, we crested this last hill (we didn't then know it was the last hill at that time), and coasted down for a long way, finally turning into Bridge Bay campground, cold and weary, in the fading light at 9:10 PM. That was cutting it too close!
It was interesting that when the campground reservation people first saw us, they began making arrangements for us to stay as hiker/bikers, not realizing we had a reservation. I had made the reservation because the brochure about bicycling Yellowstone strongly encouraged is to do so. Bridge Bay was not a campground I would have chosen. I wanted to stay at Grant Village, but that campground didn't open until June 21st. Bridge Bay was the only campground in the area I could make reservations for, so I made the reservation there.
Knowing what I know now, I would have headed for Lewis Lake campground instead, depending on hiker/biker accommodations.
We set up camp in the dark, and slept well, being totally exhausted.
On this day, we traveled 53.8 miles, with an average speed of 7.6 mph. We were pedaling for 6 hours, 59 minutes, and it took us 12 hours to do it.
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