Mar drove me and my bike from St George to Mesquite, and I then hitched a lift back to Las Vegas. I wanted to get a head start on the weather, and I wasn’t keen on cycling again the I-15, the most direct route. I was looking forward to get to the Death Valley and its pleasant temperatures.
I was expecting to stand on the side of the road at a truck stop for ages, and was thinking I’d try to hitchhike maybe for a couple hours and then start cycling to a camp as it would have made it difficult for me otherwise to make it to a place to sleep before dark -that section of highway being long, bare, and exposed to the wind-.
Turned out, I got very lucky and managed to get a lift within 20 minutes. A very kind man in his fifties, Ted, with a golf cap and a golf cart in the back of his truck, stopped. The first thing he said was “I never take hitchhikers, but your bicycle intrigued me”. After explaining I just wanted to get to Las Vegas, we found a place for my bicycle by his golf cart.
After the caverns the wind started to blow strongly against us and we fought our way through to a camp, perhaps just 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the caverns. The tent howled all night under the wind. The following morning it looked at first like the wind had changed direction and we had a very strong tailwind for 6 miles. Alas, it gradually shifted again and we struggled to keep our bikes straight as the now side wind was sending us to the centre of the road. Then we took a slight turn, and by the time we made it to the State line into Texas we had a full frontal headwind, complete with rain and hail. We were super cold.
About 10 miles after the above picture was taken we made it to a rest stop. Ian started talked to someone and she offered me a lift to El Paso. I had 2 minutes to take a decision. I didn’t like the idea not to cycle to El Paso as planned, but strong, violent, winds were forecasted for a while apparently and there was nothing between there and El Paso, which would have been a 3 days ride for me had everything been fine. Picturing my tent getting slammed by the wind, I caved in as I did want to try and keep it alive until the end of the trip, even if it was approaching. By now I had booked ticket planes to France and decided to loop back to Los Angeles in the next month and a half.
From Santa Fe we took the Railrunner to Belen. The cheap city train, in addition to make “beep beep” sounds as the cartoon’s roadrunner, was great as we could just shove our bicycles on board and miss some of the busy traffic out of Santa Fe. Our plan was to follow a bikepacking trail –“Apaches, conquistadores and a bomb”– in Southwest/Central New Mexico.
This post could also be entitled: How not to cyclotour in the States or which areas not to be biking in in the States in the fall!
It doesn’t describe the mistakes we did doing the Great Divide, because, well, as you’ll discover shortly we didn’t cycle much of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route at all… but narrates certain mistakes in the planning, what happen when you cycle against the weather in the West US, and also what we discovered along our unplanned route !
A post covering a shorter period than usual and focusing on tips to cycle through Yellowstone area. If you are just looking for inspiration, there is still a bunch of pictures.
Best time to go:
Our experience was good as we went at the end of the season, which means there were significantly fewer people than usual. Enough people still to have most campgrounds almost full. It’s recommended to go to Yellowstone before Memorial Day (end of May) or after Labor Day (early September). In between, the summer season is really busy and I’d imagine you’d have a significantly different experience. It’s also most likely you’ll be potentially annoyed by forest fires in the area. The only trick with going there before the end of May or after early September is you’ll have to watch out for sudden weather changes, and you definitely don’t want to be caught in the snow, so the ideal window is actually quite limited. Continue reading “Cycling through Yellowstone and Grand Teton”
….Or else that’s what you get when you reverse what’s written on most Idaho license plates.
If you’d asked me what I knew about Idaho before that trip, I would have probably told you my mind was going blank. I knew this was the name of a US state, but I didn’t know anything about it, except that they seemed to have a lots of potatoes. Both Ian and I did hear slightly about it on the bicycle scene before we got there, and did some research before we booked our plane tickets to Boise, but we got really pleasantly surprised when we got to Boise and beyond.
It felt strange to be in the US again after a short flight, we could definitely sense somehow that the atmosphere was quite different in Boise than in Calgary, not in better or worse, but just different. We were looking forward to explore.
In Boise, we stayed with Warmshowers hosts Patrick and Rachel- who are very active in the local bicycle scene, and themselves have done A LOT of cyclotouring so we had a lot of interesting travel-related conversations. We had a great time with them and they gave us so much information about cycling in Idaho and Yellowstone, and among other things showed us the amazing Bicycle Project. At the Bicycle Project (https://www.boisebicycleproject.org/) you can find pretty much any bicycle part second-hand, but barely used, for a fraction of the initial price, get some help fixing your bike, and locals can also get credits towards parts/building a bike by volunteering there.
Landing in Seattle, fresh from a flight including a nightly layover in Portland I was in for a bit of a culture shock- Rain, rain, and rain was waiting for me ! As well as a fairly cold weather compared to what I had had until then in Mexico. And I was back into regulated country. A busy month was in store for me though.