Today was bittersweet. We'd grown accustomed to resting in the Abely's beautiful home and taking in the breathtaking views their property offers of the Teton Range. We rose early to clean up and close up the house, before heading down to Driggs. We took a different county road out and were surprised to find almost 3 miles of paved road leading us to Driggs.
Driggs was a very cool town with historic buildings, various types of restaurants and great stores; it was too bad I did t realize I could get here on a paved road during one of the rest days. Leaving Driggs we found a bike path that would keep us off the road for the last 8 miles into Victor, ID. Victor was an interesting town that seemed similar to Driggs. Its one oddity, every parking spot along its main street requires drivers to back into their parking spots. I can think of quite a few people who would be unable to visit Victor for this exact reason.
Continuing our trip towards to inevitable climb into Teton Pass, we left Victor (and the Teton Valley) and entered Targhee National Forest. Slowly we climbed, until about 23 miles into our trip we reached Wyoming! With the sign welcoming us to our new state, came final reminders and warnings of the impending 10% grade that we will encounter.
I found a truck weigh station. Its scale rounds to the nearest 20lbs. I was dismayed to see that me, my bike, my gear and my water weighed in at 260lbs.
Slowly we climbed for a couple miles, the suddenly the 10 percent grades were upon us. Into my lowest gear, I crept up the mountain side, barely maintaining 4mph. Every mile was a quick water break, with a longer water/snack break halfway up. As I climbed each steep climb, I could see a switchback ahead that seemed steeper. Unknowingly nearing the top, a man pedaling by on a carbon fiber bike high fived me and told me "that's damn impressive". I bet he and his bike didn't weigh 260lbs...
Following my high fiving biker uphill, I reached a sign advising trucks of steep grades and to test their brakes in 1500ft. Knowing the summit of my climb was close, I sped up the last 1/3 of a mile. Reaching the top, I made a weird sound to express my exhaustion and success; it got some tourist attention. Breathing heavily, I placed my bike against the sign welcoming me to the Wild West of Jackson Hole. This made me some friends.
I spoke with two men who were on a family trip from Kentucky around the country. They had covered 3000 miles and planned to reach 5000 miles by the time they finished. They were interested in my route and Lea's Foundation. They both made generous donations for the foundation. As they took pictures of me, another lady asked if she could donate. She explained that her son had done the Southern Tier cross country ride two years ago to benefit Mt. Sinai hospital. She donated as well and I was truly impressed with the generosity that was being shown to a disheveled bicyclist. Before the family continued their trip to Kentucky, one of the girls ran up to me with two apples. The apple was delicious and exactly what I needed after climbing the mountain.
Teton Pass at 8431ft is the second highest pass of our trip (the pass out of Yellowstone into Cody will best it by a couple hundred feet). Mid-1800s wagons required 2 weeks to cross the Teton Range to reach the Teton Valley where we had started. From the pass, the view of Jackson Hole is amazing.
Before we left we met a couple from Idaho who are involved with triathlons and unfortunately know someone recently diagnosed with leukemia. He wanted a picture of us and plans to follow our blog. Success photos and poses complete, the GoPro was set to record before we bombed down the mountain. Unfortunately our triumphant descent was complicated by rain, limiting our top speed to around 43mph.
We emerged in Wilson, Wyoming as the rain began to pour. Eating a gas station lunch we remarked on how many mountain and road bikers we saw in the area. I honestly don't think I've ever seen so many bikers on mountain trails before, it is a very bike friendly area.
Covering the six miles into Jackson I crossed the Snake River which I had first crossed when I entered Idaho one week prior. Arriving in Jackson, we saw a tastefully designed small city. Catering to tourists and outdoor fun, it seems you can engage in any outdoors activity your heart desires here.
Photos by Jonathan Kobles