Biking the Beartooth
August 4, 2011 5:43 AM   Subscribe

A short and sweet video to get your juices flowing this morning: Mike Speed cycles down from the Western Summit of the Beartooth Highway. Here's some info if you want to give it a shot yourself.
posted by The Deej (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope he didn't just throw that Clif Shot wrapper on the ground at 0:23.
posted by ootsocsid at 5:54 AM on August 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Goddamn, I was about to say exactly what ootsocsid said.

Now that that's out of the way, yeah. Beartooth highway is great. I "discovered" it on one random road trip where we didn't even look at maps.
posted by notsnot at 5:58 AM on August 4, 2011


As cool as that was, I have to admit that it kind of turned my stomach to see him riding on the narrow footpath, but I guess that's been beaten into me with years of urban riding. Also, I'm assuming that the alternative was unbikeable for one reason or another.
posted by supercres at 6:00 AM on August 4, 2011


Yesterday I biked home, down a very steep hill, with probably 80 pounds of weight for bike + shopping, in a rainstorm, when I discovered that my rear brake wasn't braking. Looking at that descent freaks me the hell out right now.

That being said, it looks like it'd be so much fun and I want to bike it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:00 AM on August 4, 2011


Ahhhhh. That's the pass that I specifically avoided when I drove cross-country last year about this time and stopped in at Yellowstone. Note that I specifically avoided it in a car. So I definitely cringed watching this biker make his way down it.
posted by librarylis at 6:14 AM on August 4, 2011


For the record: Mike Speed does not litter.
posted by The Deej at 6:14 AM on August 4, 2011


Yesterday I biked home, down a very steep hill, with probably 80 pounds of weight for bike + shopping, in a rainstorm, when I discovered that my rear brake wasn't braking. Looking at that descent freaks me the hell out right now.

2 weeks ago I crashed the bike and went over the handlebars so watching him bike with no shoulder and rocks and stuff right off the edge of the road makes me a little sick for the same reason.

I think the video is decimated a bit too much to really be watchable but it's interesting. Especially at the end where everything is rocking back and forth like every 1/2 second.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:14 AM on August 4, 2011


As cool as that was, I have to admit that it kind of turned my stomach to see him riding on the narrow footpath, but I guess that's been beaten into me with years of urban riding.

The footpath is a scenic overlook area, not a throughway. It's always full of a mix of pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, photographers, hikers, tourists, etc.
posted by The Deej at 6:18 AM on August 4, 2011


Yikes. In part because there's practically no oxygen up there. My head was buzzing, when we *drove* that way a few years ago, in the 10-11k ft zone. (I know, I'm a lightweight.)
posted by aught at 6:28 AM on August 4, 2011


I hope he didn't just throw that Clif Shot wrapper on the ground at 0:23.

He ate one or two, not the whole pack, so probably not.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:30 AM on August 4, 2011


There's a stretch of road in Arizona leading into the town (if you can call it that) of Three Way. It's not as long a descent, but it's steeper—about 5 miles at 7%. Almost no motor traffic. It's a part of the Southern Tier transamerican bike route, and notorious among those who ride it.

I'm pretty sure I slightly exceeded 55 mph when I descended it, my speed being limited entirely by my courage/foolhardiness. If I had more of either, I could have gone even faster.
posted by adamrice at 7:19 AM on August 4, 2011


Did anyone else think the time-lapse effect made it less evocative?
posted by oddman at 7:26 AM on August 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


The man's name is Speed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:27 AM on August 4, 2011


I've been through that pass with some fellow Yellowstone National Park seasonal employees. The guys were from Turkey and wanted to go to Billings to buy electronics to take home with them and I told them I'd go to help them not get screwed by the sales people since their english wasn't great.

Turns out they'd bought a rickety van for ~$750 bucks or so and we head out for the pass. They drove like mainacs, tires squealing at most every turn/switchback and we get up there to find out the the Red Lodge road was closed due to a landslide.... so we have to go back the way we came... I have never feared for my life more. No good deed goes unpunished I suppose.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:22 AM on August 4, 2011


I was watching it like watching a NASCAR race; totally enthralled waiting for the crash.
posted by AugustWest at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2011


This came up the other day when a friend of mine was talking about some acquaintances of theirs who'd driven across Africa, including through the Sudan, but I think it applies here: some people in some places really, really need a GPS that talks to them like the Fact Sphere from Portal 2.

"The situation you are in is very dangerous. Turn left in 200 meters."

"Proceed straight for 500 meters. The likelihood of you dying within the next two kilometers is 87.61%. You are about to get me killed. If you proceed along this route, we will both die because of your negligence. The Fact Sphere is not defective. Its facts are wholly accurate, and very interesting."

"The route you have chosen spans three kilometers of elevation and two war zones. This is a bad plan. You will fail. Violently. Turn right in 100 meters. If you continue on this road at this speed, you will be dead soon."

"The situation is hopeless. Take the next right turn. You could stand to lose a few pounds."
posted by mhoye at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did anyone else think the time-lapse effect made it less evocative?

Absolutely. You miss out on the beauty and grace of road bike descending. See Fabian Cancellara's descending...
posted by entropone at 9:20 AM on August 4, 2011


Fabian Cancellara's descending

There's something weird about that. From 1:00-2:00 the distance tracker goes from 71.5 to 70.9. So he's gone about 600 meters in a minute. Which is only 36 km/h. The video must be playing in slowmo.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2011


That's the distance for the lead group. He's trying to catch the peloton, and doing it at a much faster rate.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:13 AM on August 4, 2011


There's something weird about that. From 1:00-2:00 the distance tracker goes from 71.5 to 70.9. So he's gone about 600 meters in a minute. Which is only 36 km/h. The video must be playing in slowmo.

Those distance trackers are only accurate for the lead riders, not for whoever is on screen at the time. Since the lead group can be ahead of the peloton by minutes (with dropped riders even further behind), well, there's quite a span. Considering the speed you calculated, the lead riders were probably on a climb, well ahead on the road.
posted by entropone at 10:14 AM on August 4, 2011


Sweet mother of mercy do I love watching that Cancellara video. It's an absolute masterpiece of bike handling.
posted by the painkiller at 10:34 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned about the Beartooth from Ask MetaFilter and was so glad I did. Last summer we took it on our way out of Yellowstone. It was a few hours out of the way from where we were going but it was absolutely it. There was road construction (the result of which is the beautiful smooth black pavement in the first half of the video) so we had to stop the car for a half hour a couple of times. It was great being able to get out and enjoy the glacier-scrubbed topology, with no noise because everyone's car engines were off.
posted by zsazsa at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2011


Ah! Thanks, I don't follow the races so I took it to be an absolute distance. That makes a lot more sense.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:15 AM on August 4, 2011


Honestly, I can't really figure out why this video is remarkable. It is definitely too punctuated to give me a sense of how fast he's going, and the road doesn't look all the steep. I love me a beautiful road for riding or driving, but this video doesn't really even capture the grandeur of the scenery.

Cancellara's decent in that video up there, though. That's pretty awesome.
posted by pkingdesign at 10:33 PM on August 4, 2011


In my old VW bus, there are plenty of 3rd gear hills. There are even a few 2nd gear hills. But outside of San Francisco, Beartooth Pass is the only 1st gear hill I've found, not only because of the grade, but because there's a definite lack of oxygen at 11,000 feet. Also, snow in August.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 4:31 AM on August 5, 2011


My western childhood is full of memories of all day ascents with friends up steep canyon roads. Once we hit the end of the backing we would rest, free solo a cliff or two. Then we would hike back to out bikes and stage an and of day race back into town. The leader would use their water bottle to shoot those pressing close behind. Also we were unfamiliar with helmets, or knee pads. In retrospect I'm surprised none of us died or were injured.
posted by humanfont at 10:42 AM on August 5, 2011


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