Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Day 8- Squirrel Creek to Union Pass 117 miles

I again set off before dawn after 5 hours sleep, trying to make up for lost time. So long as I stopped early enough in the night, I much preferred to start earlier so that there was more chance of getting hot food at night. The feeling of being on top of your progress helped as well, rather than having to worry and fight to get to the destination.

I wasn’t feeling that great- the extra hill climbing yesterday the cause, and the long gradual climb this morning not helping. The road was not too bad and the last 10 miles before Flagg Ranch with the sun on my back were good.

Breakfast at Flagg Ranch was good, waiting an hour for a table not so good, but I was running out of food and in need of hot food sustenance. (Retro- the English contingent came through the Ranch at 4.30 in the afternoon- still only a few hours behind me).

The 25 miles from the Ranch is some of my favorite along the whole trail, and I think a lot of people will agree. After rising up from Warm River in Idaho yesterday, you look out over rolling green fields and the Tetons stick sharply up, discenable, but far away. Riding alongside Jackson Lake- now right underneath the Tetons, the view can be distracting, and it seems to do that for a number of drivers. A big breakfast made the going a little uncomfortable, and by Moran Junction I was getting a little hot as well. Off came the leggings and jumper for the first time and I cruised along singing “The way that I walk” by Genesis (“Hot sun, beating down…”).

The Tetons

I generally rode to a strict deadline, trying to work out what time I would get somewhere helped passed the time, and at times gave me a little lift. Going slower through a section or up a hill never seemed to cause that much concern. But, getting punctures and the quasi-preventable situations disheartened and pissed me off. I write this now because I lost 45 minutes changing one flat, then another that I missed, just before Togwotee Lodge.

The servo at Togwotee Lodge had a better selection than most, the influence of all the tourists, and free spring water. I met what I thought was a young couple (actually were brother and sister- Jeff and Janice Mentzer), riding the entire Transamerica route and chatted to them whilst eating. I was jealous that they got to ride on pavement the whole way, and were going at a leisurely pace, but not jealous of all the tree measuring gear they were carrying.

JJ Mentzer

I passed them on the way up to Togwotee Pass, which seemed easier that what it looks like on the map. After previous excursions that the trail takes onto dirt roads for seemingly no benefit (i.e in scenery) I wasn’t looking forward to the descent of Togowtee. But, I was surprised with impressive views of a mountain range I had not see yet through the pine. The Shoshone (like Lewis and Clark- and Napolean Dynamite) National Forest is impressive and Brookes Lake looked like a worthwhile camp. But, there was still daylight left, and after some more great descending on gravel roads I was back on the highway and TransAmerica Trail.

Shoshone National Forest

I stopped at the Lava Mountain Lodge on the descent, but they didn’t have a restaurant so I continued on. Jeff and Janice passed by as I was coming out of the lodge and I quickly caught up to them. I traveled with them for the next ten miles. Even though it was downhill and they had loads of gear and skinny tyres I hardly pedaled in order to go the same speed. I was looking to get to one of the restaurants/lodges on the climb to Union Pass before 830/900 for dinner, but thought there was enough time to ride slowly and chat with my two new friends (Retro- I think I was a little lonely having ridden for a week without any conversations longer than a few minutes)

I said goodbye and turned onto the climb to Union Pass. I realized that I would have to crank the next five miles in order to get to where I presumed a restaurant would be by 9pm. I worked pretty hard, but the climb is steep and made it to the Sawmill Restaurant/Lodge at 8.55. I pulled up next to a guy that looked like he worked in the kitchen and said hi and asked if the restaurant was still open. He said that it closed at 9 so I had to plead with him to get something to eat. He turned the grill back on and luckily I got a few burgers and beers and I tipped him $10 (I had to reward generosity). I sat and talked with the owners and managed to get a room discounted. It was a pretty sweet room, with a nice big bathroom, though I was disappointed to leave iodine stains on some of the sheets by mistake.


2007-06-22 16:52:55 GMT

Uh, first question: what's a pilot car? Does that mean that I can get a lift in a car through the construction zone or what? I don't really understand. But anyway, this is Alex Field. I'm in Flagg Ranch, Friday morning. Had a pretty bad day yesterday. Woke up two hours late somehow, my alarm didn't go off. Lost an hour coming through that really sandy trail, and then rode up the wrong mountain for 10 miles, lost two hours there. I was just absolutely (couldn't hear the word TP- “Rooted”) last night, really angry at myself. But um, yeah this morning I'm really really flat. And uh, my knees are causing a bit of problem. They've been sore since the start. I've sort of been massaging them to, just to be able to start. For the past couple of mornings I've had to ride at half speed for the first 3 or so hours, can't even stand out of the saddle until the fifth hour or so. So yeah, it's uh, my knees are playing a big part in this race. But um, apart from that, I'm feeling pretty good, my body is fine. I could do more mileage each day, it's just that my knees are giving out and I've had some poor time management over the past couple of days. But other than that, I'll see how things go.

Audio: GDR Episode 8: 8.00-9.38

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