A day off at the Teton Science Center outside of Jackson, WY. Dinner Saturday night at a brew pub with obscenely large servings but, after the ride, I was able to eat it all. They offer a daily “Mystery Beer”, which you can get at a discounted price if you don’t ask what it is. I took my chances and it was a tasty hazy IPA. Cycle America offered a shuttle service into town, which came in handy when the rain started.

We’re in a dorm setting. Our wing houses 16 and we have one washer and dryer, so my breakfast is delayed by waiting in line for laundry. The washer needs new bearings and takes forever. The dryer door is taped shut and, if you don’t refresh the tape, it pops open and stops drying. Normally I would skip the dryer and hang things, but my bike clothes show no sign of drying after hanging for two hours. I don’t think my clothesline will see sun until late afternoon, and they probably wouldn’t appreciate my moving the clothesline into a public area. When I went back to my room to check something, someone stole my pen, so I can’t do crosswords while waiting for laundry. These are pretty minor hardships compared with the plan to be on a plane home this afternoon. We also have one electrical outlet for 4 of us to try to charge things. My COVID dorm room has 4 occupants. Last one in got a top bunk.

I rode into Jackson for a late breakfast/early lunch. I found myself breathing harder than usual for a short and easy ride. On this trip we gradually gain elevation, working all the way, so the change is barely noticeable. We acclimate as we go. COVID and three days riding in a van changed that. We’re at 6200 feet and my lungs feel it. Since I have no real needs for a while, I’m hanging out and reading the paper. News still happens! Who knew?! I’ll ride back up the canyon when I feel like it.

One of the COVID kids just left. He’ll be on the plane to Denver I would have been on. He is going home to recuperate. I’m constantly aware that was almost me.

We meandered through Montana and Idaho, traveling south more than east. Yesterday we actually moved somewhat west from where we started the day. Next week we will meander through Wyoming. We will, overall, move east, ending the week at Devil’s Tower. Tomorrow will be in the neighborhood of 100 miles again. Nothing to sneeze at, nothing to take for granted.

Oops. This seems to have published itself rather than ask me for a date and time to publish. Two posts in a day, I guess.

The phoenix has risen!

We left Ashton, ID at 7 AM with Grand Teton looming in the distance. It continued to loom in the distance for much of the morning. For a while we aimed straight for it, then turned to parallel the range as we head for Teton Pass. The sky was clear but dark clouds loomed over the pass. They seemed to funnel forebodingly toward the pass.

Grand Teton. We’ll be closer next week.

As we approached it turned blustery and the headwind made it seem that we had started climbing miles before the actual climb, though we did gain elevation steadily throughout the day.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day. This was decision day. If I rode the whole day and cleared the pass, I would cancel my flight home tomorrow. If I was not able to make it, I might be outta here. A staff member (also COVID+) assured me that I could be picked up at the last water stop before the climb if I wasn’t “feeling it”. Before that, the COVID bus rule was “once you’re out, you’re out. We don’t have time to come back for you and you can’t get in the other sag wagons.” This became the day’s mantra:

The entire song was apropos, but the key was “Every time that wheel turn round/Bound to cover just a little more ground.”

At home we have some rides that I call “big ring rides”. The route is flat enough that I can stay in the big chainring using the higher gears. The past three days I’ve kept myself in the small ring, limiting my speed so I would recover and not get weaker. I only allowed myself into the big ring on descents, then back to the small ring as soon as the road leveled out. Today was a small ring ride until we cleared the pass. To celebrate I stayed in the big ring until the turnoff to the Teton Science Center.

After our picnic the climb began. It starts gradually, with some flat(ter) sections, then becomes gradually steeper as you go. The dark and heavy clouds began to leak a bit. As long as it was a few drops, it would just keep us cool. If it turned into actual rain, I had a jacket in reserve, since I needed a jacket and full finger gloves in the morning. The sky gradually cleared. When it got steep, the sun came out fully. Instead of a chill, it was now hot. I stopped at every paved turnout (eschewing the gravel ones) for photo ops, water, and rest breaks. By the last one I had to pour water on my head to stay cool. Other than a few coughing breaks, I fared well. It was definitely a slower ascent than 4 years ago, but it was an ascent.

Somehow our cue sheet said we hadn’t yet reached the 10% grade, but looky here. If the past two miles were 10% what’s the steep section ahead?! Seems that happened 4 years ago as well. Fool me once…
If proof is needed, here it is. Your blogger at Teton Pass.
In Jackson Hole, Grand Teton still waiting.

The descent was exhilarating. A couple of times I went into turnouts to allow cars to pass but, for the most part, I stayed with traffic (which was very light). Unlike 2018, the winds were not swirling and the bike felt stable at all times. In the valley, a shot of espresso was waiting, courtesy of my former co-workers. Aside to you: I think of you every time I swipe that gift card. I hope you’re having half as much fun as I am. Thanks again!

There is no cell service here at Teton Science Center, but we were granted wi-fi access. Once we had access, I canceled my flight home tomorrow. I’m back! I think my eyes got wet as I made my way through the valley.