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.

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

14 thoughts on “The phoenix has risen!”

  1. It is nice to read about your feeling so much stronger, healthier, and happy! I am so glad for you, even though days ago I was relieved that you were coming home to rest.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. It has been a quick turnaround. On Wednesday I paId to check baggage, not even feeling strong enough to carry my carry-on through airports. Saturday I rode over an 8400+ foot pass. The human body is remarkable. I suspect the 4 doses of vaccine helped me get better faster, but we’ll never really know. They certainly didn’t prevent me from getting sick.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve “Fawkes” Rankin…riding up that climb to rise again! I’m so glad to hear you rose from the COVID ashes. When I heard you had Covid while on your 2nd trip of a lifetime I was so sad to hear that after 2.5 years of not getting Covid…you get! But maybe it will make this trip that much more of a feat…to have worked these past few years through adversity, retire and overcome Covid to complete this journey. I hope to see you in Baraboo!

    Liked by 2 people

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