Today was a heck of a climb, physically and mentally. I got off to a good start nice and early, around 6:30. The couple were just getting up as I was pulling out. I had a nice breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate then got ready to climb. Today the plan was to cross over into Idaho and immediately start a several thousand foot ascent. Nothing to but get started.
I rolled out and immediately remembered that my tires were a bit low. I stopped, pumped them, greased the chain then got rolling again. Immediately there was a 200 foot climb to really wake you up. After that the road ran along the Snake River for about 10 miles. It softly undulated as I enjoyed the scenery and sounds of early morning critters, and worried about the climb that was to come.
The celebration was shortlived as I had to now do the short steep climb up the side of the dam. It was brutal but over soon enough. I hoped it wasn’t a sign of the climb to come. The view from the top of the dam was just as awesome as from the bottom.
Time for that climb. It was fairly gentle, and the lack of cars made it almost enjoyable. The actual climbing segment was probably 7 miles or so, so not insubstantial. A river, the Brownlee, ran down on my right for most of it and the burbling was a pleasant soundtrack. Eventually after a 2 mile long left-right switchback I crested the summit, rested then saw that the summit was actually the top of the next hill. It was fine, just another couple hundred feet. The summit was in pine forests which I haven’t seen since Sisters. It was very nice
I rolled into the town of Cambridge at around 11:30 (having remembered to set my clock forward an hour at the border!). I stopped and got a burger at a place called Awesome Burger. The hostess that sat me was wearing a revolver on her hip, which was a first. I got a burger, salad, strawberry shake, and iced tea. All were great. I iced my bottles then tried to figure out where to go. There was an old rail trail that had been converted to a bike path (rail to trail) that I could take to the next town of Council. Alternatively I could follow 95. I decided to try the trail first. Within about 100 feet it was clear it was too rough for me and my bike. The gravel was large and chunky and the bumping was going to give me a concussion (exaggeration) and flat tires (not exaggeration). I decided to return to 95 instead. The traffic wasn’t too bad and it was 20 miles to Council, so I settled into it. Unfortunately within 5 minutes I realized that I had a flat. I guess that trail really was too rough for these tires. I pulled off at an intersection with no shade and set about replacing the tube. While doing so I realized that my rear tire was very worn. All the weight of me and my gear seems to have obliterated it. I decided I’d also rotate the tires so the rear had more tread. I should say at this point that, looking back, I’m pretty sure I had some form of heat exhaustion and it was affecting my judgement. My thinking was slow and it was taking me a really long time to change the tires. I couldn’t figure out which direction my tires rotate. Someone stopped and asked if I needed help and my speech was a little slurred. In fact, several people asked me if I needed help and I turned all of them down. That was until I put in my patched tire and it wouldn’t hold air. I’d patched it wrong 🤦I tried repatching it more and that also didn’t work. When I realized I had no working tube I got a bit worried, but not too bad because I was just outside town and had enough water. The next person who asked if I needed help I said yes. He was a farmer named Rob and we loaded my bike in his truck and he took me over to his friends shed. His friend had some tubes but they were too small. Rob called around to try and find tubes, but no luck. I called a number on my map and a guy named Tom said that he had some tubes, though they were the wrong size, slightly too small. I said it was fine and he talked with John the farm owner and got directions. While we stood around and waited like 3 more people drove up and joined. They all knew each other, knew the same people, and had for years. It was a very tight knit community. Tom brought over two tubes and I put one on. They worked fine thank God. I thanked Rob and all the others that had rolled up profusely and left. I returned to 95 and realized I could no longer ride on it: there was no shoulder and the traffic was just too heavy. I returned to Cambridge and even that was somewhat harrowing for the 1 mile it lasted. I found some shade and water and looked into options. There was an RV park with a hot spring outside town a ways. I called and they had availability. I booked a camping spot. My riding day was done. I rode over more dirt roads gingerly, to avoid more flats, and eventually made it to the park. It was not a good first impression. It was mostly a mobile home park, with just a few RV/tent sites. I got checked in for $15 and the owner showed me to my site and it was fine, nicely shaded. There was also free wifi and showers. I got my tent set up then went to the ‘bistro’. In truth it was just the ladies in the office cooking in a small kitchen. I ordered another burger and my god it was good. With a root beer float and shortcake I felt much better. I also think my first impression about this place may have been wrong, as they so often are.
I also realized that just over the hill from my site is a gorgeous view of the hills I descended.
Overall today was stressful and disappointing, but I made it, and tomorrow I can hopefully make some good progress. I’m exhausted though, so see you tomorrow.
- Hot chocolate
- Shot blocks
- Complete cookie
- Strawberry shake
- Iced tea
- Root bear float
- Ice cream shortcake