Ain’t no mountain high enough

Before we leave Jackson behind, a quick word. If you live here, it appears you make your living catering to rich/adventure tourists, or managing the wealth of the rich locals. That does mean the hoi polloi who are funded by their former co-workers can always find an espresso, local brew, or gelato. Lest I sound too critical of the town, they have an excellent paved bike trail system all through the valley. My one quibble (which I find with most bike trails) is that directional signs are minimal. If you are on roads there are always signs to tell you where you are and where you’re going.

They also have a Target store. I learned that the free floss from the dentist lasts < 2 weeks and the TSA-approved sizes for toiletries last about 2 weeks.

Today’s route runs through Grand Teton National Park, on a beautiful bike trail. It’s almost enough to make you forget you’re riding 100 miles. It also gives me my second chance to use my Senior Pass to the National Park System.

See the 2018 post for pictures. Also see the 2018 July 4 post for a stirring take on the 4th of July and the theory of Manifest Destiny, courtesy of the Firesign Theatre.

Oh, by the way: jersey choices are sometimes random, but the “Horribly Hilly Hundreds: Biking Like a Viking” jersey for the climb of Teton Pass was entirely intentional. I needed that.

approaching Grand Teton
Leaving Grand Teton

Today was about as close to perfect as a day can be, for the first 95 miles. We rode through Jackson and out along an elk preserve, slowly gaining elevation. We rode into Grand Teton National Park, riding parallel to the range on a beautiful bike path. I was prepared to use my Senior Pass, but the ranger just waved us through. Coming through a tunnel we came upon a fox that made no effort to get away. We later saw a sign that said “Do not feed the fox”. I guess that’s why it showed no fear of humans. That, or it was rabid.

After the Tetons was a 17 mile climb to Togwotee Pass – a good 2.5 hours of steady climbing. Some might argue that the “perfect” ended here. As we ground up the pass, there was an electronic sign informing us that “It is illegal to stop on the roadway to view bears.” Somehow, that thought had never entered my mind. The only way I would stop to view bears is if I were riding with someone slower than I.Over the pass we rode down into the Wind River Valley. The Wind River (pronounced like a breeze) is aptly named, as it seems to be always windy here. Today was mostly tailwind. It would also be apt to pronounce it like winding your watch, as it is the twistiest river I’ve ever seen.

As we crossed 9000 feet, it was hot in the sun and chilly in the shade. The descent required a jacket but was great fun – 9 miles at 25-45 mph. At 95 miles I heard a pop and a hiss and stopped to change a tube. The sidewall had a tear so I added a boot, which lasted until the turn into the campground when it blew again. The tear had grown, so I changed tires. Now I have two tubes to patch next weekend and I’m already using one of my spare tires – that one didn’t last long, being brand new for the trip.

We’re staying at a KOA campground in DuBois, WY. We were warned that the road would be closed from 1-3PM for the Independence Day parade – as though we would get here that early. We’re told they’ll have great fireworks – but fireworks are after dark, when I hope to be sleeping. Tomorrow is a “mere” 82 miles which appear to be mostly downhill.

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.