Day started around 6:00 am. Mostly just trek across South Dakota. At the Badlands I asked about cycling options and was shown 3 loops between 18 and 27 miles. I opted for a 23 mile loop at the far end of the park. Drove very excitedly to this location. Winds were said to be around 18 MPH from the northwest. My ride started on a gravel road traveling west-northwest (into the wind). One of my most rewarding rides I’ve ever had. Badlands on one side of me and a sea of prairie dogs on the other. Some of the little sniffy guys seemed pretty carious about me. Exited the park for the north leg of the ride, again into the wind. Wasn’t bad. Turned east and had a strong tailwind. Made great time on the east and south legs of the trip. Two hour ride, under 23 miles, 1,500 Calories, and not tried.
Wanted to find a rest area near Rapid City for the plans I had for the following day. There were no options as areas were either closed or only had 3 hour parking. Angrily continued past Sturgis into Wyoming and slept at a lovely rest area.
Pictured is a section of road from my ride in the Badlands. This section of the park doesn't get a lot of travelers and it made for a very pleasant ride.
The morning started at 5:30 am when the van next to me started to idle loudly. Yellowstone was next on the list, but I had forgotten to pack blankets. I knew camping at the higher altitudes was going to be chilly so tried to find a place on the Internet along my route to pick something up. Oddly nothing showed up at all, but as I drove I came across an older big box department store. I forget sometimes that the Internet doesn’t know everything.
Used an alternative route though Bighorn National Forest to change things up and enjoyed it quite a bit. Saw moose for the first time in the wild. My last trip out west I had really wanted to see some moose but didn’t find any. This time I came across several. I stopped to photograph one a little over 100 feet away munching on grass on the other side of a fence. The moose decided the grass was better on the opposite side of the road and with great ease stepped over the fence and walked to the other side.
On my arrival to Yellowstone I saw 3 bighorn sheep walking along side the road—another first. At visitor center I was shown my cycling options. There were not a lot as the park is mostly roads and hiking trails. Parking by Yellowstone Lake I opted to try the closest bike area. Couldn’t find it so I cycled down the road and found the second. Did a 13 mile loop that was not too challenging. Opted to ware shorts and short sleeve shirt. Temperature started around 60 but dropped by the lake and during the ride. Put on a long sleeve shirt to finish ride but was never all that uncomfortable.
What I found I liked about cycling in a place like Yellowstone is that I have plenty of time to observe and setup shots I want to take, and I don’t have to wait for a pullover area to do so. There is a lot of road traffic but for the most part the traffic moves slow and I didn’t feel too concerned with it.
I ended the day sitting by Yellowstone Lake photographing the sunset. Then it was time to crawl into my trunk for the night. I had a plan in mind to test my cycling skills the following day.
Woke at 7:00 am and started drive to Old Faithful area. Quite chilly and hoped to burn a little time so it would warm up. Prepared the bike for a ride to explore some of the cycling trails. First set of trails were to the west. I had a hard time finding the actual bike trails, but traveled the ones I could find.
Ride turned into a 3 hour and 20 minute ride covering 23 miles. I was hoping to try a hill climb but the first ride took a lot longer than I thought. So I went back to the car to eat and fell asleep for a bit. This allowed batteries (camera and bike light) to recharge. Decided to crawl into the trunk for a nap. Woke around 5:00 pm feeling pretty rested and decided I was going to try a hill climb.
I have never cycled in mountains before and to my knowledge I’ve never biked up a hill that was more than a couple hundred feet in altitude. Looking at my cycling options at Yellowstone the pamphlet did give alternate changes. I decided to try cycling to the continental divide telling myself that if I got too tired it was easy to simply turn around and go back. I was rested, well stocked with way more calories than I needed for multiple days of travel, and anxious to see what if I could do it.
Self rules were to keep a heart rate between 155 and 165 BPM so I didn’t over stress myself. The first part of the ride had heart rates over 170—I was just too excited, but over time I was able to get them lower. Not sure my speeds but I wasn’t feeling burned out by the near continuous climb. I think the first part of the ride took about an hour. It covered 8 miles and a climb of around 1,000 feet. Pretty sure this is the highest climb I have ever made on a ride. Reached the continental divide before expecting it and was surprised at having done so. An 8 mile ride isn’t much of an accomplishment, but the 1,000 foot climb was. I had been concerned that the altitude would have effected me more as I was now at over 8,000 feet, but I didn’t notice any difference.
Took some time to celebrate my victory. Fairly chilly and snow all around me. Isa Lake was still covered in ice and the hills around me had a thick blanket of snow. But it was wonderful to be there.
The ride back down the mountain had a very high rate of travel. GPS says I hit 40 MPH but when watching I was never able to hit more than about 33 MPH as even in my highest gear I couldn’t add any energy. Made the trip back in around 30 minutes.
Pictures is a very happy Wisconsin kid after accomplishing his first mountain ride.
Found a lodge with a sitting area to I fetched my laptop to do some writing. Damn battery was at 50% and I don’t see a place to plug in. Found a second sitting location with electricity and did some writing until around 9:00 pm.