Today’s ride flowed like a river. More precisely, like the Wind river – through reservations, farmland, red rock formations, and wide open sage country.
A good day starts with a good breakfast. Today’s fare was a hearty homemade breakfast buffet provided by some good folks in Dubois. Pancakes, REAL scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and OJ provides optimal fuel for a 79 mile spin. A brisk 40 degrees at the start – but the rising sun and declining elevation warmed the air as we rode along.
Feeling inquisitive, I stopped at a point of interest on the roadside. I should stop at these more often, since they are usually enlightening and thought provoking – like exercise for the mind while the body cranks those pedals. The hand-carved description told of a legendary battle between Shoshone, Bannock, and Crow Indians for supremacy of hunting grounds in this river basin and surrounding buttes.
Interesting to reflect on how this area has changed over the last 150 years since that tribal battle. Or perhaps, how little has changed? The wind and water keep flowing while our human footprints fade into memories. What will the next 150 years bring?
Time to rest the body and mind, tomorrow is a long mileage day.
Waking up to rain while on a bike tour is generally not ideal. That was the case in Jackson this morning. So we delayed our start a bit, waited for the clouds to clear, and pedaled away from the Tetons towards the Wyoming cowboy town of Dubois (pronounced like DEW-Boyz). The clouds eventually yielded spectacular views of the snow-covered Tetons.
Pedaling up Togwotee (TOGA-tee) pass brought us to the highest point on the cross-country tour: 9,584 feet at the Continental Divide. The Pacific watershed behind us, the Atlantic ahead of us. In theory, it should be mostly downhill from here, all the way to New Hampshire?
It was really cold up there at altitude, with a biting North-west wind. Thankfully I had my rain jacket with me, and fortunately, the wind was in our favor, blowing down-valley to our destination. With a 20mph tailwind, it felt like I was riding an e-bike (electric-assist bicycle). In actuality, I guess it was a w-bike (wind-assist bicycle) today.
Remember motel keys? Not those plastic card things that take 3-4 tries to work, but actual metal keys? That’s still the tried and true method employed by the friendly western folks here at the Stagecoach Inn. Not much changes in the town of Dubois, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
I can see and hear the aptly named Wind River from my room window. Tomorrow we follow the river, and hopefully the wind, down to the easily pronounceable town of Riverton (RIVER-ton).
Hail Victor! That’s Victor, as in the town of Victor Idaho, and hail, as in frozen precipitation. I’ve been very fortunate with good weather through the first 14 days of this coast-to-coast journey. Oregon offered nothing more than a few sprinkles, and Idaho was mild and dry, up until about 5 miles from the Idaho-Wyoming border.
65 miles into our ride, after successfully climbing and descending Pine Creek Summit (elevation 6764′), a fellow rider and I stopped at the Big Hole BBQ in the small mountain town of Victor to fuel up for upcoming Teton Pass. A couple others soon joined us. While waiting for lunch to arrive at our sunny outdoor table, we noticed ominous black clouds looming over the beautiful mountain valley behind us. Within minutes after moving to an inside table, a thunderous storm flung menus and pine cones onto the sidewalk and soon unleashed a torrent of pelting rain and hail. A few other passing cyclists sought shelter with us as the storm continued. The small BBQ shack suddenly became a very popular mid-day destination.
Like most mountain storms, this one departed almost as quickly as it arrived. Within an hour, the sun reemerged and I continued on up the wet road to the Wyoming Border and over the steep and challenging Teton Pass (elev. 8431′). I enjoyed a sparkling view of Jackson Hole from the top, took a few quick photos, then made a quick descent into Jackson before the next storm rumbled in.
91 miles with over 6,000 feet of climbing makes for an epic day. Toss some crazy weather into the mix, and this becomes one of those memorable days that us cycling geeks will be talking about for years to come.
It’s great to be back on tour! One year after completing the first two-week segment of my coast-to-coast ride in the small college town of Pocatello Idaho, I’ve joined up with the 2019 tour to continue the ride. On this opening day of year 2 for me, I’m reminded of the old English bridal advice of ‘Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something Blue’.
Something Old: Four of the six-person support crew are back for 2019: Judy, Karen, Rob and Robin. And last year’s oldest tour rider, Bob, is back for another full tour. Just one year shy of an octogenarian, Bob is an inspiration for all of us – and a strong rider to boot. So good to see Bob and the returning America-by-Bicycle support crew. ABB’s tour journals are both old and new, with pictures and commentary on both the 2018 and 2019 tours. Here’s a link to a picture of me and tour mechanic Rob riding to Idaho Falls today:
Something New: A brand new band of cycling mates to share in the cross-country adventure. I was curious to see how this year’s batch of riders would compare to the 2018 bunch I started with – and they are remarkably similar. So welcoming and encouraging. An instant spirit of camaraderie somehow develops among a group of like-minded adventurists, evidenced by this wonderful new crew. And, I’m on a brand new bike this year – but more on that in future blog posts.
Something Borrowed: I borrowed a friendly local Lyft from from the 2-gate Pocatello Regional Airport to the Pocatello Best Western, borrowed the expert skill of tour bicycle mechanic Robin to re-assemble my bike from it’s shipping box, and borrowed the electronic route maps from tour leader Judy to guide me though the myriad of picturesque Idaho farm roads today. And I borrowed the restroom of a laundromat in the sleepy town of Blackfoot where the attendant was absolutely thrilled to chat with riders passing through.
Something Blue: The Snake river is so aptly named as it slithers through the countryside and reflects a brilliant blue Idaho sky. The river has been a companion throughout most of Idaho, and it was nice to be reacquainted. I also sported a streak of blue on my jersey from George’s Bicycle shop in Boise – a memento from last year’s ride and a perfect shirt for kicking off this year’s 1,000 mile segment.
Hello Blog, time for a 2019 training update. Over 1900 miles logged in preparation for the next segment of the Coast-to-Coast ride. I’m feeling pretty good, especially after an epic Colorado ride from the foothills town of Evergreen (7,500 ft) to the Summit of Mount Evans (14,130 ft). Cycling up the highest paved road in North America is sort of a right of passage for crazed Colorado cyclists, and a litmus fitness test for both legs and lungs.
Oxygen becomes somewhat scarce at 14,000 feet above sea level, especially when you are mashing pedals up a 6% grade. Even trees have a hard time breathing air up here, so they generally prefer to hang out below 12,500. On a bike, there is no shame in stopping a few times to catch a breath – as long as your oxygen-depleted brain remembers to apply the brake so you don’t roll backwards, or topple sideways down a rocky mountainside.
At the summit, a celebratory feeling of triumph washes away any climbing pains – and nodding smiles are exchanged with a few other congratulatory cyclists. While the hoard of motorists stare wide-eyed at us strange lycra-clad aliens and ask the remarkably dumb yet well-meaning question: “Wow, did you ride your bike all the way up here?”
So with a mountain summit, a city century ride, dozens of weekend jaunts, and scores of commuting trips – I’ll hopefully be able to keep pace with the 2019 America-By-Bicycle group as I join them mid-tour in Pocatello Idaho to pick-up where I left off in 2018. I’m eagerly looking forward to continuing the journey and sharing the adventure. Thanks for tuning in.
Another great day for a bicycle ride. Come to think of it, every day is a good day for a ride – perhaps some days are just a bit better than others.
Cool enough for a light jacket this morning, even on the last day of June. Winds were light, as was traffic on the farm roads and open cattle ranges we cycled through. One lonely old stretch of highway was so open and peaceful, the ride transcended into a zen-like experience of being totally engulfed in the barren sage landscape.
I stopped at an interesting landmark called Register Rock. Early pioneers who traversed this way carved their names and messages into a large boulder along the Oregon Trail. Sort of an 1850’s version of instagram or facebook. The historic rock is smartly fenced off to prevent modern travelers (or cyclists) from registering their own messages.
More crossings of the slowly meandering Snake River highlighted the rest of the ride into the town of Pocatello – which marks the end of this year’s segment of my Coast-to-Coast bicycle adventure. I hugged goodbye to my fellow cyclists and thanked the America-By-Bicycle staff for their awesome support.
Next year, my ride will start from here in Pocatello, Idaho and extend another two weeks and 1,088 miles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Tomorrow I load the bike on top of a car and drive back home with AJ and Jackie. It’s been an incredible two week journey, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the daily blogs.
More tailwinds, and even cooler temperatures today. Lovin’ those 70s – especially when I hear about triple-digit temperatures back in Denver. An easy 45 mile cruise through irrigated fields of potatoes, beets, wheat and lavender – with a few detours to see Shoshone Falls and Twin Falls. Shoshone Falls (pictured) is the prettier of the two. Twin Falls is actually now just a single… one of the twins was dammed for hydroelectric power. Ah, the price of progress.
We crossed back over the Snake River Gorge on the Hansen Bridge. Before the original bridge was built in 1919, this 16 mile stretch of river gorge could only be crossed by rowboat. The 900 foot bridge, suspended nearly 400 feet over the Snake River, accommodated two lanes of farm wagons as well as those newfangled automobiles that were starting to gain popularity. The cost of the bridge in 1919? $100,000. Ah, the price of progress only 99 years ago.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the day came at the finish in Burley, where I was cheered on by my welcoming team of Jackie and AJ. They got to meet fellow cyclists and experience firsthand this crazy ‘travelling summer camp’ atmosphere. Jax and AJ also witnessed the results of a scavenger hunt competition as teams creatively vied to win over the judges with team photos, spotting of Where’s Waldos, and collecting interesting items from the side of the road today, among other challenges. They’ll be staying with me tonight, but maybe not getting up with me at 5:30 for breakfast.
Tomorrow will be my last Coast-to-Coast ride for 2018. 87 miles to Pocatello, a farewell dinner with the rest of the crew, and one more night in a Best Western Hotel before the car ride home with my wonderful support team of AJ and Jackie. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Today was bliss. Literally, as we passed through Bliss, Idaho – population 318. I’m perplexed that only a few people choose to live in Bliss. It’s one of many small towns along a beautiful 97 mile ride today that featured views of the Snake River’s picturesque valleys and deep canyons. Bliss was fleeting, as a brisk 20 mph tailwind whipped us through town and on up the river.
Wind is the one weather variable that can either crush the spirit of a weary cyclist with a brutal headwind, or provide a vigorous boost of momentum with a blissful tailwind. Today, the cycling Gods were overly generous with a heavenly tailwind, elevating normal cruising speeds of 15-18 mph up into the 20s. It’s like traveling in an open-air bubble as the wind flows at your same speed and the landscape seems to magically move with you. Pure Bliss.
Ninety-seven miles went by so quickly and efficiently, that some of us tacked on a few extra miles to see Shoshone Falls and pass by the earthen remains of the launch ramp that famous stuntman Evel Knievel used in a failed attempt to jump over the Snake River Gorge near Twin Falls. Had he waited for a tailwind like today’s, his odds may have drastically improved.
Tomorrow is a light day of about 40 miles into the town of Burley. Which means a bit of a sleep in and a later start. Yay! More bliss.
I tried. I tried really hard. I carefully scanned the horizon in all directions. Despite the heroic effort, I was unable to see the ocean from the famed ‘Ocean View’ lane in Idaho. If one were to google all the Ocean View Lanes in America, this one would probably be last on the list. Later on, I would pass by Sea Breeze Avenue, where I did feel a breeze – but sorely lacking in humidity or salinity. Even the ambitious town name of Mountain Home is a bit of a stretch. The warm dry weather might be making folks a bit loopy around here… all in good fun.
It might sound a bit odd to many folks, but today was an ‘easy 56 mile ride’. With rested legs from a day off, the miles rolled right on by as we left the shaded bikes paths along the Boise River for the wide open prairie of central Idaho.
As you might imagine, dinners for 40 hungry cyclists can be challenging for some of the small towns we stay in. Advance notice helps, especially for the places that accommodate the tour from year to year. AJ’s pulled it off very nicely today with a full salad bar, choice of several entrees, and of course, a superb Idaho baked potato.
Great name for a restaurant, as my son AJ would probably concur.
Tomorrow will present a more difficult challenge – 97 miles to Twin Falls. Word is that there are actual water falls in the area… we shall see about that.
Today is a day off in the pleasantly surprising town of Boise. We wandered into the hotel breakfast with a blank-check sort of mentality… a free day!
For me, the day started with a trip to a local laundromat. I don’t recall being in a laundromat since my days in college at Colorado State. $3.25 for a wash and $0.25 per 6 minutes of dryer time. Time seems to move in slow motion while clothes tumble behind round glass doors and the machines meld into a constant cacophony of industrial background noise. A two mile round trip would be the only miles I put on the bike today.
With freshly clean clothes, I spent time meandering about town – through Boise State University, along the Boise River (where floating downriver is a popular summer pastime), to the Boise Art Museum (BAM!), and to the Idaho state capitol building. A very clean and welcoming city, with newly constructed blocks alongside historic brick buildings, in a picturesque mountain river valley. A lot to like, which might explain why Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
The day was capped off with a nice dinner at a downtown Italian restaurant with several of my riding companions, each of us talking about our various travel stories and experiences. We’ve come to discover we all have quite a bit in common, yet so much that we can learn from each other. The pleasure of cycling combined with an epic goal has united us in ways that are difficult to describe – a psychology experiment of sorts. I look forward to continuing the journey.
Day 10 will feature a relatively easy 54 miles to Mountain Home, ID.