The road from Hoback Junction to Pinedale on Day 3 took us away from the Tetons and Targhee, through the Gros Ventre Wilderness, and into flatter, undulating sagebrush lands from which we could begin to see the Wind River Range.
There’s another tandem getting ready to roll out of camp at the same time we were – a blue one!
We were getting up early every day, before sunrise, so we could get out on the road at the 7 a.m. route opening or shortly thereafter. As slower riders who also tend to like to dawdle and look at things, we wanted to give ourselves as much time as we needed to reach our evening destination. When we headed east, this often meant riding into the morning sun as it peeked over the peaks.
Round about 10 miles into the ride, we pulled over so Bugman could remove some layers, as he was getting hot. The cyclists who passed by were all quite excited. Can you see why? (Look to the right side of the photo, in the pasture.)
A (sculpture of) A BULL MOOSE!
I wondered if that moose is there all the time, or if someone on CGY conspired with a landowner to plant it there. Had it been a real moose, I don’t think we would have stopped there!
A look backwards as we pedal along the Hoback River, in the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
There are all kinds of historical markers along our route. The pullouts make a convenient place to take a break.
At a rest stop: another tandem! A purple one! We got to know this captain and stoker a little bit, since they had contacted us via this blog before the ride. Tom and Pat are from Minnesota. I hope we can get out there sometime and ride with them. Also, I want to find out how they train. They are a lot faster than us.
Not a real pretty picture, but it demonstrates two things. 1. We bikers are a bit messy, and the volunteers who cleaned up after us have my sympathy and gratitude. 2. Dried apricots + almond butter as a snack. I wanted to remember this, as the combination was SOOO GOOOD! It was exactly what I needed at that particular time. There were a couple of Goldfish swimming on the side of the picture as evidence of the rest of the rest stop treat.
Us and the bikes, leanin’ against a fence. We always prefer to lean the bike against a wooden fence, or hook the rear handlebars on a metal post, rather than lay the the bike on the ground.
The solar panels and unusual-looking wind turbines caught my eye as we passed the Bondurant Post Office. I thought they were part of some kind of USPS innovation, but they are in fact a part of Lower Valley Energy’s system. The area was so far from the nearest power station that electricity wasn’t reliable, so they came up with a solution. The turbines were once proposed to be 45 feet tall, but the height was reduced to 25 feet to comply with zoning ordinances. More info on the topic here.
Yes, pine-clad towering mountain peaks stir the soul, but there is definitely something to be said for the more subtle beauty of sagebrush country.
While the scenery was nice, this road through sagebrush country was not my favorite. The shoulder had a rumble strip, which we can’t ride on, and the thin band of blacktop left on the shoulder past the rumble strip was often unsafe to ride on due to hazards such as gravel, large cracks, or overhanging weeds – particularly for a tandem that needs a bit more room to maneuver. So, we often had to ride out in the traffic lane, which made several semi-truck drivers very unhappy. Nothing to set me on edge like a semi truck driver laying on the horn to say “get the *bleep* out of my way, biker – you don’t belong on the road.” Granted, it was probably annoying for the truck drivers to have to deal with a string of hundreds of bicycles along this stretch of road, and they probably get penalized for being late or something, but there are hundreds of other conditions out there that could slow a truck delivery. Why do some people insist on being such cretins?!?? Ugh! Also, we lost our rear blinker on one of the rumble strips through here. It vibrated off and flew into the sagebrush somewhere, where it probably continued blinking its lonely light until its battery died.
This is how we feel about 18 miles of steady climb, with the steepest part coming right at the end. Saving grace: the rest of the day’s ride is (mostly) downhill.
Another historical marker shop. This countryside is lousy with history!
Our lonely lunch stop.
One of the fun parts of a ride like this is seeing all the jersey designs. Loved the Lactic Acid Heads’ jerseys! We got quite a few comments on our “black cat / chat noir” team jerseys, as well as the “Thing 1 / Thing 2” jerseys. In fact, some people on the ride remembered us from last year because of those Dr. Seuss jerseys.
Some more rain clouds sneaking around on the horizon. We wound up getting sprinkled on at dinnertime, and it rained on our tents a little that night, but we managed to avoid rain on the ride.
Another ersatz wildlife sighting: bison on a hilltop.
I offered to take a photo of a fellow cyclist as she stood under this ranch gate with the Wind River Range in the background. As I was taking the photo, a group of cyclists passed, and I got a great photobomb of one of them dominating the frame. Since that was on someone else’s camera, I decided to try to recreate the effect with the next cyclist who came along, who apologized as she went by. No apologies! I was shooting across your lane of travel – you have the right of way! 🙂
I took a picture of this fencing arrangement, as it puzzled me, and I hoped to ask someone about it, but I never did. Anyone know why there are short extensions of fence towards the road, with dirt piled up where they intersect with the main fence? Many of them seemed to have wood on the opposite side of the fence to keep the dirt in. Bugman though that maybe they were a way for people to climb over the fence, but I never saw a ladder or anything on the other side. Hmmm . . .
Getting near to Pinedale now, and the course volunteers are speaking my language – BEER!
Huh. First natural gas pump I’ve ever seen.
Pinedale welcomed us to town with a brass quartet. It made me grin. That last few hundred feet up to the campsite did not make me grin, however. The bike path into the park was about a 75-foot climb over such a short distance that I felt like I was going to tumble backwards off the bicycle. Yikes! I did love that campsite, though. It was delicious to camp on the thick, green grass in that park. I took my bike shoes and socks off and walked around barefoot for the first time in days. Ahhhhh!
I think Pinedale was also offering horse-drawn wagon rides. We wound up taking a more conventional ride in a shuttle van so we could use a laundromat. The laundromat was packed with fellow cyclists – a good place to bond over road stories. Also convenient to have a convenience store across the street, since we were obsessed with food. I got some cheddar cheese. Bugman got some sour cream and onion potato chips. Yum!!! Food!!
Speaking of food, the word in the laundromat was, the restaurant RIGHT NEXT DOOR had the most excellent homemade pie. I wandered over to the Wrangler Cafe and made inquiry. It seems that the place had been completely out of pie, but when it was learned that a horde of cyclists was about to descend, the pie-making commenced, to good effect. There is no photographic evidence of the German apple pie, as we inhaled it – every last crumb. It was very good pie. Every ride must have its pie.
Distance and elevation gain (per my mapping software): 67.05 miles, 4,945 feet *sigh* way off on the elevation, GPS. (the official full route stats were 66 miles, 2,134 feet)
Min temp: 41, Max temp: 69, Winds 5-16, gusting to 22 mph, Precipitation: none [data from Pinedale]
Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw