I woke up in bear country, Yellowstone National Park, the world's first national park. It poured all night long, but I was cozy and dry in my tent. I packed up early, thanking the staff at Madison Campground for offering hikers/bikers free tea and coffee in the morning. The day through Yellowstone was by far my favorite so far. It was my longest day at 80 miles and passed over the Continental Divide 3 times! The park was abundant with red, yellow, white, pink and purple wild flowers everywhere. And, I saw buffalo, deer, swans & other birds. It was a majestic ride through the park.
Although, Yellowstone is not necessarily a bike friendly park. There's barely a shoulder and at times the traffic is heavy. The one saving grace is that vehicles are going slow as a result of traffic, speed limit and passengers eager to catch a glimpse of wildlife. I'm positive I saw more than the cars as a result of my speed. It was, however, well worth it.
The views were magnificent as I left Yellowstone and entered Grand Teton National Park (see photos below). The Tetons... breathtaking! Jutting upwards into the blue, blue sky with sharp edges. At times on this trip (and this was one of them), I turn a bend and see something I never expected. And it brings tears to my eyes. I just can't help it. The extreme beauty of our country and the kindness of people and the strength of my body to ride like I'm riding is just overwhelming at times.
My day was long and as I climbed yet another hill, I passed a woman going the opposite direction on her bike, with no gear, so I presumed just out on a ride from a home or campground. She came back around on her way back and slowed to say hello. She asked me my destination for the day and I said Colter Bay Village. She asked if I wanted a warm shower at her place- she lived there. I didn't respond right away because 1. I'd been riding for 76 miles at this point over 3 mountain passes and my brain was fried 2. Didn't know how much farther it was 3. Trying to figure out logistics of meeting her where she lived. I apparently took so much time to process these things that she looked at me and said, "I'm safe." A which point I still didn't answer because I thought she was telling me that was her name. Now, envision this... We are biking, making sure no cars are coming up behind us and I don't even respond! She added, "I'm in law enforcement in the Park with my husband, you can trust me!" At that point I laughed at myself and said, "Ok, where do I meet you?" We met at the Colter Bay junction and she brought me to her home. I apologized for acting so weird and we got a laugh out of me thinking her name was Safe. I think that's my nickname for Aimee now. Safe.
I showered and Aimee offered me dinner and a place to crash. And laundry! When her husband came home, she announced they had a house guest and Clay welcomed me. I learned that they have worked for Parks all over the US but have been in this location for the longest. I'm assuming they are a bit younger than me and seemed to have settled into a life that they truly love. Two of their friends joined us for a fun evening of hanging. Aimee made me an enormous salad with grilled chicken and even offered any bike tools in case I needed to do any work on my bike- they had a shed full of bikes. I know I'll see Aimee and Clay again. We all clicked, ya know? We discussed meeting up in Brasil (heads up Gary and Kathleen!) to do some backpacking. Again, I'm amazed of the kindness of strangers. I mean, Aimee literally biked up to me and offered me a warm shower. Love it.
I woke up this morning and Aimee cooked me eggs with avocado and she quartered a kiwi on the side... What a host! I would have love to hang with them longer, but I have to be on Frisco CO to meet with a friend flying in for July Fourth weekend to spend the weekend with me in Vail. So, I got back on the bike, with a full stomach, a good nights sleep on a comfy bed and clean laundry! Today's ride was shorter- 63 miles. My ascent was 7039 feet over the course of the 63 miles! Most I've done in a day. I crossed the Continental Divide for a 6th time. Highest elevation I've been on this ride- about 9500 feet above sea level. I met two guys on mountain bikes doing the The Great Tour Divide Race. if you don't know it go here- http://tourdivide.org/
We cycled together a little and they told me they heard of me a few days back and were excited to catch up to me. I took a photo of them in front of me- see below. You can see they hardly carry anything. They also snapped my photo and I took off down a hill- a bit faster then them on my road bike. They were headed off road at some point soon after.
My body seriously feels like a machine! The ride was so diverse. I had views of the Tetons in my rear view mirror most the day. A I climbed the massive 25 miles hill, which took about 3.5 hours, I enjoyed the wide shoulder, smooth pavement and most importantly, the tail wind! Finally! My 30+ mile downhill was fully enjoyed and I got into Dubois WY easily.
The weather has turned for the better after my snow experience not so long ago. The sun is out and the temperatures are supposed to warm up. When I go downhill, however, I usually throw on a layer or two. For warmth, but it's an added layer of 'skin' in case I fall. Not that I'm expecting too! Don't tell my folks I hit 41 mph. I usually max around 30, but I was curious. I won't do it again mom and dad, I promise!
When I update my blog on my iPad versus my laptop, I'm not able to embed photos where I want to or label them. So- you'll see a photo of my lunch spot- recharging my phone via laptop, about to write some postcards (thank you's to recent donors) and eat some yummy food. Typical lunch scene for me... You know, with the Tetons in the back! You'll also see the scene diversity in my ride today. And the moon above the Tetons!