Friday, 30 June 2017

White Bird, ID

I climbed and descended White Bird Hill on a long and winding road. This old highway is now deserted apart from 4 cyclists going the other way. We swapped tips on where to stop. From the summit of the hill there were fantastic views to the bottom of the canyon, it was a great ride. I was to cycle along the canyon floor the next day.

Another lovely campsite at White Bird with a beach on the Salmon River. The rivers here are popular for rafting but I've not seen any rafters yet. For the last few days the evenings have been a pleasent temperature, no bugs or likely bears around so perfect for camping.

According to my map, White Bird has a population of 91 people. These 91 people have decided they don't want to live in a town without a pizza parlour so I rode back to the "city centre" in the evening for a pizza. Well worth a couple of extra miles.

I was joined at the campsite by some fellow tourers. 3 guys from California who were heading east and also Madeline and Adam. Madeline is cycling the Trans am route west to east and Adam is driving the support car, though he had his bike also to do some cycling when he fancies. Again we swapped tips on good places to see and stay.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Grangeville, ID

Today started with a steep hill with switchbacks. I was rewarded with great views back down to the valley. The road was very quiet as a newer highway has since been built.

The steep hill gave way to rolling hills among farmland. Spot the dear munching on the crops! I felt like I had the whole landscape to myself and it was beautiful riding.

I entered Grangeville which has a population of over 3,000 and so is by far the biggest settlement since Missoula. I also have phone signal for the first time since Missoula so I am definitely back in civilisation. Stopped at a lovely coffee house for iced coffee, with cream of course!

I can imagine Grangeville in the 1950s, it seems like my idea of a quaint American small town. The drugstore has been going since 1944. Unfortunately the ice cream parlour has closed or I would have frequented it. Staying at a campsite a mile out of town.

Today I hit the 1,500 mile mark. It is a further 670 miles until I hit the coast at Florence, Oregon. From there I will cycle 300ish miles north up the coast to Astoria to meet my friend in August. I have all July to do this so I can be a lazy cycle tourer - hooray!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Kooskia, ID

I wasn't feeling too good after 66miles in the heat yesterday, also the three rivers resort was too nice to leave in a hurry. I therefore slept in and enjoyed the morning at the resort catching up on emails and chatting to a friendly group of motorcyclists. Apparently the leathers keep the worst of the sun off - maybe I should consider a change in cycling attire.

I eventually got on my bike and made the 25mile flat hop to Kooskia. This puts me close to the bottom of a 3000foot steep climb which I can do in the cool of the early morning. There is a town with a campsite about 2/3 of the way up so depending on heat / wind I can stop there if I feel like it.

It was breezy today but unfortunately the breeze is like being blown at by a hot hair dryer! Lovely scenery though as per usual. The forest gradually thinning out into more open, barren landscape. Lots of large butterflies, yellow or white with black lacing. I'm pleased I did not hurt any snakes today!

Kooskia is a small town with an attractive riverside park, cafe and grocery store. No campsite but a reasonably priced motel.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Lowell, ID

65 miles today following the Lochsa river gently downstream through a forested canyon. Like most days I thought how lucky I was to be able to spend the day riding my bike through such a beautiful part of the world. On that note my bike has behaved itself wonderfully since the beginning of my trip.

I was travelling through the Nez Perce Clearwater national forest. The Nez Perce were the Native Americans who lived on this land until driven off it by the US army in the 1870s. After a series of battle they retreated to Big Hole, Montana- see my post from Sula.

I stopped at Lochsa ranger station which dates from the 1920s. A great place to refill water bottles, have a snack in the shade and admire the chipmunks and hummingbirds. In other wildlife news I'm sad to say I ran over a garter snake today - he was under my wheels before I saw him. Sorry snake!

The afternoon was much less fun as the temperature reached 36C. Pretty unbearable even trending downhill. I popped down to the river a couple of times to cool off and took plenty of breaks when I could find shade. I can expect similar temperatures to come so afternoon riding will have to be kept to a minimum.

I'm staying at the Three Rivers Resort, Lowell - a very comfortable room. They also have a pool and the owner confirmed that cycling shorts and a sports bra was acceptable swimming attire so I enjoyed a swim to cool down. The resort is pretty deserted and I'm glad I had my trusty rice and tuna with me as the grocery store here also appears closed. A lot of places I have passed in Montana and Idaho look as if they were once prosperous but are now closed or up for sale - a shame with such beautiful landscape and friendly people.

I've seen a fair few other tourers over the last couple of weeks, most travelling the opposite way. Vast majority are male and appear to be solo travellers, again a whole range of ages. I did see two other solo female travellers who were both competing in the Trans Am race. I met one couple on a tandem and seen two recumbent bikes. Also saw one African American cyclist, a very underrepresented race in the world of bike touring.

Powell, ID

There was frost on my tent this morning when I got up. How can it be over 30C in the day and near freezing at night? The climate in these mountains is just not British! No mosquitoes for a few days though so that's good.

I climbed to the top of Lolo Pass (having an easier time of it than Lewis & Clark did) and into Idaho. Idaho is my 6th cycling state and 4th time zone. There was a great visitor centre at the top of the pass with free coffee, a nature walk and lots of displays on the history and environment of the region. Mum will also like the 'wilderness patchwork', each of the local craft guilds contributed a square. I felt very welcomed to Idaho - though I've yet to see a potato!

Descending the pass was great fun - ten miles without having to do anything so strenuous as pedalling! The views were fantastic and the road wound through forest and then alongside a fast moving stream.

I stopped off a Cedar Grove where there was a nice short walk through 500 year old cedar trees - very peaceful.

I camped at Lochsa Lodge, primarily a hunting lodge as you can see from the photo. If you arrive by bike you can camp outside for free. At that price I was happy to pay $5 for a cooling shower complete with soap, shampoo and a big fluffy towel. It was very quiet and the night was warmer, I slept very well.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Lolo Hot Springs, MT

Today I ascended 1000ft over 40 miles to get to the foot of Lolo Pass. It felt flat all the way so I think the rest days did me good. To get to the top of the pass I will do 1000ft in 8 miles which will feel uphill I'm sure!

I got to Lolo Hot Springs by midday but didn't fancy tackling the pass in the afternoon heat so I got a space at the campsite. I'm a very lazy tourer! It's great having time on my side. Although I am carrying many things, a swimsuit is not one of them so I can't sit in the Hot Springs. It's far too warm for that anyway!!

I'm sharing my camping spot with lots of columbian ground squirrels. I'm really camped right in the middle of their home - all around me they pop up and squeak at me. One of them took a bite out of my water bottle spout when I foolishly left it unguarded.

Tomorrow I cross into Idaho. All I know about Idaho is that lots of potatoes are grown there. Shall I descend Lolo Pass and suddenly find myself out of the forest and surrounded by potato fields? We shall see.

The snow capped mountain pictured is Lolo Peak - I don't have to go over that.

That's All Folks

My cycling adventures in America have come to an end! I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I won't try a...