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Yellowstone by bike

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Yellowstone bike

Ruth Eddy rides her bike past orange granite on her way up Golden Gate in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

The road between Mammoth Hot Springs and West Yellowstone is nearly 50 miles, a distance my partner, Ruth, and I hoped to cover twice on our bicycles as an out-and-back weekend in early April. Freed from Yellowstone’s infamous traffic jams, we committed to reading every roadside sign on the first day. The hype of biking in the park is real: Norris Geyser Basin was empty, Gibbon Falls was empty, and the Madison River basin was empty. Besides a handful of other cycling groups and the odd park vehicle, we had the place to ourselves.

Yellowstone bike

A cyclist wanders around empty boardwalks at Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Yellowstone bike

Water coming from different sources at Norris Geyser Basin converge in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Yellowstone bike

Ruth Eddy, right, greets two bicyclists as they pass in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

After rolling into our hotel room in West Yellowstone that evening, we found an open restaurant among the quiet streets and checked the forecast while gorging on pizza. A winter storm was predicted in the afternoon the next day, and I was glad to have packed extra layers. We slept easily that night, with visions of bison dancing in our heads.

Yellowstone bike

Bison trot along the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park on Monday, April 4, 2022.

Yellowstone bike

Bike tire treads flatten a bison pie in the middle of the West Entrance Road in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

Despite getting an early start, it was only a couple hours into the next day’s ride before I began to hear wind whipping through distant trees, growing louder as we pedaled. Above us, snow was blowing in great sideways drifts through the mountains, but in the direction we were traveling. I cackled with joy as the wind pushed us uphill. The storm may have arrived early, but it appeared to be on our team.

Yellowstone bike

Bear tracks lead into a forest in Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, April 3, 2022.

 By the time we reached Norris, we were fully surrounded. Snow accumulated on our handlebar bags, and our tires left snaking tracks through the road. A concerned park employee in a truck pulled off and offered to drive us the rest of the way. To my surprise, Ruth turned him down. We were still warm and dry, and, most importantly, were still having fun. Why stop now?

Another tailwind, stronger than first, pushed us through the whiteout back to Mammoth. Golden Gate, which had glowed warmly in yesterday’s sun, was now encased in ice. We paused briefly to bask in the power of the wind before heading down the final descent.

Before long we were back in the parking lot, toes cold and hearts warm.

Yellowstone bike

Ruth Eddy clears her glasses of condensation while biking through a snowstorm in Yellowstone National Park on Monday, April 4, 2022.

Yellowstone bike

Ruth Eddy continues on her bike in a snowstorm in Yellowstone National Park on Monday, April 4, 2022.

 

 

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