My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 15 -- July 5th -- Idaho Falls, ID to Jackson, WY

Miles Ridden:  92.5
Avg Speed: 13.2 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 128 bpm
Climbing: 5,480 ft
Calories Burned: 5,267

Teton Pass ... Wind Payback ... Broke 1,000 Miles ... Huge Climb ... Intense Descent ... Humble Pie

The day that everyone had been waiting for (some rather apprehensively) finally arrived.  Several milestones ... we broke through the 1,000 mile mark, we entered our third state (Wyoming), and we climbed to almost 8,500 feet with the last climb between 10-15% graded (ouch!).  Two luggage loads this morning gave some folks a jump start on the big climbs.  The Geldings headed out with the second group around 6:30.  Around 9 miles out of Idaho Falls we had to take a detour due to some construction. That pushed our 88 mile day to almost 93.  Mother nature had been very good to us up until today.  The weather was cool so I donned my leg and arm warmers, but the wind was not in our favor.  It varied from a crosswind to a pretty tough headwind for the first 30 miles to the SAG.  Good spot and a needed break from the wind.

SAG 1 Postcard Setting

Starting to Gain Altitude

Snake River is Everywhere

After The SAG, we climbed some more before a nice descent that brought us over the Snake River (again).  The Rockies and Tetons were starting to show themselves.  I detached from the Geldings during the climb as I had set target heart rate ranges for the day (that I did not want to exceed (to save some energy for the big climbs).  My maximum heart rate is around 180 beats per minute.  My target to the base of the bi climbs was no more than 75% of my maximum (~135 bpm).  I kept that pretty well in check, and dropped back when it starting push a little higher.

Snake River Crossing with Looming Rocky Mountains

About half way through the ride (mile 48), the route made a turn on Route 31 in Swan Valley to start the climbing.  Several riders collected at a store before the turn.  I waited a bit and let the Geldings head off.  The first big climb was to the summit of Pine Creek (6764').  It started out with a tougher grade, but settled down to a workable 5-6% grade.  Some great shots of rising peaks.  I rode most of this stretch with Tom Zack from Texas.  A water stop provided a quick break before a nice descent into Victor.  We stopped at a country store for a quick sandwich.  Well, it wasn't quick.  Took almost 15 minutes to make the thing and another 10 to wolf it down.

Let The Climbing Begin

Up, Up and Away

Rocky Mountain Highs
Tom Climbing Away

Tom Makes His Move
 I headed out alone to tackle the big climb into Wyoming and Teton Pass.  The elevation started getting higher and the grades started getting tougher.   I rode on and off with Beth from Colorado during this portion.  She is one of my favorite folks on the ride.  A great sense of humour and a big smile.  After entering Wyoming the grades got even rougher.  Beth and I stopped for a breather before the final push ( a huge 10-15% climb that went on for over three miles).  I was feeling a little light-headed from the long day and high altitude.  Beth is a nurse and made sure I got a heft dose of fluids in before we pushed upward.

My Third State ... Wyoming

Close Up of The Yellow Sign ... 10% ... How About 15%

Even This Picture Makes it Look Steep
The final climb up Teton Pass was like nothing I have seen ... long and extremely steep.  I had to stop several time to rest my pounding chest.  My heart rate was well into the 80% level and pushed past 150 bpm a few time.  I got weaker as we climbed ... Beth got stronger.  She would wait a minute or two with me each time before we would drive on.  Finally, I let her go one without me.  The last mile was intense!  Grades of greater than 15%.  There were a few points I just could not do it and walked.  That has only happened to me once before (last year in Blue Hill, Maine) ... no worries ... humble pie tastes pretty good when you accomplished what I did today.  The last switchback seemed to go forever.

The Last Switchback ... Ouch
At long last, I reached the summit of Teton Pass (8431').  Amazing views of the Tetons and Rockies.  The pictures just do not do it justice.  After a few minute break and some photo ops, it was time for some fun!  The descent was also like few I have ever seen.  Over 5 miles of 10% plus grades.  Speeds topped 45 without a lot of pedaling.  It was technical as the wind was howling.  Mike and Matt Louis lost the brakes on their tandem and had to call the SAG.  I was careful not to go full throttle as the wind and turns made things pretty tricky.  None the less, I moved quickly down the mountain and passe several folks who had crested the summit before me.

The Summit
Pictures Do Not Do the Views Justice

Tetons and the Valley

Views From All Sides

What Goes Up, Must Go Down (and Fast!)
At the bottom of the descent, I passed through Wilson and then it was quick (and relatively flat) ride into Jackson.  Jackson is a major gateway for tourists visiting nearby Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the National Elk Refuge. Jackson is also in proximity to several ski resorts.  The town has a small, but vibrant downtown. Tomorrow we continue climbing with another 5,000+ feet.  We head through Teton National Park and pass over the Continental Divide at Togwotte Pass (9658').  Wish me luck.

The Bottom ... I Climbed That Sucker

Panoramic Views All Around

More Snow Capped Rocky Mountain Peaks

Jackson Elk Antler Arches

Downtown Jackson ... Old West Feel

The Infamous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar

Good night moon ... good night 15% grades ... good night nurse Beth (it was fun!) ... good night screaming descents (until tomorrow) ... good night and goodbye Jay and Kay (they left us today) ... goodnight girls (miss you) ... good night Mike (get some rest after the long weekend)