Day 15 - Idaho Falls ID to Jackson WY
Mileage: 90 miles
Weather: Upper 60s to start. Upper 80s to end. Sunny. Headwinds for the first 30 miles. Tailwinds to end.
Highlights of the day:
This day is known for its early headwinds and we were not disappointed. Regardless of the forecast winds, it always seems like the winds come down off the mountains and directly into our faces. However, after an amazing descent around mile 36, we were treated to a beautiful vista of mountains & the Snake River and calmer winds that began to turn in our favor.
Our first SAG stop was at a rest area that overlooked the Snake River. Hills, water, sunshine – stunning. We climbed a bit and then descended quickly to ride along the Snake River. Stunning! It’s repetitive but accurate. A left turn onto Rte 31 brought us to the first big climb of the day – Pine Creek Summit @ 6764’. I would describe this as a relatively gradual 14-mile climb – mostly 4-6 percent except for the last mile or so when it bumps right up to 8. We definitely felt that. Really green mountains surrounded us with lots of full, fast-moving creeks. Seems they had a lot of water around here in the Spring. And then there was the descent into Victor. Non-technical. Good roads. FAST!
Victor provided a brief pause to refuel before the signature climb of the tour. Teton Pass @ 8431’. It starts off innocently enough out of Victor. At 1-2 percent, it’s almost as if you’re not climbing except that your head is wondering why your legs aren’t making you move a little faster. The Wyoming state line (our second state line of the tour), complete with a big sign and many pictures, marks the start of the “real” climb just over 5 miles outside of Victor. The next 6.6 miles definitely challenged the riders. The grade gradually increased each mile with the last two miles topping out with an average of just over 10 percent. Legs and drivetrains were tested.
Then there was the descent into Wilson. It is a technical and steep descent that we discussed at length at last night’s route rap. It is not a descent for the riders to try push the envelope in terms of speed or their comfort. We even recommended that they take a couple of breaks on the way down to enjoy the scenery behind them and to give their hands, that have been working the brakes, a rest. All riders listened and heeded the advice. All riders made it in to Jackson safely. All staff members broke into a happy dance in celebration.
For now, the riders are under strict orders to hydrate, refuel, and rest. They will need all three for tomorrow we climb again.