Sometimes a journal leaves you hanging.
The author finishes the tour, heads home back to ‘normal’ life, and you wonder what their final thoughts were about the recent tour and what they are planning next. So down below I’ve tried pull together some ride stats and highlights for this tour. Then, to satisfy any curiosities about future rides, I answer the two questions I most frequently received on the road about my post-tour plans.
Some ride statistics and accomplishments
We ended up riding 5583 miles on this trip. These miles included 20 mountain passes or summits. We crossed the Continental Divide six times. We spent 2800 miles and 64 days in Montana.
I set a new personal speed record of 46.3 mph. I also set a new personal daily distance record of 130 miles from Thermopolis to Casper, Wyoming.
On 54 days we rode 51 or more miles; 53 days we rode 50 miles are less. This included: 7 days where we rode more than 100 miles; 6 days we rode 91-100 miles; and, 7 days of 80-90 miles. On 24 days we rode nowhere at all – either waiting out weather, going to museums, visiting friends or going hiking, etc.
Top 5 ride highlights
I enjoyed many different things on this tour, and I, of course, loved all of my time in Wyoming again. However, if I had to choose a Top 5 Highlights List, this would be it, in no particular order:
1) The day I went kayaking on the Niobrara River near Valentine, NE and then rode 60 miles through the Sandhills in the afternoon/evening. Like my friend Wayne, I’m a big fan of Cherry County and could easily live there given the right circumstances.
2) The first night in Montana camped all alone in absolute silence in the middle-of-nowhere among incredibly diverse and blooming prairie plants, after 104 scenic miles riding through the Black Hills and High Plains.
3) Riding Beartooth Pass and Trail Ridge Road – both are roads that strike fear in the heart of many touring cyclists because of the big elevation gains, long climbs, and time spent exposed above treeline. I’m proud to have these under my belt – to do both of them on the same tour is pretty darn cool.
4) Riding around southwest Montana – particularly the Pioneer Scenic Byway and the Big Hole. There were relatively few people (so much of Montana felt crowded), the mountains had complex geology to behold, there were 10,000 foot peaks to view, and I really felt in the touring groove through this section.
5) Riding down through Central Montana from Havre to Red Lodge. There was very interesting geology and cultural history to indulge in, and it was one of the few places in Montana where the riding was pleasant and the traffic generally light and courteous. I did big mileage days through here and felt so fit, physically and mentally.
In the future, why don’t you tour in other countries besides America?
As long as I live in Australia, and my parents are still alive, my bike tours will be in America. If I’m going to purchase an international flight somewhere, it will be to go home and visit family before and after a tour. Once my parents have passed away, then I will certainly expand my touring horizons. Because I like mountainous areas, and my main touring interest is in landforms (geomorphology), the places I most want to tour overseas are places where I’m interested in the geology and/or mountainous landscape. While I enjoy learning about local history and culture along the way, I see that as bonus; it would not be what determined my touring choices.
Therefore, the two top international destinations on my touring list are: 1) Patagonia and the Andes in South America; and, 2) A tour of the ‘Stans and some time in Mongolia. There are other places I’d like to tour, but those will be a good start. I would also like to ride down from Alaska through Canada at some point, too. More than a couple experienced tourers have suggested that I would love that experience.
When and where will your next tour be?