Idaho

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August 10, 1992 Boise to Lowman (82 miles, 5480 ft, $23)

It must have been a hard day yesterday as we both slept through the alarm today.  We still managed to be on the road by 7AM.  We took Hill Road out of Boise, which eventually became a 20-mile bike path along the Boise River – our fears of city traffic failed to materialize.  It was pretty hot already and neither of us felt much like riding today.  We soldiered on up Lucky Peak, to Idaho City for lunch where we found the Gold Pan Café and a big order of biscuits and gravy, with extra biscuits and a cinnamon roll to boot.  As we prepared to leave, Karston, a German cyclist riding from San Francisco to Yellowstone, pedaled up.  We would meet him on the road again later in the day.  We made a last minute stop at the visitor center to replenish supplies of suntan lotion.  It was really hot as we headed for the big climb of the day.

The climb was fairly gradual for the first 8 miles, then it got steep.  There where lots of switchbacks, it seemed as though it were never going to end.  We should have filled the extra water bottle at the visitor center (as I had suggested) but we didn’t (as Dave said we didn’t need to carry any extra weight!) and before the summit, we ran out of water.  That will be the last time I listen to Dave about water!  After a quick cookie stop at the summit it was on to a hot, windy 8-mile descent into Lowman.  In town (if you call one store and a café a town) we stopped at South Fork Ranch hoping to splurge on a cabin.   It turned out that the cabins and the campsites were both flooded by spring rains and still not useable – now what? 

We met up with Karston in the café, ordered milkshakes, and pondered our next move.  After a few minutes a mountain biker rolled up and started asking us questions.  Turns out that his wife teaches at the local one room schoolhouse and he lived just up the road.  Before you know it, we were all heading back to Vic and Paula’s house for dinner (enchiladas!) and sleep in a real bed.  Given that shopping for them is a once a month all day trek back to Boise, Vic’s precious beer that he gave us was real gift.  They truly were bicycle saviors today. 

Tomorrow we head for Stanley, with one large climb in the middle (another stage on the Woman’s bike race).  We’ll be taking extra water for sure!

August 11, 1992 Lowman to Stanley (59 miles, 3660 ft, $86)

After a good night’s sleep in a real bed, we were up a 7AM.  Paula made us great pancakes for breakfast.  When loading the bike, we discovered that the back tire had gone flat.  That, plus the group photos and hugs from our new friends slowed our start.  We were on the road around 8:40. 

We started climbing right away but the first 12 miles were gentle, along the Payette River.  It was a very scenic  ride.  From there it was 20 miles of climbing to the summit.  Pretty hard without many flat sections.  It got hot but we had enough water today!  Before we knew it, it was noon and we figured that we were still less than halfway up.  We had to stop a number of times to rest and needed a power bar break to get us to the top.  As expected we had only a short downhill on the other side – we are in the mountains now.

We stopped for a proper lunch at a campground halfway across the valley to Stanley.  The standard peanut butter and jelly on rolls.  We had to hand pump water from a well to fill our bottles; it was very cold and tasted great!  From there it was 15 rolling miles to Stanley.  The views in the valley of the Sawtooth Mountains were spectacular.

We had thought of going to Stanley Creek resort for the night but that was 24 more miles and it was already 4PM.  We ended up renting a great little solo log cabin in Stanley.  The owner had built a massive home, then built lots of little cabins to rent.  We got a tour of the home and it was amazing, huge log ceilings with picture windows facing the Sawtooths.  This is our first night in a hotel.  Earlier in the trip, we made an “official rule” that if our feet are wet, we get a motel.  With dry feet at the end of the day, tonight is a slight rule violation but the little cabins looked too fun to pass on.

We walked to town for laundry and dinner, plus supplies at the grocery store.  We devastated the all you can eat salad bar at the local dinner, they probably did not expect that from a couple of skinny cyclists.  It was nice to get some veggies. 

August 12, 1992 Stanley to Bellevue (78 miles, 2520 ft, $57)

Two nights in a row in a bed and another good night’s sleep – we could get used to this.  By 6AM we were wheeling the bike to the Sawtooth Café in town for breakfast.  We both had a big stack of sourdough pancakes, great way to start the day.

Before leaving we had to put on our tights.  It was cold enough that you could see your breath.  The 24 miles to Stanley Creek were slightly uphill, just enough to keep us warm.  We stopped at the resort, filled up bottles, had some cookies and prepared for the climb up Galena Summit.  This is the mountain that Jennie Longo annually kills her opponents on in the Woman’s race; we hoped to just get over the top!

The climb was long but too bad.  A cyclist who was part of a Backroads tour passed us – but the sag wagon was carrying his gear!  Still we managed to keep up with him and when he stopped to rest, we continued on, beating him to the top (who says tandems can’t climb?).  We stopped for a photo at the summit, 8700 feet, our highest point so far on the trip.  It was actually still pretty cool, which made the climb easier.  The views of the Sawtooth Mountains almost made you forget you were climbing.  The downhill was even more fun.  We had to stop twice to let the brakes cool off.  It was downhill all the way to Ketchum, though there was a headwind that cancelled things out so it wasn’t all coasting.  We stopped for a PB&J lunch at a rest stop half way to town.

In Ketchum we stopped at a store for cereal and suntan lotion.  Ketchum is the jetset capitol of Idaho.  We passed many multi-million dollar homes and were passed by lots of fancy cars.  At the store we could not help but feel like lower class citizens among lots of obviously very wealthy people.  It was nice to head down the road 15 miles to Bellevue, the town where all the folks who work in Ketchum live.  The ride there was a bit hard, headwind and lots of traffic but we made good time.  The RV park is a little dusty but had great showers.  For dinner we made noodles, ate a whole loaf of french bread and a whole cantaloupe.  Tomorrow we head for Arco, the “Atomic City”.

August 13, 1992 Bellevue to Arco (68 miles, 1460 ft, $49)

We slept through the alarm again this morning but still managed an early start.  Not nearly as cool this morning, since we came out of the mountains yesterday and are back in the desert again.  We ate breakfast at camp and were on the road by 7:10.  Nice tailwinds in the morning, though the road surface was very bumpy.  It was relatively flat to Cary where we stopped for lemonade.  We ran into 2 cyclists doing a round the world trip. They started in Ohio and were heading towards SF, then Fiji and beyond.  Much like on our first tour on the Oregon coast back in ’88 when we saw the cross-country people, we felt like wimps with our little 4000-mile, two-month trip.

From Cary it was a gradual uphill to Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Lots of lava, pretty recent in geological terms.  We stopped there for lunch at the visitor’s center.

From there it was only 18 miles to Arco.  We had headwinds but still made good time.  We found an RV park in the middle of town, not too nice but it will do.  We took showers, made camp and headed to the store for groceries.  We stopped on the way back for burgers at Pickel’s Place, which hit the spot. 

When we returned to camp, there was another biker there.  He was heading from NY to Spokane.  He was pulling a trailer full of computers and camera gear.  He was intending to film his trip and interview town’s people along the way.  He admitted that he had not used the camera much.  Guess the small town folk were friendly right up until he pulled the camera out, then they got shy.

We bought a new alarm clock today.  Either we are riding hard and need our sleep or the old one is not loud enough but with 87 miles and no short options tomorrow, an early start to beat the heat is important.

August 14, 1992 Arco to Rexburg (97 miles, 980 ft, $105)

We both slept great last night and did not have to worry about the alarm.  The new one even has a night light so it’s easy to check in the middle of the night.  The snooze feature got a test this morning but we still had a good start.  We ate and packed the bike in the dark and were on the road by 6:45.  It was warm already.

Today’s ride was either very boring or very inspiring.  It was nearly flat the entire way with nothing but scrub as far as you could see.  We rode through Idaho National Energy Laboratory, way out in the middle of nowhere.  All we ever really saw was sagebrush.

We did manage to find a small store in Howe, though the local folk were not too friendly.  Couldn’t really understand why not, can’t imagine they get bothered by a lot of people stopping in to chat!  By noon we had ridden 63.2 miles, a record so far for this trip, even with a slight headwind.  Later we stopped at another store for a snack in a place call Mud Lake.  That was it, a big open flat area, and a store, nothing else – appeared to be appropriately named. 

We thought we might stop further up the road for lunch but there was no shade for the next 20 miles to Rexburg.  We ate a powerbar while riding because at least if we kept moving, we had a breeze keeping us somewhat cooler.  Once in Rexburg we used to the yellowpages to find a campground.  We rode 4 miles out our way to find a dirt parking lot with no shade and a sign that said camping – don’t think so!  Back the 4 miles to town and the Best Western, $65 for a king size bed, very nice.  There are no other campgrounds so this will have to do.  The room was on the second floor and hauling the tandem up the stairs was hard work but the shower felt great and it was better than sitting in a dirt field.  I’m not sure we needed the extra 8 miles riding, almost made it a century today.

For dinner we hit the all you can eat Pizza Hut.  Seems we can eat forever at those places.  After dinner we had a quick dip in the hot tub.  Felt nice after a long day.

August 15, 1992 Rexburg to Jackson Hole (81 miles, 4100 ft, $50)

We had breakfast at Pioneer Pies – biscuits and gravy, and were on the road by 7:45.  We went through lots of rolling hills in the morning – the views were wheat fields with the Teton Mountains in the distance.  Seems we have left the desert for a while again.  Both of us were a bit tired from the last few days but we made it to Tetonia by around 10:00 where we stopped for juice and cookies.  From there it was only 14 miles to Victor, our planned stop for the night.  Vic’s (from Lowman) sister lives there and they said that we could stop there.  Arriving at Victor it was still only 11:15 and we decided that since Jackson Hole was so close, we’d push on.  Little did we know that those few miles were straight up the side of a steep mountain (more on that later!).

As we left Victor, Dave said that he saw a “funny” horse running across the road.  I honestly thought he was losing it until a little bit further, we saw a moose standing in a clump of bushes right by the side of the road.  It didn’t seem at all fussed by us and just stood there as we rode past.  It seemed huge – not sure if we could out-pedal one of those animals or not!

Soon after the moose, we crossed our second state line and rode into our third state, Wyoming.  Around the same time, we also rode our 1000th mile of the trip, 1/4 down, 3000 miles to Virginia.  But we couldn’t get too excited, as Teton Pass loomed ahead.

The first 9 miles of the pass were not too bad.  We were actually starting to feel pretty good about the climb.  Then we hit the 10% grade, three miles of it.  It was very difficult.  We had to stop three times just to rest.  Getting started was very difficult, as it was so steep that we almost fell over.  Even the cars sounded like they were not going to make it and you could sure smell the brakes burning from the cars coming down.  Eventually we made it to the top, only to find that there was no summit or pass sign for the official photo!  Definitely one of the hardest climbs we ever done.

The decent was just as steep.  We stopped 5 times to cool the brakes for fear of a blow out.  It was an easy 12 miles to Jackson Hole where we got a campsite right in town at the Wagon Wheel Campground.  Looks like a great spot and tomorrow is a rest day so all the better. 

We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and watched the nightly tourist show, a town center gunfight.  Back at the tent we watched a beaver pair feed on the reeds of the creek bank, the un-tourist show.

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