Bike tour visits Park County

Powell hospitality impresses cyclists

Posted 7/23/19

Sharon Leder struggled up Mormon Hill on her bicycle on the south side of Badger Basin, sweat pouring as she endured the heat while passing through Park County with Tour de Wyoming.

“Is this …

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Bike tour visits Park County

Powell hospitality impresses cyclists

Posted

Sharon Leder struggled up Mormon Hill on her bicycle on the south side of Badger Basin, sweat pouring as she endured the heat while passing through Park County with Tour de Wyoming.

“Is this the road to Hell?” the 75-year-old asked while passing some spectators on Wednesday. At that moment, she could have probably walked faster than she was riding.

Prior to last year, Leder described her biking experience as “toodling.” Then she decided to do something big and joined the tour. Leder isn’t a lifelong bicycle enthusiast, but “it sounded like fun.”

The Laramie resident used to run long distance, but transitioned to the bike after 35 years of pounding the pavement. This year she couldn’t pass up the chance to ride again. She’s not thrilled with fast downhill rides so she grabbed a seat on the sag wagon on the speedy pass out of Red Lodge. Some riders averaged 30 mph down the hill to Belfry.

She wasn’t too thrilled with the next day’s map, either. The Thursday trail led from Powell to Meeteetse —  and the Corbett Bridge had her concerned, as Leder is equally uncomfortable riding over bridges.

“I can’t stand being close to the edge,” she said. “Other than that I could ride all day.”

From the other end of the experience spectrum was Indiana resident Patricia Jones. Jones used to be a pro rider for bike builder, Raleigh USA. She completed the Ride Across America (RAAM) in 1988 — a 14-day race from coast to coast. Just qualifying for RAAM is a feat beyond most athletes.

Jones is far from the average rider on the tour. She holds several national records for long distance racing. One of her records is for riding 309.25 miles in a 24-hour velodrome race. But the Tour de Wyoming isn’t a race and speed only came in handy to get to the shade as fast as possible.

The average age of the riders on the tour was 57, with a range from 11 to 80. Thirty-eight riders were at least 70 year-old.

About 350 riders of all ages and abilities join the annual marathon tour through the Cowboy State in the 23rd year of the event. The six-day event attracts cyclists from across the nation as well as international riders this year from Norway, Australia and Canada. The route covered 365 miles with overnight stays in Basin, Cowley, Red Lodge, Powell and Meeteetse. The cyclists returned to Thermopolis on Friday.

In Powell on Wednesday, riders pitched tents on the football field at Powell High School. Downtown businesses were visited by riders — bikes parked in groups on most corners — through most of the day. Dozens of the participants stayed in local hotels rather than camping and many sampled locally brewed beer or coffee while using available WiFi to fill social media accounts with photos from the day.

After dinner in the gym, riders were treated to a serenade from Aaron Davis and the Mystery Machine. Those on the tour were tired after four days of riding. The previous day was especially hard and included long climbs in the Beartooth Mountains and a rare overnight stay in Montana. Massage stations manned by volunteers were booked and some passed on the festivities to nap or wash clothes.

Tour de Wyoming is put on as a fundraiser for Cycle Wyoming, a non-profit corporation based in Laramie. The organization promotes safe cycling across the state.

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