Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day #8: Half 'n' Half

Today's Route: Lowell, ID to Powell, ID (74 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 360

Lots of things can be broken down into halves. Oranges can be cut into halves. Paper can be torn into halves. And rides can be divided into halves.

The first part of today was absolutely amazing. I was in la-la land, drinking in the beautiful Idaho scenery. I was becoming more and more intoxicated with each passing mile.

I loved being able to see the rocks at the bottom of the river. I loved having the birds soar aside me. And there were gorgeous yellow and black butterflies that would flutter by. I'm pretty sure I saw some unicorns, too.

Words cannot describe the beauty of this route. Or at least, my words can't describe the beauty of this route.

The beautiful Split Creek Pack Bridge.

The perfect little swimming spot.

The difficult thing about today's ride was having to continually adjust my gaze from one side of the road to the other. I'm surprised I didn't suffer from whiplash.

Old Man Creek caught my eye on the right side of the road.

But directly across the way was this waterfall from Tumbler Creek.

While I love the water, I definitely consider myself to be more of a mountain girl. If you were to have asked me yesterday, I would have said that the most beautiful place I have biked was the stretch of highway from Carmel to Big Sur, along the Pacific Coast. If you were to have asked me today, I would have said it's a toss-up between the aforementioned stretch along Highway 1 and the stretch biked today along the Lochsa River.

Biking along Highway 1 last year.

While I'm loving the land of Idaho, I'm not so sure that I'm loving the people of Idaho. They seem to be quite fearful and pessimistic. (Note to self: Check to see if Idaho is a red state.)

For example, I stopped in Kamiah yesterday to use an internet station at the Chamber of Commerce. A woman working there asked where I was headed. I told her. She asked if I was aware of the elevation gain required to reach Lolo Pass and if I was aware of the fact that there were "absolutely no services" (and I quote) between Kamiah and Missoula.

Elevation gain? Check. No services? No check. I don't need food; I've got plenty with me. I don't need a hotel; I have my tent. I don't need a bathroom; I'm comfortable peeing behind a bush. Hell, I'm comfortable peeing by the side of the road in plain view! In a pickle? There are emergency call boxes every so often, and I'm sure I could flag down someone in a pick-up truck to give me a lift. Need a pickle? Well, that would be a problem; I didn't pack any pickles.

One of the dudes working the stop/slow sign at yesterday's amusement park asked (and you must read this at the slowest rate you possibly can, with the slowest drawl possible): "I... don't... know... why... anyone... would... want... to... ride... a... bicycle... up... Lolo... Pass."

And then there were the two motorcycle dudes at the campground last night. They had passed me a few towns back, and they came over to say that I had made good time into camp. (Mind you, these are really sweet, old motorcycle dudes.) They were surprised to see that I was a "lady." [Insert gasp here.] They said there is no way they would approve of their daughters bicycling alone. They said that the world is a bad place and that many bad things can happen. One of the guys said that I was probably giving my dad a stroke by going on this trip.

Funny he said that. My dad suffered a stroke eight years ago.

Sure, bad things happen. But I choose not to live in fear. I prefer to see the beauty and goodness in the world. I feel sorry for these people; I feel as though they are not allowing themselves to live life to the fullest. By the same token, I've come to realize and appreciate differences among people. It's what makes the world go round.

Last night I had my first camp with fellow bike tourists. When I arrived, Mick and Gary already had their tents set up. They welcomed me to camp, and we shared chit-chat about our routes and bike backgrounds. Mick and Gary, who are both from the UK, are biking the Trans Am route, which goes across the center of the United States, from Astoria, OR to Yorktown, VA. For a few days, the Trans Am route and the Lewis & Clark route (which I'm currently biking) share the same roads.

I left camp this morning while Mick and Gary were having breakfast. They caught up around mile 20, and we spent some more time talking on the side of the road. It was neat to hear their perspective on the US and its citizens. I ran into them one final time today as I was pulling into camp.

You can read Mick and Gary's blog here.

Gary & Mick.

There was about 2,000 ft of climbing today. But it was very gradual. I rode the entire day in my middle chainring, and only moved up or down one or two gears to adjust for the elevation changes.

The only obvious sign that I was gaining elevation (aside from the elevation charts on my map), was the Lochsa River, which I rode alongside for the entire day. It got more and more rough the higher I climbed. Lots and lots of rapids. I saw a few rafters prepping their boats alongside the river, getting ready to put in. But I didn't actually see any rafters in motion down the river.

'Twas a great first half of the ride.

And then there was the second half. I totally hit a wall about 30 miles into the ride. I'm not sure what's to blame. Perhaps too little sleep? (The birds start chirping earlier and earlier every morning, and I'm a light sleeper when it comes to chirping birds.) Perhaps I wasn't hydrating or eating enough? Perhaps it was just one of those low energy days?

Or perhaps it was the discomfort from tweaking my back earlier in the morning. Yeah, ouch.

I picked up my bike this morning to move it over a few inches so that it would lean up against a bench. I heard (and felt) a tearing sound in my back. Outloud I remember saying, "We'll, this isn't good."

I popped an ibuprofen right away and then spent a few minutes stretching the heck out of my back. I needed to ride today. Rest was not an option. Plus, I'm of the frame-of-mind that movement is the best thing for a sore back.

Lesson learned: If at all possible, do not lift the bike. It's too mother f-ing heavy!

As I've gotten older, I've become better at endurance activities, whether physical or otherwise. I've learned to break difficult tasks into smaller steps. I've learned to take frequent breaks. And I've learned to keep moving through the difficult times.

So, I broke the final 20ish miles into smaller segments, and I stopped every few miles to stretch and eat. The coping skills were a success, and I made it through the ride, arriving into camp around 3pm.

One of my rest stops. Tired, but still smiling.

I had plenty of time to take a sink bath and to do some laundry. Also in the sink.

Drying out the laundry.

There was a little prairie dog field across from my campsite. It was fun to see the little dogs pop up their heads, chase each other around, and then disappear into their little caves.

Fish branding on the campfire stool.

I got my first two mosquito bites. I didn't think I was going to have to deal with those boogers until Minnesota.

The campsite had been described as "primitive." To me, that generally means no flush toilets, no electricity, and no water. So, I filled up my dromedary this morning with a few extra liters of water. The water was for cooking dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow and also to refill my bottles before I make the final climb over Lolo Pass tomorrow morning.

Alas, this is the most modern primitive campsite I've ever seen. Water, electricity, and flush toilets! Guess I didn't need to carry the few extra pounds of water with me. Oh well! What doesn't kill me will make me stronger.

My dromedary, which affectionately earned the name of "The Boob" on my Selkirk bike trip.

Things can be broken down into thirds, too. Now, if we were to divide the day into thirds, it would go like this: enjoyable ride, less enjoyable ride, enjoyable time at camp.


  1. Not the first time we've carried that boob full of water for no real reason...

    1. Of the three times I've carried a full boob on a bike trip, it's only been milked once. :)

  2. Ba ha ha! Got water? ~Cassie


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