Bring what you need.
Packing varies a little for everyone, but it never hurts to have a checklist for a trip to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Some years our cyclists have used every layer, and purchased more. Some years, our cyclists have had mild weather, using only some layers. Please do not assume temperatures will be the same - they fluctuate year to year and Montana doesn’t seem to care much about 7-day forecasts.
Bike - We recommend a road bike with enough gearing to get you through climbs that can last 30+ miles at 6-7% grades. For some this may be gearing of 42/23, especially when climbing is a typical part of everyday riding. For others, this may be a 32/29 type of gearing. Our routes do include steeper grades up to 10%, but not for long periods of time. Of course, this does not mean you cannot ride a mountain bike or touring bike with a great pair of slicks. We want you to be comfortable, so the lighter the bike, the easier it is to ride the distances required. Additionally, it is highly recommended to use a GatorSkin type of tire when bike touring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem because we have everything from smooth roads to mountain passes that get hammered by weather. If you are shipping your bike, more about bike shipping below the packing list information.
Pedals - SPD style shoes/pedal combination is recommended, but not necessary. You may pedal with platform pedals and sneakers, however a nice clip-in set up will help you through Cycle Greater Yellowstone.
Helmet and gloves - Cycle Greater Yellowstone requires a helmet approved by CPSC, Snell, ANSI or ASTM. Just look inside the helmet and there will be a sticker telling you. Gloves are a barrier for your skin if you fall, they create a layer in bad weather, and good padding in the palms can help prevent hand soreness over the miles.
Bike pouch - You will not need big saddle bags for this ride. We are a fully supported ride, including full SAG and bike mechanics on the route. A few items will do the trick, especially if you can change a tube or ride with someone who can help you, such as a bike tube, a way to air a tire, basic bike tool, tire levers, a small patch kit, gel or bar (just in case), a rain poncho or plastic bag, some cash/card and ID. Additional items for minor bike maintenance can be left in your camp bag - chain lube, rag, and other special items you may like for your bike. We provide large floor pumps in the bike corral, no need to bring one. See below for a complete recommended packing list.
Clothing - First, weather. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are notorious for ever-changing weather extremes – all year long. There’s no way of telling if you’re going to be riding in 90-degree heat or see a coating of frost on your tent in the morning – and, actually, you’re probably going to have both. Believe it or not, snow is a possibility, even in August. You should pack at least a little bit of every weather-level of clothing. And this is dry-air country – don't forget to bring plenty of lip balm, sunscreen and skin lotion.
Mess Kits and a Beverage Cup - please pack a mess kit (plate, bowl, cup and eating utensils) or we will provide you with one. We will not have paper products at breakfast and dinner. We provide a comprehensive cleaning line with scrape, pre-wash, wash, rinse and sanitize. Lunch is on the route or packaged as a sack lunch in camp.
Please remember: you’re allowed to bring one or two bags, and weight should not exceed 65 pounds combined. If you’re on the upper end of 65 lbs, consider using two bags at at 30-40 lbs. After all the folks hauling your bags are human. And if you’re traveling with a friend, think about sharing items like the small hammer for tent stakes or medical kits. Remember, we have a full medical team, so no need to go crazy on the first aid kits.
If you are interested in renting a bike, please contact Melissa or Tom - see more information below about bike shipping.
We’ll have a Gear Drop service at rest stops where you can shed clothes as the day warms up, so bring those arm and leg warmers, booties, base layers and jackets, ear warmers… and also bring lightweight stuff and plenty of sunscreen. You will need to bring your own small bag to drop your gear at the gear drops on the route. Old sleeping bag stuff sacks, plastic zip lock bags and mesh laundry bags are great drop sacks. Additionally, you can make them noticeable so you can find them easily at camp.
SHIPPING YOUR BIKE?
You may ship your bike to Red Lodge using Bike Flights. Our landing page to work with them is here. Mechanics will be onsite to assemble and disassemble bikes for an additional fee of $75 - paid on site. Do you have special parts for your bike? Electronic shifting? There are limited electronic parts available in rural Montana/Wyoming bike shops. Please give extra attention to the protection of these parts when shipping -- especially small connectors, they easily break during shipping and flying. We also encourage you to bring your own chargers for electronic shifting -- not all are compatible with different model years.