Day 3, Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

We woke up the next morning confident that we could make up our lost time on Sunday, and once again be on schedule, which called for us to spend the night at Madison Campground. Two years earlier, we had cycled from Madison to Bridge Bay, and this time we were starting at a higher elevation and going to a lower elevation. Besides, we already had two days of cycling under our belts, and could handle longer mileages.

Since we didn't want to do any back-tracking (to the store at Lake Village), we again ate breakfast in the form of cans of chunky soup.

We soon broke camp, and were on our way.

We had hoped to avoid the first big hill by taking the Gull Point drive, but it was blocked off. So we climbed the 140 foot hill. No big deal.

In this section of the trip, we were amazed at the number of cyclists we passed, coming up Yellowstone Lake from the other direction. We hardly saw any when we cycled Yellowstone two years before in June.

As you can see from the profile below, there are 3 big hills, and two smaller hills. The views of Yellowstone Lake were worth it, however. Having two days behind us already, the hills seemed smaller than when we cycled it on the first day of the trip two years before.

Along Yellowstone Lake in the morning.

I remember seeing a rabbit by the side of the road, hop away as I approached. You miss these things in cars. And it was pleasant hearing the birds sing.

After a long, but scenic ride, we came to West Thumb, where we rested. There was no water to re-fill our water bottles there, but we were confident we had enough to make it to Old Faithful.

Rest stop at West Thumb

From here, we would have to climb in earnest, topping first the biggest hill, then gliding down a long way, and re-climbing about a third of it. But beyond there, most of it would be downhill. Here is the profile of the trip from West Thumb to Madison Campground:

With a few walk-up sections (mostly at the beginning), we finally made it to the first continental divide.

At the first continental divide

Seeing the sign, I was happy with the prospect of a pleasant, downhill glide. But if you look closely at the profile above, you can see that the top of the first hill is not at “CD1-1”, but at “CD1-21”, which is 21 way-points beyond the continental divide. There was still more climbing to do! Demoralizing! This climb included a walk-up hill! I felt cheated out of my downhill glide, but eventually, it did come.

When we started to climb again, we stopped for a rest stop, and talked briefly with a group of cyclists who stopped in case we needed help, not considering that we might only be stopping to rest. Obviously, we are neither athletes nor racers, but we do go amazing places and distances.

This was one of the more unpleasant sections of the trip, with the temperature getting hot, and having sections of the climb too steep to cycle. But this section did finally pass, as we made it to Isa Lake, and the 2nd continental divide.

At the 2nd continental divide

Isa Lake

This time (unlike the earlier 'sucker' continental divide), we were immediately gliding downhill toward the Old Faithful.

When we cycled into Old Faithful area, low on water and in need of food, we managed to get separated from each other. How do you follow each other all of these miles through mountains in the wild west, and then lose them in a parking lot?

I was looking for the Yellowstone General Store, more to the western edge of the area, because it has malts, and the other store does not. Malcolm was ahead trying to find it, when I realized we were too far east. I yelled to him that this was the wrong way, and turned to the west. When I went down a road and finally saw the store ahead, I yelled to him that it was just ahead, but he wasn't there. He hadn't heard me the first time I yelled when I turned around, and had kept going.

I went back to where we had separated, but didn't see him there. What followed was a sequence of bad assumptions about what the other person would be doing or would do. When Malcolm didn't show up at the store, I cycled back, and eventually encountered him cycling around, searching for me. So we finally linked up again. Had we not done so, the 'plan-B' of each of us would have been the wrong thing to do (based on what the other was going to do), and it would have ended the trip.

So a disaster was barely avoided.

After eating including a caramel malt, and refilling our water containers, we were cycling toward Madison Campground. But on the way, I wanted to cycle the Firehole Lake Drive.

Great Fountain Geyser, on the Firehole Lake Drive

Though there was some climbing involved in doing the Firehole Lake Drive, it was fortunate we cycled it, considering the view such as Great Fountain Geyser above, but also that we cycled by just as Pink Cone Geyser was erupting, which I had never seen erupting ever before.

Pink Cone Geyser erupting

This geyser kept erupting, and we watched it for about a half hour before cycling on with it still in eruption. We cycled through its spray (cool on coming back down) to continue on the road.

Malcolm was concerned at how late in the day it was with so many miles still to go, but I explained that it was almost all downhill, and we could easily make it.

We continued our journey, following the Firehole River, and even though there was a bit of a headwind, made good time. We cycled into Madison Campground in plenty of time to set up camp. This time, the hiker-biker area was right behind the campsite registration building, so it was a quick and easy trip to the campsite.

There, we met another cyclist who was doing a loop starting at Jackson Wyoming, over Teton Pass, to Ashton, ID, and West Yellowstone, through Yellowstone and the Tetons back to Jackson. This was the trip I had planned originally, only he was starting at Jackson rather than West Yellowstone. From his account of it, Teton Pass sounded like a real pain to cross.

On this day, we traveled 57 miles, in 8 hours and 50 minutes. Our average speed was 8.3 MPH. We were pedaling for 6 hours, 50 minutes.

We were now back on schedule!

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