About 10 cyclists are doing what as many as 1,500 hope to accomplish at this time next year.
A small “pre-ride” group is taking the 400-mile route of the “Cycle Greater Yellowstone” tour, which includes an overnight stop in Cody on Tuesday, and passes through Powell the next morning.
The actual cycle event will be next August.
The entire route spans a week of challenging bicycling, from West Yellowstone to Red Lodge.
It’s being promoted by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and was inspired by the annual “Cycle Oregon” event.
“Experience has shown that if you ride the route with a small group of people, you get a good idea of what the journey is going to be like for riders during the main event,” organizer Jim Moore of Portland, Ore., said.
For the past seven years Moore has helped organize and promote Cycle Oregon, which draws about 2,000 riders.
It’s hoped the Yellowstone event can take a similar hold and become a yearly event.
GYC communications director Jeff Welsch did the Cycle Oregon route last year, which inspired him to visit with Moore about launching a similar event here.
The idea is to offer riders both a ground-level look at a showcase ecosystem, and a chance to get to know local communities along the way, Moore said.
“To talk about an ecosystem is one thing, but to get people on a bike in the middle of it is a great way to make them aware of just how fantastic it is,” Moore adds.
“The event is open to anybody physically capable of making the ride,” he said. “The goal of these rides is to educate and inspire people.”
And not just about natural wonders, but the communities which call the region home, he said.
The route is chosen to take back roads, and make regular stops in towns that embody the spirit and culture of the area, Moore said.
“The riders aren’t just passing through,” he said. “They really want to know what each town is about, and what people are like there.”
Most of the town stops will involve overnight camping, as well as some sort of entertainment, such as a local music concert, he said.
“We like to build appreciation for towns along the route, and help pump money into the local economies,” Moore said.
Jill Gleich at the Cody chamber said the chamber is helping promote the event.
“It’s exciting they’re coming and we’re doing everything we can to help them make it happen,” she said.
“When the main group of cyclists comes through next summer, they’re going to want to be near downtown, so they can walk around, visit people and see all the sights,” she said.
“It’s not just the 1,000-1,500 riders we’re expecting,” she added, because the riders will have a significant support staff traveling the route in vehicles, Gleich said.
(Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.)