“Pedaling up into the high Sierra Mountains out of Yosemite, you travel light, lean and clean. You carry your house on your bicycle with kitchen, stove, food, water, tent, sleeping bag and mattress. You travel at the perfect speed whether climbing a mountain pass, summiting it or coasting down the other side. You live simply, spiritually and physically. You travel inside the adventure rather than looking at it through the glass. While pedaling upward through a winding canyon, you break through a grove of towering ponderosa pines to see magical still waters reflecting the mountains above. It's noon. You stop for lunch on the shoreline of Lake Tenaya. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never tasted so good. Somehow, as you sit there gazing across the crystal-clear waters—your eyes behold the universe working before you. An armada of Canada geese fly low over the waters and splash down. Speckled trout swim past your picnic spot. A squirrel chatters in the trees above. A woodpecker knocks at the tree trunk. You settle back with your friend, "Hey Bob, did we pick the perfect restaurant for lunch or what?" “ FHW, Golden, CO
Touring cyclist stopping for lunch, Lake Tenaya, Sierra Mountains, California © 2012 Frosty Wooldridge
In the morning, from my open tent flaps, I watched the rising sun reach the tips of the Grand Tetons. It lit them up like candles! The snowfields reflected the sunlight with blazing glory. Slowly, the sun rose and the shadows of darkness gave way to the light creeping downward to the base of the mountains. Finally, the sun lit up the lake filled with ducks, geese, Western grebes, seagulls and more.
While my tent dried, I wrote a few thoughts about cycling into my journal. While I appreciate everyone else’s style when it comes to travel, I sure would have liked my new friends to share the morning sunrise like I saw it instead of the inside of a cabin. But you know, everybody’s got to do their thing in their own way.
(Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park.)
I met Dave and Gerry at the restaurant where we sat down to a gourmet meal of cereals, hot oatmeal, pancakes, yogurt, orange juice, raisin bran, toast and jelly, golden melons, ripe watermelon, apples, bananas, pears, peaches, cherries, plums and more. When they say, “All you can eat” to voracious cyclists, well, we cleaned them out.
(Gerry waving to oncoming cars and his early morning shadow gives an outline of him on his bike.)
Pedaling a bicycle eight hours per day creates two hollow legs on a cyclist that constantly need to be filled. We burn 7,000 to 8,000 calories daily. A regular person burns around 2,200 calories daily. Once, when I pedaled over 300 miles in one day, I burned over 20,000 calories. I rode in the Michigan 24 Hour Challenge. My friend Deric Skinner rode in the event this year and pedaled over 400 miles in one day.
Hungry takes on a whole new dimension while cycling. Food tastes increasingly better with the added calorie burn. Fruits explode with flavor when they hit my tongue. Water feels tastier while it slides down my throat. I burn so many calories that I can’t keep eating enough, which causes me to lose 12 to 15 pounds on a cycle tour.
(Riding out of the Grand Tetons. Gerry and Dave reaching a pass and excited about the downhill coast.)
After stuffing ourselves at breakfast, we headed out of the camp to watch even greater early morning views of the Grand Tetons. We stopped for some amazing shots of the Tetons striking gray-white into a brilliant blue sky.
Of all the mountain peaks in the lower 48 states, the Grand Tetons take the trophy for the most dramatic, majestic, stunning and compelling. In my humble opinion.
In front of one rest area, I photographed Gerry playing his guitar on his bicycle. He found great delight in being a traveling minstrel on a cycle. I’ve never seen a happier smile on a man’s face. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray….”
(Bicycling guitar player Gerry Mulroy of Ireland on his coast to coast epic ride. Playing his guitar with the Grand Tetons as his backdrop.)
While the morning rolled on, we climbed several miles out of the Grand Tetons toward Yellowstone National Park: our nation’s first national park. Thanks to John Muir, Major Johnson and others that pushed the national park system into being. Nations around the world adopted our national park system.
(Heading into Yellowstone National Park.)
We climbed hard and long out of the Teton Valley. Finally, we reached Yellowstone National Park. Huge lines at the entry booths. We gave them our tickets and pedaled along the Lewis River. At one point, we stopped by a bridge with a beautiful waterfall. We climbed down to take some dramatic pictures in front of the falls.
(Waterfalls along the Lewis River heading into Yellowstone National Park.)
One of the wonders I notice on a bicycle tour, my legs become incredibly powerful, tight and spring-like. I bounded along the rocks without even a second breath. Other tourists start heaving with heavy breaths. I walk with a bounce in my legs that feels rhythmatic and fluid.
At each stop, I follow a stretching routine that gives all my muscles a different workout. I start with my neck and do 20 forward thrusts, 20 left to right, 20 side to side and a couple of rotations. I elongate my arms by thrusting them over my head. I bend my back and touch my toes. I twist my waist and pull up my hamstrings. I bend over and touch the railing and stretch my calves. I touch the sky with my hands and touch the ground with my hands both left and right. I taught the routine to Gerry and Dave. They loved it. Gave them greater flexibility on the ride.
(Gerry and Dave riding over an old stone bridge constructed 100 years ago and still in service to visitors in 2013.)
I wish all Americans understood that to enjoy life at the highest levels, we need to take care of our bodies as the most important vehicle we own to move through this world. I see most Americans take better care of their cars than their bodies. They live in beautiful homes with manicured lawns with flowers. Ironic that they buy fabulous, fancy sports cars and get out of the front seat to display their 50 pound pot bellies and saddle bags hanging off their hips.
Back on the road, we climbed over the Continental Divide for a 14th time at 7,988 feet. Took a few pictures and kept pedaling.
That night, we reached Grant Village where we found a camp spot at the “Hiker-Biker” section for $5.00. We enjoyed dinner at the Lake Side Restaurant where we watched birds and kayakers paddling happily over the placid waters of Yellowstone Lake.
Back at camp, after a shower, I stopped in the dark with a group of kids sitting around a campfire under some lodge pole pines. The leader talked to about 20 boys and girls from 12 to 15. They had seen my “Across America” sign earlier so they knew I pedaled across the country.
“Excuse me,” I said to the campfire leader. “Would your group be up for a campfire story from somewhere in the world where I have ridden my bicycle?”
She looked around at the group and noticed their eager faces in the firelight.
“Sure,” she said. “Let’s hear an adventure story.”
I sat down with them and told my story of riding my bicycle in Antarctica and pedaling onto the pack ice where I met a family of Emperor penguins as I squatted onto the snow. Every eyeball grew bigger with wonder the further I got into the story. At the end, I told them that I had ridden Condor across the Australian Outback, into the Amazon Jungles, across the Equator and all the way to the Wall of China, to the Oracle of Delphi and the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.
At the end of the story, I said, “Each one of you enjoys the same ability to explore the world in any way you find exciting. Ignite your passions as you discover Yellowstone and uncover your greatest joys in the wild. I hope you find the wilderness your highest emotional, spiritual and physical good. To many Americans, the wilderness is little more than a retreat from the tensions of civilization. To others, it is a testing place—a vanishing frontier where man can rediscover basic values.
And to a few, the wilderness is nothing less than an almost holy source of self-renewal. But for every man, woman and child, the ultimate lesson that nature teaches is this: humanity’s fate is inextricably linked to that of the world at large, and to all of the other creatures that live upon it.”
“Thank you, sir,” said the campfire leader.
“I bid you all adieu and to each one of you, a grand and glorious adventure life,” I said as I hopped on Condor and rode back to my tent.
(May the Great Spirit bless all of us who seek out the wilderness, preserve it and share it with the world.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes, 10 of the Continental Divide. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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