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Wednesday 1 June 2011

Day 23 - Togwotee Pass

Todays mileage: 47
Total Mileage: 1,110
End point: Dubois, WY

Before I start todays entry and pain, three important things I wanted to post about and which I have tried all day not to forget:

1. Good news! The Freedom i-connex keyboard has sprung back life making my life a lot easier. I have no idea why, maybe some damp got involved. I actually emailed freedom last night and they had emailed me back by the time I checked my email in the morning - great customer service. The only downside of this is my dreams of storming into walmart or bestbuy to purchase a complete unecessary macbook air have now been blown apart, my bank balance will thank me.

2. I mentioned yesterday about the crazy guy who is cycling across the states unsupported to set a new world record. Well here is his website for those interested: you can see this is not his only challenge - nutty and interesting stuff.

3. Whilst I was battling with my keyboard last night I was setting up my first campfire (which I now regret as my favourite jumper stinks of smoke) - as I was doing this 2 horses came galloping full pelt at my tent. I was speechless, and not quite sure what was happening. I could see down the road more horses galloping along the highway. Now me and horses have mixed relations, I'm still a little bit scarred from scout camp in france when I was 12 when we went horse riding, mine bolted and for a good few miles I was clinging on for dear life. Fortunately with about 20 feet to go the horses followed the path to the edge of my tent and then zoomed off around the campground. About 10 minutes later 2 cowgirls (is that sexist? we are in wyoming) appeared and ran round the campground trying to retrieve them. It was quite amusing to watch as these horses had some attitude.

I went to bed about 11pm last night after writing the most painful blog ever on my phone. At about 2am I awoke absolutely freezing. Had I forgotten my GCSE geography?? Anti-cyclonic weather with a campground over 2,100 metres = friggin cold. I literally put on as many of my clothes as possible and was still cold, I was very close to going for a sleep in the toilets. It wasn't until 6 am with the sun rising that I properly fell asleep and slept in till 11am.

When I awoke I felt like the living death. Now I'm going to restrain and not use the word 'flu' (although feel free to add the word 'man' in front of it) - a very bad cold. If there had been anyone around who would have listened it would have been time to pull out my idaho bell and rung it with guster. My solution was three fold, a litre of orange juice (actually a quart - give me my 50ml!), double drop of paracetemol and a can of beans which I procured at a gas station yesterday to fulfil my latest cravings. This solution had mixed success and I didn't leave until nearly 1 pm.

After peddling a few miles down the road I ran into a man waving a flag, wearing a helment with a green mohawk who was controlling traffic. Next to him were two cyclists: Richard and Ben - they are the first people I have met also doing the transam and set off from Rhode Island heading West. We caught a few jokes: east vs. west, front panniers vs. Handle bar bag, and some generally chit chat about weather and routes. Before I forget - big shout out to both of you (if your reading) and good luck with the last 1,000 miles. Also just incase I'm not providing all of your cycle blog needs (what?!?), ben is also writing a blog which I need to check out:  it will be fun to make a cameo appearance in someone elses blog.

After about 10 minutes the 'pilot truck' appeared; cyclists and pedestrians were forbidden for the next couple of miles due to dangerous construction. I loaded my bike into the back of the pick up and zoomed up. It was soon clear why, the whole area reminded me of the start of frakle rock. What's more bizarre is they don't have traffic lights, everyone has to follow this pilot truck which weaves around obstacles, rocks and diggers. I asked Julie the driver if anyone had ignored the pilot truck. She said it was rare but last year a woman late into the evening zommed off in front off the truck and flew off a cliff. Apparently she had been driving erratically and kept looking back behind her as if she was being chased.

The roadworks behind me, I started my ascent up Togwotee Pass. This it would turn out would be more epic than white pass, if not due to the gradient but because I should have been in bed with calpol. After an hours climbing I was surrounded by snow, after another half hour I was in a complete winter wonderland. With the other snow I have seen its been quite patchy, up here in June it felt like January. People were off snow mobiling, and the sides of the roads were gigantic walls of snow (see my photo above!)

As I approached the summit I actually felt a little emotional, no doubt brought on by feeling ill and the cold. The Togwotee Pass represented the pinnacle of my ride, and any guilt over not doing Grand Teton Pass had quickly faded.

Togwotee Pass is part of the 'Continental Divide' and therefore is my mountainous midpoint, all rivers after this point would exit either in the gulf of mexico or the atlantic - and as a rough rule I should have a lot of downhill to come. Togwotee Pass is 9,658 feet, I'm going to put that in metres for you european skiers out there: 2,944m - that's the top of many chairlifts and a lot higher than any climbs in the tour de france (bit of trumpet blowing there - hope that claim is right!)   There was no sign at the top which was slightly disappointing (although maybe it was buried in snow).

I took the decscent down fairly easy as there were a few little streams on the road, although a headwind prevented me going to fast. After 30 miles mainly downhill (although a few sneaky rollers) I am now out of the snow and in Dubois. I feel completely abused and shatterd going to bed in a few minutes for a very long sleep and recovery.


  1. You are so awesome Brian!

  2. Congratulations on crossing the Continental Divide. So it should all be easy from here, right?

    Highest climb on the Tour de France looks like 2,802m at the Cime de la Bonette, so looks like you're right on that one.

    Mr Pantridge would be very disappointed if you had forgotten your GCSE geography - glad to see it has stuck even in the depths of your misery!