The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done: Teton 262 Mile Bike Ride
Home Base: Jackson, WY
Day Job: Ski Instructor and Trainer at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Ski School Director at Turoa resort on Mt. Ruapehu New Zealand, currently enjoying summer at Fitzgerald’s Bike Shop
Hobbies: Biking, Skiing, casual Teton sufferfests
Kyle, what is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
The ride I did on the solstice, going around the BROCK is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done.
To put the stats out there…. you biked 262 miles, in 17 1/2 hours, gaining 15,000 feet of elevation. I still can’t wrap my head around this. Let’s start with what the BROCK is, exactly.
It’s a combination of two popular routes in Jackson.
‘Around the block’ is your standard century road ride, it’s about 108 miles. From Jackson, you ride down to Alpine through Hoback canyon, then north through Swan Valley, climb Pine Creek Pass into Victor, Idaho, and up over Teton Pass back into Jackson.
‘Around the rock’ is hosted by Fitzgerald’s bikes every year on the solstice. It’s over 150 miles, a self supported 55% gravel, 45% road ride. From the Victor shop, we head north on gravel to Grassy Lakes Road, which connects you to Flagg Ranch at the north entrance to Grand Teton National Park, then take the inside park road, and ride over Teton Pass back to Victor. The ‘rock’ that we’re going around is the Grand Teton. It’s an event, but it’s not. You just show up, there are no aid stations, you have to carry food and water and be able to maintain your bike for 80 miles of gravel.
Has anyone ever combined these before?
No, not to my knowledge. I think I’m the first person to do around the BROCK.
You know how Jackson is, it is a rare opportunity to get to do something for the first time. There are so many rad people getting after it. When I realized nobody had ever done it, and I was physically and mentally prepared, I was like let’s give it a go.
Tell me about how the ride went.
I started the around the block loop from Victor at 10:30 p.m. and rode all night by myself. Nobody else was crazy enough to do it this year! I summited Teton pass at midnight. I was very alert to moose, deer, all the wildlife that is around Jackson Hole. A huge buck sprinted across the road 6 feet ahead. I pushed hard to make it back to Victor and start around the rock with the group. I had just enough time to change the tube in my front tire, I had a slow leak, before the next 150 odd miles.
Starting with the group re-energized me. I was focused on celebrating other people, that’s a massive ride even for avid cyclists. I didn’t want to be that guy who’s like ‘I just rode 108 miles’ I kept it to myself, only a few close friends knew.
The gravel requires attention, and there are big climbs, but it’s stunning out there. It is beautiful and remote, with big meadows of wildflowers. Passing Flagg Ranch, other riders were sitting and taking a break to eat, as much as I wanted to do that I needed to keep moving, my body was so used to pedaling if I stopped I didn’t know if I would be able to start again. And Teton pass at the end is never easy! Some sections are 14% to 16% grade, it’s steep.
After starting the whole ride at 10:30 p.m., I finished back in Victor at 6 p.m. so it was just under 20 hours start to stop, and 17 1/2 hours where I was riding. It was pretty crazy! I barely stopped, only changing the tube and switching out my lights.
THIS IS REALLY AMAZING!! So…. how did you feel the day after?
Hahaha I went to work at the bike shop, they said I could take the day off, but I woke up at 7 like normal. I was definitely walking around like an old man and really bracing myself anytime I had to sit down or stand up!
You have to keep moving, if you hard stop and don’t leave your bed, your body will seize up. You have to keep your joints and muscles moving, walk around, foam roll, stretch, soak in an epsom salt bath.
It was lucky that it didn’t snow the day of the ride!
Typical Jackson summer possibility, it was just snowing on the pass yesterday! On my first around the rock, at Signal Mountain it started hailing on us, and by the top of Teton pass it was trying to snow. I definitely got into the pain cave on that ride!
Did it feel really hard, on this ride? What do you do when it feels really hard?
Yes. Anytime you do a ride over 100 miles, you’re going to drift into the pain cave at some point. What kept coming back into my brain, was that I already made the decision.
When you’re midway through, and it’s hard - this can be on the bike, or skis, in work, in anything in life - when you think, am I really doing this? Well dude, or dudette, the time to make that decision is before you start. Once you’ve made the decision, you just have to get out of your own way, and allow yourself to do it. The only one putting limitations on yourself, is you.
Looooove this. Wait, you said you didn’t stop to eat, but…. didn’t you have to eat?
I had a bag that fits inside the triangle so I could ride and unzip, grab something, and keep pedaling. I had a lot of different sweet and savory food in there, cut up into bite sized pieces. Some home made snacks, and anything that was in wrappers like honey stinger waffles I had already taken out of the package and cut into pieces, it has to be easy with only one hand.
That is next level preparation.
I knew it was going to be a big endeavor. I really planned for it, trying to set myself up for success. There was so much preparation for the day, and for my body with training.
How far in advance did you know you would do this ride?
At least a month ahead.
I had planned to be in New Zealand. I’ve had a total of five seasons there, last summer I was the Ski School Director at Turoa resort. Because of the pandemic, they closed the borders two days before my flight.
Sooooo you went from year round winters….straight to your longest ride ever?!
Hahaha I think with the back to back winters, I kind of bottled up the summer stoke, let it age and ripen, and finally uncorked it!
What are your thoughts after finishing this big ride?
A day or two later, it started to hit that I felt pride. A sense of accomplishment and self-fulfillment.
When you achieve something you set out to do, you feel really good and happy with yourself… and ready to figure out, what’s the next big challenge?
Haha, what do you have in mind? If this was the hardest thing you’ve done, what’s next?
There’s a niche race scene with ultra remote multi-day bike packing races. In really remote areas, like the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. It’s over 1000 miles, super remote, you have to carry all your gear and be fully self reliant. It’s gnarly conditions. I’m pretty keen to try some of that stuff!
Kyle, thank you for sharing! I hope this inspires people to get out and push their limits!