Open Road Press

The Ups and Downs of Bicycle Touring

July 17-18, Days 15-16 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014

I got up early in search of a great cup of coffee and, thankfully, the local coffee roaster was right across the street from the Riggins Motel, where we had a very comfortable sleep last night. And boy did we need it after biking 81 miles in…guess what…intense heat, again topping 100 degrees!

Farmland east of Cambridge, IdahoWe had an early, but slow, start yesterday through construction and an unfriendly US Route 95, with which we’ve developed a love-hate relationship. Route 95 offers awesome scenery, but treacherous travel. After a midafternoon Subway stop, we had an easy downhill ride into the bottom of a canyon formed by the Salmon River. You can enjoy a portion of that ride in the video below. You may want to reduce the volume due to the wind noise.

Bridge across Salmon RiverRiggins claims to be the “Whitewater Capital.” If you are a stranger in town, the locals ask, “Were you down on the river today?” I felt like saying, “No, I had more fun racing down the canyon on two wheels, not a rubber raft!”

When it comes to bicycling, however, what goes down, must go up. Down a canyon, up a canyon…there is no way around it. Today, we had 27 miles of high traffic zooming by us on 95 north before we hit the uphill out of the Canyon. Motorcyclist and DogWhen I stopped for my umpteenth bathroom break, a character drove up beside us at a highway rest stop with an eye-catching motorcycle helmet. He mentioned that his dog has done more in her lifetime than most people ever do! Check them out. (I did receive his permission. Not so sure about his dog, Uma.)

Tim Climbing White Bird HillWhite Bird, Idaho, does not have white birds that we could see, but they do have great lunches. We needed one before our ten-mile climb. We went from 1,400 feet above sea level to 4,400. We inched along at anywhere between three and five miles per hour, with wind gusts at the top that threatened to topple us down the adjacent embankments. We often chose to avoid eye contact with the unguarded drop-offs merely feet to our side. Our survival instincts work well. Due to our slow pace, it took three hours to reach the summit. Tim narrates selected portions of our climb in the video below.

Deb Climbing White Bird HillHowever, there was a silver lining. A slow ride up a gradual grade beats the intimidation and danger of riding the main drag, where trucks and cars race by us at speeds of 60 to 80 mph, while we try to negotiate a rumble strip on the shabby shoulder. In ten miles of bicycling on the old road, we saw only two motorcycles and four cars. We also saw impressive scenery, as the accompanying photos attest. Now that is bicycling touring!

My favorite part of the day was finishing it. Bicycle touring has its ups and downs, both literally and figuratively. Tim and I are both worn from some challenging roads and terrain in Idaho. Climbing stresses some of the body parts as well as one’s mental edge. We’ve reminded ourselves that it is important to pace ourselves appropriate to our capabilities, and to relish the beauty around and the time we have together. It’s time for another rest day…darn it.

One thought on “The Ups and Downs of Bicycle Touring

  1. Jim Burns

    Hey Tim and Deb,
    Holy Shamolie, my legs were in pain watching Tim’s video on the ascent. His groans when he pulled into that turnout at the top surely rang true. But on the other hand, what a vista. Just breathtaking!! I do believe that I will continue to enjoy it vicariously, though :O) Looking forward to your progress, my friends. Good Traveling…Jim

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