Leading up to the launch of my memoir Hangry: A Startup Journey, each month I’m releasing a state-by-state recap.
For the original post, click on any Day number heading.
Day 61: Missoula, MT to Clearwater National Forest, ID
Over breakfast, Paul, Terry, and I discussed the coming ride. Our guide described in detail the narrow winding roads and the ever-increasing number of salt carriers and logging trucks. The guide also goes into great length about the difficulty that Lewis and Clark had getting over Lolo Pass, including the fact they didn’t have any guides from the tribe as they didn’t use the rough-terrain pass.
Courageously undaunted, we forged ahead. But, a couple of miles in, we met the end of the trail, forcing us to go back and restart on a new trail, which was stunning!
The mountains here are much more heavily wooded than the higher elevations in Colorado, Wyoming, and Southern Montana. We wound our way up Lolo Pass, past a rushing river and the devastating impact of a large wildfire from a few years ago.
Leaving the National Forest Center, we crossed the state line for Idaho, our penultimate state. I’ve now biked from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific time zone. My ride down the mountain was wicked fast, with speeds generally in the mid-30 mph range.
I almost whipped past a little turnoff for Devoto Cedar Grove, but stopped at the last minute. This grove is devoted to Bernard DeVoto, who spent much of his life interpreting the journals and history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I can see why he loved this place so dearly. Some of the trees are hundreds of years old. The pine needles and ferns cover the ground and it deadens all sound except the nearby bubbling river. I took an hour to sit in silence here and enjoy the beauty and peace of this little corner of creation.
Day 62: Clearwater National Forest to Kooskia
America, I have important news for you. Idaho has been holding out on us. Potatoes. That’s what you think when I say Idaho. But this state isn’t about sodding tubers. No, my fellow citizens, Idaho has cornered the market on pure natural beauty.
The ride itself was alternately wonderful and challenging by turns. The morning was exactly as expected, a nice and beautiful downhill cruise. But the heat started mounting early and wouldn’t relent as the sun came up. In addition to the heat, a wind funneled up the 100-mile canyon right into our face.
As the day progressed, we took a couple of breaks to dunk in the frigid river. Even that respite became difficult to enjoy because swarms of bees would become very interested in our bikes as we waded. As I rescued Persephone, I didn’t get stung, thankfully, but it unnerved me. Fortunately, that was as bad as the wildlife gets out west.
With such a tough day, I was having a hard time finding my groove and enjoying the ride. I finally settled down into some chill tunes in my headphones and went off to my happy place. I wasn’t thinking of much profound…just enjoying the view and feeling content.
I slammed on my brakes just as I passed Rye Patch Creek. I decided to take a break and wait for my British friends in the cool shade. A steady light breeze channeling down the small creek was about the most heavenly thing I’ve felt on the trip. I stayed there for almost an hour.
We rolled into a campsite/cafe combo in Lowell around 6:30 pm. As we poured over the maps for the day, it became apparent that we’d be having a hard time getting over the 3,000-foot climb tomorrow before the heat hit. We opted to push another 25 miles to Kooskia. After a pleasant evening ride, we settled down in a skeezy hotel, happy to have a shower and a place to rest our heads.
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Day 63: Kooskia to White Bird
The mounting heat is becoming enough of a challenge that I’m containing yesterday’s split ride again today. I plan on riding 40ish miles each morning and another 20 in the early evening as I pass through the high desert of Eastern Oregon.
I’m not one to sit idly, so on my afternoon break I take advantage of a laundromat here in town. The next couple hundred miles look to be strung together between towns of less than 100 people and the sweat in my clothes from these hot days is well…
These violet beauties have accompanied me since the latter half of the Big Hole Valley. They figure prominently in the Native American tribes’ histories of the area. They were used for various purposes, but I think mostly they are just very pretty. I’ve hit the area at just the right time to see them flowering.
The ride up to my afternoon break was one of the steepest and longest hills of the trip, peppered with plenty of switchbacks. Since the climb was a little cooler, I was able to enjoy the rich and fertile land around me as I climbed out of the 120-mile canyon I’ve been in for the last couple days.
Down the hill into Virginia City, I screamed along at just under 40MPH. After making my way through the former gold rush, ghosted town, we realized it was 2:30, and we had only logged 25 of our 74 miles. We reluctantly pulled ourselves to start piling on some miles.
While on our afternoon break, Terry, Paul, and I planted our butts in the comfy chairs at Cafe Crema for five wonderful hours of caffiene-fueled, pastry-nibbling bliss. Tuan even made an appearance. But we took the hint from the cafe staff sweeping to get us back on the trail.
As predicted we enjoyed 20 miles of blessedly cool weather. We got to the top of a 1,000-foot incline with no problem and then began a massive and steep descent towards the north entrance to Hell’s Canyon. I noticed the air getting warmer and wondered if I’d left the heaven of the cafe for the hell of the canyon. Since Cerberus hasn’t made an appearance, I figure I’m just in purgatory.
Day 64: White Bird to New Meadows
105 degrees. I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me.
We got out of White Bird early. The folks were friendly enough…but also crazy high. They were at least nice enough to offer us some pot.
Today’s ride was our third attempt at splitting the saddle time into morning and evening. For most of the morning, the temperature was hot but not too unpleasant at a cool low-90s. But, as we passed 11:00, the canyon air mounted, so we stopped off for a piece of pie and to cool off just after noon at a lovely little shop on the side of the road.
The middle 20 miles of the day were a grueling test of willpower. As the temperature broke 100, locals were giving us a distinct “ya’ll boys are crazy” look. We arrived at the Pinehurst resort a little early and waited until Juanita showed up.
Juanita made us feel right at home, and, with nary a word, brought out a big spread of food for us to munch on for lunch. She gave us some water and told us to take our time. It’s now a quarter to 6:00 but we’re enjoying a respite in the shade and a cool wind from the south.
We finally got rolling again at 7:00. The air was wonderfully cool as we began a climb we hadn’t realized was ahead of us. In addition to the slow going from the grade, the natural beauty of the road slowed us way down. We stopped for flowers, wildlife, and landscapes every 10 minutes as we wound our way up a now quiet highway.
Day 65: New Meadows to Cambridge
Fearful of another scorcher of a day, I set my alarm early, ready to jump on the bike and race against the noonday sun. Contrary to the forecast, a gloomy overcast drizzle hung over us as we pedaled up and over the hills south of New Meadows.
Ordering breakfast at the local diner was proving a little challenging as I was looking for some non-meat options. Even thought I’m full-blooded carnivore, a combination of events have me attempting a vegetarian experiment. Here are some of my reasonings, but if you want the full stories on these, check out the original post.
- Kansas Feed Lots
- The Cylon (aka Terry) and the Machine (ada Chuck) – their performance can’t be argued
- The Paunch that’s been attached to my belly since the age of 11
So what are my results so far?
- I’m much more aware of the food I’ve been eating and I’m more intentional to enjoy the flavors and textures.
- I have more consistent energy
I doubt I’ll have the willpower to see this through long term. As for this afternoon, I greatly enjoyed two pieces of carrot cake and now I’m sipping on a beer. Looks like I’m doing OK on the getting joy from food part.
…back to the ride. The rest of the day went pretty quickly. Jonathan and Jerry caught up to the Brits and myself at the diner. We rode together to Cambridge, arriving to our destination well before 3:00. We spent a few moments relaxing on the patio of the motel with a few beers before heading out for dinner.