Thursday, January 26, 2012

Riding through Yellowstone on a motor scooter

When we went to Yellowstone National Park last September, we hauled our motor scooters along and rode them in America's best-loved park. People ride motorcycles in the park, so why not scooters.

I'd been to Yellowstone many times before, but this was a first on a scooter.  It won't be the last time, however. Riding through the park was an incredible experience and provided me with a whole different perspective on Yellowstone. It feels like you are so much closer to nature, and, indeed, you are. You are especially much closer to the animals, such as buffalo. While the park service requires you to be 75 to 300 feet away from animals, depending on the type, even in cars, this isn't always possible, especially where buffalo are concerned. Bison rule the roads!

I was nervous whenever I road around buffalo on the road. After all, I didn't have a car to protect me, though I am not sure how much good that would have done me if a big shaggy beast decided he didn't like my car. At visitor centers, you can see videos of buffalo tossing people around like throw pillows and elk attacking cars. My scooter is a Yamaha 125, capable of speeds of 60 miles an hour, so I was confident I could outrun a buffalo if I didn't panic and the road was flat. Luckily, I didn't have to do this.

The park is divided into two loops, and we took a day to ride each one. What I call the north loop was the hardest because there are so many hills to climb, which I usually went up between 20 and 30 miles per hour. The maximum speed limit in the park is 45 mph, and I had no trouble doing that when it was flat. Still, on the hills, the only vehicles I passed were bicyclists, and, boy, was I glad I was on a scooter!

We took a few days off between riding the loops, and did shorter runs on the other days, returning to places we wanted to spend more time at or had skipped on the long ride because they were on the last leg and we were pretty tired.

Touring the park this way was such an incredible experience, I wrote a short book about it, Yellowstone on a motor scooter. The book is available through the Amazon Kindle store in text-only. If you like pictures and maps with your books, surf on over to Guidegecko for a PDF version. I'm told PDF books also work on Kindle, through the pictures aren't in color.

If you have a scooter or motorcycle, where's your favorite place to ride?

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