Day 1, Sunday, July 19th, 2009
We met up with my son Laron at Mammoth Hot Springs, where he works, in mid-morning. After leaving the van there (and the keys with him), we ate a late breakfast with him, purchased last-minute supplies at the store, and embarked on our bicycle adventure.
It seemed as I announced to people we were starting on a 300 mile bicycle trip, that I was simply blowing hot air, so to speak, since we hadn't yet traveled a single mile. I wondered if we would complete the trip this year, or if we would have to cycle back to the starting point without having completed our goal.
Our son Laron with us at the start of the trip, at Mammoth Hot Springs
After saying our goodbyes, we started up the road, which was almost too steep to cycle, for a rather inauspicious start. Only 10 minutes up the road, we encountered a thunderstorm, and each of us sheltered under our plastic ground-cloth, draped over our head and bicycle, like a translucent hood over our heads. It impressed a passing tourist enough so that he snapped a picture of us as he drove by.
Though the storm was over in about 20 minutes, it was a portent of things to come, as we were dogged by storms the entire day, and even during the night.
Malcolm, after the storm, laughing at the 'storm gods' of Yellowstone
Very soon, the sun came out, with little wind, and it was hot. Nevertheless, we made good progress on our 1,100 foot climb.
At Golden-Gate Falls, the climb almost done
After finishing the 1,100 foot climb at Golden Gate falls, the terrain was flat and verdant, with only short climbs of 100 feet or less. So the cycling was beautiful, and easy. Unfortunately, mother nature (not to be laughed at) had more challenges in store for us.
At Swan Lake Flats. Note the puddles on the pavement, and threatening clouds.
All of this section of the park roads has no shoulder, so we watched carefully in our mirrors. Drivers were courteous though, with only one pickup trying to cut things a bit close. Also, the roads is this section had less curves, so motorists could see us farther ahead. The 45 MPH speed limit also helped.
In climbing hills, I seem to consume a lot of water, and after the climb to Golden Gate Falls, we were almost out. Fortunately, Indian Creek Campground was only 3 miles away, and we refilled our water bottles there. In looking at the nice hiker-biker campsites there (and seeing the threatening clouds), it was tempting to just stay there in one of my favorite campgrounds of Yellowstone. But we knew we had to put more miles behind us, so we pressed on.
A couple of times, we had to stop and shelter from the rain – one time with some hail as well. But we pressed on. The final time we had to shelter from the rain was at the Obsidian Cliff roadside display (which had a roof). Unfortunately, it also had hordes of mosquitoes.
Sheltering from yet another storm at the Obsidian Cliff roadside display
The climbs got a bit more significant as we approached Norris Campground (our new goal), and for awhile, it seemed we might have to shelter from yet another storm just a half mile from the campground. But the storm held off until after we entered the campground. It was raining full-force when I located the campground host. I sheltered under the campground host's awning, and Malcolm sheltered under a nearby restroom's eaves.
It turned out that there were no more hiker-biker campsites available, but the campground hosts let us use the tent site of the campground host site, paying only the hiker-biker rate.
When the storm finally relented, we set up camp. The sun came out before sundown, and it seemed the storms were gone for good. I nevertheless insisted on re-adjusting the shelter so that water would be less likely to get in. That proved to be a wise choice, since it rained hard during the night, and I just rolled over and slept through the storm – our stuff getting only a little wet.
On this day, we traveled 22.2 miles in 5 hours 55 minutes. We were pedaling for 3 hours, 31 minutes. Our average speed was 6.3 MPH.
Here is the profile for the day's travels, showing the amount climbed per distance traveled:
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