Day 4: Yellowstone

Another scorcher on deck.. 102+ forecast, time to get out of town. My destination being Redlodge Montana, pretty much the only place under 90 degrees in a 500 mile radius.

My route called for going through Yellowstone, since I had never been.. but to get to Red Lodge, you must go over Bear Tooth Pass (11,000 feet) – the weather, to say the least, can be “uncertain.”

Checking the night before, called for rain, lightning, and gusty 40 mph wind, so Plan B was more likely:  Droning to Bozeman and going in the back way.  500 miles of mostly boring highway.

Woke up at 4 AM and checked the forecast.. now calling for only 20% chance and no thunderstorms.

Decided to get to the Yellowstone turn off and decide then.

Fueled up on waffles and a biscuit (Super8 – breakfast at 4 AM!) and headed out.

Do you want to hear more about how boring southern Idaho freeways are? I can see why everyone rides Harleys. At least on pavement, there is really no reason to have a motorcycle.

Fuel stop!

Ethanol free gasoline! Donut! Payday bar!

US 20 coming right into Yellowstone city was, of course, under construction, so the last 10 miles took 45 minutes.

I checked the weather forecast and it got a bit worse.. now calling for thunderstorms by 2 PM, along with the gusty wind.

However after hours of soul killing freeway, I was feeling optimistic.

I headed into Yellowstone and it was… pretty nice.

Mostly the roads wind through “tree tunnels” – you can’t really see much, and the obvious tourist pull outs are SWAMPED. In those areas you gotta be in full fighter pilot mode to not be murdered.

Getting through the park was slow going, lots of tourists being tourists, and lots of flat landers not knowing how to accelerate when they encounter a hill.

It got extra slow when a couple of lazy buffalo decided to walk on the road instead of in a pasture some where. Everybody was just stopped.. waiting for buffalo to walk by their cars.

Or in my case, waiting to goose the throttle if they decided they didn’t like me, which is why there is no picture of the buffalo (the craziest stuff never gets a picture.)

After several hours of battling the tourists, I reached the turn off that takes you up to the pass, met some locals and asked about the weather.  Conclusion:  could be anything, but thunderstorms are pretty much an every day thing this time of year.

I shrugged and headed off through the valley floor – which had hundreds of buffalo, but thankfully, far away from the road.

Once the road started turning up, things cooled down, which was nice. But then I noticed some rather ominous clouds up above, which was not.

Things continued to degrade.  Above 9000 feet, you’re basically riding a ribbon of asphalt up the mountain, with many many 20 mph switchbacks. Now add gusty wind coming at random angles, and no shoulder, and tourists going over the double yellow line.

For an hour or two. It was exhausting and precarious. Toward the top, the wind gusts were pretty bad, to the point I was getting angry with the slow tourists since spinning wheels help keep your motorcycle up.  5 mph means “blown over” – which sounded distinctly unfun.

The scenery, however, was epic. Alaska-scale epic. You’ll just have to Google Image search “Bear Tooth Pass” because I was too busy trying not to crash, die, or get struck by lightning (did I mention my bicycle sticks 7 feet up in the air?) to take any pictures.

RIGHT after I started the descent, a flash of lightning went off behind me, so yeah, no pictures.

Instead, here’s a picture of a golden retriever in a wagon I met at the gas station. He had 3 legs, so when he gets tired, they carry him in a wagon.

Giant Loop Revelstoke Review – Motorcycle mounting

Death Valley trip illustrated I needed to get some more room in my side cases, otherwise I wasn’t going to be able to pack enough stuff for several weeks!

Unfortunately my “big bag” just won’t fit under the fork, and my Kriega US20 was just a bit too small.  Giant Loop makes some cool, cleverly designed stuff – I’ve been beating up their tank bag for years.

In the “side loading” bag segment, they have several interesting options – the Giant Loop Revelstoke (Amazon) seemed to fit the best size/shape profile for me.  Interestingly this is advertised as a “snow mobile” bag – I’m not sure why it would care if it is attached to a motorcycle.. but that’s what I’m doing!

This bag comes with Giant Loop’s “GL Mount” stainless steel clips that capture the pack straps.  With the Kriega I always felt like I was fiddling with all the various straps and buckles.  The GL Mounts promise to make removing and replacing the bag easier, while being very secure.

GL Mounts for the Revelstoke – this should also help position the bag away from my fork/brake on the bicycle

Here’s a close up of the “TRI GLIDE BUCKLES” that lock into the GL mounts.


They seem VERY secure, so I’m hoping this bag stays attached even if contents shift or I forget to really crank down on the straps.

About as big as I can fit on the back and still mount the bicycle


Angles away from where the bicycle fork goes

So, size-wise, I can fit everything I had in the Kriega, plus my Luxury Lite Cot, my Bivy, and a few camp incidentals.  It would be nice if I could also fit my sleeping bag, but I guess that’ll have to do – it frees up about half a side case.  That should be JUST enough room with some judicious packing.