Tuesday, July 12, 2011

De Smet, SD

Our trip to Colorado and Yellowstone concluded with an eastbound visit to Wall Drug Store, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, and a stop in De Smet, SD where Laura Ingalls Wilder spent many of her early years. We spent about five hours in De Smet, visiting the original Ingalls homestead, the Surveyors House the Wilder's lived in during the winter, the school Carrie and Laura attended, the church they worshipped in, the house Pa built in town, and the cemetery where several of the Ingalls family are buried. A very nice day and well spent for anyone who read the Little House books while growing up. It gave a great perspective to the way of life families had on the plains during in the late 1800's. It was a very difficult life and folks had to be very resourceful.

After leaving De Smet, it was an uneventful 1200 mile drive back to North Georgia. Great to be home, though it was a fantastic trip and I miss riding with my ABB friends in Colorado already.

This is the Ingalls' original homestead that Pa filed a claim on. The Big Slough is in the right background. The homestead extends to the treeline in the background.

Imagine what it was like attending school here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mount Rushmore and ABB sightings

Today we drove from Gillette, WY to Mitchell, SD.  Along the way, we stopped at Mount Rushmore. As we skipped going to Glacier National Park, our arrival at Mount Rushmore coincided with ABB's. Driving north from Custer, we began seeing cyclists headed towards Crazyhorse.  After we passed the Crazyhorse turnoff, I saw a van on the side of the road with a guy practicing his golf swing.  It was Mike, taking pictures of the riders. Karen and I stopped and said hello for about ten minutes and then headed on to Mount Rushmore.

At Mount Rushmore we ran into more ABB riders. Here is Dan (one of four Dan's this year) and Gary. It was great to meet and talk to them.

Next, we stopped at the SAG stop outside Keystone and said hello to Karen. Unfortunately, we did not get to see Jim who was riding sweep, or Debbie, Barb, and Jeff who were already headed towards the hotel. We headed east to Wall Drugs, and then further east as we are headed to De Smet, SD. tomorrow. There were heavy thunderstorm clouds in the rear view mirror while on I-90 to Wall. Let's hope there are no hail storms this year.

All the ABB riders I talked to said they were having a great time. One even followed my blog last year and knew who I was. I hope everyone is savoring each minute of this year's ride, because I recall the rest of our ride happened pretty fast. Good luck and safe riding to the 2011 North riders.

Here is a link to Ann and Leslie's blog for this year's ride:  http://talesfromthesaddle.tumblr.com/   From here, you can link to several ABB 2011 North blogs. For us though, it is on to De Smet. And then we head home. But I wish I was riding from Rapid City to Wall tomorrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yellowstone National Park

We spent a second day in Yellowstone N.P. today. The weather was perfect. In the 50's at elevation, warming to the 70's later in the day, with no humidity. We drove from West Yellowstone through the West Entrance of the park and north towards Mammoth Hot Springs. We were in the park before 7AM and had the place to ourselves until about 10AM. If you want to see this park without crowds, get here early. The first picture is a view of Mount Washburn (10243 ft.) as we approached Dunraven Pass at 8859 ft.

Evidence from the forest fire of 1988 is still visible. There are still vast areas of burned tree trunks. Growing among the burned trunks are younger trees, probably about 20 years old. This view is during the drive south towards Canyon Village.

Here is a view of the Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River, just south of Canyon Village. The height of the falls is 308 feet. You may barely see people and an observation deck just to the right of the brink of the falls. There is also an observation deck about three quarters of the way down on the left hand side. It could be reached by descending several hundred feet, including a metal staircase and 337 steps. I counted the steps on the way back up.

It would be hard to not see wildlife at Yellowstone. We saw plenty of buffalo and elk. We did not see any grizzlies though.

It was a very clear day and we could see for miles. Here is a view of Yellowstone Lake looking southeast from Lake Butte, on the east side of the park.

We could even see the Tetons far to the southeast.

We decided to skip Glacier National Park, since the Going To The Sun road is still not open. Instead we headed east at the end of the day. On our drive, as we approached Granite Pass (9033 ft.) in the Bighorn Mountains, we stumbled upon Shell Falls, a very lovely falls at 120 feet high. There were less than ten people viewing this falls.

That's all for another fantastic day. There will be more to see on our way back home.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Teton and Yellowstone N.P.'s

Today, we drove through Teton National Park and parts of Yellowstone National Park. After passing the ABB hotel in Jackson, we took the same drive north with the Tetons on our left. Memories of that day we cycled from Jackson to Dubois last year came back. Karen and I had to stop and take pictures at all of the same places I did last year.

We did see four cyclists on the road towards Moran Junction, and they seemed to be making good use of the tailwind they had.

After reaching Moran Junction we turned off towards Yellowstone National Park rather than head towards Togwatee Pass. We took in some of the sights in Yellowstone, driving from the south entrance to the west entrance before getting a hotel for the evening.

Old Faithful erupted on schedule while we were there.

And I even had time to get in an hours bike ride from West Yellowstone, Montana back into the park. Tomorrow, we head towards Mammoth Hot Springs and/or the Lamar Valley.

Today's ride:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/98016018

Friday, July 8, 2011

CRR ABB Day 8 - Snowmass to Glenwood Springs

Today was our final day of the Colorado Reunion Ride. After the above group photo (some riders started cycling early), it was time to cycle together for the last time.

We descended from Snowmass towards Aspen and took a bike path over to the base of the Maroon Bells climb. 

It was a nine mile climb up to see the Maroon Bells. We had good views of the mountains during the climb.

At the top, we took some more group photos before descending back towards Aspen.

From the base of the climb near Aspen, it was a 40 mile ride on the Rio Grande Bike Path to Glenwood Springs.

This had to be one of the best bike paths in the country. It was fantastic. Imagine riding 40 miles through a valley, with mountains on both sides of you, a white water rafting river next to the path, and at a constant 1% descent. It was a perfect end to our tour.

We did (finally) get some rain while we were riding. It rained for the last six miles of the ride. No matter, it was a great day, as were all of the other days in Colorado.

Highlights of the whole tour, for me, had to be (1) riding Trail Ridge Road above timberline at 12,000+ feet with a significant amount of snow still around, (2) the climb to Independence Pass, also at 12,000+ feet, (3) the climb to Maroon Bells, and (4) the 40 mile Rio Grande bike path down to Glenwood Springs.

Thanks again to Beth and Sandy for directing the ride. Great job. And to Nancy, Sue, and Karen for providing support for all of the riders.

Next is a visit to Yellowstone National Park, and possibly Glacier National Park, before we head home.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

CRR ABB Day 7 - Leadville to Snowmass

We have had great weather on this tour.  Clear skies in the morning, and partly cloudy in the afternoon EVERY day, save for rain in the afternoon of our one off day. We have been very lucky to that extent.

Last night we stayed at the Delaware Hotel in Leadville. Karen and I had a room on the third floor, meaning we had to walk up two flights of stairs to our room, since there were no elevators. I have never been out of breath after walking two flights of stairs. Until now. You can really feel the difference in the oxygen level at 10,000 feet. And when sleeping, several times I woke up feeling the need to take a deep breath of air. Many in our group did not get a good night's sleep last night.

Today we cycled 69 miles to Snowmass. The first 15 miles were downhill with Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive to our right.

Then, we made a right hand turn and it was 23 miles uphill to Independence Pass. The climb was gradual at first and then steepened as we got closer to the summit. The road switchbacked several times and one could see where they had cycled an hour ago.

The summit was well above timberline and still had a significant amount of snow. Afterward, I rode the rest of the way with Margo and Tom, stopping for lunch in Aspen. The last several miles to the hotel involved an unexpected climb of over 1300 feet.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Colorado ride. We cycle from Snowmass to Glenwood Springs. Most everyone will stay at a hotel in Glenwood Springs and take a train back to Denver the following day. We will depart for Yellowstone National Park after the ride ends tomorrow. The time here has really flown by and it is sad to think only one day remains and soon it will be time to say good by to many ABB friends.

Today's ride:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/97543608

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CRR ABB Day 6 - Copper Mt. to Leadville

This morning, we had a short ride from Copper Mountain to Leadville.

Dan serenaded us with "Oh, what a beautiful morning", again.

On the way up Freemont Pass, Barb had two flat tires.

High point of the day was Freemont Pass at 11,318 feet of elevation, also site of the Climax mine.

It was then a speedy ride down to Leadville. We are staying in town at a really neat old hotel, The Delaware, dating to 1886.

In the afternoon, we had our choice of two rides. A historic ride or a ride around the lake. I needed to get one of my shifters replaced, so I spent the time at Cycles of Life Bike shop where they took good care of me. Tomorrow, we have a long day, climbing Independence Pass at over 12,000 feet.

Today's ride:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/97328590

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CRR ABB Day 5 - Vail Pass

Today was an off day. A group breakfast was scheduled at 7:30AM. Coincidentally, the usual four folks showed up first.

After breakfast, we took the chairlift up Copper Mountain.

Leo found yet another means of transportation for our tour.

Finally, I took a short bike ride with John up to the top of Vail Pass, just for some day off exercise.

It was a relaxing day at Copper Mountain. Tomorrow, we ride to Leadville. Three days of riding remain.

Today's ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/97095324

Monday, July 4, 2011

CRR ABB Day 4 - Georgetown to Copper Mountain

 This morning we loaded our luggage at 6:15AM, had breakfast at the hotel, and hit the road.

The first eleven miles were primarily on bike paths headed uphill and to the west towards the I-70 Eisenhower Tunnel and Loveland Pass.

 Our first SAG stop was manned by Sue Anderson and Karen.

After the Sag, we headed left and switchbacked four miles up to the summit of Loveland Pass and 11,990 feet.

Here we are at the summit.

There was still heavy snowpack on the west side of the summit. I think these folks were taking snow down to the ski area.

 And Arapahoe Ski Area was still open for business.

After decending all the way down from the pass, we had a nice lunch in Keystone before taking bike paths to Copper Mountain. Tomorrow is an off day at Copper Mountain. On Wednesday we will ride to Leadville.

Today's ride: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/96927584

Sunday, July 3, 2011

CRR ABB Day 3 - Granby to Georgetown

For the third day in a row, we had excellent weather. Another clear day with no afternoon thunderstorms. Today, it was 43 degrees when we loaded up at 7:00AM. Temperatures remained cool during our climb to Berthoud Pass and warmed up mid day for the descent. Above, we leave Granby in the early morning, headed for Berthoud Pass at the 29 mile point. The ride was 47.5 miles.

 I rode with Leo early in the morning. This is what he looks like on a bicycle other than a Bike Friday.

 At the 9 mile point, this is the view towards the Winter Park ski area, with Berthoud Pass just behind it.

Don, Dan, Barb and John Soley, and Steve take a brief break before the climb starts.

 As we climb the pass, this is a view back towards where we had come from.

 Finally, we reach the pass and second SAG stop.

It was a quick descent off the pass. A 35mph average for 13 miles, with a top speed of 49.8mph.

The food has been great. We had a nice catered breakfast this morning, followed by all types of fruits, power bars, gels, sports drinks, and other goodies at the SAG stops.

Strawberries with Nutella. A new favorite SAG food.

Today's ride:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/96628540