Spring biking in Yellowstone

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by George F. Johns, Apr 11, 2003.

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  1. In a recent thread on biking Yellowstone National Park, I mentioned the possibility of spring biking
    before the roads were open to autos and said that I was planning on a ride or two myself. I received
    an email asking me to write a trip report, but I demurred on the grounds that my rides are not so
    interesting for anyone to want to endure my writing. Yesterday I went for a ride in Yellowstone and
    had an experience of sufficient interest to make me change my mind.

    I started riding at the locked gate on the Mammoth to Norris road, about a mile south of Mammoth.
    The elevation at Mammoth is 6239 ft. The gate is a bit higher. From here the road climbs for perhaps
    3 miles through Golden Gate to Gardiner's Hole; a highway sign puts the gradient at 6%. Beyond
    Golden Gate, the road is in a very good state of repair and the grades are gentle all the way to
    Norris geyser basin (elev. 7484 ft.), about 20 miles from the gate. On the way you pass Roaring
    Mountain, an interesting geothermal area. It was just north of Roaring Mt. that I had my interesting
    experience. Although the road is closed to the public, there are maintenance and administrative
    vehicles using it. Rounding a bend in the road, I saw a maintenance truck stopped in the road, its
    three occupants looking at something off to the side of the road. I followed their gaze and saw a
    bear on my side of the road between me and the truck. Several decades in bear country have honed my
    powers of discrimination to be instantaneous and infallible; I realized immediately that this was
    not a black bear but rather a large silver tip grizzly (the bad news). The good news followed almost
    as immediately; it was not a sow with cubs so the probability of an immediate charge decreased
    considerably. I stopped. A grizzly is capable of tremendous bursts of speed and I calculated that
    this guy was within 2 or 3 seconds of me. I spied a tree that looked climbable, but in 3 seconds?
    And without ripping my lycra tights? The prudent thing to do at this point was turn around and beat
    feet, or rather pound pedal, normally a dumb move as it is likely to elicit a pedator/prey response
    but with a slight down hill, a good wind at my back and a double dose of adrenalin it seemed likely
    I could match the bear's top speed of some 35 mph. The driver of the truck beckoned to me so instead
    I crossed the road and bending low to try to stay hidden by a snow drift, I sneaked by the bear to
    the relative safety of a hard sided vehicle where I snapped a couple of pictures while considering
    the wisdom of having packed a camera and not a canister of bear spray. Now I've hiked a couple
    thousand miles and slept out a couple hundred nights in grizzly country and this was the closest,
    most potentially dangerous encounter I've had with one. The irony was not lost on me; nor was the
    humor. I could just hear my friends: "That George. Always did attract his share of junk yard dogs
    but I never dreamed it would be a 500 pound Griz would finally bring him down on a bike ride".

    The bear did not seem agitated but in the interest of safety I decided it was time to continue on
    to Norris where I stopped to eat the lunch I'd packed and watch the geysers, elk and geese for a
    while. From here one can continue south to Madison and beyond to the town of West Yellowstone, but
    I turned east toward Canyon (elev. about 7900 ft.), a distance of 12 miles. A highway sign
    proclaims 3 miles of 8% grade but it didn't seem that steep. This road is also in good repair and
    even has a paved shoulder, something lacking on many of the park's roads. When I got to Canyon I
    decided to take the spur road to the canyon and water fall overlooks and this road was so bad that
    I regretted my choice of 23c tires. I returned to Canyon on the Canyon to Lake road and this road
    is also in bad repair. From here it's mostly down hill back to Mammoth for a total distance of some
    70 miles. I had a moment of apprehension when I passed the place where the grizzly had been.
    Happily he was elsewhere by then.

    George F. Johnson A veteran for peace
     
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  2. Tim Smith

    Tim Smith Guest

    [email protected] (George F. Johnson) wrote:

    >In a recent thread on biking Yellowstone National Park, I mentioned the possibility of spring
    >biking before the roads were open to autos and said that I was planning on a ride or two myself. I
    >received an email asking me to write a trip report, but I demurred on the grounds that my rides are
    >not so interesting for anyone to want to endure my writing. Yesterday I went for a ride in
    >Yellowstone and had an experience of sufficient interest to make me change my mind.

    Thanks, George. Great report.

    A spring ride on the roads in Yellowstone, before they are open to cars, has to be one of the
    premier biking experiences in the US.

    When I try it, I'll plan to do it with a few other riders, most of whom are slower than me, but
    hopefully faster than the bears. <G
     
  3. H. M. Leary

    H. M. Leary Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, Tim Smith <[email protected]> wrote:

    > [email protected] (George F. Johnson) wrote:
    >
    > >In a recent thread on biking Yellowstone National Park, I mentioned the possibility of spring
    > >biking before the roads were open to autos and said that I was planning on a ride or two myself.
    > >I received an email asking me to write a trip report, but I demurred on the grounds that my rides
    > >are not so interesting for anyone to want to endure my writing. Yesterday I went for a ride in
    > >Yellowstone and had an experience of sufficient interest to make me change my mind.
    >
    > Thanks, George. Great report.
    >
    > A spring ride on the roads in Yellowstone, before they are open to cars, has to be one of the
    > premier biking experiences in the US.
    >
    > When I try it, I'll plan to do it with a few other riders, most of whom are slower than me, but
    > hopefully faster than the bears. <G>

    Tim:

    You only have to go faster than ONE rider...:)

    --
    "Freedom Is a Light for Which Many Have Died in Darkness"

    - Tomb of the unknown - American Revolution
     
  4. "H. M. Leary" wrote:

    > In article <[email protected]>, Tim Smith <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >

    <snip>

    > >
    > > When I try it, I'll plan to do it with a few other riders, most of whom are slower than me, but
    > > hopefully faster than the bears. <G>
    >
    > Tim:
    >
    > You only have to go faster than ONE rider...:)
    >
    > --

    Reminds me of an old joke: A couple of guys were hiking in the woods when they came upon a bear. One
    of the guys immediately pulled a pair of running shoes out of his backpack and put them on. The
    other guy said "why are you bothering with track shoes, you can't outrun a bear". "I know" said the
    first guy, "but I just have to outrun YOU!"

    Janet
     
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