RIDE C2C DAY 8 Ten Sleep to Buffalo
Word of the Day: Climb and then Climb MORE and then do it 5 more times
Calories burned: 3848
1st Climb Elevation gained: over 5,200 feet
Total Elevation for the day:
Peak Elevation: 9,666 feet
Rested and ready, we wanted to make an early start on our ride today to hopefully beat most of the heat. With headlamps on, we breakdown camp, eat our canned peaches and granola, drink our coffee (remember, that is a mandatory part of my morning) and leave the campground by 6:18am. We make a quick stop at Dirty Sally’s grocery for Doug to buy sunglasses (his went missing) and he emerged with a pair of kids glasses cuz that’s all they had :-)
Then a quick stop at the ConocoPhillips gas station for 4 gatorades - we knew we’d need extra fluid for this mountain ascent and long ride to Buffalo. Doug bought a 2nd pair of adult sunglasses - they fit much better!
The sun was just starting to peek over the canyon walls as we depart from Ten Sleep in the first 4 miles of steady incline. It was quiet, cool, and calm - we got to enjoy the light as it played off the hills around us. Riding at about 14-16mph.
We rode into Ten Sleep canyon with high red, orange, and black streaks and rock formations on both sides of the road. Signs along the way told of the Glacial era of the rocks dating from millions to billions (!!) of years ago.
Alas, there is a strong headwind and so we trade pulls (rotate who is in front) every 2 minutes. We were grateful that for miles 5 - 15 in the canyon there was no direct sun, only a few cars, and stunning views - it helped distract us from the 4-6% grade as we chugged into the headwind at about 5-6 miles per hour. Slow and steady. Solid Climbing.
We reach the top of a series of switchbacks and can now easily see how high we have come! The headwind is a challenge and adds to the mental challenge of this non-stop climb.
Miles 15 - 28.8 - WHAT. A. STRUGGLE. Climb continues as we leave the sheer walls of the canyon behind for a more open, broader area. No breaks, all up. We have a great shoulder and traffic is light - you can ALWAYS hear when the Harley’s are coming (this is the week of the big Sturgis motorcycle rally) and there are plenty of them.
29 miles, peaked at 9666 feet. OVER NINE THOUSAND FEET! We finally hit the peak and are darned glad to be there. That is the longest continuous climb with the most elevation gained that we had ever ridden. It WAS hard. We celebrate with Doug’s French horn Strauss’s horn concerto. There are 6 other cyclists there who made the climb from Ten Sleep (they were a little faster than us) and they thought that we were a little crazy - a horn concerto at the summit. Doesn’t everyone carry a French Horn?
We knew there was one more saddle climb on the way down and we thought the rest would be smooth sailing for the next 30 miles. WRONG.
At the top of the 2nd climb there was a sign that warned of FIVE 8% descents. 8%! Hi-ha! That’s steep! We’ll Fly....I thought. BUT NO, at the end of each 8% there was a 3-5% climb for a mile or two. After the first one of five, I had a few choice words about those f-ing 8%ers. We’d scream down the short descent and have to claw our way out of it to the top of the next rise...At one point on 8% #3, I just stopped in the middle of the 5% climb. As Doug says - “I could see your mental break”. We pulled off, laid our bikes down, and had a little rest and some Gatorade.
Each 8% was a struggle in its own. Our legs were blown and now it was simply a matter of keeping my head in the ride. Some of you know how I coach “you are stronger than you think you are and can do more than you think you can” - I used all those tricks to get through the next 20 miles of our “descent”. Dang. It was mentally and physically exhausting.
I’m happy to say that after the 8%ers, there WAS as steady downhill averaging 7%. We can go about 35mph before the sheer forces of winds move the bikes around too much. On the way down we passed slower moving logging truck and horse trailer and had a pleasant drop right into the Buffalo KOA at about 3:30pm. 9 hours of riding (including plenty of breaks) and we were all done in so many ways.
We were exhausted. We minimally set up camp, showered, and slept, then had a huge dinner at Winchester Steak House - stuffed mushroom appetizer, salads, delicious steak, ok fish, and we were ready for bed.
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