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Bicycle Tour Comes Through Cody

A patchwork of brightly colored tents, sleek bicycles, containers of equipment and people wearing shirts decorated with all kinds of colors and logos and bike shorts have taken over the grassy space on 13th Street between the entrance to the library which ends at the back parking lot of the post office.

The newly-arrived visitors from Bicycle Rides Northwest (BRNW) are taking a well-deserved break as they continue their trek of the Montana 2023 Route, arriving tired, but optimistic, after tackling the Beartooth Pass


Bikes from the cycling group, Bicycle Rides Northwest, are parked among tents on the Park County Complex grounds. (Photo courtesy of Mac Watson).

Staying at “Camp Central” for three days, the cycling group is a non-profit, non-sponsored event, whose mission “is to provide fully-supported bicycle tours that deliver an exceptional rider experience, showcase the natural beauty of the Northwest, and benefit communities and businesses in the region, ” according to their website. 

Originally called Oregon Bike Ride, BRNW first took 68 people from Hells Canyon on the Oregon/Idaho border, to the Oregon Coast in 1987. Now, the group takes 300 people on two rides each year, with a long waiting list for avid cyclists.

In addition to cyclists from all over the North America, there are almost 60 crew members who accompany the riders. The crew is in charge of setting up and taking down the tents, tables, and chairs every time the ride moves locations.

Jim Moore, director of the event, describes the peloton of bicyclists, trucks, trailers, and equipment “like a traveling circus in a way.” 

The assemblage also consists of caterers, a shower truck, a massage team, and vendors. It is their job to make sure everything is packed and loaded once the cyclists leave camp, travel to their next destination along their planned route and be ready when tired cyclists arrive after another arduous journey through some of the most scenic rides in the world. 

Over the years, they have traveled all over the northwestern United States, including Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana.  This is their first trip cycling through Wyoming.

Moore says that the group tried to visit the Cowboy State in 2020 and 2021 because Cody has so much to offer, but COVID-19 shoved a wrench in their plans. Moore says the wait was well worth it, adding that he is “so glad we got here.”

Camp Central

When cyclists from BRNW stop for a few days, they set up “Camp Central” to rest, recharge, and relax. They can also take a hot shower with portable showers that are driven from camp to camp as well as get a massage so they’re ready for the next leg of their trip. (Photo courtesy of Grace Ballou).

Jim is hoping that having the riders in town will be able to benefit the community, and he has been encouraging the athletes to venture into town, indulge in the restaurants and stores that Cody offers, so that they can give back to the town for acting as a stopover for their long journey. Moore says the goal of the cycling group is to make sure the participants are “an enrichment to the community, and not a burden.”

The group departed from Columbus, Montana on June 18, riding 55 miles to Red Lodge, Montana. The group was then supposed to ride from Red Lodge to Cooke City before coming to Cody, but rainy, wet weather left their intended camp boggy, and the town without power. Instead of staying in Cooke City, they took a different route that went straight to Cody through the Beartooth Pass arriving a day earlier than planned. They will spend three days in Cody doing a 50-mile ride up the Southfork and back, and one to Wapiti and returning, before cycling 67 miles to Belfry, Montana. The last day of their trip will be spent tackling the final 55 miles from Belfry back to their starting place. 

Moore notes that something that makes this group of people special is that the average age of the group is 63-years old.  They even have some members over 80. Committing to the itinerary that BRNW plans requires two main elements that many people don’t have available: time and money. That being said, the whole group is averaging 60 miles per day while riding through rain and climbing steep terrain on their cycling adventure.  “It’s pretty impressive to me,” the director says grinning as storm clouds gather in Cody, just before heavy rain makes for wet, muddy conditions in Camp Central.

But tomorrow is another day. Another day to explore Cody, to rest and gather supplies and strength to set out for another 60-mile trek.  

 BRNW is planning another trip that will take place in Oregon in July, two weeks after they return to Columbus, Montana. 

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