- Ashton ID to Jackson WY
- 72 miles/1022 total
- 3340′ gain
- 56.1 top speed
- 2.5 bottom speed
- 48 degrees at start, 91 degrees at finish
Our training continues to pay off. Not only are our bodies in shape for this epic journey, but our attitudes and capabilities are up to snuff as well. We rode very hard today and still came in with smiles on our faces.
Our trip today was divided into thirds. The first third was rolling farmland. The second third was straight, flat and mostly on newly oiled roads. The last third was the climb over Teton Pass, 8,456′ tall. We knew it was going to be a hot day by the end so we tried to get out on an early start.
It didn’t work out that way. Our friend Ric from Monroe had sagged the last couple of days with severe neck pains, but he was ready to try again today. You should have seen the disgust on his face when he discovered his rear tire wasn’t holding air. Then he deflated, too. So I helped him swap out his tube and get going. Then we took off, one of the last to leave the campground.
It’s kind of fun being at the very back of the pack because we got to pass a lot of people and see how they were doing. Then we’d stop to pee and they’d pass us and it started again. There’s quite the camaraderie among the riders. When we congregate at the water stops it is a joy to share our road stories and encourage each other. Particularly today when we all knew that giant mountain pass was coming. Most of the day we could see the three big peaks, Grand Teton, Middle Teton and South Teton looming over us. Getting up and around them was going to be a challenge.
On the middle third of the day we rolled into Driggs, ID to discover they were having an Independence Celebration which included hot air balloon rides and an air show. Three Korean War-era jets, 2 Sabres and one MIG, were practicing over the valley. Loop-de-loops, screaming descents to within 30′ off the ground, etc. One time a jet seemed to disappear behind a row of houses. It was crazy. We had a nice picnic lunch there. Shuli had made a black bean, rice, and fried banana dish which was wonderful. Before long, we trundled out to head for the pass.
It was about 8 miles of climbing to get over the pass which began at the Wyoming border. If you look at this image enlarged you may see the yellow warning sign in the distance that says “Steep Mountain Pass Ahead, 10% Grades”. The first couple miles were relatively easy. Then it kicked up to 4% for a couple more miles. Then it went up again and again and again. We stopped a couple of times to cool off and catch our breath. Kathy and Christian were also climbing close enough that we kept in touch. The sun beat down on us and we had to reapply sunscreen because we both felt like we were being broiled.
The last sections of the road were around 14%. That’s where we set our slow speed record. It’s amazing how slow you can go and still keep moving. We would have to work to get up to 4 mph so I could take a drink of water. Slower than that and I lose control of the bike if I take one hand off to drink. Finally we rounded the last corner and could see our fellow riders waiting to cheer us in at the top.
We cheered in some more riders and marveled at the 4 guys who had already ridden down the pass, then decided to go up and do it again! We snapped a shot of the valley below and started our descent. It was 10% much of the way, but with curves and switchbacks which made it impossible to completely let the tandem go. Better to be safe than sorry, we didn’t break our 59 mph record. But we did spend a considerable time going higher than 50. Needless to say, we were down in no time at all.
Jackson Hole (the valley here) was blisteringly hot, 91 by one measure, 102 by another. it was virtually all downhill to our hotel. We got in, cleaned up, blogged out, then ate at the natural foods store a couple blocks away. When the Coconut Bliss warms enough,we’ll have dessert! Then we’ll sleep like babies.