Protect the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by Cycling It

Reader Contribution by Michael Mccoy
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Cycle Greater Yellowstone is a weeklong bicycle tour traveling through the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

The ride benefits the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, the only organization dedicated exclusively to protecting the lands, water, and wildlife of Greater Yellowstone. Largely because of its stances on controversial subjects like grizzly bears, wolves, and snowmobiles, the coalition historically has not been the organization most loved by a lot of the region’s conservative ranchers and small-town residents. It appears that Cycle Greater Yellowstone is, in part, an effort to mend old wounds and build new bridges.

They’re off to a great start, with the success of the inaugural tour in 2013. I was fortunate to participate in the ride and then to write a feature article about it for the February 2014 Adventure Cyclist magazine.

I’d read that Cycle Greater Yellowstone was inspired by the success of Cycle Oregon, a 25-year-old event tour that takes a different route through the Beaver State every summer. Cycle Greater Yellowstone director Jim Moore explained to me that while there is no official connection between the two rides, there are unofficial ones.

“As the owner of Word Jones, a marketing agency, I’ve been doing marketing for Cycle Oregon for seven years,” Moore said. “When the opportunity to start a new tour came along, the Cycle Oregon event managers were collegial and helpful. The idea for Cycle Greater Yellowstone was hatched when Jeff Welsch, my brother-in-law [and communications coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition], rode Cycle Oregon with me in 2011 and saw how an event like that can bring together a diverse group of people and cultures. My sister Sherry was involved in early discussions and later applied and interviewed for [and landed] one of the assistant director positions. Some of the same marketing professionals I work with on Cycle Oregon and other Word Jones projects are involved in Cycle Greater Yellowstone.”

While Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2013 attracted around 700 riders, organizers are aiming for 1,000 riders this year. I can highly recommend taking part; it’s a great way to visit a spectacular part of the country while enjoying an active vacation and supporting an important conservation cause. The food stops were abundant and well stocked; the breakfasts and dinners, nutritious and filling. Volunteers and paid workers alike were unfailingly cheerful and helpful.

“This bike ride was one of the coolest things I have done in my 62 years,” a fellow rider named Scott from Fremont, Calif., told me. “It was great to get together with my friends for such a grand adventure. I thought the food was good, especially the steak dinner. The volunteers were amazing and I enjoyed the music, usually from my tent because I was pretty tired.”

Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014

The 2013 Cycle Greater Yellowstone route from West Yellowstone to Red Lodge, Mt., was superb, filled with amazing scenery, and the 2014 route promises to be just as good. Riders will go from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to Victor, Idaho, then back into Wyoming and through Hoback Junction, Pinedale, Lander, and Dubois, returning to Jackson by way of Grand Teton National Park. The tour runs August 17 – 23 and costs $1,195 for adults.

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