Bicycling the TransAmerica Trail

Cycling Across the US, Coast to Coast

Bicycling Adventure #3

54 days, 3,783 miles, Jul-Aug 2010

Ray Jardine

2010/07/23Idaho page 9 of 54

Day 9, Idaho

From Brownlee Reservoir to Riggins Idaho

Sign seen along the way.

I started out from the picnic area at Brownlee Reservoir at first light, and proceeded to tackle the next hill, a 2,200-foot climb. This type of country is so interesting, and on a bike you have lots of time to study it, especially while pedaling steeply uphill, going 5 mph at best. The lower elevations are sagebrush country, and the shade is lacking except when by water and the pretty cottonwood trees. Then you climb higher and get into the beautiful pines, and higher still the Douglas fir. And at that elevation the day is no longer hot, so you have to put on some more clothes for the screaming descent.

The pass at 4,131'

I coasted or pedaled fast all the way down to the little town of Cambridge, and enjoyed a filling breakfast in a café. The locals are friendly and seemed to be used to cyclists passing through, because they don't take the slightest notice of bicycle-type clothes. At first I felt conspicuous in my lycra shorts and gaudy arm sleeves designed to attract the attention of passing motorists. But now I'm used to wearing them, even in restaurants and stores. On my way out of the café, I met a farmer going in, and he stopped to talk in a most friendly way.

From there the TransAmerica route heads north for quite a ways, 150 miles or so. So for the next day and a half I wouldn't make much progress towards the east coast. The problem is the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho standing in the way. They are too rugged for any roads. So one must go around them.

Country store for cold drinks

Ten miles further I hauled into another little country store for cold drinks, and the clerk said she sees about 20 cyclists a day, and that last year she saw twice that.

Ten miles further and another small town and stores. A guy could get used to this, hopping from one store to the next. So nice, especially in this heat.

But by now the headwinds were slowing progress, so it took me quite a long while to reach the next town, New Meadows, 19 miles further on. In fact, I took a nice little break halfway there, at a campground in a beautiful forest.

I took a refreshing nap on this picnic table.

Reaching New Meadows I ate a late lunch, then climbed back on my bike again for the next stint. By and by, the road began to go downhill, and pretty soon I was flying. So on a whim I decided to try to reach Riggins, 34 miles away. The secret: stay on the bike - no matter how tired - and pedal like mad.

I reached Riggins, but as luck would have it, the town was having a festival, and people were out in droves. It took me a whopping two hours to find a place to camp. Well, naturally I'm picky. But I ended up camping on the very best place of all, right behind a fancy motel on a patch of grass, hidden from view. Never mind the sprinklers coming on in the wee hours. It sounded like rain, and I'm used to that. In my Spitfire under my tarp I slept dry as a bone, and by morning my tarp had dried.

Photo taken in the black of night.

Miles pedaled today: 111

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