6/22/12 Lost Trail pass to Jackson, MT over Chief Joseph pass elev 7241 ft – 50 miles
Had one of the best night’s sleep to date last night and awoke rested and ready for the major challenge of the day – climbs over Lost Trails pass and Chief Joseph pass with elevations of over 7000 feet. I started the day with pancakes which were enhanced by the fact that the restaurant had peanut butter available! I grew up eating peanut butter on pancakes and thought that was the norm for the whole world until I left home for college and had to endure the strange looks from classmates. At any rate, having peanut butter with my pancakes made my day.
I started the 7 mile climb up to Lost Trails pass. It was a steady, long incline. But what I discovered to my delight was that I wasn’t having much trouble making the climb. Since I wasn’t stressing over tire issues, weather (it was a beautiful day), or anything else that would have my adrenaline kicking in, I assumed it was my ever- improving conditioning level. (Frank later made the same observation). A side benefit of this new realization is that I don’t tend to worry so much about mountain passes since I have the confidence that I will be able to make it. This segued into a discussion within my head regarding how we view fear and handle it. The whole pre-journey and real journey has taught me a lot of lessons about my fears and I think will change the choices I make and my responses to fear in the future. My thoughts in this regard are better left for my personal journal, but I think I can summarize it as “our fears are almost worst than reality. ” And when our worst fears come about, we almost always are able to come up with a way to face them, sometimes in very creative ways that end up making even bad situations a blessing and learning opportunity. Finally, I do not intend to let fear of failure or possible outcomes deter me from pursuing a full and rewarding life. If I had listened to all the negative voices saying I was crazy for attempting the TRANSAMERICA ride, I would have missed out on what is no doubt the adventure of a lifetime. I suspect that I will feel nothing is impossible at the conclusion of the ride.
Back to the ride.
The weather was stunning – blue sky and interesting clouds framing the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance. It took a couple of hours to reach the Lost Trails summit, then I headed for Chief Joseph pass. When I got there, a family was posing for pictures at the Continental Divide at the summit with the “timer” trick. They were happy to see me and asked me to take their family portrait and they would take mine. I happily agreed. See attached photo. The family was from California and headed for a dude ranch, followed by a trip to Yellowstone.
I continued down after the summit along streams and forests for another 20 miles. Approximately 5 miles before I reached Wisdom, Randy caught up with me. He had left approx. 20 minutes after I started the morning ride. We continued to Wisdom and found one of the best cafes of the trip. I had a veggie sandwich that was fabulous with – you guessed it – sweet potato fries. It had been almost a week since my last dose and I was happy to get them.
We got on the road towards Jackson, which was another 22 miles. This was a mostly flat, rolling road. Massive grasslands were on either side, and in the distance were the Rocky Mountains and Beaverhead Mountains. All of a sudden, we were attacked by swarms of mosquitos. It was like something out of a Hitchcock or King horror movie. It was creepy, as there was no escape. I heard Randy yell, “what is it with these Mosquitos – they apparently can fly at 13 mph since they are staying with us! ” I noticed that a bunch of them were lined up in rows on my front panniers as if they were on a bus ride. I just kept pumping along and tried to enjoy the scenery as best I could. There were lots of neat cows and horses.
About 5 miles from Jackson, I realized to my horror that my rear tire was going flat again. I was infuriated, since I thought the tire issue had been resolved with the visit to the Missoula shop, then by replacing the rear tire with my foldable spare the day before. So, apparently the issue had to be the rim, since I specifically asked them to check the tire out. Randy had gone on ahead, so I was on my own. I decided that it was useless to replace yet another tube if the rim was the problem, so just pumped up the tire and decided to stop and re-pump as often as necessary and just get to Jackson. Miraculously, the tire held air and didn’t go flat again before Jackson.
Another frustration awaited in Jackson. The Jackson Hot Springs lodge was completely booked up with a family cyclist reunion and another cyclist group. So, back to camping on the grass behind the lodge. This coupled with the tire frustration was starting to wear me down. Randy, Frank and I went to dinner, and they discussed my tire issue and recommended taking the rear tire apart, inspecting the rim and having Roger look at it, since Roger is pretty good at the bike repair aspects. Randy reassured me that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. We returned to camp, and Roger and Frank helped me out. They immediately assessed that the problem was with the tire liner, and couldn’t believe the bike shop missed it. Under Rogers’s watchful eye, I used electrical tape to double line the rim, followed by re -installing the previous liner tape. Used baby powder to coat the tire and tube, and put it all together again. Roger nodded his approval. I then went with Frank to the lodge for a Roger approved course on tire patching.
There were a number of interesting cyclists camping at the lodge, including 2 guys from Bangaldesh who are riding the TRANSAMERICA route on a tandem bike. Their bike is loaded to the gills – it weighed in at 141 pounds at the Adventure Cycling office. In fact, the bike is so heavy they have to get off and push up the mountain passes. It took them 5 hours to push up to Chief Joseph pass. That just sounds miserable to me – and they seemed a little miserable too.
I retired with hope once again that the tire issue was now really resolved. As the sun went down, it got colder and colder – not a good sign for the camping night to come.