Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 14--A Day Off...of Sorts

The climb this morning that everyone had told me was so bad, was not bad at all. In fact, there was construction, and I had the whole road to myself for a good chunk of it.
Didn't even need the one lane as they did not let any cars through until I reached the end of the construction.

I passed this sign before starting the climb.
Hmmm...I never knew...

It was just about 12 miles to the heart of McCall. I stopped first for some groceries, then at the Visitor's Center I asked where there was an eye clinic. It was just around the corner. I went there and asked the gal if she could fix my prescription adaptor for my bike glasses. She said she could. About 20 minutes later it was as good as new, and only cost me $5.00! After that, I rode to Ponderosa State Park. I had originally planned to stay at the Super 8, but the park is very close. However, it is the most expensive camping at $35.00! Well, it's still cheaper than a motel. I told the gal that I was glad I got here early, so I could get my money's worth!

I set up my tent, unhooked the trailer, and rode back into town for wifi. The park has wifi, but it is sporadic. I also wanted to go to a bike shop (forgot to do that when I was in town) to get more chamois cream.

When I came back, I decided to go for a swim in Payette Lake. Here's a photo of the lake.
This is the swimming beach. I'm not sure it can really be classified as a beach since the beach part is about a 1 foot strip! The water was quite choppy due to the wind and the boats and jet skis. There was a woman going out on a jet ski. She was clearly not experienced as she proceeded to tip the thing over not far from where she started. The guy had to get a ride out to her on another jet ski. He couldn't right the thing either. They finally towed it back to shore with the other jet ski. Who knew they were so difficult?

When I got back from swimming, I put the spare tire on the rear. The other one was looking definitely worn (but not completely--probably would be fine). This time I got the rear wheel back on fairly quickly. 

The rest of the time, I've just been relaxing. Tomorrow I hit the dirt!

Total miles today (to McCall, and around town): 18.3
Average: 7.03

Day 13--10 Hours Along the Salmon River

Yes, it was a long day today. But, before I get to that, I have to add to yesterday's post. First of all, I misnamed the RV park. It is Swiftwater, not Sweetwater (good eye, Dillon, my editor from afar). After I had finished yesterday's post, two guys came in on motorcycles. They are father and son, Tom and Tyler. Probably, some of the nicest guys I've ever met! They're doing a route that Tyler put together. Tyler is a pilot for Fed Ex and lives in Memphis. I'm guessing Tom is retired. Even though they, of course, cover more miles than I do, they are out on the road for just as long, if not longer. They suffer in the heat just as much as I do. 

Tom's bike
Tyler's bike. Notice the tires. They take the bikes on gravel roads if the gravel isn't too bad. 

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to both of these guys. They were overly impressed with my set-up, but I was equally impressed with what they were doing. As I was fixing dinner, Tom brought over this cool thing that Tyler had brought back from Shanghai. It was an inflatable solar LED lantern. When not inflated, it's flat. It was the coolest little light! Tyler had an extra one and gave it to me! I hung it in my tent and was able to read my Kindle by its light. The solar charge lasts about 20 hours. It's perfect for bike touring or backpacking...or, anything!

Okay, on to today's lonnnngggg ride. In my original itinerary, this was the longest day. Because of the 80 mile day with Jean-Paul, this was the second longest day. And, there was a lot of uphill. Nothing terribly steep, just long miles. Even though the temps finally were below 100 degrees, it was still warm (last night I didn't even go near my sleeping bag--I just slept on my sleeping pad). When I left Swiftwater at 7:15, it was 82 degrees.

It was beautiful riding along the Salmon River.
The skies were sort of overcast, and at one point there were even a few drops of rain (I actually wished for more!). 
Another of the river. 

There are lots of rafting companies on the river. I saw two of these rafts going through the rapids.

Just before Riggins I passed into the Mountain Time Zone. So, contributing to my long day, I lost an hour. Also before Riggins, I came to a fruit stand/market/hardware store. I had a slice of huckleberry pie and a bottle of orange juice. As I was heading out, a couple stopped to talk to me. The gal even helped me get MC and JP out of the jackknife position. They said they would wave and offer me a drink of water when they went by. I don't recall seeing them, but at one point I was off Hwy 95 on a side road through Pollock.

After the market, I met another touring cyclist coming the other direction. He crossed over to talk to me. His name was Tim, and he was doing a sort of convoluted tour from Southern California up to Glacier, then possibly to Banff and Jasper. He'd been on the road for quite awhile.

Anyway, I was riding along feeling like I couldn't seem to get much over 7 miles an hour. Yes, it was hot, and I was going uphill, but it didn't seem like I should be going that slow. Eventually, I discovered part of the problem. The front tire was losing air. Great...another flat! At least it was the front which is much easier. Unfortunately, this time there wasn't any shade. Once I got the tire off, I found the culprit. This time it was a thorn. Who knows how long it took that little bitty thorn to work its way into the tire to puncture the tube. It must have been a pretty slow leak because when I went to repair the tube, I had a hard time finding the hole. I'm beginning to wish Schwalbe made a Marathon Plus tire for fat bike tires!

Back on the road, I continued to plug along at a slightly faster, but still snail-pace speed. In Riggins, I had stopped at a mini-mart and filled two bottles with ice and water. At this point, those were gone, and I was left with hot water to drink. I still had three bottles of water, but hot water is less than delightful. I was poodling along when I came to a house that had a sprinkler going. The guy was outside. I stopped and commented how I would love to be sprayed. Then I realized it was the same guy from the pie stop! He asked me if I needed water. I said I would love some as all I had left was hot water. I went into the house and met his wife Lori, and 2 1/2 year old son, Scott (the other gal I'd met earlier was the guy's sister-in-law). Scott was adorable and very curious as to why I was in his house. They let me fill my bottles with ice and water. I was very grateful!

I still had about 17 miles to go to get to New Meadows. There was more uphill. Finally, I seemed to get to the top. As I crested it, I saw two touring cyclists coming up the other way. They were...shock of shocks...both women! They were both pulling trailers, one was a Burley Travoy. I'm guessing they were headed to Riggins, which would be doable as it was mostly downhill. They didn't stop, but waved.

I finally made it to New Meadows. The guy at Swiftwater had told me there was a Subway just as I came into town. I decided, since it was already after 5:00, I would stop and have dinner so I wouldn't have to take the time to cook. As I was ordering, my sunglasses dropped off my head and the prescription lens popped out of the adapter. I just wore my regular glasses the rest of the way to the RV Park.

I made it to the park at 6:15 (with the time change, that makes for a 10 hour day)! I've patched the tube, but I was unable to fix my glasses (I had them fixed, but when I went to pop the sunglasses part onto the nose piece, the lens popped out again). Tomorrow I will be in McCall (about 7 miles away, apparently a good climb). I think I'm going to only ride to McCall tomorrow. I haven't taken a day off, and I have 4 extra days. It won't really be a day off, just a short day. Hopefully, I can find someplace to get my glasses fixed. If not, it's not so bad wearing my regular glasses because of the shade that the Da Brim provides. Also, I can check out McCall a bit.
Here's a parting shot of an interesting sign I saw twice today. Good to know...

Total miles today: 65.13
Average: 8.56


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 12--A Fortuitous Meeting

This morning I got up at 4:30. I was on the road at 6:00. It was a pleasant 64 degrees. Unfortunately, it didn't stay that way for long. But, in three hours time, I had made it to Cottonwood. What is so special about Cottonwood? Welł, it is the home of the Dog Bark Park Inn. It's a B&B. I'd seen it in National Geographic Traveler magazine.
It's a giant Beagle!
And now there's a smaller one too! The grounds weren't overly fancy, but I still thought it was pretty cool. 

I stopped in Cottonwood for a mid-morning snack. Then, I was back out on 95 heading toward Grangeville, probably the largest town since Lewiston. I was feeling really slow, and it was getting hotter by the minute. I was thinking of calling it a day in Grangeville. When I got into the town, I saw a Subway. Even though it was only 11:00, I decided I'd eat lunch and determine my next move.

As I was eating, a couple came in. Turns out, they were also biking (or "triking", as they were on the coolest German-made recumbent trikes). They're Susan and Bob from Ohio, and they're doing the Trans Am. Lucky for me, they had the map that I, apparently, decided I didn't need to bring. I was able to take photos of the necessary panels. 

We chatted for awhile. I was feeling much better, and decided I could continue. Because I got to see the map, I knew how to go over Whitebird Hill. If I hadn't seen it, I would have just stayed on 95. As it was, the ACA route went up Old Whitebird Hill Grade. I'm so glad I went that way. It was a lot of climbing, but there were lots of shady spots, and, due to the lack of traffic, I could follow the grade of the road through the switchbacks. I found it to be quite nice, even though it was pretty warm (although, I think it would have been hotter on 95). Then I met the cows (Susan and Bob had warned me about them).
A couple of Bessies and their babies.

As I approached them, they started mooooving on up the road. I asked if I could grab onto one of their tails so they could pull me up the hill (they're quite speedy when they're trying to get away from a bike).
Hey! Wait for me!

I made it to the top in pretty good time. 
TA DA!

I started coming down, but I had to stop to take this photo.
To the right is the descent.

I came out of Old WBH back onto 95. I stopped at the summit sign for this photo.
The descent was very long and very steep (mostly 7% grade). On top of that, the hottest wind I have ever felt was blowing...sometimes in my face, sometimes from behind. I had to stop and take the rear fender off because it was getting pushed sideways and rubbing the tire. I had to brake most of the way down, just to keep it to a manageable speed. Plus, of course, it was the highway, so there was traffic. My lower legs felt like they were on fire! Down in Hell's Canyon it is 110 degrees in the shade. It must have been at least 10 degrees warmer coming down. I was very glad to get down to the turn to go into the town of Whitebird. Bob and Susan had stayed at the Sweetwater RV Park. I had planned to stay at Hell's Canyon Jet Boat place. I pulled in there (because it was before Sweetwater) and asked the gal about staying two nights, and doing a jet boat ride. Well, tomorrow, Tues., and Wed. is Non-motorized River time. So, no jet boat ride. And, since the tent sites were $25/night, I decided to go on to Sweetwater. Here it is just $10/night. Still, I'll just stay the one night. Here's the thing, after I complete the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, I will be coming back this way. Yes, that means I will have to go up the humongous hill I just came down today. On the Trans Am, it is considered the most difficult climb. I will probably stay here again, and do a jet boat ride too (just not camp there). The timing should be good for not a non-motorized day. I'm seriously pondering trying to get a ride to the top. I do not feel compelled to ride up it! 

So, here is my site tonight. It's probably the nicest site I've had so far on this trip.
Right on the Salmon River!

And here's a cool dragonfly.

Total miles today: 59.57
Average speed: 9.72


Day 11--Hotter Than Hell!

Even with the relatively early start of 7:20, it was hot, hot, hot today! I said goodbye to the boys.
Antoine and Alex

I retraced my route from yesterday to get to the River Option that would take me to the Lapwai Alternate. It was pretty flat beings it was along the Clearwater River. I eventually ran out of bike path and had to get on Hwy 12 (literally...the bike path spit me out onto the hwy). Along Hwy 95 (after it splits off from 12), I came to the Nez Perce National Historic Park Visitor Center. Ranger Roger was very informative about the history of the area. The Nez Perce Park is part of the Reservation, but there are actually not many Nez Perce left living on the Reservation. There used to be a town where the park is. It was called Spaulding. Some of the buildings are still there, including the old general store. 
I was lucky because Ranger Roger had to do some cleaning in the old store. So, another guy and I got to go inside for a tour (it's not usually open). It was a functioning store up until the 1940s. 
This is the couple that owned the store.

Since it was only getting hotter, I needed to be on my way. I ended up just staying on Hwy 95 to Lapwai. I stopped at the store there and got some chocolate milk, a Gatorade, and two maple bars. I at the maple bars and drank the chocolate milk. I saved the Gatorade for later.

Once I rejoined the regular route, the road started gradually climbing. In Lapwai (at 10:30) a sign had  said it was 94 degrees. I came to a restaurant/general store. I decided I would get more Gatorade, but they didn't have any. I drank a bottle of Dr. Pepper instead. I still had about half of the Gatorade I'd bought in Lapwai. 

When I passed Culdesac (yes, that is the name of a town), I had two options. I could follow the route, and do a steep climb up Old Winchester Grade, or I could stay on 95. The gal at the restaurant said 95 would be more of a gradual climb and there would be more shade (very important when the temps are getting over 100 degrees). I opted for 95. 

I climbed, and climbed, and climbed. It was very hot. But, as the gal had said, there were shady spots. I pretty much went from shady spot to shady spot. I finished the Gatorade, and was relegated to drinking hot water from my water bottles. Actually, it wasn't so bad (the hot water). It still kept me hydrated. 

I was probably about two hours into the climb when I noticed that bouncy feeling. Oh CRAP, I had a flat! Fortunately, I was coming up on a place where a railroad trestle crossed over the road. There was shade underneath. Of course, I had to disconnect the trailer, take all the stuff off the top to get into the bag and retrieve the spare tube. It was difficult to get the tire bead off the rim, but I finally succeeded by putting the wheel up against the guardrail and pushing on the tire. I found the culprit--a staple (arrggg...I hate staples!). I got the new tube in and pumped up the tire. Then I had to get the wheel back on. It took me awhile, and finally I layed the bike on her side and got the wheel started in, then brought it upright. I got everything put back together and continued on. Again, stopping at shady spot to shady spot. It's not that the climb was steep. I never even got into super granny gear. It was just so blasting-furnace hot!
Resting in a shady spot.
One distraction was seeing the railroad trestles up high. There are, apparently, 7 tunnels. One is even horseshoe shaped.

At about 4:15, I came to the turnoff for Winchester. The road was still climbing, but I knew I was getting close. In Winchester (pop. 303), I stopped at the grocery/mini-mart. I needed some pasta. All they had were elbow noodles (but it cooks fast). They also had ice cream. I had a bowl of Huckleberry. It was delicious. There was a guy named Aiden and his two boys also getting ice cream. Turns out they are from Eugene! They don't live far from Kyle and Mallory. I gave him a card for my blog.

From the store, it was just a quarter mile to Winchester State Park. I arrived at the entrance kiosk only to be told the campground was full and there was nothing for me. Having encountered this before, but having no problem, I persevered in saying that there must be someplace. The gal called Bob, the Ranger. He came up and told me the same thing. All about how he couldn't break the rules for me because where would he draw the line (how about at arriving non-motorized)? His logic seemed ridiculous, but he wasn't budging. I asked if there was anyone I could share a site with. He said no, I couldn't go ask anyone (apparently, that's soliciting--another no no in Idaho State Parks). He said there was a hotel in Winchester. I told him I didn't have the money for a hotel. We went round and round. Finally, I employed the crying tactic. I told him I was exhausted having spent the last several hours climbing in intense heat. I told him there was no place else I could go. At last, he gave in. He told me to follow him down to the shop area. He set me up next to the shop. I have water and a picnic table. The restrooms are a bit of a hike, but that's okay. He still managed to charge me $14.54, but that was fine. In the end, he was a nice guy, just a bit of an overzealous rule follower.

Now I'm going to go to bed so I can get a very early start on tomorrow's 56 miles.

Total miles today: 43.33
Average speed: 7.03

Day 10--To the Gates of Helł

LLast night Jonathan and I dined at the fine establishment of Tania's. It was...let's just say...well, it was food. Fortunately, the conversation with Jonathan was good. He's done quite a bit of touring in Europe. We shared our respective stories. He is calling this current tour "The Glacially Slow Glacier Park Tour". Since he is staying in a hotel in Lewiston, we did photos and said our goodbyes in the morning.

While the "A" (Antoine and Alex) boys were still packing their stuff, a local guy rolled in on his Terra Trike. He was the first one in Pomeroy to get a tadpole. Now there are 15 of them! His name was Lynn, and he was quite nice. He even let me sit in his trike. I gotta say, it was very comfortable. I see the attraction. The boys were ready to go, otherwise Lynn said I could take it for a spin. We exchanged cards.

The three of us took off. We knew we had one big climb up to Alpowa Summit. The boys and I planned to go to Lewiston to get more fuel, then head to Hell's Gate State Park. We passed Jonathan not far out of town (remember, "Glacially Slow").
Just before passing Jonathan.

Today was a first. We had a headwind instead of the much preferred tailwind. One advantage is it kept the temps down a little (and the speed too--dang!). Going up the hills, the boys got ahead of me, but they would take more frequent breaks. Basically, I was the tortoise and they were the hares. We finally reached the summit of Alpowa. There's a rest stop at the summit. We took a good long break there, and Jonathan caught up to us (I took his summit photo for him). As we were standing in the shade, Alex's bike made a ping sound. Another spoke had broken (his second). He flipped the bike over, and Antoine trued the wheel.
Poor Alex...not the best bike for touring.

Next up was the good long descent. The boys and Jonathan all said they don't like going fast down the hill (Alex with good reason). So, I went first. That was the last I saw of Jonathan. None of them caught up to me even on the flat part coming into Clarkston.
Still Lewis and Clark, and now, the Snake River.
Along the Snake.

When I came into Clarkston, I followed the map to a bike path that went along the river. I stopped at the beginning and ate some lunch at a picnic table. I called home to wish Nolan a good trip to New York and China (he leaves tomorrow). 

I've seen one of these types of signs somewhere else.

The bike path. The bridge ahead took me into Idaho.

I got back on a bike path in Idaho. It took me along the Snake River to its confluence with the Clearwater River. I was on a mission to get more fuel for my stove. The boys had found there was fuel at a Sports Authority. However, when I came off the trail and onto the road, I came to a Bighorn Sports store. I figured they would have fuel, and I was right. I got two canisters, as they have been difficult to find. Now I needed to return the way I came to get to Hell's Gate State Park. I was able to stay on the bike path all the way to the park. I had seen a sign that said the campground was full (not surprising as it is Friday). At the registration place, they assigned me to Site 1. When I looked at the map, there was no Site 1. They said, "Oh, it's just in the middle between 2 and 30." I paid $20.14 for a site that doesn't have a picnic table. I told them that Alex and Antoine would be coming, and they could share my site. So, if they show up, we'll split the cost. In addition to fuel, they also needed to visit  a bike shop to fix Alex's spoke issue.

I've set up my tent. It's about 104 degrees, so I (needing to wash my shorts and t-shirt anyway) went swimming in the river. It was nice, and I think I could have spent the whole afternoon sitting in the water!

Curiously, I talked to the guy at the marina. He asked me if I was doing the Adventure Cycling route. I said I was. Before I could tell him I was doing the Lapwai Alternate tomorrow, he said I would have to do the Lapwai because the road is closed on the regular route. I'm glad he told me that because I was almost thinking of staying on the regular route instead of backtracking back to the Clearwater River to do the alternate. I swear, I get lucky so many times!

Now I will wait and see if the boys will join me at the Gates of Hell.

Total miles today: 39.99
Average speed: 9.84




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 9--Goodbye Jean-Paul, Hello Jonathan, Alex, and Antoine!

Jean-Paul was heading to Lewiston (about 70 miles). I just wanted to go to Pomeroy, so we said our goodbyes.
 He was riding much speedier today and got ahead of me quickly. I could see emergency vehicles ahead about 15 minutes after we left the park. When I rode by, J-P had stopped. There was a guy in the ditch. Looked like a cyclist. When J-P caught up to me, he said it was, indeed, a cyclist. A lady had hit him with her car.

We rode into Dayton together, J-P stopped. I kept going. He caught me later, and that was the last time I saw him.

The ride was just wheat fields, and the occasional field of peas.
Wheat
Peas

I pulled off at a building where I could be in the shade (yes, it's another hot day...upper 90s) and have a snack. As I pulled up, I thought I saw J-P in the distance. But, I don't think it was him, because, later I met up with another guy in a yellow jersey. As I pulled up to him, I thought it was J-P, but then I noticed he had grey panniers. Not J-P...instead, Jonathan from Portland going to Glacier. We talked for a bit, then took off. He warned me he was slow. I got ahead of him. 

About 5 miles later I pulled off at a restroom. I set up my chair, and fixed myself some lunch. I saw Jonathan go by. Pomeroy was just another 9ish miles, but it was quite hot, and those miles seemed to go by very slowly. Finally I rolled into town. My plan was to camp at the fairgrounds. But first, I wanted ice cream! As I was rolling through the town, I saw a sign for ice cream at The Bean Counter. I also saw Jonathan's bike parked out front. I parked MC and JP, and went inside. They also had smoothies so I got that instead. I joined Jonathan outside. He had asked about camping at the City Park. They said yes, so I decided to go there too. There is a pool with showers and, of course, restrooms at the park. The only concern was the sprinkler situation. Fortunately, we encountered the sprinkler guy. He told us where there wouldn't be any sprinkling happening. We set up our tents there.

We both went over to the pool. I opted to swim (best $1.75 I've ever spent!), Jonathan just showered (free). The pool was delightful! After swimming, I showered and came back to the restrooms to wash my shorts.

As I was hanging my shorts, swimsuit, and towel on the fence, a couple more cyclists showed up. They are Antoine and Alex. They are riding from Portland to DC. Turns out, I had met them before. They were the two guys I saw in Roosevelt that asked me about the road construction. They didn't stay at Roosevelt, but instead went on to Crow Butte. Now they are here. I'm not sure how I managed to get ahead of them, but I suspect they have been doing some creative route finding. They were also at Lewis and Clark Trail SP last night, but I didn't see them.

So, we have a nice little group here tonight at the Pomeroy City Park. And...it's another free night of camping!

Total miles today: 41.45
Average speed: 9.46mph

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 8--Because I Can!

Last night, after being declined twice by CouchSurf hosts, Jean-Paul and I decided we would share a hotel room in Walla Walla. I wasn't too enthusiastic about this idea because I didn't really want to stay in a hotel, and I wasn't too sure about Jean-Paul. In fact, overnight I was thinking of how I could get out of the plan. Welł, I needn't have worried, because we changed our plan. I'll get to that in a minute. 

Because I had the option of paying for last night in the morning, I did that. I went up to the office on my way out. Bob was there. I said I needed to pay. He said, "Didn't you pay yesterday? Oh no, that's right, you didn't. Welł, have a nice day and be safe out there." So, another free night of camping!

Jean-Paul and I hit the road at about 7:30. Once we were out of Umatilla, we were on Highway 730. It had a good shoulder, but a fair amount of big truck traffic. There was almost no wind at first.
Me and Jean-Paul riding along.
Jean-Paul from behind. Note only rear panniers and rack bag.

Last night Jean-Paul said we would ride together to Walla Walla. I told him I would be slow. He said it was okay. Well, I was actually faster! Okay, okay...he is quite a bit older than me (he's 71), but still...I told him tonight that the reason I carry all the weight is, because I can!

Anyway, we were making good time, having done more than 20 miles before 9:30. We stopped to take a break as we came back into Washington. Jean-Paul said he would probably not stay in Walla Walla. I was thinking I wouldn't either. At the rate were we're going, I thought I could make it to Lewis and Clark Trail State Park on the other side of Waitsburg. That would be about 80 miles. So we changed our plan and I was happy. 
Back in Washington 

Here's a couple more photos before we left the river.

Interesting rock.

At about 11:30, we pulled into Touchet. There was a mini-mart there. We took a break. I had ice cream and a Gatorade. Jean-Paul had a big bottle of Dr. Pepper and two Nestle Crunch bars. The dude does like his sugar! 

We had 17 more miles to Walla Walla. We went by the Whitman Mission turnoff, but didn't go. Here's some info about it.
The actual Historic Site was a ways off the route.

In Walla Walla we had lunch at Subway (Jean-Paul was agreeable). After lunch J-P went to the bike shop across the street and bought a new tire. His tires are good, I think he just wanted a spare. Then, I wanted to restock groceries, but J-P wanted to wait until Waitsburg. So, I told him to go ahead, I would see him at the park. I went to Safeway.

It was about 16 miles from WW to Waitsburg. There was a long climb, but then a long downhill. As I came into Waitsburg, I saw this curious "horse".
He was the only horse in the pasture that looked like a camel. Apparently, it's name is Izzy (Izzy a horse? I don't think so!).

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I found J-P at the park and we are in the Primitive Sites. We split the cost of one site. So far, that makes 4 nights of free camping, 2 nights of paying half, and 2 nights of paying the full price. Not too bad!

Total miles today: 80.4
Average: 10.8 (a new high!)