Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pull Over NOW!

7/27/09 - Day 2 of riding

Today was a great ride. A little of everything for everyone. In fact, so much happened today that I really have a hard time remembering that all the events only happened today! We started with a mission. Eric, we discovered, is a little harder on his hardware than I am. Although we have the same bike buckets - built the same way, by the same person (me), mine have held up fine. But at the end of yesterday, it was clear that Eric's weren't up for the rest of the trip. And since we are biking out of the range of any normal human contact... and bike shops... we really needed to fix this problem. Yesterday we decided that the best solution would be to find some bungee cords to relieve the lateral stress on the hooks... now all we needed in CDA was a hardware store, right? No dice. None were open within biking range. So we decided that we should wait for Plummer - which, we confirmed, had a hardware store.

So, after getting up (at 5:15 am!!!), eating breakfast, and checking out of the resort we were staying in, we caught a free bus shuttle down to Plummer. With the exception of Kyle's near-meltdown about his bike (and rightfully so, I might add...) we set off. The first 6 miles were beautiful - on a short leg of the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes. Then we cut across on a short road, and connected to Hwy 5 to get to St Maries; where we will pick up the Old Milwaukee Railroad multi-use trail.

Hwy 5 was a zoo. Now, mind you, we are used to riding on country roads - even highways... but this one was full of logging trucks! Did you know that because logging trucks carry trees (which, by nature are skinny), they feel like they don't take up much of the lane, therefore they don't yeild any of the lane to a cyclist? Interesting... We spent about 10 miles getting buzzed by all the logging trucks, and taking it in stride. Of course this was the moment I realized that Chad would never, ever, ever go on this trip - at least not the way we went. Neither would he ever let Tyha go (sorry Tyha).

Note: Idaho drivers don't yield the roadway to people, or bikes...

So, we were taking it in stride... up one hill, down another, buzzed by a logging truck, etc... until we began climbing one hill... and never went down. In fact, we never leveled off! We kept climbing and climbing and climbing. Now, biking in heat (yes, it was in the 90's today) is one thing... but if you're actually moving, you have a breeze to cool you off... it's pleasant. Kinda. But biking up a monster hill in the heat is very, very different. I am convinced it is the longest, hardest climb I have yet made on a bike.

After the hill of death, we were a bit tired, and pedaling a bit slower.. but still going a good pace. Unfortunately, this stretch of road is filled with blind corners and switchbacks, and NO shoulder, because pavement is at a premium. I always get a little panicked when biking on roads like that... but nothing - NOTHING beats our experience at the turnout area. All four of us were pedaling around a corner with a generous shoulder, when I called out "car" for the other bikes in the lead. When I turned around to confirm with my eyes what my ears had heard, it was a lead truck, with the sign "oversized load" on it. Oh, (insertanykindofbadwordyouwantrighthere) and yelled "WIDE LOAD!!! PULL OVER NOW!!!" After pulling over, we all saw two halves of a mobile home take up both lanes and about 6 feet of the shoulder as it negotiated the switchback corner that we were on. After several minutes of shaking in our boots, we finally thanked God for giving us a turnout area, and continued on...

After arriving in St. Maries and having lunch - ooh, and finding a great coffee house... we continued on the Milwaukee Road - which is a gravel road. Almost 20 miles on a gravel road. Note to self: Gravel roads take much, much more energy and time than paved roads. In touring, there should be miles, and then "gravel miles" which are roughly 3x as difficult as normal miles. Yep. We were tired when we pulled in to Big Eddy Motel. Aah, what a day!

Ooh, two things along the way are worthy of note: First, when we started our ride, there were grasshoppers everywhere... I mean everywhere! All over the trail, flying through the air, etc... Even trying my hardest, I couldn't avoid hitting them. If I dodged a grasshopper, he would make an attempt to jump out of the way, and fly under my wheel - or worse yet, one actually jumped into my spokes - and came out the other side in pieces... (no joke!). I had 3 grasshoppers fly into my face - with one bouncing off my bottom lip, while my mouth was open.

As if gajillions of grasshoppers wasn't enough, on the Milwaukee trail, we found the corpses of hundreds of dead, dried up frogs. Everywhere... So, a plague of locusts, and a plague of frogs. What exactly is in store for us on this trip? Oh, yeah - Big Eddy... that's what :)

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