2014 Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 7 Dubois to Moran Junction and the day after

I do not have a whole lot of pictures from the last day of the ride, as my camera was mostly wrapped in plastic, safely stowed away. It was another rainy ride, and with an ascent over a mountain pass, a darned cold one, too. I really regretted not having my rain pants.

It was hard to leave the nice, warm building in Dubois. As tempting as it was to linger over breakfast, we were under deadline pressure. We were scheduled to meet a bus at Moran Junction that would take us back to our Day 0 camp in Teton Village.

It was hard to leave the nice, warm building in Dubois. As tempting as it was to linger over breakfast, we had a deadline to meet. We were scheduled to meet a bus at Moran Junction that would take us back to our Day 0 camp in Teton Village. We got the bike out of the tennis court corral and hit the road, our bike shoes still damp from the day before and overnight rain.

We got the bike out of the tennis court corral and hit the road, our bike shoes still damp from the day before and overnight rain. Bugman had a thick windblocker cycling jacket on over his short-sleeved jersey in addition to his regular shell. I wore a cozy long-sleeved jersey under my shell, on top of a short-sleeved jersey. We both had fingerless cycling gloves topped with fleece mittens. Our bike trunk was stuffed with our rain jackets and long pants.

Good morning, horses.

Good morning, horses.

Only 53 miles to our destination.

Only 53 miles to our destination, and lunch.

The mountain peaks were shrouded in cloud, still half-asleep. That's kind of how I felt that morning.

The mountain peaks were shrouded in cloud, still half-asleep. That’s kind of how I felt that morning.

We dodged a couple of rain showers early, but our luck didn’t last. With the wind chill, dampness, and thin bike socks, Bugman’s feet started to ache from the cold.

About 10 miles in, at the top of a small hill, we pulled over so Bugman could try to get some circulation back in his feet. Nearby, a course volunteer was sitting in his pickup truck, keeping watch on the cyclists.

I trotted over to ask about the possibility of purchasing a dry pair of socks from the CGY store and having them sent ahead to the next rest stop. Instead, the volunteer dug around in his gear and found a pair of thick wool hiking socks. He had Bugman get into his truck and turned the heat up full blast. Bugman changed out of his wet socks and held his feet under the heat register for a few minutes before putting on the dry woolies.

“Ahhh! Much better!” Bugman said. He later commented that, if it were not for that volunteer and his wool socks, he probably would not have been able to finish the ride that day.

I was glad when the rain let up, not just because the misery abated, but because we could see the fantastic scenery.

I was glad when the rain let up, not just because the misery abated, but because we could see the fantastic scenery. Bugman wound up peeling off the detachable sleeves from his thick windbreaker jacket. The exertion of the climb generated some heat.

Clouds were starting to roll in again across the tops of the mountain peaks. It was getting colder.

Clouds were starting to roll in again across the tops of the mountain peaks. It was getting colder the higher we rode.

Early Christmas?

Early Christmas? It just about felt cold enough.

At a rest stop around mile 25, we noshed some snacks. I remember there were volunteers cheering for us at that stop – including a boy hollering “wakka wakka!” Fozzie Bear fan, perhaps?

Bugman was getting chilled again, so he pulled on a pair of thick fleece pants over his bike shorts.

Near noon, and we were nearing the top of the pass. On and off drizzle kept things chilled and damp.

High noon, and we were nearing the top of the pass. On and off drizzle kept things chilled and damp.

Yay! We made it to the top of the pass!

Yay! We made it to the top of the pass!

Oops! We blocked the sign with our hoisted bike. Togwotee Pass, elevation 9,584 feet. Oh, and that's pronounced "TOE-guh-tee."

Oops! We blocked the sign with our hoisted bike. Togwotee Pass, elevation 9,584 feet. Oh, and that’s pronounced “TOE-guh-tee.”

At this stop, Bugman put the sleeves back on his windblocker, in anticipation of the windchill on our way down the mountain.

A lot of fellow cyclists stopped to celebrate at the apex of this mountain pass. It had been a hard climb. But we had miles to go before lunch and the end of the ride.

A lot of fellow cyclists stopped to celebrate at the apex of this mountain pass. It had been a hard climb. But we had miles to go before lunch and the end of the ride. And the rain wasn’t done with us yet.

Crossed the continental divide again. Now for 17 miles of 6% grade downhill. If it had been a warm, dry day, the descent would have been exhilarating. In the rain, possibly in the sleet, with it cold enough to see your breath, it was not so fun.

Crossed the continental divide again. Now for 17 miles of 6% grade downhill. If it had been a warm, dry day, the descent would have been exhilarating. In the rain, with it cold enough to see your breath, it was not so fun.

Our descent of Togwotee Pass was pretty miserable, but we kept at it because we knew there was an end in sight. Every sag wagon that went by was packed full. We were determined not to add to the passenger load. A couple of times, we passed cyclists changing flat tires in the rain. I felt bad for them!

The rest stop at mile 39 was a godsend. They had coffee! Hot coffee! I threw back a couple of cups along with some trail mix and felt a lot better. I also finally broke down and pulled on my running capris, which I had been using as pajamas and had packed in the bike trunk that morning, just in case.

I encountered a girl in the line for the porta potty who was having a complete meltdown. She was upset because she had been picked up with a flat tire by the sag wagon and then was asked to exit the vehicle at the rest area. She was apparently thinking she was going to be abandoned on the mountain there, and was trying in vain to get cell signal to call her father to come pick her up. She did ultimately get back onto another sag wagon to get the rest of the way down the mountain. I suspect the volunteer crew was rounding up people off the cold, wet mountain and gathering them at the rest stop, where at least there was some help. I wonder if there weren’t some people suffering from hypothermia up there. I was uncomfortably cold, but not life-threateningly so. But I had on several layers of clothing. I could definitely see how someone who was less prepared might be having serious trouble.

ggg

The ride organizers had made much ado about the views we were supposed to have of the Tetons as we descended the pass, but the rain scuppered the vista. We weren’t able to see the mountains ahead until we descended out of the clouds and were on the flat again.

It continued to drizzle pretty much the entire last portion of the ride. You couldn’t get too close to another cyclist, or you risked spraying them or getting sprayed by the water coming up from the tires off the wet road. I could feel my feet squelching in my shoes.

The end of the ride was pretty anticlimactic. We showed up at Moran Junction, lay down our bike to be packed onto a truck, scarfed lunch, and then stood soggily in line, waiting for the buses that would take us back to Teton Village. A volunteer offered a blanket, in case someone was desperately cold.

As the course closed down, the sag wagons were pressed into service as cyclist transport back to Teton Village, and it was on one of these that we found our way back. There was a pleasant camaraderie among the cyclists, particularly as we had another mini-adventure when our driver chose to take Moose-Wilson road from the north instead of taking the south route via highways 26 and 22 through Jackson. There were portions of that road that were unpaved and mighty bumpy! Too bad we didn’t see a moose or bear spring from between the trees. That would have made a good story.

At Teton Village, we walked through the mud in our bike shoes to get to the campsite where we could pick up our luggage from the tent Sherpa guys. As soon as we had our bags, I immediately put on dry socks and shoes. So much better!

Since our bike was not back in camp yet, we climbed wearily into our car for the 20-minute drive to our B&B in Jackson – the Alpine House.

The car-window view of the mist-shrouded Tetons was breathtaking.

The car-window view of the mist-shrouded Tetons on the drive to Jackson was breathtaking.

Warm showers, dry clothes, chocolate chip cookies from the B&B, and we were feeling much better. Bugman washed his borrowed wool socks, and we drove back to Teton Village with them draped over the air registers in the car to dry. We packed our bike on top of the car, returned the borrowed socks, and headed over to find the after-ride party in the Commons Area.

When we finally found someone who could tell us where the Commons was, we were disappointed. The Commons was an outdoor area, and the party had been cancelled due to the chilly weather. Oh well. We didn’t enjoy the afterparty last year all that much anyway – the music was too loud.

We headed back to Jackson, ate an intemperate amount of pizza, and crashed into bed.

The next day on the drive home, we retraced our mountain pass route and found . . . snow!

Bugman scrapes some snow off the continental divide sign to throw the first snowball of the season. I am so bummed I did not think to make and photograph a miniature snowman. That would have been my earliest-ever snowman, on August 24!

Bugman scraped some snow off the continental divide sign to throw the first snowball of the season. I am so bummed I did not think to make and photograph a miniature snowman. That would have been my earliest-ever snowman, on August 24!

The final image of Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014: our bike atop the car, on frosty Togwotee Pass. Next year, I will for sure bring my rain pants!

The final image of Cycle Greater Yellowstone 2014: our bike atop the car, on frosty Togwotee Pass. Next year, I will for sure bring my rain pants!

Ride summary

Distance and elevation gain (per the official route stats) were 55 miles, 2,610 feet

Min temp: 42, Max temp: 55, Winds 10-25, gusting to 30 mph, Precipitation: “none”?? Well, maybe it was dry at the airport . . .  [data from Dubois]

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

2014 Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 4 Farson to Lander

If you’re reading these blog posts closely, you may wonder how it is that we ended our Day 3 ride in Pinedale, yet started Day 4 in Farson, 60 miles away. No magic, just school buses.

The entire camp was scheduled to vacate in two shifts – prior to 6 a.m., and around 8-ish – for the hourlong leapfrog over “relatively uninteresting” terrain to a park in Farson, where we would meet our bikes (they had been shipped out the night before).

Not wanting to get started too late in the day, Bugman and I opted for the pre-6 a.m. bus shift, which meant we got up ridiculously early. It was interesting walking around our tent village in the pitch dark and seeing tents here and there illuminate as bikers woke up and switched on their headlamps. Most were white light, but some were red, and one was blue.

We scurried to get everything packed up and to trick-or-treat our way through the sack breakfast line. Freshly made breakfast burritos – yummy!! I added some dried cranberries, an orange, and milk to my bag. Since we were running a bit late, I skipped the coffee.

It was nice and warm on the bus, and some people snoozed in their seats. It was hard to see out my window because of condensation on the glass, but I did catch a glimpse of some pronghorn antelope off in the distance on a ridge.

Our arrival in Farson was a bit chaotic. We were getting trained to look for those Zero Hero trash tents, but there were none to be found in which to deposit our breakfast trash.

Even worse, there was not the expected bank of portapotties! Instead, there were four portapotties in the park, and I think a couple of flush toilets in a park shelter. There were several busloads of people who’d rushed to get ready in the morning, many of whom had consumed coffee on the school bus. It was not a pretty picture. (We later learned that there was a mixup and the portapotties had been delivered to the Farson Mercantile instead of the park.)

While Bugman waited in the portapotty line, I found our tandem in the mass of bikes parked in the bike corral and got the tires pumped up. I had an easy time, as a red tandem is not hard to spot, but some people wound up looking through the bike herd two or three times before they found their bikes.

We planned to backtrack on the route a little to go to the Farson Mercantile for coffee, but when I looked for my wallet in my bike bag, it was nowhere to be found. Great! No money, possibly missing wallet, no caffeine, delayed start – plenty to make me grumpy that morning. Best to ride it off!

First random photo of the day: a geodesic dome home. Had to take a picture, since Bugman has been interested in these since our days at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where R. Buckminster Fuller built the first dome home in 1960.

First random photo of the day: a geodesic dome home. Had to take a picture, since Bugman has been interested in these since our days at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where R. Buckminster Fuller built the world’s first dome home in 1960.

O, beautiful sight! Portapotties on the prairie!

O, beautiful sight! Portapotties on the prairie!

Uh-oh. Here it comes. We were warned at the briefing last night that we would be riding through a dozen or so miles of fresh chip seal. As someone commented that evening, "Now everyone knows what chip seal is." "Yeah. Up close and personal. Miles and miles of it."

Uh-oh. Here it comes. We were warned at the briefing last night that we would be riding through a dozen or so miles of fresh chip seal. As someone commented that evening, “Now everyone knows what chip seal is.” “Yeah. Up close and personal. Miles and miles of it.” But first, some brand-new asphalt – some of the smoothest road on the entire ride.

Some of our bikers mixed in with a tour bus group at a historical marker.

Some of our bikers mixed in with a tour bus group at a historical marker. Lotta interesting history around here.

Aaaand - there's the chip seal! It's basically a layer of tar with a layer of small gravel on top. The idea is, vehicles will work the gravel into the tar and provide a protective surface for the road in extreme weather conditions. What it means for cyclists: there are scary areas of loose gravel, there are icky spots where tar flies up onto your bike and legs (I was still finding specks of tar on my legs a week later), there are sharp rocks that stick in your tires, and - by far worst of all - vehicles fling those small bits of gravel at you at high velocity as they pass. And this road had a lot of semi-truck traffic. And they were traveling at 65 mph. It. Was. Awful. Every time a truck went by, I would turn my face away from the road as the inevitable pelting commenced. Some of those flying rocks really hurt! I was annoyed that the programmable electronic speed signs were not reset to slow traffic a bit. But the Wyoming DOT did help us out - they went out and swept the road shoulder the morning of our ride (we saw a pile of spent sweeper brushes on the side of the road). I am ever so grateful for that. Otherwise, the shoulder of the road would have been very gravelly and hazardous.

Aaaand – there’s the chip seal! It’s basically a layer of tar with a layer of small gravel on top. What it means for cyclists: there are scary areas of loose gravel, there are icky spots where tar flies up onto your bike and legs (I was still finding specks of tar on my legs a week later), there are sharp rocks that stick in your tires, and – by far worst of all – vehicles fling those small bits of gravel at you at high velocity as they pass. And this road had a lot of semi-truck traffic. And the speed limit was 65 mph. It. Was. Awful. Every time a truck went by, I would turn my face away from the road as the inevitable pelting commenced. Some of those flying rocks really hurt! (It’s enough to crack windshields, to give an idea of the force behind this stuff.) I was annoyed that the programmable electronic speed signs were not reset down from 65 to slow traffic a bit. But the Wyoming DOT did help us out – they went out and swept the road shoulder the morning of our ride (we saw a pile of spent sweeper brushes on the side of the road). I am ever so grateful for that. Otherwise, the shoulder of the road would have been very gravelly and hazardous.

Some cyclists stop to read the signage at South Pass, without which "the entire history of the United States’ expansion west of the Mississippi would have been different."

Some cyclists stop to read the signage at South Pass, without which “the entire history of the United States’ expansion west of the Mississippi would have been different.” (The pass, not the signage. Obviously.)

South Pass selfie

“uth Pass” selfie. Oops. Didn’t frame that quite right when I set the camera down.

Continental Divide - the first crossing. A fellow cyclist took our picture, saying "you've earned it!" A lot of cyclists gave us extra points for doing this ride on a tandem.

Continental Divide – the first crossing. A fellow cyclist took our picture, saying “you’ve earned it!” A lot of cyclists gave us extra points for doing this ride on a tandem.

By Day 3, we were all getting conditioned to the Zero Hero trash tents. To be as environmentally friendly as possible, we separated our trash on this ride, into recyclables, trash, and compost. For some reason, the visual of yellow banana peels and the Dixie cups with yellow ducks in the compost bin appealed to me. (Pun not intended, but acknowledged.)

Scene from a rest stop. By Day 4, we were all getting conditioned to the Zero Hero trash tents. To be as environmentally friendly as possible, we separated our trash on this ride, into recyclables, trash, and compost. For some reason, the visual of yellow banana peels and the Dixie cups with yellow ducks in the compost bin a-peeled to me. (Ha!) The Dixie cups had contained shots of trail mix, if I remember correctly.

Still riding chip seal . . . 37 miles to Lander . . .

Still riding fresh chip seal . . . 37 miles to Lander . . .

Taking a break at the historical sign at South Pass City, where we stopped because we noticed a piece of rock had become embedded in our tire. When we stopped to pull out the rock, we realized that our tire was starting to shred. Bummer!! But we were in luck - just one more mile to the lunch stop, where a bike mechanic could hook us up with a new tire. We rode a bit gingerly that last mile.

Taking a break at the historical sign at South Pass City, where we stopped because we noticed a piece of rock had become embedded in our tire. When we pulled out the rock, we realized that our tire was starting to shred. Bummer!! At least we didn’t get a flat. And we were in luck – just one more mile to the lunch stop, where a bike mechanic could hook us up with a new tire. We rode a bit gingerly that last mile.

My attempt at being arty and photographing a roadside flower as cyclists rode by. Didn't quite get the timing right.

My attempt at being arty and photographing a roadside flower as cyclists rode by. Didn’t quite get the timing right.

More construction! This construction zone was a bit dicey, as we were relying on the construction crew to get us through safely, and I don't think they were all communicating, as the little group we were with had to dodge a street sweeper.

More construction! This construction zone was a bit dicey, as we were relying on the construction crew to get us through safely, and I don’t think they were all communicating with each other. The little group we were with had to dodge a street sweeper.

Now is a good time to fix a tire. That sign warns of 4 miles of 7 percent grade. All told, my ride profile shows about 14 miles of significant, nearly uninterrupted downhill. Just before a rest stop (that had ice cream! So we had to stop), our GPS clocked us at 39.5 mph. Yowza!

Now is a good time to fix a tire! That sign warns of 4 miles of 7 percent grade. All told, my ride profile shows about 14 miles of significant, nearly uninterrupted downhill. Just before a rest stop (that had ice cream! So we had to stop), our GPS clocked us at 39.5 mph. Yowza! I’m really glad we noticed that embedded rock and got a new tire before attempting this descent!

The bummer about the swift descent was the fact that it was through Red Canyon, which is absolutely beautiful. The scenery whizzed by all too fast, and there was no way I was going to release my death grip on the handlebars to take a photo. I'll have to look up whether there are any hiking trails in those parts. Some of the rocks were really cool - they looked like artwork.

The bummer about the swift descent was the fact that it was through Red Canyon, which is absolutely beautiful. The scenery whizzed by all too fast, and there was no way I was going to release my death grip on the handlebars to take a photo. I’ll have to look up whether there are any hiking trails in those parts. Some of the rocks were really cool – they looked like artwork.

Looking back from the rest stop. The rain chased us into Lander. It never more than sprinkled, though. Might have rained overnight, too.

Looking back from the rest stop. The rain chased us into Lander. It never more than sprinkled, though. Might have rained overnight, too. I can’t quite remember.

What is this - horse enrichment in the form of a giant, pink soccer ball? It looks like an enlarged version of one of my cats' toys.

What is this – horse enrichment in the form of a giant, pink soccer ball? It looks like an enlarged version of one of my cats’ toys.

Made it to Lander! This campsite was just wonderful! Also, on the way in, we passed an Indian taco stand. As soon as we were cleaned up, I beelined back to get some. It was yummy!! (For those who don't know, an Indian taco is taco fixings like meat, tomatoes, cheese, etc., piled atop a piece of frybread.)

Made it to Lander! This campsite was just wonderful! Also, on the way in, we passed an Indian taco stand. As soon as we were cleaned up, I beelined back to get one! It was yummy, and went well with beer. (For those who don’t know, an Indian taco is taco fixings like meat, tomatoes, cheese, etc., piled atop a piece of frybread.)

A crowd gathered under the trees for the evening entertainment - a performance by the Eagle Spirit Dancers from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes, who dance during tourist season at the Museum of the American West in Lander. The dancers demonstrated various types of powwow dance. I am always impressed by the athleticism of powwow dancers. It is not easy!

A crowd gathered under the trees for the evening entertainment – a performance by the Eagle Spirit Dancers, who  demonstrated various types of powwow dance. I am always impressed by the athleticism of powwow dancers. It is not easy!

To cap off the evening, a convivial campfire.

To cap off the evening, a convivial bonfire.

PS – I did find my wallet. I had packed it into my suitcase instead of my bike bag in the early morning confusion.

Ride summary

Distance and elevation gain (per my wonky mapping software):  77.4 miles,  4,515 feet (the official route stats were 78 miles, 2,545 feet)

Min temp: 41, Max temp: 82, Winds 7-30, gusting to 37 mph, Precipitation: trace  [data from Pinedale and Lander]

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw