CODY, WYO. — Bicyclist Michael McCann was one of nearly 700 pedalers who spent the last week traversing soaring peaks and broad valleys in a new touring event aimed at showcasing the amazing wildlife, scenery and communities of the greater Yellowstone area.
“Every day starts with a lament and ends in an epiphany,” McCann joked Friday while relaxing in Cody, Wyo. after a 50-mile ride through the scenic South Fork Valley.
His quip summed up how a few other Cycle Greater Yellowstone riders described their challenging but scenic treks through picturesque countryside in Montana near Livingston, Bozeman, Ennis and West Yellowstone, as well as an awe-inspiring trip from Cooke City, Mont. to Cody by way of the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.
“Every day, there has been something new and amazing,” said Leanne White, a cyclist from Portland, Ore. who rode with McCann.
White’s favorite leg of the trip was from Pilot Creek, near the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, through Sunlight Basin and over the 8,061-foot summit of Dead Indian Pass before finishing in Cody.
“I had to keep stopping so I could take pictures,” she said.
Another rider who has cycled more than 50,000 miles also praised the same leg of the trip as an all-time favorite, said Jeff Welsch, spokesman for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, which organized the event.
Despite the logistical challenges of providing meals, tents and even hot showers for hundreds of riders in a new town each day, the inaugural event went smoothly, Welsch said.
Under a travel partner program, GYC offered daily activities for visitors who were tagging along with cyclists, but not participating in the ride, he said. While cyclists hit the road each day, their travel partners could enjoy fly fishing, horseback riding, a bus tour through Yellowstone or a ride on a zip line.
Welsch praised a host of land management agencies and gateway communities who welcomed the riders, and said plans were already moving forward for summer 2014.
“Next year, we will start and finish in Jackson, Wyoming,” he said.
White and McCann said towns along the route were hospitable and drivers were great about sharing the road.
“There really hasn’t been that much traffic,” said White, who regularly rides in bicycle tours through Oregon.
“You end up going through a lot of these small towns and areas where you wouldn’t go otherwise,” she said. “And you see a lot more on a bike than you would in a car.”
White hoped to be back in the area again soon, which is one of the goals of the event, said Jim Spencer, a GYC board member who is also from Portland, Ore.
Spencer bought his first road bike four months ago in preparation for the event, and said he was amazed at how the trip brought a new perspective on the region.
“We have to find more ways to get people excited about this ecosystem and the wonders of Yellowstone National Park,” he said. “This is a great way to do that.”
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].