August 2, 2016

WY: Grand Targhee

I had debated on where to ride when we drove through the Teton Valley. I consulted with some friends, and locals on the forums. I had it narrowed down to either Phillips Ridge or Grand Targhee. In the end, Grand Targhee won out mostly due to logistics and it is less remote.

My plan for the day was to have K drop me off at the base area of the ski resort. I would be riding at the resort on the XC trails, not the lift served park trails. She would then pick me up at the bottom of Mill Creek giving me an overall elevation loss on the day. I liked the idea of finishing my ride with an extended downhill!! (Little did I know how important that would become!)
Excitement grew as we dropped into the Teton Valley.
The Teton range has an unforgettable silhouette.
It didn't take long to arrive at the resort. I switched over to ride mode and promised to keep my time goal for this ride.

I immediately was immersed into the trail system along Action Jackson. I was darting through the forest on well contoured trail for a mile or so, then things opened up.
I'll earn my turns.
I didn't see a soul the first few miles.
I could climb grades like these for days.
The blooming hillside made it difficult to focus on the trail.
First big view of the Teton Valley.
I couldn't believe my surroundings. What a treat this was.
I took a short snack break at the end of Action Jackson at a confluence of trails. While I soaked up the views a few riders came and went. One couple stopped and I asked them which direction was preferred for the Buffalo Soldier loop. This apparently sparked a lengthy debate between the two riders. So much so, that I was able to do some quick research on my phone to find my answer: it didn't matter!! Eventually, we all rode off in the same CCW direction. Once again the trail was fast, flowy and provided great scenery.
Somewhere along Buffalo Soldier.
I returned to the trail intersection and took a super fun, mostly downhill, jaunt on Rocky Mountain Way. This brought me to the base of .38 Special. It was time to climb. I could see on the map this trail appeared to have no shortage of switchbacks leading up the mountain. How steep was this trail? Were the switchbacks rideable? Would this take a long time? All valid points on my part as the clock was ticking. I decided to make a game of it and count the switchbacks as I went.
Swooping switchbacks on Rocky Mountain Way.
The very first one had a bit of a kick to it, then the trail mellowed into a grade I was comfortable with. Ten went by quickly, then ten more. My legs began to get a little tired around switchback 25, but I motored on. I passed No. 30, then 40 came and went. I noticed my chain had begun to hop a bit every once in a while. I just figured it was dusty and would lube it at the top. I cleaned No. 45, then 46 and finally No. 47 popped me out onto a winter service road. Dang, 47 non-stop switchbacks, all rideable at a decent pace too.

I started to make my way over to a scenic viewpoint when I was abruptly stopped in my tracks. I was almost thrown over my bars!! Somehow my rear derailleur pulley assembly got snagged behind a couple of spokes!! How the hell?? It took me about 10 minutes to get it free. From what I could see, nothing was wrong. I thought it was very strange and rode on to the overlook.
Never had that happen before!!
Heading back to the trail system.
I rode back to the top of .38 Special then began following the dirt service road looking for the singletrack split to the upper trails. Just before reaching my turnoff I was stopped dead once more. WTH?!? This time I knew what was wrong. The main bolt that holds all the tension on the rear derailleur had snapped. Not only that, but my 1/4" thick hanger was bent at a 45º angle. Not good. My quick release skewer also looked bent at a 45º angle. I removed the chain and thought about my options. The Maah Daah Hey 100 race was now only a few days away and my bike was toast. Maybe I could convert it to singlespeed? I wasn't sure the back wheel would stay on. Perhaps I could locate a 9 speed derailleur in town? New hanger? Fat chance I thought. All these scenarios ran through my head. First things first, I needed to get off the mountain. I was now near my 2 1/2 hour ride limit on a busted bike at the top of the mountain. Hmmm, the top,eh? I made the obvious choice, coast down to the car chainless!! From where I was perched, it was approximately 6 miles down to the car. I sent K an update and started to coast.
That's a thick piece of aluminum to bend like that.
Through all this, my 2.4 rear tire that had been rubbing my frame, was now quiet & settled.
The coasting was just as good chainless!!
Dropping into this gulley on the left, Rocky Mountain Way on the right.
One of the few slightly uphill sections I had to walk.
The Tetons still showing their presence.
I slightly went over my 2 1/2 hour time limit on this one.
I showed K the carnage and expressed my concerns about getting it fixed, hopefully in time for the race. I thought I'd have a decent shot up in Bozeman, MT on Friday. I even contemplated renting a bike for the race, I wasn't going to miss it.

We made our way back into Idaho on our way to Teton Pass, but first we passed through the little town of Driggs. There was an outdoor shop in town and they sold bikes. I went in and asked if they did any servicing and was directed to the back of the store where a guy was wrenching away on a bike. I told him of my dilemma and he not only dropped what he was doing, but he pulled a new 9 speed derailleur off the shelf, new chain, and straightened my bent hanger!! The skewer was fine, but the bolt was stripped out, so that too was replaced along with new cabling. Less than one hour later and only $120, I was back in business. Neither K or I could hardly believe my luck. No way I thought a little outdoor store in a small town would have exactly what I needed. So cool.
John saving the day!!
If you're ever in Driggs, ID and need outdoor assistance, give Peaked Sports consideration.
We grabbed some lunch and continued on to our next part of our trip, Grand Teton Nat'l Park & Yellowstone!!

Full photo album

Route flyover from


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got your bike fixed so easily. That must have been a huge relief. I carry spare derailleur hanger with me for trailside repairs and also because I've been left waiting for one to get ordered in at the LBS. Burned once I won't let that happen again. You can get a derailleur/chain/cassette/shifter anywhere, but some derailleur hangers are a PITA to source when your bike is not rolling.