Leave it to some French men to see a mountain range and name it after women’s anatomy. “The Tetons received their name from French-Canadian trappers who accompanied the earliest British expeditions into this territory. As they approached the range from the west, they beheld three towering mountains upon which they bestowed the name of “Trois Tetons” (“Three Breasts”). This romantic designation was readily adopted by the lonely trapping fraternity to whom the sharp snowy peaks (now known as the Grand, Middle and South Tetons) became a beacon to guide them through the hostile wilderness.” Gotta love the French! No doubt our word of the day is Tetons.
Once Matt and I had decided that we wanted to ride over the Tetons and go through Yellowstone Park we had pegged today as a day we wanted good weather so we could enjoy our ride to Jackson, WY. It was like Matt and I had gone to central casting and said we were going to make a movie about our ride today and we wanted perfect weather. It could not have been a better day for us to ride from Idaho Falls over the Tetons to Jackson Hole, WY. Matt and I have said many times on this trip that we feel truly blessed with the support we’ve received and the weather conditions during our ride. Today was a culmination of all that as our support driver Danica & Maggie were there to help us, the weather was perfect and the rid was spectacular! The night before leaving we decided that since we had significant climbing to do that we’d take the packs off the bikes to lessen the weight and just plan to meet the SAG vehicle more if needed. A little like what we learned about the settlers before they crossed the Sierra Nevada mountains. Also we both usually carry camera’s and repair tools and thought for today we’d consolidated and I’d carry all the camera/GPS equipment and Matt would carry all the bike equipment for repairs (this will factor in later in the blog). We rolled out of Idaho Falls at 7:10a crossing over the Snake river:
As we were riding today it was a little hard for Matt and I two believe our good fortune. We felt like we needed to pinch ourselves to make sure this day was real. First you’ll notice quite a few pictures at the end of this blog. It was hard to pick just these one’s and there’s so many I could have chosen. Second there’s no way the pictures can capture the vastness and hugeness of what we saw today. Hopefully you’ll get an idea, but it’s one of those situations that to truly appreciate you had to be there. Luckily for us we were there! We left the potato fields of Idaho and headed into the Grand Tetons via highway 26 and 31 through the Swan Valley which was beautiful. During this early portion of the ride Matt and I passed the 1,000 mile mark of our trip! While riding through the foothills leading to the mountains Matt and I commented how it looked like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Fortunately for each other and any motorists passing by we DID NOT breakout singing the “Hills are alive with the Sound of Music”…we just kept it limited to our brains.
We had two significant climbs today the first of which was the pass to Victor, Idaho. Leading up to the climb we rode along a stream that I finally gave into its pull and told Matt we need to stop as I needed to feel the cool water from the stream. We pulled over, took a few pictures and then I flew down to the stream and proceeded to splash the cool mountain water over my face and head. I can’t even find the appropriate words to describe how refreshing it felt. While a small insignificant moment, it’s what our trip is about and I will NEVER forget that moment or feeling. We then proceed up the climb and I wasn’t feeling in my top form while Matt was feeling his best of our trip. When climbing Matt and I go at our own pace and just plan to meet at the top. Although the guy feeling better kind of checks on the other rider to make sure there are no issues. Matt was flying up the mountain while I was trying to find my rhythm and he kept checking on me. We both regrouped at the summit and then we had a 5 mile downhill to lunch! Matt is a much better downhiller than me so he went first and I followed as we normally do. Unfortunately we both forgot that he had all the tire repair equipment. Matt started flying down the hill and I was behind him. Within a few hundred yards I knew something was wrong as the bike didn’t feel right. I pulled over and sure enough I had a flat (thanks to another metal wire from the blown tires on the side of the road). It was too late for Matt to hear me and I had no cell reception so I figured I’d just start walking down the hill and eventually someone would figure out what happened. Sure enough after Matt had gotten to the bottom he realized I hadn’t stopped to take a picture and must have had a problem. Being the good friend he is, he climbed 3 miles back up the hill (I had walked down 2 miles) with the tire repair supplies.
Now this next part of the story is hard to explain, but you NEVER know what will provide you with a lift. As I had written in one of the earlier blogs, my nephew’s Ryan and Landon have enjoyed the pictures of trucks, trains and farm equipment I text them each day. But what they really want is for Uncle Chris to find a Garbage Truck. So as you have figured out by now, Matt and I have been hunting for a garbage truck for the boys. We had just finished the 2nd to last peak of the day and were 65 miles into today’s ride and I was close to bonking. I needed food and I had just had a flat and was dragging quite a bit and Matt was helping me the final 2 miles to lunch. All of a sudden I shouted: “Matt look a garbage truck!!!” We both shouted for joy and then I positioned myself for the picture below. Can’t describe how it lifted my spirits and how much fun we’re having finding pictures for my nephew’s. How would have guessed a garbage truck could bring such joy?!?
After the excitement of the garbage truck we rode the last mile to Victor, ID and met Danica and Maggie at the Sun Dog Cafe. I can tell you I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a better lunch and Matt had us order Mexican Cokes which have pure cane sugar instead of sweetener. SOOOOO GOOD!
After recovering for about an hour we headed out for our final 25 miles. Now normally 25 miles would be no big deal. But this time we had ridden 1,023 miles in the past 12 days and were facing going over Teton Pass at over 8,600 feet with the final 3 miles around a 10% grade. The first few miles were no problem as it was a gentle grade and we had a breeze at our back. In a few miles we crossed into Wyoming which was our 4th state of our trip so far.
Shortly after entering Wyoming the road seemed to go straight up.. You know you’re trouble when there are signs every few hundred yards warning the trucks about the 10%+ grades. Matt and I dropped our gears to their lowest setting and started the ride up the hill. Now usually I’d say that we “grinded our way” up the hill. But it had been such a magnificent day and the setting was unbelievable that I can’t use a negative word like grind. Believe me it was tough and the sweat was flowing off of us as we worked our way to the top. But at the same time there was a great satisfaction in what we were about to accomplish. At the summit Danica and Maggie were their with cameras and cow bells to cheer us on. It was such a great feeling to reach that summit. Now usually we’d fly down the backside, but the decent was 6 miles with most of it at 10% and cars/trucks next to us. A little dicey so we went slower than normal and celebrated when we rode into Jackson.
We found the condo we had rented and looked forward to our off day tomorrow. My in-laws Bob & Marilyn Kuckuck who are going to be the next support drivers (do I have cool in-laws or what!) arrived and then Danica and Maggie made us all an incredible dinner. The day was better than Matt and I could have ever imagined and one we’ll never forget and I’m sure will recall often on our future rides around home. Here’s a few of the pictures from today:
Matt and a Potato Cellar. Matt still prefers the wine cellars of Napa…