Bike Tour 2022 – Hells Canyon seedy motel to Baker City

The day began with breakfast al fresco. Oatmeal for Corey and Mark, PB&J for me.

Yesterday Mark had the first puncture since mine on May 22 at the very start of the ride. He pumped it up a couple of times and rode all day. This morning it was flat again. We all looked in vain for the cause. Mark patched a second hole and pumped it up. It stayed inflated all day.

Our route took us along a reservoir formed by the Brownlee Dam across the Snake River. We crossed over a bridge into Oregon and rode along a second lake formed by the Oxbow dam. Idaho does love its hydro. It’s not so good with truck traffic or road design. We were all happy to bid it farewell.

Corey spotted a bald eagle over the lake seeking breakfast. After a few passes the eagle landed a fish. I came upon a rafter (that’s what it’s called) of wild turkeys in the road. They dispersed as I passed by.

We started climbing away from the lake and encountered an eastbound rider. He was from France and was riding a custom made titanium bike. An approaching car ended our conversation.

At the top of the hill, I stopped to watch and cheer on a young woman climbing from the other side. She was a strong rider and looked to me like a younger version of a family friend named Claire. Her name was Fanny and she, too, was French. She started in Oakland, made her way up the coast then turned east to check out Crater Lake. She did not know the Frenchman but she did mention camping with a guy named Keith in the town of Halfway.

We stopped at a convenience store for nutritious food. Having none, the store sold me Pop Tarts and Gatorade. To its credit it had the cleanest porta potty I’ve ever used.

Back on the road we met yet another eastbounder. He was 70 years old, I later learned. “Ten years ago this was fun, now it’s work.” Hard earned wisdom.

A few miles further on, Corey and Mark met up with yet another eastbounder. It was Keith Adams (Franny’s camping friend). I met Keith during my first 50 States Ride in DC in 2006. We did another ride or two together before parting ways. Keith was riding a Bike Friday folding touring bike. It appeared to be nearly identical to mine.

We had a good chat along the guardrail. Keith seems to be having a ball. His itinerary is flexible. “I may ride to Boise to see some friends.”

Keith’s tour journal can be found on

Off we rode over a big hill to Richland. After riding past several bars we found a modest cafe. The service and the food were terrific. I must have downed a gallon of ice water with my meal.

Since Richland was only 46 miles into the day and since we had a bonus hour from moving into the Pacific time zone, we called a hostel in Baker City, 42 miles away. They had beds for us so off we went into the canyon then back out. And into the canyon then out. We switched from the Snake River to the Powder River. It didn’t make things any easier. Eventually we climbed another pass, although crawled up would be more descriptive. Even a tailwind didn’t speed us up. The heat, the hills, the miles, and the chip seal pavement made for a long, hard day. All three of us were exhausted when we arrived in Baker City.

The hostel is in an old school building. We are the only lodgers. We were told by several people that Baker City hotels were likely filled because of a motorcycle rally and some sort of festival. When we arrived the town was unexpectedly quiet. The hostel is fine, and at $25 it is infinitely better than last night’s motel.

Miles today: 89 Tour miles: 2,753.5

Later, Idaho
Brownlee Resevoir
Fanny from Oakland and France
Keith Adams from Rockville, MD
World’s biggest shuttlecock or maybe something else
Summit sign with snow gauge
Corey relaxing in the Churchill School hostel

Bike Tour 2022 – New Meadows to a seedy motel in Hells Canyon

If you want a good breakfast, don’t go to New Meadows, Idaho. Nothing was open at 7:00. We made do with oatmeal (Corey and Mark) and PB&J on an English muffin (me) in our motel room.

We headed west on the hated US 95. Idaho drivers are the worst. They should be arrested and sentenced to one month of driving in Providence after the streets turn to glaciers. That’ll fix em.

We briefly tried the Weiser River Trail, a rail trail that runs for 90 miles. The surface was little more than gravel and potholes so we returned to 95.

We climbed a deceptively hard hill that rewarded us with a descent into Council for gas station convenience store food-like substances then continued uphill through Mesa and eventually to Cambridge.

We arrived around noon. Like New Meadows, most of the town was closed. We ate mystery food at the town Chinese restaurant. The best part was the watermelon slices that we were served as appetizers.

Mark found a motel in Hells Canyon some 22 miles south so we braved the heat and a long climb and soldiered on. The top of the climb was steep. Fortunately I was cheered on by a vocal bovine fan located behind a hedgerow on the side of the road. Thanks, Bossie.

The descent took us back into Hells Canyon. The grass in the fields looked very dry. Needless to say it’s hot as Hades. Not that I noticed during the descent. I was holding on for dear life.

The motel was over six miles down the mountain. The building is basically a converted semi truck trailer. The room is very small and smells of pee. I’m glad it’s Corey’s turn to sleep on the floor.

On the plus side the cafe next door serves a mighty good grilled cheese with more fries than three people could eat.

Miles today: 71.5 Tour miles: 2,664.5

More Idaho farmland
Council, Idaho stacks a mean pile of hay
Back over 4,000 feet
I’d have taken a better picture of this mountain but I had to wait until the bottom of the descent
Our motel room has a broken ceiling fixture with only one working bulb and no smoke detector. Fortunately it has an electrical outlet in the ceiling

Bike Tour 2022 – White Bird to New Meadows

The breakfast at the town cafe was absurdly huge; none of us could finish our meals. The town of White Bird, named after a chief who led a small band of Nez Perce to Canada after Chief Joseph surrendered, is filled with Trumpers. I suspect there is a serious distrust of Washington. I can‘t imagine why.

Our maps and apps all indicated that we’d be doing some serious climbing today. A very short climb out of White Bird put us on busy US 95 for the day.

We traveled up the Salmon River, which is a whitewater hot spot. Looking down on the rafters, we knew we were gaining elevation, but it barely felt like it.

The landscape changed every few miles which was a nice distraction from the heavy traffic to our immediate left. There were rounded green hills, craggy cliffs, mountain meadows, all carved down the middle by the twisting Salmon River.

We stopped at a farm stand for a break about half way. A cold sweet tea and a big cookie topped off my tank. The farther we rode the hotter it became. After weeks in the high mountains summer appears to have caught up with us.

We checked into a motel in New Meadows instead of camping in the town park. It’s Mark’s turn to sleep on the floor.

Idaho forever
Equinoxes are probably a big deal around here
Salmon River rapids in Hells Canyon
The Mule abides

Miles today: 64.5 Tour miles: 2,593

Bike Tour 2022 – Kooskia to White Bird

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

New landscape
Two new friends

Bike Tour 2022 – Lochsa Lodge to Kooskia

After arriving in Lochsa Lodge, I took a shower, ate lunch, then took a two-hour nap in my tent. I had a post nap dinner then went back to sleep until morning.

The camping is very good as long as you don’t mind the hum of a fan (from the general store next to our camp site) all night.

The lodge’s breakfast was huge. I was stuffed. We broke camp and began a 90-mile downhill ride through the Lochsa River valley. It was just beautiful. White water, massive mountains covered in evergreens, curvy road.

I saw a muledeer, a white tailed deer, and two eagles during the ride.

We stopped at a couple of towns along the way but decided to continue on to Kooskia and stay in the pavilion in the town park. My tent is not free standing so I’m lying in a big net that caves in on both sides.

The park has a splash park which we used as a sort of shower. The water was cold and refreshing.

We are no longer in dry mountain air. It’s warm and muggy. This is my first day below 2,000 feet since eastern Kansas.

Mark got a traffic ticket for failing to ride to the right of the white line. A pick up truck passed him on a curve and nearly hit a sheriff’s car head on. The sheriff pulled the driver we over and the driver said “I came upon the bicyclist so quickly there was nothing else I could have done. He was riding to the left of the white line.”

Apparently the driver was unfamiliar with the brake pedal.

Then the Sheriff probably a deputy (he was young and chubby) let him go and pulled Mark over.

We are all kinds of pissed about this. It’s impossible to ride to the right side of the white line. There’s not enough room, but Deputy Fife wouldn’t listen to Mark’s explanation.

Tomorrow we ride up a very nasty hill then pass through the county seat where we intend to talk to anybody who will listen about Deputy Fife and the unwarranted traffic ticket.

One oddity we are dealing with is time. Some places operate on Mountain time, others on Pacific. I feel like I’m stuck inside a Chicago song.

Mikes today: 90 Tour miles: 2,485

We stopped for lunch along the Lochsa River. This is the upstream view.
Same spot looking downstream
Mark takes a shower
Rough day at the office

Bike Tour 2022 – Missoula to Lochsa Lodge

A night of purloined Netflix put us in the mood to break camp and get back on the road.

Motel breakfast was so so. We left on the roads for Lolo somewhat underfed. Coming into Missoula we used bike trails but leaving we used city streets, devoid of traffic early on this Fourth of July holiday.

As luck would have it the road took us to a WalMart where we bought a few essentials. The streets gave way to the bike trail which is in decent condition from Missoula to Lolo.

We rode the trail into Lolo where we had second breakfast at McDonalds. Don’t @ me. We needed calories because the next 26 miles would be gradually uphill.

We turned onto US 12, a road that followed Lolo Creek towards Lolo Pass. The creek was beautiful and it’s surroundings became more so with each mile. We clipped along at (for me) 12 mph. After 38 miles we took a break at Lolo Hot Springs. The soda machine charges $3 for a Coke.

Another eight miles took us to Lolo Pass (elevation 5,235 feet) and the Idaho border and the Pacific time zone. Trifecta! We had climbed just over 2,000 feet. Neither my legs nor my lungs were stressed at all. The day off did them and my mood a world of good.

What followed was a five mile twisty descent into a gusty wind. Big fun. The wind was unpredictable. At one point I was going 29 mph when a headwind gust knocked my speed down to 22. I got the message. Feather the brakes on the turns!

The mountains around us on this side of the pass were densely forested right to the side of the road. I kept expecting a bear to emerge. I’m glad that didn’t happen.

We were riding next to Crooked Fork Creek on our left. The trees were a mixture of cedar, spruce, firs, and other evergreens. They were immense.

After a fun downhill ride we arrived at Lochsa Lodge, a rustic resort that sets aside a lawn area for bicyclists to camp.

Tomorrow we will ride further downhill as far as our bodies and minds allow.

Beatles fans can guess the name of this business
Riding toward Lolo Pass
Bye Montana
It’s like a cell phone that you put money into

Miles today: 59 Tour miles: 2,394.5

Bike Tour 2022 – Jackson to Darby

We ate breakfast in the bunkhouse. Mine consisted of PB&J on two semi bagels (flat bread with a hole in the middle), a banana, and some Dot’s pretzels. Nutrition is my middle name.

We headed north through the Big Hole Valley for 12 miles where we found Wisdom. We were looking for enlightenment but settled for some snacks. It should be noted that Wisdom is the mosquito capital of Montana.

We headed west for ten miles and stopped at the site of the Big Hole Battlefield. This is where the U. S. Army attacked a Nez Pierce encampment. The Army set their teepees afire at dawn, burning to death men, women, and children. A fierce battle ensued with the Nez Perce woefully outgunned and undermanned. The Nez Perce escaped only to be chased down farther north where they surrendered. Chief Joseph, their leader, famously said: “We will fight no more forever.”

The Army was following a policy called manifest destiny. The policy was based on the concept that it was God’s will that white people should conquer the lands of the west. I wonder if God was pleased when Nez Perce children were burning to death.

The next 16 1/2 miles were a gradual then increasingly challenging climb culminating in our reaching Chief Joseph Pass (elevation, 7,241). There was no sign. Corey made it to the top more slowly than usual but he made it. A good sign for the days ahead. He reports this evening that his back is feeling better.

We dropped down one mile along the Idaho/Montana border until we reached Lost Trail Pass. It’s a treat to go through a pass while going downhill.

Next the fun began. We descended seven miles through a series of banked curves. The scenery was amazing but I can’t say I took full enjoyment of it as I was trying not to die.

After the descent we rolled north through the Bitterroot Valley, gradually riding downhill. Last year the forest in this area burned. It was quite a site to see the aftermath up close on both sides of the road.

We made a pit stop in Sula where the deli had just closed before our arrival. As we ate and drank convenience food stuff, Mark called ahead to Darby (elevation 3,885 feet) to secure our lodging for the night, a two-bed cabin. Mark is sleeping on the floor. The cabin is small. Corey and I will try not to step on him if we need to use the bathroom in the night.

Corey is cooking tortellini and making a salad in the cabin’s kitchen. We’d help but the kitchen isn’t wide enough for two people.

Miles today: 77. Tour miles: 2,337.5

Wisdom is the Nez Perce word for Mosquito
Named for the best golden retriever that ever was.

Any Road Tour: Day 46 – Downriver on another tailwind

Last night I stayed in an RV park behind a 24 hour gas station across a busy highway from some railroad tracks. Let’s just say it wasn’t the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.

I was on the road around 7 with a gas station breakfast burrito in hand. It didn’t suit my tummy but it was fuel and I used it.

I followed the Pend Oreille River west to Newport Washington where I had second breakfast: pancakes, OJ, and coffee. A vast improvement over the burrito.

I crossed the river back into Idaho then took a turn that brought me back to Washington for good. Bye, Idaho.

In addition to a fine tailwind the skies were blue and the trees were green.

The air is incredibly clean; you can smell the pines. And there are terrific views around every bend in the road.

I stopped to chat with two credit card tourers. (No camping gear, just a couple of panniers.) They had just talked with Martin, my Swiss buddy from North Dakota and Montana! He rode north through Glacier National Park instead of west through Missoula. I was tempted to try an catch him but I still had 40 miles to ride today and a big climb tomorrow morning.

Today I rode through an Indian reservation. Aside from tribal headquarters, a sign directing people to the pow wow site, and a big nylon teepee in a backyard, I didn’t notice much difference.

The reservation did have many more American flags than elsewhere. Which brings to mind the fact that I’ve seen three Confederate flags in the last two days. (Y’all are a little out of the way for that. Try a swastika instead.)

I passed a sign for a grotto so I stopped and hiked up the groomed switchback trail. Mostly it was naturally formed. One chamber up some stone steps had a stone altar.

For some reason it occurred to me to check the odometer on The Mule. It had just passed 49,000 miles.

The next oddity on the road was a driveway to nowhere bordered by two Stonehenge-like stone circles. I am pretty sure that I would be recruited for a woo woo cult so I hit out of there after taking a picture or two.

The bridge to Ione, my destination, looked fantastic from a distance. The bridge deck was a metal grate. The Mule was swaying all over the place as we crossed. I am glad it was dry or I’d have fallen for certain.

I am camping at an RV place again. It’s quiet. I have a clean shower, laundry, WiFi, and a soft lawn for my tent. Now if only I hadn’t left my razor back at last night’s campsite.

Miles: 81.5

Trip Miles: 3,356.5

End of trip note: I booked a flight home for the 21st out of Portland, partly to meet a DC friend their on her birthday, the 19th, but also to be at home for my son’s visit from overseas. My friend canceled her trip to Portland and my son canceled his trip home so it looks like I have no reason to rush.

I’ll reschedule my flight when I get to Puget Sound. I’m thinking I’ll stay an extra week, including a day or two in Seattle.

I love how my friends are making suggestions for things to visit. They often come a day late or are days off route. One frustrating thing about travel is you are always going to miss something. I am grateful for what I have seen or will see in the days ahead. People I talked to said he road from here to Puget Sound is truly astoundingly pretty. I can’t wait.

Any Road Tour: Day 45 – Hanging by an ear

Today’s ride was less of a downhill stroll. And the winds were a non factor. I rolled the first five miles while eating a hot breakfast burrito. Yes, the Mexicans so many fear in these parts have invaded the sanctity of breakfast.

It was muy bueno.

More tree covered hills and more mountains that would make a bighorn sheep happy. And a river by my side. Ho hum, beautiful country to bike through.

Thirty miles into my ride I passed into Idaho. There was a proper Welcome to Idaho sign after this but I was cruising downhill at 34 mph when I saw it. Not about to stop for that.

The road became much busier as I approached Sandpoint. And the shoulder disappeared for ten miles. Yay, Idaho.

I didn’t much care because Lake Pend Oreille was on my left for over 20 miles.

Although I didn’t photograph it, I could see two ski resorts up in the mountains above Sandpoint.

When I rolled into Sandpoint I celebrated my escape from Montana with a root beer float. That was just after I checked out the town beach.

After the ice cream I went to a bike shop to use a floor pump, I was running at 55 psi. I’ll need 80 for the hills ahead.

Before leaving town I stopped st a restaurant for dinner. Chicken fettuccine with cherry pie for desert. (Apparently huckleberries are not an Idaho thing.)

On the bike path out of town a woman rode by on an electric assist bike. She works from home but uses the ebike to commute to meetings in town. She was my friend Charmaine’s doppelgänger.

We were riding along when she veered off the trail. She told me it was closed ahead and directed me to a side road to continue my journey. She also told me of a state park just 6 miles beyond a crummy RV Park I was going to use on the highway,

I called the state park reservation line but they refused to reserve s spot on short notice. They told me to call the park directly. When I did, I got a recording telling me to call the reservation line.

So I’m staying at the RV park. Good thing I have my ear plugs.

I made a reservation to fly home from Portland on the 21st. This is probably too aggressive and means I’ll skip Seattle altogether, riding instead to the Pacific coast at Astoria.

I am hoping to get to Portland to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. And see two other people. And go to Multnomah Falls, and ship my bike home, and buy two duffle bags for consolidating my bike stuff at the airport.

In any case, I can change it if I need to.

Miles today: 73

Tour miles: 3,275