The morning is amazing. Brisk but I am enjoying it fully. This is going to be a very good day of riding. Steve is getting his gear together and brushing his teeth as I take off. I ride up the first large climb and pass an Inn where Will is just leaving. In no time at all he pedals off in the distance. A short while later Steve catches up to me as I am finishing the morning business in a field. For the next few hours we pedal while the Grand Tetons grow closer.
Even from miles away the site is one I will never forget. As they grow closer and closer, I can feel myself being a kid again. Just gazing in amazement. We arrive in the Tetons fancy welcome center. All the boys are there: Brian and Brian, Steve, The Rev, Will. The company is fantastic. People are coming and going in their Sunday best as we reek of B.O., piss and exhaustion. I say something to this effect and Brian #1 says loudly “we pay the same money everyone else does.” That’s a good point. Still, I would love a shower. As I am finishing up lunch and getting supplies, I run into a friend of mine from home that I was deployed with. What are the chances?! We chat for a few minutes and then take a picture. My face is so windburned, sunburned and chapped I can’t smile. I smear Carmex all over my lips and give it another go. Close enough. We say our goodbyes. We ride on. Steve, The Rev and I take off. We are riding alongside the highway right in the national park. The traffic is getting worse and worse and eventually people are stopped alongside the road. What are they trying to see? Then we come around a bend and see it. Tetons. It is magnificent. I stop and take a picture and just stare in amazement. Pure awe. The lake and the mountains are what I am here for. All of the struggling and pain are gone in this moment. I could sit on the ground right there for rest of the day and be happy.
Sadly I have to move on. As we pedal on I get to know the Rev. His is a pastor from Tennessee. He is known as the pedaling pastor. He rode the whole way across the United States with a support van in 14 days. That was less than a year after getting a bike. He does crazy things like this all of the time to raise awareness. He once got on a stationary bike at his church and rode until 250 turkeys were donated for the people in his town. We chat about all types of things.
Mostly I listened to his stories of God and his greatness. Fun fact – Greg didn’t bring a tent or sleeping bag, with the idea that God would provide him with what he needs. He has already slept in a few post offices on the floor to stay warm. I do believe that there is something more important than me in the universe. This could possibly be a creator or the God. One thing I know for certain, if there is, I hope it is busy with more important things than finding me a place to sleep at night.
With that said, I brought a solo tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad just in case. We hit the middle of a long climb up to the divide pass and there is a gas station and very nice lodge. We decide that the lodge would be the better place to eat. As we get off of our bikes we are swarmed with mosquitoes. This is the first time on the race that I can remember there being a large amount of bugs. I don’t like it. I rush inside and get a table. After we eat no one has the energy to move on. We go to get a room and find out that they are $250 a night. We grumble about it but, take the room. It is all that is around and the addendum for this year’s race specifically said no tent camping in this area due to high grizzly bear activity. I will pass on seeing another for now. Pile in the room, shower number 3 for the race, and lay down for sleep. The Rev has to sleep with noise. He turns on a phone app that sounds like a shitty old box fan that is about to set on fire or fall apart. I fall asleep quickly.