We just made it into Idaho! Yesterday’s ride from Baker City was almost entirely downhill… One of the easiest fifty miles I’ve ridden. Now we’re riding to the flat, wide valley of the Snake River.
We had to say goodbye to Erin yesterday, as she veered south towards Boise to get a car back to Oakland. Andrew and I carried on, beginning a long climb from 2000 feet up to 7000 as we follow the Payette River into the sawtooth mountains. It was a beautiful ride along the rushing river yesterday, complete with cold plunges and hot springs. It so happened that we ended up camping next to the friendly folks who gave Erin and I cold La Croix as we climbed a pass way back in Central Oregon.
Now Andrew and I just loaded up with a huge breakfast to fuel our climb. Hopefully, we’ll meet up with Alice and Marcel tomorrow in Stanley!
Andrew and I had a great couple of days riding along the Payette River, stopping in hot springs along the way. We had to ascend up to 7200 feet, a tough, but beautiful, climb. The other side didn’t have much of a descent as we rode into the town of Stanley. This area is extremely crowded with tourists, but it’s easy to see why. Absolutely stunning views of glacier-covered peaks. It reminds of the Grand Tetons. All of the regular campsites were full, but we found a nice spot with a view. We then headed toward the lodge to do laundry while we waited for Alice and Marcel, where we were plied with scotch and soda while we waited for our clothes to dry. Alice and Marcel arrived from their sixty mile epic ride, and we retired to our campsite for beer, ice cream, and music making. A great day!
We’ll be going the Salmon River gradually downhill for the next several days – should make for some perfect bike riding!
This time, the adventure is starting even before I’ve left! During my final tuneup, I noticed a dent in my rim. The trusty folks at lucky duck bike shop suggested I should probably get my wheel rebuilt with a new rim. Unfortunately, they got the wrong rim shipped to them. They should have the correct rim by now, but hearing “what’s the latest cutoff time to make your flight” is a bit nerve-racking. Now I’m four hours away from when I need to be at the airport, with no rear wheel on my bike! But, old wheel or new, I’m getting on that plane!
I was a little trepidatious about my plan to forego the bike box and just put my bike on the plane in a large plastic bag – because my bike is so large, it’s hard to find a box but enough\n for it, plus it usually takes at least an hour to disassemble/reassemble it. With the bag method, I could just ride my bike to the airport, pop off the pedals and handlebars, and I was good to go!
Thankfully, the bike arrived unscathed. The only issue was that I had removed my rear derailleur in order to protect it, and somehow knotted up my chain while putting it back on. This resulted in me sitting on a train with bike grease up to my elbows trying to figure out how my cable ended up routed through my chain. But I made the connection with Erin without issues, even though my flight was an hour late, and the train from the airport was twenty minutes late.
Hey folks! Bonjour de France! We had another great day of riding along the river, almost entirely on smooth bike paths on levees. Some things I’ve learned:
Tomorrow we’ll be riding along the French side of the Rhine before popping back into Germany at Strasbourg.
What a great couple of days we’ve had!
We left the Titisee and, after a steep climb, had an amazing ride down the mountains through the black forest – almost entirely on bike paths! We stopped in Todtnau for lunch, and noticed they had a luge ride down the side of a mountain slope – we weren’t gonna pass that up.
We met back up with the Rhine and kept skipping back and forth between Germany and Switzerland. We stayed at a beautiful guest house overlooking the river, with our own private deck. 70 Euro, including breakfast!
Erin needed a rest day, so we used the Swiss rail system like a warp whistle from Super Mario Bros. 3 to bounce ahead to the next level, which in our case turned out to be Konstanz on the Bodensee (and not a land of water, pipes, or giant turtles). On the way we got to see the biggest waterfall in Europe, the mighty Rheinfalls.
We had a pleasant ride along the Bodensee – I thought it would be like Tahoe, but was a bit more like Erie. Then, we veered south and followed the Rhine into the Alps! We briefly passed into Austria, and camped in Lichtenstein, bringing the number of countries we’ve ridden through on this trip to seven!
Today had been absolutely stunning as we’ve made our way along smooth bike paths with towering mountains on either side – the Alps are steep! Tomorrow, I’ll going to try to make it over our first pass – it’ll be about 5000 feet of climbing from we are camping, so we’ll see how it goes!
Wow. Riding though the Alps has been spectacular! I had a long, tough day on Saturday, climbing about 4800 feet over 36 miles to get to the top of Oberalp pass, and the source of the Rhine – but it was absolutely worth it! Erin and I rode together as far as Disentis, where she smartly took the train to the top of the pass, leaving me to do the last 3000 feet / 13 miles on my own. It was a beautiful, amazing ride, full of jaw-dropping views and tight switchbacks. I only wish I had done it on a weekday, so as not to have to share the road with so many Ferraris, Maseratis, and many, many motorcyclists, all trying to take the hairpins as fast as possible.
I was pretty wrecked by the time I met Erin at the bottom of the pass – what a ride that descent was – in the tourist ski-town of Andermatt, so we took Sunday off as a rest day. Too bad we forgot that the grocery stores are always closed on Sundays! Meals at Swiss restaurants are crazy pricey.
This morning (after resupplying as soon as the market opened) we set off to do our second Alpine pass, the Furka. This was was even more beautiful than the last! It was also pretty tough – nearly 3000 feet over 7.5 miles, an average grade of 7.2%, but oh, so worth it!
After making it to the top, we started our rocket-ride down towards the newborn Rhone river, but not before making a stop to walk inside a freaking glacier!!! The Rhone is formed out of a glacial lake at the base of the Rhone glacier, and they have cut out an ice grotto you can walk through, preserved by layers of heavy UV resistant fabric. It was truly incredible – you could see little pockets of air that have been trapped in the glacier for hundreds of years. It was a little depressing to read all the signs about how much the glacier had retreated, and that it will pretty much be gone by the end of the century.
After touring the glacier, we continued our descent, eventually meeting up with the river and following it through more cute little mountain towns. Luckily, we made it to our campsite and set up the tent just before a thunderstorm started dumping hail down on us!