Hundreds of bicyclists tour greater Yellowstone area, visit gateway towns

Bicyclists participate in Cycle Greater Yellowstone near the Buffalo Bill Reservoir southwest of Cody, Wyo.

Ruffin Prevost/Yellowstone Gate

Bicyclists ride in Cycle Greater Yellowstone last week near the Buffalo Bill Reservoir southwest of Cody, Wyo.

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.

Bicyclists climb a hill along the Lower South Fork Road southwest of Cody, Wyo. during Cycle Greater Yellowstone last week.

Ruffin Prevost / Yellowstone Gate

Bicyclists climb a hill along the Lower South Fork Road southwest of Cody, Wyo. during Cycle Greater Yellowstone last week.

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.

Bicyclists participating in Cycle Greater Yellowstone relax at their campsite last week at the Park County Complex in Cody, Wyo.

Ruffin Prevost / Yellowstone Gate

Bicyclists participating in Cycle Greater Yellowstone relax at their campsite last week at the Park County Complex in Cody, Wyo.

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 ruffin@yellowstonegate.com.

2 thoughts on “Hundreds of bicyclists tour greater Yellowstone area, visit gateway towns

  1. I sincerely hope my local Cody community leaders and volunteer civic booster were paying attention to Cycle Greater Yellowstone when it came thru town last week. This was the best organized smoothest running event I have seen. The GYC showed us here in an alleged tourist destination town how to manage a major fete. It was a teachable moment.

    The other takeaway is this event did not require the participation of horses, cattle , or faux gunmen and faux saloon girls . The wearing of Stetson hats and Tony Lama boots was completely optional ( I did not see any ).
    C-GY overlapped another first time event in Cody , the Riverfest. A communal gathering of kayakers and paddleboarders with a few fly fishermen and the likes thrown in , again with no deference to the Old West cowboy culture. Both these events were definitely New West.

    I hope Cody was paying attention to that. It can’t be All Rodeo all the Time and All Things Buffalo Bill , come summer . This is the 21st Century , after all.

  2. Cody, you were a GREAT host town, for BOTH nights (the second one being unexpected). Thank you for letting us use your park and bike out to the lake and back on the extra day in Cody.

    My only (minor) complaint is the rumble strips on the highway we rode into town on the first day we got to Cody. Rough on the shoulders.