Still rolling!

  • We had back-to-back taco nights in Grant village, but the feature was the lemon tres leches cake – so delicious that it wooed a sugar-skeptical Alice. We may have also eaten ocho churros.
  • We rode to Grand Teton Park, and scored an amazing hiker/biker site at Jenny lake – losers who drive there need to reserve a site years in advance, but bikes just roll in!
  • We met several other bike tourists on various adventures, and marveled at their palatial tents
  • A black bear wandered through our campsite the next morning
  • We took a day off to do a hike – we took the ferry across Jenny lake and hiked up into cascade canyon – absolutely gorgeous! One of the top five hikes I’ve done based on effort vs reward! Frigid dips were taken, marmots were spotted.
  • We rode the bike path down to Moose, closed out the bar, and then rode back!
  • The next day we had a big climb, which would have been fine except for the hordes of biting flies harassing us. We found a gorgeous spot to camp at 9000 feet just below the pass. We spent ninety minutes setting up the most complicated bear hang. We went to sleep to the strange sounds of an unidentified bird that went “wub-wub-WUB-WUB-wub-wub”
  • We bombed down the pass and left the trees and lakes behind for the high desert prairie. We met several westbounders, including a man on an electric recumbent with an elderly cat in is handlebar bag.
  • We visited the national bighorn sheep museum and learned that cyclists should gene splice with bighorns to get their 340 degree vision. Also, all the bighorns are dying from pneumonia
  • We visited Sacagawea’s grave site, along with a fleet of model-t’s
  • We visited a very cool bike shop in Lander that gave us ice cream and beer. Also there was a very nice city park to camp in
  • The Jeffrey City bar didn’t have the same color that it had 20 years ago, but it was still a cool place to hang out, with a very sardonic bartender. Also, the cyclist hostel in the church is amazing and I could spend a week reading all the messages people have written on the walls
  • Caught another killer tailwind on the ride into rawlins, ate some delicious Thai food, and sadly said goodbye to Anton, who departed via u-haul to catch the train back to California (after u-haul told him there was no truck available for his weeks-long reservation and he was preparing to bike 180 miles in 1.5 days like a madman)
  • Had a very beautiful ride to Riverside, seeing dozens of pronghorns along the way. We stopped at Saratoga for a quick dip in the hot springs (before they cleared the pool due to lightning), and also went to a very cool cowboy festival/sing-along in encampment (with an acai bowl food truck if you can believe it)
  • Had a killer eggplant -based lunch in Walden, then found a wonderful campsite just below willow pass. Alice and I have greatly improved our bear-hang game
  • After a long descent, we stumbled upon an amazing all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet in Granby (with like 6 different pies!) we then rode to Tabernash to meet our amazing warm showers host, Bill, before Alice catches the train tomorrow morning

Holy cow that was a lot of catch up… I’ll try to be better about updating from now on. Here’s some nice pictures:

Alice and Anton and Greg’s Excellent Adventure

Okay, I’ll try to hit the highlights of the past week of riding:

  • We visited the adventure cycling association headquarters, and they were impressed with our instrument collection and took fancy pictures of us – we had to sign a release officially declaring us as models. We will do our little turns on the catwalk.
  • Camped at the fairgrounds in Hamilton, and were disappointed that there was no July 4th parade
  • Had a big climb up into the Big Hole valley – my memories of the insane amount of mosquitoes there still hold true – if we slowed to less than 15 mph, the black clouds of little vampire bugs that were drafting us would catch up and attempt death by a thousand bites
  • Caught a killer tailwind heading into Bannock – I hit 53.7 mph coming off the pass! We did the final 20 miles in less than an hour
  • Twin Bridges had an amazing bike camping spot – a special shelter with showers on a grassy spot right by the river. We met some other cyclists and had a little jam session, and then did a pub crawl of all both bars. We only left the Lost Cabin bar after they sold us eggs
  • Learned more than we knew we needed to know about brooms at the Nevada City historic ghost town. The broom maker was married to the tinsmith. Don’t buy brooms with yucca in them!
  • Caught some live music at a pub in Ennis by the most facially emotive one-man band you’ll ever see
  • On the road along the Madison River, we were thrice tempted with signs promising “cold beer” that only delivered disappointment. Luckily a woman named Tish empathized with our plight, and gave us some Modelos while her husband taught us the difference between wet and dry fly fishing
  • Yellowstone was amazing – we took an off day there to see more sights and to rest a bit. We visited a ton of geysers and pools, saw some buffalo, and went for a swim with a whole lake to ourselves! Saw two great ranger talks – one on why Yellowstone has such unique features, and one on “Scumbags of Yellowstone” We met a westbound bicyclist named Orion and shared tales over beers.

Ok, I’ll have to catch up the rest later… We are still having a great time! Now, on to what you really want – pictures!

Montana!

  • Late start getting out of Grangeville, after doing much-need laundry
  • Great weather for biking – 70s and partly cloudy
  • Had a crazy descent that was so fast/steep I had to stop several times to let my rims cool off for fear of heating my tubes and getting a blowout at 35 mph. I checked, and adventure cycling changed the route to use this road, which is why I don’t remember it being this nuts
  • Met a brother/sister bike tourist duo who were slogging/pushing up the other side. They offered me some pizza they had on the back of their bike
  • Started meeting other tourists left and right
  • Started following the Clearwater/Lochsa River, which I remember as being nice, but holy moly what a beautiful ride! Thick forest, wide crystal-clear river, gentle grade, and low traffic
  • Met a guy at my campsite (there were three of us cyclists there) who was doing the Western Divide trail – a mountain bike route over mostly gravel roads/trails from the Mexican to Canadian border. He told me a tale of a hill so steep he couldn’t even just walk his bike up it or else it would roll back down. Instead he had to inchworm his way up using his brakes. Oof! We stayed up late swapping tales
  • The next day was another gorgeous, easy ride up the Lochsa River.
  • Since I was almost a day ahead of schedule, decided to end early at a short trail to a hot spring
  • Found an amazing campsite right next to the creek on the hot spring trail
  • The hot springs were amazing – one of the largest pools I’ve seen (and several smaller pools). Met some pretty cool folks there
  • On Monday, I started the day with another soak in the spring, then lazily made my way on a pretty easy ride up the river to a lodge where I got lunch
  • Then I had to make a tough, but short, climb over Lolo pass. There was very little traffic though, so it was pretty nice
  • Bombed down the other side -which took me into Montana – and found a pretty nice national forest campground
  • On Tuesday, I slept in until 9, then I had an easy ride down towards Lolo, but it got increasingly trafficy/sketchy as I approached town. Then I hopped onto a great bike path that took me all the way into downtown Missoula
  • Got some lunch, then made the pilgrimage to the adventure cycling headquarters. I searched through their shoeboxes for photos of when I had been there previously. Those folks are always super friendly
  • Made a run to REI to sweep out my Nemo tent for a Big Agnes one… There were a few things I didn’t like about the Nemo Dagger
  • I was then rescued from my solitude by the arrival of Alice and Anton! We got pizza, beer, ice cream, and more beer before calling it a night at our motel

Through the woods and over the hill

  • Had a great breakfast in Council yesterday morning – omelette, hash browns, and 3 hotcakes for $9.57! Also, I’m pretty sure the group of seven guys at the table next to me was a city council meeting over coffee
  • Yesterday was great cycling weather – in the 70s with scattered clouds
  • Got back on the Wieser River Trail, and it was gorgeous – a lot of it was through thick forest. Sure was better than dodging logging trucks!
  • Rolled though the aptly-named meadows valley, before bombing down the hill along the Little Salmon River
  • Found a nice little spot to camp by the river
  • This morning I rolled past probably 50 fly fishers over 4 miles into Riggins
  • Another excellent breakfast featuring homemade jam on English muffins, and cobbler with homemade ice cream afterwards!
  • A mostly lovely ramble along the Salmon River, except they were repaving it for about 15 miles, and the traffic – especially the logging and ore trucks – got a little harrowing
  • Found a nice little beach so I could get in a quick swim
  • Finally got to the infamous White Bird Hill – just under 3000 feet of climbing. I remember this climb as being brutal, but it actually had all the features that make a climb enjoyable: virtually no traffic (it’s the old highway route), a steady grade that never got too steep, switchbacks to keep it interesting, and incredible views the entire way that let you track your progress.
  • I recorded the ride in Strava, which is always hilarious because it will tell you that out of 279 people who have recorded that climb, I rank 272!
  • Had a fun descent into Grangeville, ate dinner, and set up my tent in their very nice park. It would be perfect except that like every 4th truck around here has removed its muffler – gungagungagungaruuuuuuum!

Idaho!

  • Left the schoolhouse bike hostel and headed out into the eastern Oregon prairie yesterday morning
  • Met a group of eastbounders, two of whom were from Troy, Ohio… Buckeyes are well represented on the Transamerica this year
  • There was a roadside stop where you could see the ruts made by the wagons on the Oregon trail… But forgot to take a picture. There was also a Oregon trail museum, but it was like 500 feet up switchbacks, so I skipped it
  • The nice thing about doing this route again is that I can verify my memory of different places. For example, yes, that hill east of Richland, Oregon really is as brutal as I remember
  • Despite the oppressive heat (someone told me it was 104 when I rolled into the campground), I still managed to pedal 72 miles yesterday – mostly because I got around two feet down for every foot up. But man, that Richland hill was pretty rough in the heat
  • At the campground I met a guy who was touring around on a scooter. He said he was training for a race called the scooter cannonball. He had like 1/4 the gear I have, cuz it turns out you can’t pack too much weight on a scooter
  • Got an early start this morning because I had another big climb – about 2400 feet. Strangely, I didn’t remember anything about this climb. It was steeper and longer than yesterday’s – I think it took me an hour and a half to go five miles. Thankfully, there was some cloud cover to veil me from the angry orb in the sky – it even rained a bit, which was a nice change
  • Stopped at a grocery store/cafe with a large “No politics” sign on the door, directly above a “Trump 2024” sign. Again, forgot to take a picture
  • I picked up the Weiser River bike path from Cambridge to Council – about 16 miles. It was nice to be out of the traffic, but the gravel trail really slowed me down, which isn’t ideal for the end of the day
  • Saw a black bear on the trail – I think it was a small adult, but could have been a large cub, which made me nervous since we surprised each other at a distance of about 15 feet. I made a lot of noise, and was not mauled, so that’s good.. But also, no pictures
  • Managed to eke out 62 miles, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider my average speed was 7.9, meaning I spent almost 8 hours in the saddle today. Oof.
  • Had some really good pizza and beer for dinner, and now I’m in my tent, about to pass out

Lone Bum

After sadly dropping Mike off at the airport, I made the lonely drive back to Baker City. I’m now staying at a very cool hostel – the owners, Brian and Corinne, moved here from New York City for the art scene. They bought an old schoolhouse and put a lot of work into it to transform it into a combination art space and hostel. Check it out! https://www.churchillbaker.com/

Sad wrap up, from the Boise airport

Saturday morning we woke up in Dayville and had another great meal, including pie, at the Dayville cafe. We visited a bit with the new owner of the Dayville mercantile, and then headed out toward Mt Vernon. Sadly, the antique shop where I played music with the locals 20 years ago was no longer. We passed thru John Day during the hottest part of the day, so we sat and had a couple beers at a brewery before Greg insisted on a blizzard at the local DQ.

We ended the day in Prairie City, where 20 years ago we sat in a hot tub with a high school kid overlooking the Strawberry Mountains. We didn’t see trace of him, and his parent’s restaurant— the Branding Iron— appeared to be gone. We are Mexican food at a place called El Cocinero, stopped at the grocery store, and then headed back to camp.

However! On riding back to our campsite, we happened to see a back alley entrance to an apparently secret bar, the Branding Iron! We walked in, and Greg quickly realized that we were in the back of the Mexican restaurant in which we’d just eaten! Wild. We had a couple drinks, played some shuffle board and then retired.

The next day was perhaps the most challenging day of the trip. Three separate climbs totaling over 3000 feet, and heat over 90 degrees. We ran out of water just as we reached the 3rd summit, with another 12 miles to go before the campground (mostly downhill). It’s only the 2nd time ever while touring that I’ve flagged a passing truck to see if they were willing to give us some water. Fortunately a very nice British lady driving a white Ford F450 was willing to oblige with multiple bottles of cold water.

Union Lake campground on Phillips lake was really splendid. We got in with a couple hours before sunset, and had a swim before dinner and an early goodnight.

Today was just about 20 miles into Baker City, where once we spent 2 days carousing with world traveler and adventurer extraordinaire Brian Barrows. Greg tells me he has an entertaining YouTube channel now!

Anyway, we picked up a UHaul, and Greg delivered me to the Boise airport after we’d dropped off my bicycle at Bob’s bike shop in sprawling Boise.

I think it’ll be a few days before my butt fully heals, but it was well worth it to catch up with old friends in hauntingly familiar places. Till next time, keep the rubber side down friends!