Coast to Coast 2022 Adventure Day 10: Idaho Falls, ID to Jackson, WY

This post is part of a series detailing my 2022 coast to coast cycling adventure.

Day 10 was monumental. It was the most challenging and rewarding day so far.

Day 10 Highlights:

Song of the day: Mr. Blue Sky by The Electric Light Orchestra
Start: Idaho Falls, ID
End: Jackson, WY (technically, Wilson, WY)
Distance: 83.8 miles
Elevation: 5,177 ft
Breakfast: Egg and meat scramble at AirBNB
Lunch: Burgers at West Side Yard in Victor, ID
Dinner: Stagecoach Bar in Wilson, WY

Progress so far: 880.2 miles, 31,132 ft climbed.

The journey so far, with today’s ride in blue

Here are all the details:

There was nothing easy about today’s ride. We started with a gradual climb out of Idaho Falls but, despite weather forecasts to the contrary, we had fierce headwinds that made everything doubly hard. The windmills were working hard to capture it all.

Idaho windmills

Idaho of course has a lot of agriculture. But unlike Ohio, where it mostly just rains, Idaho farms have pretty sophisticated irrigation systems with lots of pumps, canals and sprinklers.

Roving sprinkler system typical of Idaho farms

This is the first day where we had rain or even the threat of rain. At times, it was pleasant an kept us cool. We did hit a downpour at the end but only the last couple of miles.

We had to contend with a bit of rain today

We planned a lunch stop in Victor, ID, just before the big climb over Teton Pass. It was a really cool little town but for one reason or another (labor shortages, a fire, etc.) many of the restaurants were closed. We did find a good burger joint, but definitely not the best thing to eat just before a grueling 2,000 ft, 10% grade climb.

Starting the long climb up Teton Pass
I’ve never seen my GPS show a hill profile like this. It scared the hell out of me.

As we climbed the mountain, and the terrain became steeper, the physical and mental challenge began to overwhelm me. I developed a system where I would climb 250 ft at a time and then rest. I stopped focusing on the entire climb and instead focused on each segment, one at a time. That helped me break the big challenge into smaller, manageable ones (another life lesson applied) and eventually I found myself at the top.

Approaching the top, looking back at what we had done
Finally made it to the top. The view was spectacular.
We also met Ed, a local who runs a hotel in Jackson and used to operate Ohio State Park lodges. Small world.

Coming off the pass into Jackson was an insane thrill ride down the switchbacks, steep enough to sustain 40 MPH without pedaling but not steep enough that I needed to brake much. As I started down, there was a large van in front of me going slowly around the curves. I desperately wanted to get ahead of it, figuring I would have the road to myself after that. Unfortunately, when we hit a straightaway, it sped up and three more cars passed me. Then we hit the curves again and I was now behind four slow-moving cars. Despite a little voice in my head that said “what the hell are you doing?” I managed to pass all four of them on the shoulder, while whipping around curves. I had to hesitate a few times due to sand and gravel but eventually found a firm spot and went for it. From there I was home free for the next five miles and 1,500 feet down. When the road finally flattened out, my cheeks hurt from smiling.

As we rolled into town, we got our first really good view of the Tetons. The scale and majesty of the snow-covered peaks was overwhelming — I was literally moved to tears.

Our first good view of the Tetons

When we finally reached our BNB, we were completely spent. I’m happy that we have a day off. After 10 straight days of riding, there is no chance, none, that we can ride the next day.

Bonus points: On the way back from picking up our dinner we saw a majestic bull moose having his dinner.

When we returned to our AirBNB with our dinner, Dave and I picked at our food a bit but hardly ate. We were so tired, and likely suffering from exhaustion, heat exhaustion, and dehydration, that we were in bed by 8:30. More on that in the next post.

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