Sunday, July 11, 2010


Chris and I talked through day by day on our plane ride back (we are home now). I'll write some final thoughts in a final post. I will also upload more photos from a faster computer.

Everett – Skymonish

rainy & gray. Crash bent Chris's front wheel 5 miles in to ride. Skymonish is a federal super fund site so the whole town is getting dug up to clean the soil. Camped at a very old school.

Skymonish to Wenatchee

Long climb over Stevens Pass. Rainy on the east side, clear on the west. Snow on top of the pass. Cold, wet 11 mile descent. First glimpse of the Cascades at the bottom. Great riding along a river in the afternoon. Bought a new wheel in Wenatchee.

Wenatchee-Coulee Dam

Long, hot day at 103 miles. Nice riding with some of the staff (Megan, Eve, Chris). Great view of dam at end.

Coulee Dam to Spokane

Tough start with 3 mile climb before breakfast. Then another long climb. Rode along a busy road. Scenery was rolling green hills that were gorgeous at first, then got tedious. Nice ride through city park at end. Stayed in a dorm at night,

Spokane to Kellogg

Beautiful views of lake, saw 3 moose, 40 mile bike path with a tail wind. Camped at a school near a ski resort.

Kellogg to Thompson Falls

Climbed Thompson Pass – Long winding road to a lunch stop at the top. Great downhill. Bought milk shakes at shop in town. Great meal from the Elks. Bear was sighted near school in the evening. Showers at local swimming pool.

Thompson Falls to Missoula

Started out in a beautiful valley. Then long hot day on a busy, fast noisy road with a rough service. Mentally challenging. Ate Thai food at night, enjoyed walking through town.

Rest Day – Missoula

Chris rafted, Andrew shopped at REI, went to church, enjoyed Missoula

Missoula to Lincoln

Same busy road – route 2. Nice espresso bar at end. Student at school said best thing to do in town was try local beef jerky.

Lincoln to Townsend

Beautiful sunrise with rainbow. Hard wind at end of day – 20 mph head winds. Celebrated with cheers when we hit town sign, we were so glad to get out of wind. Storm at night.

Townsend to Ennis

Thunderstorm in morning. Just missed lightening bolt by a few hundred feet (heard air sizzle/pop). Chris got sick and took sag wagon. Met Anne at lunch. Chris was sleeping on school bench when I arrived. Got ice cream in Ennis, then got him chicken soup.

Ennis to West Yellowstone.

Chris rode sag wagon and enjoyed stories from Grant (staff). Saw earthquake lake. Lunch was up a steep hill. I felt sick all afternoon – maybe due to altitude (5000 feet). Tough head wind last ten miles.

West Yellowstone to Ashton

Took it easy so Chris could recover. Small town at end – nice coffee/wine bar. Middle school kids cooked dinner & breakfast – very slow. Road a scenic highway, saw Tetons first time, beautiful stop at Mesa Falls.

Ashton to Jackson

Rode through scenic potato fields. Great tailwind at start. Then incredible climb over Teton Pass – long tough struggle. First time I ever felt the need to stop on a hill climb – but didn't. Really out of breath. Fun but winding downhill (tight turns) into Jackson.

Jackson rest day

Anne, Nancy & Bonnie (Peace Corps friend from Montana) with us. Ate bagels at camp style. Drove through Tetons to Jenny lake. Boat across lake, then hike to falls was scenic. Slow service at pizza place at night. Slept at hotel in Jackson.

Jackson to Dubois

17 mile uphill. Several cyclists in Dubois as it is on Trans America Bike route. Anne saw us several times along route.

Dubois to Riverton

Bad coffee at breakfast – got espresso at local shop where the trans-america cyclists were stopping as well. Went out at night for nachos as dinner was so sparse.

Riverton to Worland

Easy day. Beautiful Wind River canyon ride at start – scenic rocks, cliffs, tunnels. Stopped at the Thermpolis hot springs after lunch. Chris rode with Scott at average of 20 mph for 100 miles.

Worland to Buffalo

Up over last set of hills – the Big Horn mountains. Rolling hills at start. 25 miles of uphill. Six miles of tar & chip sealant. Rocks got in derailleurs of two bikes and destroyed them. Lunch part way up to pass – then 5 more miles. Highest point on tour at 9666 feet. Next thirty miles had lots of rollers and was very hard – hills never stopped until final downhill last 5 miles.

Buffalo to Gilette

Rode interstate 90 fifty miles. Seemed strange to do that, but it was also safer with wide shoulders. Before lunch was great with wind,cool weather. Then it got hot and got tired of road. Chris and I rode hard (22 mph) before lunch. Then he took off afterward and was first to camp. Went to coffee shop in Gillette for afternoon.

Gillette to Devils Tower

easy, pleasant day. Parade at picnic. Nice ride with Nathan. Devils Tower at end – strange formation. Great downhill into Devils Tower. Showered and got ride to Rapid City.

pictures July 10

The end!

Final destination

Beautiful bard along route

Wyoming parade car

Devils Tower ride

The last day was very pleasant. We rode with Nathan (20 yr old from CA) and his mom most of the day. It was a short day at 68 miles with clear weather. Chris amazed me n some early climbs – they were short (¼ mile) and he went up no handed. Pretty good leg strength.

Lunch was in a small town park. They were having their Jubilee celebration so we saw the parade of horses, firetrucks, and political candidates. It was a very jovial atmosphere.

Towards the end of the day, we stopped at a combination steak & coffee shop (Phu-Phu coffee) for a final treat. We had a good discussion with the owner on different ways to make espresso. Then we started the final down hill into Devils Tower. One car came close to us – for the most part we felt pretty safe with cars on the rad. Two close calls were with mini-vans (side mirror less than a foot from our shoulder). Unfortunately they probably had kids in them and the next generation of drivers was getting trained to drive poorly around cyclists.

We got to Devils Tower – very imposing. We showered and waited for a van ride to Rapid City. We had some nice good byes with people. At the Hampton Inn where we stayed before getting to the airport, USA Today talked about a new program called “Let's Move Outside!” Chris and I laughed – we did that pretty well the last three weeks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fri July 9 - the interstate!

Today was strange - we rode Interstate 90 for 50 miles. Bikes are allowed on it out here. It is weird to think that is the same highway that goes through Chicago.

Most exits are dirt roads, so that tells you how rural it is here.

We said good bye to mountains:

Then entered the highway in a construction zone:

Now our last day is tomorrow. More later. Time for dinner

Thursday, July 8, 2010

pictures July 8

marker pointing out 3 billion year old rock

Summit of Powder Pass - 9666 feet

Highest point on our trip

mountain lake view

Chris powering up the 25 mile climb

Chris descending through the valley

Coffee in Ten Sleep

Mini valleys along the route - historical markers said Wooly Mammoths were trapped in the valleys and speared.

up, up, up then up-down, up-down

Worland to Buffalo, WY - 92 miles.

This was our longest day of riding - almost 7 hours of ride time. It started easy with 25-30 miles of simple rollers. Some were pretty tough, but not too steep. We had espresso at a town called "Ten Sleep" (called that because in previous times it took ten sleeps to travel between towns). It was fun because there were so many cyclists doing the same.

Then the climb started a few miles later. In the end we had a 25 mile climb where we gained about 5000 feet. It was not too steep - just never ending. The worst was there was fresh chip and seal (stones and tar) for six miles. At one point Chris and I were just a few hundred feet ahead of a tar truck. We pushed hard to not get stuck in the mess.

Lunch was 20 miles into the climb. That was hard as we had good cream of potato soup and chicken curry for sandwiches. However, we had a ways to go.

We got to the summit of the Big Horn pass at 9,666 feet. Both of us felt good and were ready to keep going. Actually, each of us had leg massages by the trip masseuse last night - that helped a lot in preventing leg pain today.

The descent was "varied." We went down and up for 10-15 miles. On other passes it has been downhill after the summit. Here we had rollers where we descended a quarter mile, then ascended. They were exhausting. Finally at the 80 mile point we got a sweet five mile downhill.

We stopped at a few points for good mountain photos - including flowers and lakes.

Tonight we are enjoying pizza at a restuarant in Buffalo. I am sure we will sleepwell tonight.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7

July 7 Riverton to Worland 93 miles

A great day! Yesterday I was exhausted, today I feel better.

We started out a bit late, the school was slow in serving. The scenery was incredible. We biked through a canyon the first 45 miles. I have never been in a place like that. We had good wind, beautiful scenery and a generally nice road ( a bit heavy with traffic). I don't know our pictures do it justice. I looked for mountain goats, but never saw any.

Lunch was along the river - beautiful again. Chris took off after lunch so I rode alone. I stopped at the Thermopolis Hot Springs state park and looked at the hot springs. I did not swim as I still had a long ride, but it was amazing to see the rocks and pools of warm water.

Chris again set up the tent then we went for iced mochas. The coffee lady was excited to hear of our journey - a bit in awe. She gave us a bag of espresso beans to enjoy. We will need them Thursday. It will be our last big climb. We go 30 miles flat, 30 miles of climbing to about 10,000 feet (5,000 foot gain in that 30 miles) and 30 miles descent. Today we came over the top of a hill and the wall of mountains was in the distance - very imposing!

pictures July 7

view of the hot springs along the route

A train along the Wind River

Chris heading into a tunnel along the Wind River

Traveling along the Wind River

Biking along with beautiful Wind River scenery

pictures July 6

My homemade Gore-tex "lobster" mitten shells - great today!

Chris at the red rocks

Andrew riding thru the red rocks canyon

Layered red rocks scenery

Andrew "dis-respecting" the Lawyers College - with apologies to my lawyer niece Christine

July 6

July 6 Dubois to Riverton, WY 82 miles

Windy – windy – windy

We started with breakfast as “daylight donuts” - food was good but coffee was weak. We stopped at “Kathy's Koffee”and got a double espresso. Dubois is on a trans-continental bike trail so there were several self-supported (carrying own gear) cyclists. We chatted a bit about the pass we came down while we enjoyed a really good coffee. They were headed up what was a dirt road and wanted to know how bad the road was.

The whole day was windy – it varied from 5-15 mph, but was there the whole time. We had on our helmet liners and wind shells over our thermal gloves. My home made goretex shells worked great. The scenery was bizarre – red layered rock canyons along the sides. Had the sun been out, it would have been really spectacular.

We took turns fighting the wind to the 41 mile lunch spot. They had a really good, warm Mexican soup that hit the spot. After lunch Chris latched on to a strong staff members wheel (staff rides one day and works the next). The two of them rode the rest of the day together.

It was nice that the tent was set up when I arrived – that is a treat!

The wind really wore me down. I took a 90 minute nap after showering – that is really unusual for me. However, I needed the rest.

Dinner was a bit light – they ran out of food. Later in the evening Chris and I biked into town and had nacho platter at a Mexican restaurant. That really hit the spot.

Monday, July 5, 2010

pictures July 5

Riding along thru Teton National Park

pictures July 4

Water falls - Jenny lake

Jenny Lake - Teton National park

July 4 & 5

July 4

We had a great day off. Anne and Nancy were visiting with our friend Bonnie. We had coffee and bagels in the camp ground. Then we drove up to Tetons National Park. I had been there years ago as a teenager., It is so gorgeous. We drove tp Jenny Lake and took the ferry across. We hiked up to Hidden Falls and just enjoyed the view. It was a good relaxing day for Chris and I. Not to strenuous, but it did keep us moving. I'll post some photos of the area.

July 5 – 102 miles. Jackson, WY to Dubois,WY

This day looked intimidating from the route sheet as it had a big climb(17 miles with 5000 feet elevation gain). However, we had a bit of a tail wind so that was great. The ride started off along the Tetons – we rode on a bike path at the foot of the range. It was incredible. The sun was coming up and the mountains were in glow. So beautiful.

We exited the park and had lunch at a wild life viewing spot at 55 miles. Then the climb started. It never got too steep, but it was a road under construction, so that made it hard. It was basically dirt and gravel for several miles. The top was over 9900 feet. I am acclimating to the altitude and was nearly out of breath as I was at Teton Pass at 8600 feet. Anne, Bonnie and Nancy came driving along right as I got to the summit. That was a fun quick reunion. They had left Jackson hours after us and toured the Teton park a bit.

The downhill descent was a bit rough as the shoulder was pretty narrow and cars did not give us much room. They were probably frustrated passing all the bikes on the uphill and now wanted to get going. At one point we had a 20 mph tail wind with a downhill. I basically ran out of gears and could not pedal any harder – that felt good.

We got to town and met the ladies one last time – Nancy got me a coffee milk shake and that hit the spot.

Dinner was at a local restaurant- good trout and homemade pie.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

pictures July 3

View from the summit of Teton Pass

flowers along the route

top of Teton Pass - 8600 feet

Anti-Meth float at the parade (meth is a big problem out here)

Andrew riding through the Idaho potato fields

A mountain pass

Saturday was a beautiful, but hard day.

We left Ashton, ID by 7 am. The local middle school students cooked the meal and were a bit overwhelmed. They did not plan things well and kept running out of eggs and oatmeal. As we all finally left the school, they brought out a large pot of oatmeal - too late. One nice thing - Chris ha ridden the half mile to town at 6 am and brought back two cups of really good coffee. Sometimes the school coffee is weak so this hit the spot.

This was one of our best riding days. We had a tail wind for a good portion of the first 40 miles. That has rarely happened on this trip.

We rode well and had lunch by 10:30 am - a really good rice noodle dish with Thai seasonings. We got a double espresso on the way out of town and the barista asked if we were headed to the parade in the next town. It turns out our route went thru the local July 4th parade. We had to weave around it on the sidewalk, stopping to watch on occasion. That was fyun.

Then our climb tarted. We had to go over the 8600 foot Teton Pass. It took several miles and was at times 10% grade. Because of the altitude as well as steepness, I was really huffing. It just kept going. I started the climb with Chris and Nathan (20 yr old from CA), but fell off of their pace. This was one of the first times I almost stopped on a hill - but I kept going. I made it several minutes behind Chris (who thought it really wasn't that bad!)

The downhill was rough as the turns were tight and on some we were on the outside (cliff) edge. We had to brake a lot, but not heat up the brakes too much. We took our time going down.

We arrived at the campground in Jackson, WY and set up the tent - we were on the edge of a private campground. Basically we camped in an old farmers plowed field - not very good to sleep on. Lots of weeds and rocks.

We took the local bus to Jackson (9 miles away) and walked around town. It is a very touristy place - tee shirts shops, western wear stores and ice cream. Not what we enjoy.

photos july 2

scenery at Upper Mesa falls

second time over continental divide

photos july 1

entry to Yellowstone

scenery along route

Friday, July 2, 2010

June 30 - July 2

Wed June 30
Tough start to the day. Chris felt a but under weather, but started the ride out of Thompson. We had a nice breakfast school put on by the Lutherans. As we rode he really felt bad, then we realized a storm was about to hit. Clouds were coming in fast from the left. Suddenly there was a simultaneous flash,boom and sizzle. A bolt of lightening hit within a few hundred feet. I have never heard the air sizzle and crack like that – very scary. I had not realized the storm was that close. We were in a big open area with only telephone lines for shelter. We rode a bit more and came to a bar with about 50 bikes in front. Everyone was taking shelter there as well.

As the rain let up, Chris decided he really did nto fell well. We flagged down the van and he got a ride the rest of the way.

This was the day Anne and Nancy had flown out to meet us with our Montana friend Bonnie. They met me at lunch and got to see the working of everything. The plan was to just have lunch, but Anne wanted to go check on Chris. Luckily she did as he had been driven to the school in Ennis and was basically laying under a pine tree in shade – uncomfortable on a bed of needles. He did not feel up for anything.

She got him set up with the tent, but then moved him over to a spot in the school hallway. He basically slept from 2 pm onwards. He had the 48 hour stomach bug that has been going around the group. When I got in a bit later, I got him gas station instant chicken soup and kept him comfortable.

For the ride that day, I escaped some really bad weather. A hail storm hit and golf ball sized hail fell on some riders. The Cycle America team did shuttle service back and forth on the route and rescued a number of riders.

Thu July 1
Chris sat out on this one. He was better, but not up for a ride. The lunch spot on this ride was at Earthquake Lake – a beautiful view but up a windy canyon. In the late 50's an earthquake hit the area and caused a landslide that flooded a campground.

The end of the day was rough – we had a strong head wind the last ten miles were into West Yellowstone. It was hot, windy and busy with lots of RV traffic. We camped in a public campground on a section of ground near a bath house. We all fit, but the area looked like a true tent city. I did laundry while Chris continued to rest and recuperate.

That evening we walked around town – suddenly a lot of tourists shops and people. It was suddenly so crowded and different than we had had all week. After dinner, we saw an I max show and then fell quickly asleep.

Fri July2
Chris finally rode again today. He felt much better. We still took it easy and did not push hard. We are both feeling the effects of almost two weeks of riding. Our legs are heavy after each stop – hard to get going. We were on a busy road with too many trucks and so enjoyed a nice coffee along a lake. Then we saw some beautiful water falls. We also climbed the continental divide a second time.

I have pictures to post -but will do that later.

Tomorrow we climb the continental divide the third and final time. We go over Teton pass at 8456 feet. As of tomorrow we will have climbed 40,000 feet and ridden 1000 miles the last two weeks.