Monthly Archives: June 2014

Teton Pass

To quote Phil Rizzuto to describe today’s ride HOLY COW! WE started the day in Idaho Falls,with a very early start.

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

We headed up the Snake River-still following that river-towards Jackson, Wyoming. A couple of notables on today’s ride, new state-Wyoming, and we passed 1,000 miles since leaving Astoria, Oregon. Another gorgeous day, temperature at the start-6:30 AM-was 50 degrees, but warmed to the high 60’s, and, as the photos show, a perfect blue sky, a light tail wind.

To those who bike, riding through a pass in the Rockies is monumental, they are unlike anything else on this continent.  Today we did 2, the first one was relatively easy, we climbed from 5,300 feet to 6,764 feet, but at a gradual incline. Followed by a 2 mile downhill. Then came TETON PASS. Not only is it a long climb, it is STEEP! You climb from 5,820 feet to 8,431 feet in about 12 miles, but the last 2.5 to 3 miles are all 10% grade or steeper. Earlier in this journey I had written about my love for climbing because of finding a zone, and staying in it, there was NO zone to be found today, this was hard work! A part of my brain kept saying, you can’t do this, it is too difficult, so walk-as some did, but most of my brain had 2 things to say. The first was what one of my spin instructors always said, ” You want to quit, You can’t quit, You dig deeper, You DON’T quit”. The other was that I looked forward to this climb for 20 years, there was NO Way I could walk up this climb. And I didn’t! The feeling of accomplishment when I saw the top, and then reached the top is hard to describe, but at that moment, euphoria, and the feeling that I could do anything with enough work and focus mixed in my brain. It FELT GREAT! And, naturally, what went up, Me, now had a 6 mile, fairly technical descent ( looks of turns and switchbacks) down into Jackson. Wow, what a ride.

Tomorrow we go even higher as we cross the continental divide, can’t wait.

alan

view of-you guessed it-the Snake River with the Tetons in the background

view of-you guessed it-the Snake River with the Tetons in the background

View from a turn-out on the climb to Pine Creek Summit

View from a turn-out on the climb to Pine Creek Summit

first real look at the Tetons

first real look at the Tetons

view from a turn-out on the ascent through Teton Pass

view from a turn-out on the ascent through Teton Pass

view from the Summit of Teton Pass, 8,431 Feet

view from the Summit of Teton Pass, 8,431 Feet

a view back from where we came, quite a downhill!

a view back from where we came, quite a downhill!

road into Jackson, Wyoming. Not a bad place to graze

road into Jackson, Wyoming. Not a bad place to graze

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Like riding on the Moon

Last night there was the most amazing sunset, large Western vista, something we don’t get on the East Coast.

Today turned into one of those days that reminds why I love biking, good distance-86 miles, not too much climbing, GREAT Tailwind, perfect weather. It really was an effortless journey that just makes me feel great! At the start of the ride we turned onto this road that reminded me of a spot on a New Jersey ride we do where we go through the Pine Barrens. We say that spot makes us feel like e are  riding on the Moon-so desolate, well this morning we encountered a similar stretch, except it went on for 20 miles. No houses, no towns, no crops, NOTHING! I am still in awe of the vastness of the space out west. We then returned to the current normal of crops all around us. Wheat, Potatoes, Alfalfa, ENDLESS miles and miles of crops. They make the farms near home seem quaint by comparison. Now I know where all those French Fries come from.

alan

Sunset over the prairie

Sunset over the high prairie

Snake River, early morning

Snake River, early morning

Like riding on the Moon

Like riding on the Moon

another view of riding on the Moon

another view of riding on the Moon

flag sign

flag sign

wheat fields, irrigation, mountains

wheat fields, irrigation, mountains

view from the road

view from the road

foothills near Pocatello, Idaho

foothills near Pocatello, Idaho

The Snake River near Poctello, Idaho

The Snake River near Pocatello, Idaho

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Riding to the Falls

WOW! When I first looked at the itinerary for this ride, today stood out because it is only a 39 mile day. Now I know why, we were able to veer off the planned route if we chose to, and descend into the Snake River Gorge to see the Falls-Shoshone and Twin Falls. Truly magnificent! They are about 2 miles apart, so 2 descents and 2 climbs. The climbs back up were equally special, not long, but very steep, the steepest incline we have encountered so far. After climbing back to the main road and getting back on the assigned route, we continued to ride through what is called the “magic valley” due to the abundance of water, and how much they can grow because of it. We ended the day in Burley, Idaho. Tomorrow we are back to a normal mileage of 86 miles.

Oh yeah, people have been asking to see a photo of me, so here is one.

alan

Me, at Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Me, at Shoshone Falls, Idaho

On the descent to Shoshone Falls

On the descent to Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls

Panorama of Twin Falls

Panorama of Twin Falls

Wheat Fields, mountains in the distance

Wheat Fields, mountains in the distance

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corn fields, dairy farm in the distance, wall is made of bales of hay

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The ride to Twin Falls

Long day today, 97 miles, but a nice tail wind. We traveled through the Snake River Valley. The beginning of the day was through fairly arid, empty places. The second half was through more agricultural areas, including lots of Dairy Cows. The last 20 miles of so, we were riding hard to beat a storm that we could see moving towards us, something that you don’t see in the East as the vista is not expansive enough. Oh, we did make it, just as it was starting to drizzle.The high point of the day for me was trying to cross the bridge over the Snake River at Twin Falls. This is the spot where Evil Knievel attempted to “jump” the gorge on his motorcycle, I don’t think he made it. Anyway the bridge is about 1,500 feet above the river-seethe photo-and the bike path is narrow and in my totally irrational fear of heights opinion, not well protected. So, the plan was for me to basically stare at the wheel of the rider in front of me, and NOT LOOK DOWN!, I’ve done this before with moderate success. But not this time, I just couldn’t do it. So, I wound up crossing the bridge in the traffic lanes-more removed from the view down-and finally made it across!

alan

 

the road near Mountain Home

the road near Mountain Home

Idaho scrub-land

Idaho scrub-land

Idaho

Idaho

Snake River, close to Mountain Home

Snake River, close to Mountain Home

The Bridge at Twin Falls, or as I call it, the Bridge of Irrational Certain Doom

The Bridge at Twin Falls, or as I call it, the Bridge of Irrational Certain Doom

Snake River from the lookout by THE BRIDGE

Snake River from the lookout by THE BRIDGE, note the rain coming in from the left hand side of the photo

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Back on the Road

This morning we started riding again, as we left the State Capital of Boise. Relatively easy day as we  only rode  54 miles, with a good tail wind, and not TOO much climbing. We ended at Mountain Home, Idaho, a small town on our journey into the Rockies. I was absolutely amazed at the vast emptiness of the country here, as the photos show. Tomorrow is a long day, just under a hundred miles, so we will be on the road by 6:30.

alan

Idaho Capital Building, Boise

Idaho Capital Building, Boise

panorama of the area between Boise and Mountain Home

panorama of the area between Boise and Mountain Home

anyone want solitude?

anyone want solitude?

view from the SAG Stop

view from the SAG Stop

a particularly desolate stretch

a particularly desolate stretch

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Day Off

So, I thought I would take today to look back at the first part of my trip, and write about some other things.

First, the news from Bass Foundation is great. In addition to our fundraising dollars paying for the book store trip, see photo, we are also able to open an after school reading program in one more school in the fall, Thanks to YOU. Here is the way is was put by the Bass Foundation, “The Bass Foundation Boys Reading Club took a field trip last Friday to WORDS Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ. This trip was sponsored by the fund raising dollars from Alan’s ride.The boys had a chance to pick out summer reading materials and then visited the Village Ice Parlor for ice cream cones. Afterwards, they sat under a shady tree in a nearby park and perused their new books.” Pretty cool! One of my favorite saying is a quote from Frederick Douglas-see below, very appropriate, that is what we doing! Thanks again.

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The Bass Foundation Reading Club boys in Maplewood with their new books

douglas

Now, back to the trip. We have covered about 700 miles, meandering through Oregon, climbed about 30,000 feet, and I feel GREAT. It is good to have a day off to refuel and recharge the body-hands, ankles, legs, neck, but also to feel excited about riding again, which begins to wain after riding for 8 tough days. The group is a rather diverse mix; 5 countries are represented-New Zealand, Australia, England, Germany, and naturally the US, with people from 23 states. The age range is from 22 to 77, with people my age, 60 to 62 being the plurality. of the 42 riders, there are 9 women, and all except 3 are doing the entire trip. We will pick up a few more riders doing parts of the trip along the way. We’ve lost one rider, who had 2 falls those first rainy, cold days-he stopped riding on day 3, and he is flying home today. As far as skill level, I am sort of in the middle of the pack, there are people who fly past us early in the day, and we don’t see them until the hotel. I have been taking my time, not riding all out, as I want to first of all finish the ride each day feeling good, and secondly, I want to enjoy the ride, and take LOTS OF PHOTOS. I will be taking it easy today, probably a short ride this afternoon, so that my legs don’t get the false impression that their work is over. Tomorrow we begin to climb into the Rockies, culminating in Jackson Wyoming in about 5 days, and then the following day crossing the Continental Divide, I have feeling a lot of photos await!

alan

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Last Day of the First Leg

We left Oregon today, and started our ascent into the Rocky Mountains, once again, ending the day at a higher elevation than we began, in Boise, Idaho. We rode through areas that are mostly farms and ranches, saw the first herd of dairy cows since starting the trip. Certainly not the spectacular scenery we got used to in Oregon. Tomorrow is a rest day, we all are happy about that, including the people who are running the trip.

alan

Sunset in Ontario, Oregon

Sunset in Ontario, Oregon

Dairy Cows

Dairy Cows

Wheat Fields in Idaho

Wheat Fields in Idaho

View from the SAG stop in Idaho

View from the SAG stop in Idaho

Cattle-LOTS of them

Cattle-LOTS of them, but they seemed to know that I don’t eat them

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Our Last Night in Oregon

We left Baker City this morning for Ontario, Oregon. The temperature for this first morning of summer in Baker City was 45 degrees at 6:30AM, but it warmed up nicely. It was a great ride, not as scenic as some of the other days as we have left the mountains of Oregon behind. I did however experience 2 firsts for me: first, crossing a time zone on my bike, we are now in Mountain Time, and second, riding on the INTERSTATE. Quite the experience with traffic zooming by, but it all went well.

View from our hotel in Baker City, Oregon

View from our hotel in Baker City, Oregon

Views looking South, near Baker City, Oregon

Views looking South, near Baker City, Oregon

the road ahead, and down!

the road ahead, and down!

The first part of the ride was pretty much a gentle downhill for about 30 miles, today was the first day on the trip where we ended at a lower elevation than we started. Somewhere during the ride we picked up the Snake River, which will be our companion for quite some time. The final 15 miles into Ontario was through a valley with crops everywhere-onions, garlic, wheat, and naturally, potatoes. Very pleasant. Tomorrow we head into Boise, Idaho with the following day our first REST DAY, which we are all looking forward to.

alan

First view of the Snake River

First view of the Snake River

not a bad place to be grazing, eastern Oregon

not a bad place to be grazing, eastern Oregon

wild Sage

wild Sage

The Snake River

The Snake River

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80 Miles and 3 Mountain Passes

Good day today, again a LOT of climbing, 3 major ascents, 4,850 feet of climbing, but beautiful country! On the last descent, we were traveling along the Powder River for about 5 miles. Aside from being beautiful, and sounding wonderful because of all the rapids, in biking we joke “may the stream be with you”, since that means you are following it downhill, which we were.

Something I haven’t mentioned is the air out here, we have almost always been either in evergreen forest, or the high desert with sage, or near ranches where hay and alfalfa are prevalent, it is wonderful.

We are about to leave the mountains of Oregon where we have spent the last 6 days, and have 2 relatively flat days leading up to our day off in Boise Idaho.  Are my legs happy!

alan

view from an overlook, looking west towards John Day, Oregon

view from an overlook, looking west towards John Day, Oregon

Farm with Blue Mountains of Oregon in the distance

Farm with Blue Mountains of Oregon in the distance

Snow capped Blue Mountains

Snow capped Blue Mountains

Cresting Dixie Mountain at 5,277 feet

Cresting Dixie Mountain at 5,277 feet

Last descent of the day, from Snall Summit

Last descent of the day, from Snall Summit

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116 miles and 2 Mountain Passes

This was one of the few days, way back when, while looking at the itinerary, that I felt apprehension about. Relatively long-116 miles, and lots of climbing-5,000feet.

But, it went great.Let me try to tell you what it feels like to climb and descend on a bike. The second climb today was a steady 4% to 6% grade for about 4.5 miles-an assent of about 2,000 feet, which means that you are climbing for about 45 minutes. For me, this defines the term sustainable, as all you can do is find that cadence that works for your legs, heart, lungs, and head, and stay with it. When I find that place, it seems like I can go forever, all the time listening intently to your body, I feel like the bike and I are “connected”. I love climbing! At the summit, I stopped to have a drink, and I realized it was one of the quietest spots I had ever been, only the wind, and the birds, almost spiritual! And since what went up-ME, had to come down, off I went.  The descent was amazing, a 12 mile descent! It is the closest thing to flying on a bike that I have ever experienced, the only thing I needed to do was use my brakes to maintain a speed where I felt comfortable-about 35mph. Quite a RIDE!

After the descent we dropped into cattle grazing territory with lots of streams and rivers. More riding in valleys with the mountains looming-no longer the high Cascades. Simply Beautiful

alan

Crossing Ochoco Pass-4,750'

Crossing Ochoco Pass-4,750′

High Meadow

High Meadow

View on the Descent from Ochoco Pass

View on the Descent from Ochoco Pass

Stream running through "Picture" Gorge

Stream running through “Picture” Gorge

John Day River with sage brush and pines

John Day River with sage brush and pines

barn with horses

barn with horses

Panorama of a Homestead

Panorama of a Homestead

 

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