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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Everything came together quickly and perfectly last Sunday, May 21 2006. Friday, Ari left me a phone message that they were trying to get a group together to ride the pass on Sunday, one week before it opened to traffic (this weekend). We ended up with 9 people, and after getting everyone together, we were finally on our way. Scott, Nicole and I left from the campground just north (downhill) from the turnoff to go to Hellroaring, and rode up to meet the rest of the group. As we were starting out, the sky was mosly overcast with a few sprinkles falling. Not sure how the weather was going to cooperate, so we all took jackets with us. Never trust the weather in the mountains.

The others, Pat, Jennell, Ari, Amy, Kathi and Kobe, all met at the turnoff where they had the highway closed while they were doing repairs (not closed there anymore). From there we rode up to the gate, which is about 1/2-1 mile up the road.

Here we met a couple of ladies who were kind enough to take a group picture for us. From left to right: Pat, Nicole, Me, Scott, Amy, Jennell, Kobe, Kathi, and Ari.

Almost on que, the weather started to improve. The jackets came off and the smiles broke out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
There was no need to push the pace. A leisurely 7-10 mph and a lot of chit-chat made for a very enjoyable ride. We reached the 1st swich-back and stopped for a picture break. Someone was kind enough to get a nice pic of my fiance Nicole and I with our bikes. Pat took some time off to "do the funky chicken. :wink: It turns out Kathi used to race before she decided to save people's lives instead. She is such a wonderful person to work with. Kobe, Amy, Ari and Jennell enjoy a bit of conversation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Onward and upward. The head wind we had now turns into a tailwind. Ari attacks and I follow. He gets a good bit up the road and slows down before I'm able to catch him. Scott comes up to join us, then it's Nicole's turn to attack. Then Jennell goes flying by before we reach the next hairpin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Once we reach the 2nd hairpin, it's back to the headwind, but wow, what a view! Going around the corner, one can see the rest of the group making their way up the mountain. Jennell is smiling to be out here today. She just finnished working a 22hr shift! Now the damage from the rockslides last year is better seen. As promised in the previous ride report, a close-up of some of the repair (and prevention) work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
As we round the 3rd switch-back we start to see a bit more snow. It gets pretty deep in places. Slowing down for pictures puts me behind the group again, and after a bit of effort, I'm back on. Ari chugs along, hardly breaking a sweat. Nicole and Jennell cruise comfortably by. I race ahead to get some shots from the front, then drift back in time to get a shot of Ari and Amy together against the backdrop of the mountains and valley.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
On and on the road winds up the mountain until we reach the lookout point. Because of the beauty around us, I'm pretty trigger-happy today. My camera is a nifty little thing, a Casio EXILIM EX-Z40 (4MP) which I found at a pawn shop in SLC for $35. Unfortunately it didn't have any connector cables or dock, so I had to shell out another $70 for battery and charger, and use my card reader to tranfer the pics. It takes good pics, but has been dropped and the play-back function only works with a battery directly out of the charger. It also seems like it is possessed, turning on and off on its own. However, it fits in nicely in a jersey pocket. I suspect its problems may be related to me going cheep with an after-market battery. Anyone else have experience with this camera?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
At the lookout point we stop for pictures and other nessesaries. Pat does the honors for Nicole and I. After some the ladies (Kathi, Amy and Jennell) pose, I return the favor for Pat and Jennell. Then we're off again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
On the way out we pass a snow plow left up here, supposedly to take care of any late seasonal snow. After hydrating and downing some nutrition, the energy level is up a notch, and Nicole attacks, again. I hand the camera off to Pat and try to catch her, but she is gone. Pat slowly works his way back up to me and hand me back the camera as he drifts on by. Man, this picture taking thing is hard work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
At this point our group ended up splitting into 2 different groups. Our goal was to get up onto the plateau. Kathi, Kobe, Amy and Ari needed to get back down to Redlodge to pick up the kids from the babysitter, so they were off, back down the hill.

Scott and I ride together for a bit. Then, finally I manage to catch up with Nicole. Up on top of the plateau the land is more rugged and barren. However, the sun has been out and melting a lot of the snow. The wind has picked up quite a bit. Way up the road is a speck called Pat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We finally get to Pat. He is putting on leg warmers. Once you stop up here, things start to get a bit chilly. On come the jackets again in preparation for the trip down. Scott stops to wipe the sweat from his eyes. We meet Jennell just after starting our descent. With the wind behind our backs now, the speed climbs easily into the 30's. I try to take more pics on the fly, and have to be really careful, using my front brake as my R hand is welded to my camera. My front breaks get a real workout today!

Jennell catches back on and we stop for another pic. Pat has waited behind to take shot of us from the road above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Once Pat is back with us, it is Game On. We fly by some more of the repairs to prevent further rock slides. I took close to 200 pics on this ride. Many of them turned out really well, and I had quite a time editing them, trying to pick the best ones. It was so beautiful, and each one brought back some specific memory. So forgive me if I posted too many pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Eventually, I put the camera away and crank up the speed to try to catch everyone else in front. I top out at 50.4 mph, just before I hit a small rock on the road. Fortunately I don't crash, but the impact is enough to reset my computer and I loose all my data for the ride. Fortunately it didn't reset the odometer. We reach the gate, and someone says "You have a bug in your teeth!" There you go, Foggy, it's for real this time. That's what happens when you're flying down a mountain with a huge grin on your face! We make our way back to our cars. I catch myself riding in the left lane. Because the gate was closed, we didn't have to worry about traffic all day, and now I have to pay more attention.

Once we get back to the cars we find a note on the windshield inviting us to a barbeque at Kathi and Kobe's place in Redlodge. We make our way over there and enjoy some good food and watch a recap of the Giro.

What a perfect day it turned out to be! Great friends, great weather, and great scenery. I'm still hoping this year to ride from Redlodge to Cooke City, but for now this will have to do. Thanks for looking, and if anyone is ever out in the Billings, MT area, give us a shout, and we'll see if we can hook up for a ride.
 

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Awesome trip report, and great pictures! I made that trip two years ago (Red Lodge to the higher summit and back down) -- Charles Kuralt was right when he called the Beartooth Highway the most beautiful road in America. Thanks for the memories.
 

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I wanna go there! Nice pics and report, it looks like you guys had a great ride. Just awsome!
 

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First of all, I was up last night eagerly awaiting the next post in the sequence each time. Damn "in progress" ride reports, they keep you up past midnight every time. Seriously, I wanted to respond last night and I lasted until your 3rd to last post and then crapped out.

Beartooth Pass reports are always great but you got some great shots and it looks like your group had a fantastic time. Wish I was there. I've never been up there early enough to ride the pass while the road was closed. Great report!

I was hoping you'd continue down the Cooke City side. I haven't seen a ride report of that side of the pass yet. It doesn't have the big switchbacks carved into the side of a glacial gorge like the Red Lodge side, but it's just as cool. I guess the next time I'm up there, I'll just have to do a ride report for that side won't I :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
gray8110 said:
I was hoping you'd continue down the Cooke City side. I haven't seen a ride report of that side of the pass yet. It doesn't have the big switchbacks carved into the side of a glacial gorge like the Red Lodge side, but it's just as cool. I guess the next time I'm up there, I'll just have to do a ride report for that side won't I :)
I wish we could have gone all the way to Cooke City. Everyone in the group needed to get back for one thing or another, so time was a major factor. The other thing was that if we got all the way there, we would have had to ride all the way back as the road was still closed and so the opton of a shuttle was out. I still want to do Red Lodge to Cooke City this summer, so if you're interested, let me know. I'll probably post blurb in the Rocky Mountain forum with more details once I am able to commit to a date.

BTW, thanks for the kind words about the report. These things are fun to put together, but they sure do take a lot of time.
 

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Great report. Just what I needed to start the day. I'm going to put that ride on my to do list before I die. My wife and I have traveled through Montana a few time, and have always noted how friendly people are and how beautiful it is. I would consider living there, but the wife says..."too cold". Thanks again.
 
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