Sunday, July 1 Idaho Falls to Jackson, WY 91.4 miles
Alleluia, I did it. Two mountain passes today. It was a very emotional day for me – and an incredibly difficult one. So many feelings and emotions all day long. I find it hard to write this evening. I almost have to let everything about this day have a little time to digest. It is like I have been rained on for 12 hours while I was on the road and now it must soak in to my whole being.
I just got back from dinner and I was sitting with Father Jim, Jim and Mary Ann. Like Fr. Jim said, words are insufficient and lacking. As I ramble on here I guess it is a way to stall for a while so I can think what I should write. Tomorrow will be as taxing and adventure some as today so I can’t put off doing the recap. Tomorrow will hold thoughts all of it’s own.
It is easiest just to give the “facts”. Idaho falls was such a great stop. The waterfalls were an attraction that drew all of us to stop and be in awe at the power of falling water.
We traveled directly East out of town and this early morning sun was quite blinding, making it hard to read the street signs finding the correct turns. The Lord’s Day was filling me with joy as the country we rolled into was the lushest green I’ve ever seen. On my right and on my left from the sides of the road extended way, way out and up the gently rolling hills far away, green, green, green fields. It made me think it was a world surrounding me in deep plush velvet. On my peaceful ride, I meditated on the five Joyful Mysteries. This morning, I felt like I had just spent 40 days in the desert ( except for this very eastern side , all of Idaho was so dry and desert like to me) and now, finally everything was changing and the mountains, the tall trees , the running streams of water were suddenly all around. All of us were very glad for this change – and we were looking forward to the adventure of the climb once again.
The first challenge I had began about mile 15 when I rode head first into strong, relentless winds. All I could do was put myself into the drop handlebar position, lower the gears so I could spin easy. I prayed for perseverance – and I prayed for some cyclists to come along so I could jump in on the draft. I made a quick stop at a country service station. The lady there said there was a detour ahead. There had been a bad car accident and no traffic had been let through for three hours.
As I got back on the road into the headwind it wasn’t long and I heard from behind, “train on your left”. I was so glad and as the six cyclist train came by. Gunnel said, “Jump on and we’ll pull you” Getting in the paceline was a God send! This saves so much energy when you can draft. I held on for about six miles and then we started some climbing. We had about a 2 mile detour out away from the accident location. After crossing, once again, the Snake River, we were getting close to the turn into the mountains.
Leaving the highway we had been following, we turned off on to US 31 and the fun began. Slowly, over the course of an hour and a half the mountain seemed to envelope us as we climbed higher and higher. The noon day sun was beginning to make the assent more taxing as the sweat poured off the body. We were on our way up to Pine Creek Pass Summit. I took a photo, but can’t remember the altitude. It was the hardest climb I have ever done.
As I neared the summit, for the last mile, I was so over come with emotion. I cried the whole way. It was so unbelievable to me that I had the power and strength to make it ALL THE WAY to the top of the mountain. I kissed God’s earth and the land of the free upon reaching the top. People ask, why do you bike? Never could I have experience this beauty around me going in a car all enclosed in windows and air conditioning. I was out there with every element so close, so real. Never could this be experienced by letting the engine of an automobile do all the work of getting me there. All the while I am pedaling, moving so slowly, at times 3 mph, I knew it was God who was giving me this fortitude and strength to do this. God alone helped the pedals turn, God alone sent the strong tail winds to push me on and He alone placed the shade trees in just the right places so I could stop and catch my breath in the cool shade.
I’m sorry, I am very, very tired. I will have to tell you about the highest Mountain, Teton Mountain Pass, and the descent to Jackson Hole – Later. I must sleep now.
I deeply appreciate the prayers for Today. I’m glad I called my “Prayer Buddies” Last night.