“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
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
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
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
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
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
(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