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.
A Vipassana retreat is hard. Rules are quite strict for the duration of the course. No speaking, no access to your phone, no communication, gender segregation, no sexual activity, no physical exercise whatsoever except walking laps in the courtyard of the foundation, and not even access to any kind of reading material. The idea is to stay clear of any kind of distraction to focus the mind on meditation. While some rules were easy enough for me, I was expecting the no reading material to be the hardest. Turned out, after a few days what I was really craving for was physical exercise, like at least pull-ups or gym. But I did complete the course, though I still found it was difficult to concentrate even at the end.
All you do for 10 days is meditate following a Buddhist technique, punctuated by breakfast and lunch breaks (no dinner, it’s only a snack around 5pm). Meals provided are vegetarian, and it was generally easy enough for me to look for vegan and gluten-free options in what they served. My main interest in following this course was to try to learn to meditate in the best way possible, and I was also interested to see how I would feel after one week without having my mind distracted by any else than my own thoughts. I’m definitely glad I was able to have that experience, even though I found it pretty hard. Everyone has their own experience, and there is a lot to say about Vipassana, so if you are interested, check out this: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index .
After Vipassana, I ended back in Calgary. Want to know how?