Day 52+ 53 (July 19th/20th 2016) Jackson Hole WY – Ashton ID; 70 miles

We said our final farewells to the beautiful, but windy, WY and said our first hellos to Idaho, but only for today. We are deviating from the established TransAm route due to the fact that organized tour groups cannot ride through Yellowstone, so adjustments had to be made. We are in ID tonight, only to leave and return to it down the road. It was a warm welcome at first, with tailwinds, however, ID didn’t want us to get too comfortable, as the winds changed quickly to head winds. As we rode through the farmlands, we were able to see the Grand Tetons from the back. They’re much more grand from the front, but still beautiful nonetheless.

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We left WY via Teton Pass, a 5.5 mile 10% grade mountain in which we gained 2500’. It is by far the longest and steepest pass we have encountered this entire trip. Even though it sounds harsh and exhausting, it was actually my favorite climb of the trip. We were on a paved bike trail the whole way up, completely segregated from the busy road. We had amazing views of the valley that provided an excellent distraction. Plus having fresh legs from yesterday’s off day was a welcome bonus. The descent from the pass was unfortunately not on a bike path and we had to brave the steep curving roads with the traffic. Luckily we all made it in one piece.

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Yesterday’s off day was much needed. We slept in till late (10 am!) and explored the city. Some of the crew went white water rafting, and at night Ten’s aunt invited us for dinner. I declined the offer, and instantly regretted it when those who went told us about it. The house they went to was in between Judge Judy and Harrison Ford’s vacation homes! The pictures of the house were unbelievable. There was also a valley wide power outage due to a substation going out, so the whole city was without power during peak dinner time. Locals said power never goes out, so no businesses had backup generators. Almost all the businesses were closed, and I was on a ravenous quest for dinner. We finally found the one place in Jackson Hole that had a backup generator and gas stoves. We devoured dinner and as soon as we paid the bill the power was restored. There was a town wide deafening cheer from hungry folks thrilled by the turn of events.

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Tomorrow we head into Montana where we’ll have another rest day!

Day 51 (July 18th 2016) Colter Bay Village – Jackson Hole WY; 40 miles

Today we took advantage of a low mileage day and went hiking in the Grand Tetons! Meg’s dad suggested that we hike at Jenny Lake to Inspiration Point. It’s a relatively easy low mile hike. Inspiration Point itself was beautiful, with a great overlook on Jenny Lake and surrounding mountains. There is a pretty substantial wildfire in the area, so unfortunately the view was slightly obscured by smoke. From Inspiration Point, we continued to hike into the canyon. I wasn’t aware that we could hike into the actual mountain, so it was a pretty cool experience for me.

The ride to Jenny Lake was awe inspiring, as we rode right to the base of the infamous mountains. It was really cool to experience it from the saddle of a bicycle, able to take it in fully. The ride from Jenny Lake, however, was a little rough. The wind picked up and of course was right in our faces. We rode on a bike path free from traffic.

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We are staying in Jackson Hole, a very touristy town but a really neat one. It has everything and we’ll have a fun time exploring it tonight and tomorrow, an off day!

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Day 50 (July 17th 2016) Dubois – Colter Bay Village WY; 66 miles

We were told yesterday that the ACA had ranked today’s ride in the top 5 rides of the TransAm. And for good reason too. Sure we had to do a pretty substantial climb over Togwotee Pass (also crossed the continental divide again) but the 17 miles of downhill (mostly) with grand views of the Grand Tetons made up for it. Even the climb had beautiful views of surrounding buttes.

We rode into Grand Teton National Park and continued to ride closely to the behemoth mountains. We were able to pull off onto observation points to take them in. It was stunning. We are camping at Colter Bay under them. With an approaching storm coming in, it set an ominous atmosphere watching the grey clouds overtake the grand mountains. The water was freezing, yet refreshing. We got to hang out more with Monica, likely the last time we’ll ride with her because she’s lucky enough to spend a few days in the park.

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We are officially in bear country and everywhere we look are flyers on keeping food away and preventing bear attacks. We stored everything in bear boxes, so hopefully we won’t have any furry friends knocking on our tent doors asking for a cup of honey.

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Tomorrow is a short day to Jackson Hole, then a much needed rest day. After 11 days of riding, I think we deserve one!

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Day 49 (July 16th, 2016) Lander – Dubois WY; 78 miles

To quote Sheena, “if Kentucky was hell, then Wyoming is at least purgatory”. And she’s right. Don’t get me wrong, I love the state, but it’s had its share of rough patches. Early in the morning (2am), we were once again assaulted by sprinklers. This went on for an hour, but since I already had experience dealing with these foes and knew it was too warm for it to freeze everything (again) I let the comforting repetition of the sprinklers lull me to sleep, much like the soothing sound of the ocean. I woke up to find that all my clothes for the morning were soaked, along with my sleeping bag, pillow, and air mattress (no wonder I was cold). What a way to start out the morning! I tied all the clothes to the outside of my bike to dry as I rode. I looked like a gypsy with all of it flying around me (see picture below).

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We left early to avoid wind (story of our lives now) but were held up when Sheena got a flat. But since she’s had practice, it didn’t take long for her to change it. We passed through Windy River Indian Reservation (appropriately named). It is allegedly one of two suspected burial sites for Sacagawea. Unfortunately, it was 2 miles off route and due to weather reports, we didn’t want to ride 4 miles round trip.

With 20 miles left in the trip, we hit some of the worst head and side winds yet, coming at us from all angles but the back. Of course, just our luck! These miles were also mainly uphill, so we definitely got our resistive training done, enough to last us a year. The downhill patches we hit were also difficult to ride down, mainly because the side winds were so violent they tried to throw us off our bikes. Both Molly and Murph were victims of the wind, but they triumphed unscathed.

The scenery today was beautiful, but hard to take in due to the winds. We saw gorgeous red rocks and towards the end we saw scenery similar to the Grand Canyon. The views were also difficult to take in due to a persistent nose bleed, likely due to altitude and dry air. The one tissue I had was not efficient for the job. I probably gave a few motorists a minor heart attack as they passed.

The town of Dubois is another tourist fueled small town. It’s really interesting and quaint. Sheena and I decided to rent a hotel room due to insufficient sleep from being attacked by sprinklers all night.


Sheena’s corner: Emilie’s version of The Hail Mary “Hail Mary, who art in heaven…” Bloody noses, flat tires, and 30mph head/ sidewinds won’t keep us from completing each day. I’m continuously impressed with Emilie, myself, and the team for getting up and biking every day despite the knowing obstacles that lie ahead.

Day 48 (July 15th 2016) Jeffrey City – Landers WY ; 60 miles

We beat the winds! And got in before 12pm. Granted, the winds never got to be anything too rough, but it was really nice getting into camp so early, particularly because there is so much going on in the city. This weekend is a climber convention so a whole bunch of rock climbers from around the country came to convene. Definitely an interesting group of people, and maybe one day I’ll pick up the habit.

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The town itself is pretty cool, and with a population of 7500+ people, it seems like a bustling metropolis compared to the rest of Wyoming. We went to the bike shop and bar to kill some time. It would’ve been really nice to have an off day in the town, but since we got In so early, it was the next best thing.

The ride into town was enjoyable, because most of it was downhill. We rode through beautiful red rock and landscapes. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to make up the elevation the next couple of days.

For the last few days we have been riding with some other transammers, mostly young guys who just up and quit their jobs (sound familiar?). A few of the others are freshly retired men just yearning after wanderlust. One of the guys, Mike, has done this and other tours before and has tidbits of advice to offer. Ironically, a lot of us have been following his journey via Instagram before even starting. I was surprised we caught up, must’ve been that 100 miler day in Colorado (ha). He also writes a blog, http://coast2coastbikeride.com/2016-bike-ride/ Check it out if you have time!

Day 47 (July 15th 2016) Rawlins – Jeffrey City, WY; 70 miles

We mostly succeeded in getting out early in attempts to beat the winds. We only hit winds for the last 10 miles, which weren’t nearly as bad as the last couple of days. Scenery is more of the same, looks kind of out of this world, like another planet.

And now a little tidbit into the glamorous world of cycling: for some reason, when the winds hit, it causes your nose to run like you wouldn’t believe. Because you’re holding onto the bike so hard in attempt to counteract the wind, you can’t take your hands off the handlebars to wipe it. So you just let the wind splatter it across your face, or let it hit the unlucky soul behind you. It’s a sight to behold, I’m sure.

We got in pretty early today, so we stopped by the local watering hole for wifi. Hoping for another early start tomorrow in preparation for what I’m sure will be another day of headwinds.

Sheena’s corner, resurrected:
I’m alive, just exhausted.

Today Emilie heard a cow moo and proceeded to ask me, “was that you or the cow?” …. “What? The cow, Emilie.” “Oh, I wasn’t sure if you farted.” 😑😂 Yea, it was probably her trying to blame the cow. Poor cow…

Day 46 (July 13th 2016) Saratoga – Rawlins WY; 41 miles

Just because today was a short days does not, by any means, mean today was an easy day. We all enjoyed the hotel stay and slept in late, getting a late start on the road. Which of course meant less miles in before the winds hit. And boy did they hit.

We had to ride on an interstate highway for a little over 10 miles right into the wind. Sheena was a champ and led a group of us through. The cars were pretty respectful, though I’m sure they thought, “wow what a buncha idiots”.

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We caught up with Monica, a solo rider who we met in the Appalachians. She was smart and spent a lot of time in Colorado, taking it all in. We also met a couple from close to home, West Chester, PA who were driving across the country and wished us luck with our journey.

 

I said goodbye to my parents and Addie today, but I’ll see them soon enough. I also booked my flight home seeing as we’ll be done in no time flat.

The winds are still kicking and setting up camp was difficult. Here’s to hoping they bestow mercy upon us tomorrow and lessen up.