Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Day 76 & 77: Idaho, and I'll Scream it From the Riverside

Riggins, ID to Council, ID to Halfway, OR
Daily Mileage: 66.5 + 81.2 = 147.7
Total Mileage: 4,377.5
Average Speed: 10.8 / 11.8
Total Elevation: 3,019 / 4,297
Day 75
Idaho continues to mix it up multiple times per day. Today was no exception.
We rode a mile into downtown Riggins for $2.04 breakfast sandwiches at the gas station. Very good and freshly made with real eggs. Solid start.
What was gorgeous river views to end yesterday's ride seemingly ended right out of Riggins. It is roughly a 30 mile climb to our first major check point of the day, New Meadows. From here we spotted a bike trail on the maps that would take the rest of the day to Council.
No river here
It was a pretty forgettable ride until New Meadows. Especially after what we have riden through the last few days. The shoulder sucked, but for the most part I had no issues with the drivers.
As Idaho is wont to do, the gorge we were riding through opened up a few miles outside of New Meadows and made me much more relaxed to have a wider shoulder.
Really, all I kept thinking was that I couldn't wait to get to this bike trail. At New Meadows we got a map of the trail and it showed to be packed gravel. I can handle that, especially when there is a bike tourer on the front page towing his daughter.
After loading up on one dollar six packs of cinnabons at Family General... Or Dollar General... Or is it Family Dollar? I will never get it right. We headed on another small shoulder for a few miles until the Weiser River Trail. 
Wally loves his root beer
At first getting on the trail, I was disappointed. It was pretty rocky and I was spending a lot of energy, physically and mentally, on not falling over. I was bumping and sliding all over the place. I hung on though.
The trail improved slightly. From rocky to gravel, but not so packed, so I was still sliding around. At this point Marion and Wally ditched the trail for the small shouldered highway. David and I still had faith in this trail. If nothing else, to not be on the highway and get, as David puts it, "cornholed" by a car.
We rode slowly, a little further, Marion and Wally well far ahead now, and the trail went back to rocky and bumpy. I told David I was going to pull off and check the highway. The shoulder was now nonexistent and heading towards a blind turn. David and I agreed, screw it, we'll stay on the trail. Eventually David had the brilliant idea to let some air out of tires. This made the ride instantly more comfortable. 
As we continued the trail improved little by little, until it was too gorgeous to not love. Then, letting a little more pressure out, the trail became a diamond.
David and I really started enjoying the scenery coupled with the fact that this trail ignored any roads and simply followed the Weiser River staying true to its name, Weiser River Trail. 
Screw you highway!
Let's not fail to mentioned we were traveling downstream, thus we rode at a casual 10 mph downhill pace, exerting little effort.
We were seeing a lot of crap on this trail. The poop, huge, and looking like whoever was leaving it had a berry based diet. The only other people on this trail was a cute old couple who confirmed, it is bear skat.
I know you were dying to see it. Make a note, that's bear skat
There is no denying I would love to see a bear. It's really the only thing missing on this trip. David and I laughed and agreed about this, then he pulled over to move his bear spray to his handlebar pannier. 
This trail lead us right through someone's farm and as we turned a corner David says, "Oh my god I thought that was a bear!" It was just some big ol cows. As we approached we realized they were on the trail!
David and I looked at each other without needing to say a word. Our looks of "what do we do here?" was plain enough.
We continued to ride right toward them, slowly. They heard our tires crunching beneath the rocks and began to trot away. I looked back at David and we couldn't help but to laugh.
Cattle herd
We started herding the cattle on bikes! Then the big momma cow stopped dead, turned and gave us the, "Any closer and I'll drop you" look. We stopped, continued to laugh at this moment, and the momma cow turned and caught up to her calf. 
David and I couldn't contain our chuckles as we herded the cattle around 500 yards down this trail until they finally turned right, nowhere to go, then left back across the trail into the field.
Then only a mile or so later a few deer were just standing in the middle the trail giving us the classic deer in headlights looks, standing still as statues. The closer we got they finally ran off into the woods.
"Perfect!" David said. "We have seen horses, cows, deer, a red headed wood pecker, all we need now is a bear!"
Couldn't agree more. I felt like a kid at a carnival anxious to jump on every ride before getting in line for a candy apple.
We stopped for snack and I quieted David. I thought I heard footsteps, but nothing.
We hopped back on the bikes and not a half mile later I see a brown figure in my peripherals. First reaction, stump, second reaction, "Holy shit David, that's a bear!"
Did you see that coming?!?!?!?!
The brown bear, what looked to be a little smaller than me (it gets bigger each time I think about it) darted into the woods as soon as I passed it. David and I stepped on the pedals and crossed a near by bridge over a creek.
I paused here, too excited not to share with snapchat as David caught up.
It happened! The trip is made! I saw a bear and not only is the trip made, but Weiser River Trail is forever in my heart as the best ride ever.
To top it off, David stopped and began picking fresh apples right off the trail. Somewhere between the sweetness of a Granny Smith and crispness of... well an Apple Crisp. Fresh as ever. I picked a few more for Marion, Wally and breakfast; they fell right off the branch.
The trail covered David and I in dirt, but that is a small price to pay for one of the best rides of the trip. Not to outdo itself, the trail was paved for the final mile. I am elated.
Dirty girl
We arrived in Council almost an hour after Wally and Marion, but it was sure worth it. 
I almost paid $5 to shower at the RV site Marion was staying at, but I met Wally in the town park and was able to shower in the sprinklers and sleep there for free.
I celebrated with a feast of chili in Ramen, peanut butter & Pop Tart sandwich, and an apple and peanut butter.
I spent the rest of time at camp just relaxing unencumbered by my cell phone or any other distractions. One over looked part of this trip is being able to ignore updating my blog, ignore bike maintenance, ignore meeting locals, ignore it all and just sit back and watch the sunset and birds fly by. Nowhere to be except right here, right now.
Love Council's library mural
The sun began to set on a perfect day. I will let pictures tell the rest of this story.
Day 76
I didn't fall asleep until almost midnight. Yesterday jacked me up. Regardless, upon waking up I felt so good, still flying high off yesterday. My plan is to get to Halfway, OR for a free place to stay and a shower at the Presbyterian Church. It would be a long day of 80 miles, which I haven't done in a while. Wally, being the man, agreed to stay with me, but that probably means goodbye to Marion and David.
We didn't get a chance to say goodbye to them, I thought I'd see them for lunch somewhere, but no luck. I hope I see them before I turn toward Portland for a proper farewell.
Wally and I dominated the first 20 miles of the ride heading south averaging almost 15 MPH even after climbing two decent hills that reminded me of Kentucky. Except Kentucky didn't have clouds like this!
Quarter the way there, coffee time before we begin the big climb of the day heading back north. Once again, Idaho started out wide open and now we are back in another gorge, minus any river as far as I could see.
We climbed the hill dodging these scary black grasshopper/beetle/cricket things. They looked like a miniature something evil that Stephen King would think of. 
Alas we made it to the top of the hill. The toffee Cliff Bar with caffeine in it along with some classic rock, got me there. 
Six miles to go until we reached a little cafe for lunch. Our lunch is PB&PT (peanut butter and poptart, remember that because it's my new thing) and tuna sandwiches though, nothing overpriced and fried... Unfortunately.
The six miles down this hill were incredibly fun. Hills and peanut butter... They just don't get old. Now we're halfway (haha!).
After lunch, Idaho had one more trick up her sleeve. 
Snake River.
Six final miles in Idaho on Snake River was incredible. Winding roads seemingly floating above the river got my endorphins going again. Just like yesterday's trail ride.
We passed a dam, made like a bullet and shot down and across the river into my 15th and final state, OREGON!!!!!
More winding roads along Snake River. More beauty.
Wally and I scooted up a hill and made a 180 degree turn heading back south. Wally got a flat as we approached the gas station just outside of Oxbow where Marion and David would end up staying. 
Wally has been battling a cold the last few days, it has moved to his chest and the climb earlier was tough on him. The great lady, Diane, at the gas station felt his forehead to make sure he was ok. She could tell he was not 100% and wanted to make sure he was feeling well. Then she offered us free ice cream. Another gem!
We inhaled our ice cream and buckeled up for the final 14ish miles to Halfway. It has been a while since I have ridden late and had to battle the setting sun. I also forgot how beautiful the setting sun glows on the earth. Here's a reminder.
Labor Day Weekend!
With Halfway in sight, Wally got another flat...
He walked his bike into town about 2 miles and I meandered along side of him soaking up the views. Funny how the timing works. Without his flat and being forced to walk, we would have missed the parade!!
I am used to parades consisting of the town firemen, policemen and various associations and a lot of little league baseball teams. Instead, Halfway had all the aforementioned except instead of LL baseball teams, there were groups of girls riding horseback. Different worlds!
Also my town stopped allowing us to throw candy to the other kids; the best part of the parade. Halfway was making it rain laffy taffys and tootsie rolls.
The finale were the fire trucks, ah not so fast. I hopped in behind the trucks and I am pretty sure a lot of people though I was the 
81 miles down and a hell of a lot of fun. We are in Oregon with a roof over our head, munching on candy and relaxing at the church. Life is great.

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