Tales from Vacation: Biking the Beartooths

The Beartooth Mountains are big. Big big. And, the road leading through them is steep, winding, and scary as hell. So, when Erik suggested we take part in a Beartooth Mountain bike ride as part of his family reunion over Fourth of July weekend, I promptly said I needed more information.

Of course, more information never came and we signed up anyway.

The view from the top of the Beartooth Mountains, just shy of the Montana-Wyoming border.

I hadn’t been on a bike since high school; I had long lost my pedal legs. Thankfully, bike skills were completely unnecessary. I’ve been joking that the tour bikes are Big Ass Bikes since they seem well-suited to a wide, American ass. The seats are big and cushy, and the handlebars are high enough to keep you fairly upright (picture a lovely French woman riding a bike with baguettes in a basket; it’s that kind of bike).

The Beartooth Bike Tours bus drove our group to the Montana-Wyoming border, the summit of the Beartooths, high above the treeline and still in some fairly deep snow. It was beautiful and cold. After our guide, Doug, handed out bikes and let us take a few wobbly spins, we set off down the mountain. In a car, the road was scary, but, on a bike, the road seemed exceptionally wide and comfortable. The bus followed us to keep cars from running us down, but traffic was light since it was very early in the morning.

Our guide, Doug, and his kilt. Hubba hubba.

We stopped several times along the road and Doug explained the history of the pass (it was built over two years in the ’30s thanks to some money-passing at the federal level). Frankly, he could have told me the pass was built by aliens and I would have nodded my head and believed it. Doug was lovely. Dressed in some kind of canvas kilt, heavy boots, and leather bracelets, he looked like an odd combination of barbarian-garage mechanic. Typically, it’s not my kind of thing (kilt-wearing fellas are fairly common up here and I always roll my eyes), but Doug was so darn fit and charming, it was impossible to resist. He knew about history, geology, and probably lots of other things I can’t remember through the haze of dreaminess.

Doug alone made the ride worthwhile. But, there was so much about it that was amazing. The views of the mountains, the freedom of the bikes, the thrill of the ride, it was all fantastic and I’d happily go again. I recommend it to anyone heading out that way for vacation. We went through Beartooth Bike Tours in Red Lodge and it was fantastic.


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