Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 16 - Jackson to Dubois, WY

Today: 84 miles, 4630 feet of climb
Cumulative: 1164 miles, 51023 feet of climb

Riding through Grand Teton National Park

What an exhausting day. This was the first time I was happy the day was over. The scenery was breathtaking, but the headwind and altitude also combined to take my breath away and made it a very difficult day to finish.

Scenes from Grand Teton National Park

Regarding scenery, Day 16 is probably the signature day of the ride. Upon leaving the hotel this morning, we made a quick right and left turn, then stayed on US26 all day through Grand Teton National Park and Teton and Shoshone National Forests. The weather was 42 degrees at departure and did not warm up much, since we were well over 6000 feet in altitude all day.

After 6 miles we entered Grand Teton National Park and the full range of the Tetons were visible to our left. Very majestic with the all peaks snow capped. There was a little cloud cover on Grand Teton peak, but otherwise the range was fully visible all morning. The route through the park was a gradual 1 to 2% climb for 40 miles. Then when inside the National Forests, the grade increased to 5 to 7% for seventeen miles to the Continental Divide at Togwotee Pass at an altitude of 9658 feet. This is the highest altitude we’ll reach during the ride. The climb was not particularly steep, but it was long.

Mark K. climbs towards the Continental Divide and Togwotee Pass

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is reconstructing the road over the top of the pass and most riders had to be shuttled for about 8 miles over the pass. In getting there early, we were lucky to be able to ride the whole way up and down the pass, except for two relatively flat miles where the road had been completely removed for resurfacing.

Togwotee Pass Summit and the Continental Divide

Glad that's over with!

Over the top of the pass the wind got very ugly. We had an approximate 30 mile per hour headwind for the last 29 miles into town. We struggled to keep the pace at over 12mph on most of this section whereas in prior years with a tailwind, riders had been covering it at 30mph. As a result, everyone got to the hotel much later than normal. Our group did not finish until about 3:45PM, and one rider was just finishing when I headed for dinner at 6PM.

I wore practically every piece of clothing I have with me. Leg warmers, arm warmers, wind vest, wind breaker, head cap, and winter riding jacket. I hear there is a heat wave in the Northeast. Not here. It was very cold for a southerner.

Other than the scenery, the highlight of the day for me was a back massage from Barbara Munk. We were kidding her, saying that the “platinum package” would include a massage at every sag stop. So Barbara gave me a quick back massage while I was standing at Togwotee Pass. It was quite good and very timely, since the muscles in your back get an unusually hard work out when climbing. And we’ve been doing a lot of climbing the last two days.

I saw two rather unusual things today. At least for me. First, a guy riding a unicycle down Togwotee Pass. Second, people swimming in 50 degree weather. Neither is for me.

We are staying at the Stagecoach Inn in Dubois and I have a room that reminds me of The Sopranos. In addition to the bed and TV, it has a couch, full bar, four bar stools, and a corner table with seats and a card table. If I wasn’t so tired and ready for bed I could get a nice card game going in here. Unfortunately, luggage load is at 6:45AM tomorrow.

So for now, it is a much needed early bed time. Tomorrow we have about 79 miles to Riverton and the good news, it’s a net 2000 foot drop to get there. No major climbing tomorrow, which is a welcome relief before the 120 mile day into Casper.

Riding a unicycle down the mountain?

Swimming at 50 degrees?

The site of my back massage

Today's video:

Today’s route:


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