Monday, July 27, 2009

Beartooth Pass Permanent

Entry and Waiver Form

Map and Profile.

RUSA Permanent No. 675 climbs into Wyoming and over the Beartooth Highway from Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT and back.

The road construction that kept me from attempting this ride in 2009 appears to be substancially complete other than a short quarter-mile section of hard packed gravel after the Top of World Store.

A cue sheet is hardly necessary-the only controls are at both ends of the route which is entirely on US Highway 212.

The route has 14,000 feet of climbing in 207 kilometers. Oh yeah-it tops out at over 10,947 feet above sea level so bring your lungs along! I finally attempted this ride on September 12, 2010. I made it to the Cooke City with only about 16 minutes to spare, then totally blew up about half way up the climb on the way back. I probably could have finished within the time limit, but I would have been descending switchbacks in the dark-not really recommended. A kindly motorist gave me lift to the East Summit where I then dropped back into Red Lodge. My friend and fellow randonneur, Ken Billingsley, did complete the ride however. Congrats Ken! This DNF will eat me up all winter-I'll attack it with a vengance next summer (when the days are a little longer). UPDATE: I did conquer this route in 2011, ride report here.

I don't know if there is any harder 200K route in the USA-if there is I sure don't want to ride it. Anybody attempting this ride needs to be fit and prepared. Aside from the obvious climbing, there are always unpredictable winds and constantly changing weather conditions (don't attempt this ride if thunderstorms are predicted-there's no where to hide on the plateau). The altitude will have an effect on your performance. The reward for attempting is some of the most scenic and majestic views anywhere in the world-all the more enhanced from the seat of a bicycle! Also, aside from Beartooth Pass, you will ascend Colter Pass to get to Cooke City. At about 5 miles long and topping out at 8,000 feet, this climb is no slouch either!

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