Across the Great Divide (reprise)

 

Once again we have crossed the great divide, each time higher than the time before.

Today we crossed Togwotee Pass at 9658 feet. I haven’t been that high since I stopped taking LSD. (A joke, folks. I haven’t ever been that high on a bike, but have been in a car and on foot.)D8B43150-3155-4F9C-B601-3E4EB137C516

There was snow just below the pass. Photos are loading slowly enough that I won’t risk it. You’ve seen snow.

No WiFi and limited 3G cell service. We’ll see how this goes. I’m hitting “save” a lot.

We rode into Jackson from the Teton Science Center, then out on an excellent bike path. If Jackson doesn’t have a better “bike-friendly” rating from the Bike League than Madison, there is no justice.

Weather was perfect. Sunny and cool. It warmed up quickly. Strong tailwind.21029244-775A-4444-B328-54C3E69C6FE2

We rode on the path into Grand Teton National Park. I have way too many pictures of the mountain. We’ll see if they’ll upload.1882D961-1525-49D0-98A6-18819062F5D1

Riding through the park, my face hurt from smiling. There was a $20 day use fee to ride through. I was going to buy my “Golden Ager” pass (which cost $10 for life until the Trump administration – now it costs $80), figuring only four more days in a National Park for the rest of my life and I’ll be ahead.

Instead, I arrived at the entrance just behind Barbara (a cheese maker from New York, on Lake Champlain) and she was able to get three of us in on her pass.

We rode along and I stared at the Tetons. At mile 20 I realized we had to climb those gorgeous mountains, not just look at them. The path paralleled the highway, but more sinuous and undulating. Sometimes I think it was to follow the contours of the land, and sometimes just a brilliant landscape architect who knew s/he could make the path more interesting and fun than just a straight line.

Our climb was actually much gentler than the mountains to our left. We climbed for 17 miles (almost two hours). I was pushed by the tailwind until the last mile – the wind abruptly became a head wind for the steep final mile. I guess I had to feel like I earned it.

We saw three bears. No sign of Goldilocks.

The descent was fast; again, due to the wind, I held my speed down.

We hit flat lands along the Wind River, propelled by that tailwind. I didn’t pedal for a mile at a time, pushe along at 30 mph by the wind. I started pedaling and ran out of gears at 35 mph – I don’t how fast I could have gone if I’d had more gears. The wind occasionally became a cross wind, requiring work to keep the rubber side down.

We’re at a conference center on the Wind River. Where I’m sitting would be a great place to pitch a tent. Instead, I’ll be sleeping on a carpeted concrete floor – no camping allowed. There are folks camped at a nearby park, farther than I wanted to schlep my gear.

Showers were at a coin-op public shower in town. 50 cents bought me one minute of hot water. I usually wash my riding clothes while I shower – not today.

I’m not sure if I’ve conveyed how phenomenal the day was. The sun was out, puffy clouds barely moving (no wind aloft), a strong tailwind, fabulous mountains, good roads, light traffic, and a cold mountain stream to soak my feet at the end. Today alone was worth the price of admission.

I am confused. We were trying to explain the 4th of July to an Irishman. If you take a knee during the National Anthem, you are showing disrespect for the flag and you are a traitor. If you eat off the flag and then wipe your mouth with it, you are a patriot.5E046B0F-4801-40D2-9D78-118118B752ED

I also just found out that our short day for the week (72 miles after a major climb on Thursday) has just become 100 miles due to road construction.

Oh, well…another day, another 100 miles.

A Day in the Life/Jackson Hole

Every job has its routines. The measure of whether you like your work is more how you deal with the routine than how you deal with the exciting stuff.

This life has its own routines. I awake at 5 most days, with my alarm being Schubert’s Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano, as performed by Mikko Rankin-Utevsky on viola (this excerpt has no piano).

Before getting out of my sleeping bag I check the weather and figure out what to wear. That takes longer than it does for my usual job. What I laid out the night before may be the base layer, not everything.

  1. Check the weather, figure out what to wear today. Get out of sleeping and get dressed.
  2. Take down the tent. Pack up my gear. Carry it to the trailer.
  3. Fill water bottles and tires.
  4. Load the trailer (load time set by the trail boss).
  5. Go to breakfast. We generally start riding between 7:00 and 7:30; possibly earlier on long days.
  6. Ride 1/4 of the route and stop for water; about five minutes.
  7. Ride the next quarter of the route and stop for lunch; about 30 minutes.
  8. Ride the third quarter and stop for water again.
  9. Ride to the end, text my wife to tell her I arrived, find my gear bags and/or unload the trailer, lay out tent and sleeping bag to dry, pitch tent when dry. Set out solar charger (clips to tent poles) to charge backup battery for phone. I generally finish riding between 2:00 and 3:00.
  10. Take a shower, wash today’s riding clothes, put up clothes line, hang clothes to dry.
  11. Write today’s blog entry. Download mail, check messages.
  12. Check out the town or rest until dinner.
  13. Eat dinner, go to tonight’s pre-ride meeting for tomorrow.
  14. Either find an outlet and charge phone, or charge it while I sleep, from the battery.
  15. Read, hang out, get ready for bed. Set out tomorrow’s riding and post-ride clothes. (In reality, I have had very little time to read. The e-books from the library arrive at very different times than expected, and are due before I read them.)
  16. Go to sleep and get ready to start the whole process again tomorrow.

Jackson

It is a day off. I took down my laundry, as there is a parent event for the high school leadership school currently in progress, and they want the place to look pretty.

Then I rode into Jackson for breakfast at a local coffee roaster and wandered around town.

Jackson has a quaint old western town section with false fronts and wooden sidewalks; this part of town leans toward expensive shops. There was a fur store. A mannequin in the display window modeled a tiny fur bikini. I could not bear to take a picture. The archways into the town square are made of shed elk antlers.

I walked beyond there, to where the folks who live and work here live – in trailers and manufactured housing.F1923564-4996-4B80-87BB-03EAACDF12C8

There is a park with climbing walls, and a ski hill right on the edge of town – from a few blocks away it looks like you’d ski right onto the streets.

I found a cafe with the 4 basic food groups – chocolate, pastries, espresso, and gelato.

Perusing next week’s ride profile, it looks like the hard part starts now; a couple of passes over 9000 feet, one of which is part of tomorrow’s 100 miles.

We stay in Wyoming for the whole week and actually ride mostly west-to-east;)

Before leaving Jackson, I need to put in a word about the Teton Science Center, where we are staying. It is an incredible facility. To learn more about their programs, see their website.