We knew about the sprinklers in the town park so five of us, we three and two eastbounders, set up tents under the pavilion. Mark set his up in the sandy, kids’ playground area. As it turned out, only Corey and I escaped the spray.
After breakfast at the town cafe we headed south to the town of Stites where we crossed the south fork of the Clearwater River to begin the climb that looked nasty on our Adventure Cycling maps. At the base of the climb a flag man advised us to take a detour because a road crew was spreading oil on the road ahead. This was part of the chip seal paving process.
The detour was every bit as nasty as the main route. The climb was steep and steeper, peaking at a 10 percent grade. (Other riders report the grade on the official route was, at one point, 25 percent.)
Three weeks ago this would have been impossible but the combination of a recent day off and three weeks of riding and climbing at altitude made it doable. I never ran out of breath though my legs were on fire from time to time.
After ten miles we reached the top and rode some rather daunting rollers to the county seat town of Grangeville.
Mark took his ticket to the magistrate’s office and arranged to have his case heard via Zoom in early August. We’ve all been playing Perry Mason in our heads over the past day so we’re confident that Deputy Fife’s ticket will be voided.
After a rather unsatisfactory lunch we headed out for another climb fest on old US 95. This was not as steep but it did punish us. Mark and Corey were way ahead of me. I stopped to take off my jacket and made a couple of friends.
When we came over the top, the downgrade was crazy steep! I had to feather my rim brakes to maintain control. This causes the rims to heat up. Care needs to be taken to make sure the heat build up doesn’t cause a tire failure (kaboom!). Corey and Mark have disc brakes and could let ‘er rip.
Also we were riding on chip seal with fresh gravel. So we all needed to ride under control in case we hit a gravel patch.
We briefly popped out onto new, smooth US 95 where traffic was passing super fast. I stopped to check my rims and my front rim was very hot. I waited for it to cool down before continuing. Soon we were back on good old gravely Old 95 again.
We came to a turn and there before us was an amazing landscape of rounded hills with folds between and within them, such a change from the densely wooded landscape of the past couple of days.
The descent was a series of steep switchbacks. The disc brake boys took off. I stopped now and then to cool my rims. On one curve ten horses were grazing on the road. They let me pass, probably recognizing The Mule as a kindred spirit.
We ended our day in the small town of White Bird at about the same elevation as we started. 3,500 feet up, 3,500 feet down give or take a switchback.
We had defeated the two-headed mountain beast, only to face similar climbing challenges in the days ahead. We rented a motel room with air conditioning and three beds for $100.
Miles today: 43.5 Tour miles: 2,528.5