Denis Kertz, ©2008
I was up early because I
wanted to get an early start. I thought
the restaurant next door didn't open until 7:00 but I discovered it opened at
6:30 on Sundays so it was perfect timing.
I had the ham and eggs and pancakes which was fine. I was the first customer but then a local,
I left at about 7:30,
headed south on the road right at the intersection by my motel which turned
The climb was fairly modest
and I climbed mostly at 6 mph. Along the
way I had some itching on my legs. I
thought I was affected by some biting flies but discovered my problem was
biting mosquitoes and I couldn't out run them on the climb. At the top of the pass I noted my front tire
was going flat. There was a
The flat cost me about 30
minutes. From there I had a nice descent
that was too nice. I forgot about my
I rode into Nyssa and
rejoined US26 and crossed the Snake River into
I made good time riding
US26 to nearly I84 where I took
When Julia and Thomas returned, we had a nice meal and a walk around the neighborhood before retiring for the night.
I slept very well and
didn't get up until 7:30, which was late for me. After breakfast, Julia took me on a hike to
the top of Table Rock, a flat topped outcropping of sandstone, with a view over
I slept well again and
didn't get up until almost 7:30. I had
packed most of my stuff the night before so I didn't have much to do except eat
my cereal breakfast and a banana. After
Thomas returned from dropping Edward off at kindergarten I bade my farewells
and took off at about 8:15. It turned
out that it was good I arrived and left
It was easy to get out of
As I had been riding I
noticed a bike trail next to the road but had no idea where it went. Now Thomas, a bicycle racer, explained I
could take it but he didn't like it because it had some rough spots. So I bade Thomas good bye again and headed
down the road. When
At the top there was a grill that served breakfast until 11:30 and the good news was it was only 11:00. The bad news was they only served breakfast Thu-Sun and this was a Tuesday so I was out of luck. They also didn't have any milk for a second breakfast so I ate a pastry and was on my way.
From this summit it was a
nice downhill with another view of the lake that had wrapped around the
foothill that I had climbed. At the bottom,
the road followed the river as it cut through a gorge that was also very
scenic. Then it was a basic moderate
uphill grade to
Unfortunately, the hardest
part of the ride was still ahead. I had
a major climb to
Then 21 descended several miles and started another 5 mile climb from 5,200 to 6,050 feet. This was also steep but not quite as bad as the previous summit. It was 6:30 by the time I reached the second summit and began the 8 mile downhill to Lowman. This was a great descent with no pedaling, just occasional braking to keep the winding descent under control.
At the bottom I passed thru
the small town of
Then I whipped out my PC to take care of the daily report. However, it was dark and the light from the PC attracted every gnat from miles around. So I had to leave the picnic table and hole up in my tent to finish my report.
I packed up in the morning and rode back into town, less than a mile. I stopped at the lodge which had a sign saying it served breakfast, lunch, and dinner but it was not open. I stopped at the service station food mart, which was inside a trailer, and saw they had no milk so I just bought a pastry and went outside for my breakfast using powdered milk.
I took off at 8:45 on a
cool, sunny morning. I could feel my
legs were tired from yesterday so I was determined to make today as easy as
possible, if it is possible to climb 3,200 feet over 32 miles easily. Fortunately, the climb looked less difficult
than yesterday and there was only one climb.
My destination was
The Lowman area’s distinguishing feature was its recovery from the forest fire of 1989, which devastated a huge area, starting at the top of yesterday's second climb and continuing for miles today. The route also followed the South Fork of Payette River which was nice.
The initial part of the day was modest climbing and I took it easy, always trying to use an easy gear. After 13 miles I came upon the Sourdough Lodge which had a restaurant so I pulled in. The signs said all the right things but the neon Open sign was off and when I entered everything was dark. It didn't look good for breakfast. However, a woman came by and said they had a power failure but assured me they could serve breakfast. So I ordered their sourdough pancakes which were very good – 2 plate sized pancakes.
As I continued along the
route it got gradually steeper. I did
get a nice view of the
In contrast to most climbs which are followed by a fast descent, this was followed by a short, modest descent. Then it climbed moderately for a few miles and descended moderately the rest of the way. The scenery was very nice with open meadows and occasional glimpses of the Sawtooths. There was one overlook that provided a great view of the string of Sawtooths.
With the modest down grade
and a bit of tailwind I raced into
So I retreated up the road about 3 miles to the turnoff to Iron Creek Campground that I had noticed on my way in and figured was the closest campground to town. I had to ride a dirt/gravel road a mile or so to another turnoff where I finally found what passed for a campground. It wasn't much of a campground but then it had a great price - $0. I picked the first place I saw and settled in, glad I had previously filled my water bottles so I didn't have to bother filtering water from the nearby creek.
It turned out to be an easier day that yesterday but not by a whole lot. I still spent almost 8.5 hours in the saddle.
It was a cold night, which
shouldn't be too surprising since
The sun was shining when I left but it wasn't enough. I had put on my Seal Skinz socks because I knew my feet would be cold and they were despite the socks. Riding back was slow because of the corrugated dirt/gravel road but I probably wouldn't have wanted to go fast even if I could because of the wind chill. It was 1 ¼ mile back to the main road and 3.5 miles overall to get back to town. The Sawtooths looked really good in the morning sun.
I stopped at a restaurant for breakfast and had my usual pancakes which were fine. I lingered to give my toes and fingers a chance to thaw out but they seemed reluctant to completely thaw.
It was nearly 10:00 by the time I left town and headed north on 75 to Challis, my destination for the day. I expected the day to be somewhat easier than the two previous because it involved no major climb and was mostly modestly downhill as it lost 1000 feet on the day over 56 miles. This route was the start of the Salmon River Scenic Byway.
Immediately the road passed
along side the
After some 30 miles, not
far from Clayton, I stopped at a service station/food mart and got milk for a
second breakfast around 1:00 pm. A few
miles later I passed through Clayton, another historical mining town, and the scenery
changed dramatically. The road continued
to follow the
Not too far from Challis, a
road sign warned that bighorn sheep could be on the road for the next 2.5 miles
but I saw nothing. Just outside Challis
There were several motels in town and I picked one on main street for $43 that had WIFI. The town also had a Subway so I ate there. I chose Subway rather than a pizza place I wandered by because there was no one around the pizza place, not a good sign. After a little grocery shopping I retired to my motel to write my notes. However, I couldn't access the WIFI from my room so I had to go to the bar, which wasn't all that bad since it gave me an excuse to have a beer.
Today was a much easier day, as expected, than the last two days, because it was slightly downhill with no major climbs and was a reasonable distance. I enjoyed being able to pedal rather leisurely without worrying about making my destination at a reasonable time.
There was a cafe right next to my motel so I went there for breakfast. There wasn't anyone else there but I had decent pancakes. Later some other folks started coming by, probably a trend started by me.
I left a little before 9:00
on another sunny day. I expected a ride
similar to yesterday since it was all downhill from Challis at 5,280 feet to
Salmon at 4,000 feet and 60 miles. The
scenery picked up where it left off yesterday, following the winding
A few miles outside Challis I stopped along the road to admire some horses in the field that appeared to be Appaloosa. When I detected other movement in the field I saw 3 antelopes who were a bit skittish when seeing me. They loped away but I noticed 3 other antelopes. I watched for a while and eventually the original 3 decided I wasn't an unfriendly and came back to the field and met their colleagues.
I wasn't sure there was anything between Challis and Salmon, especially since a sign leaving Challis said there was no gas for 57 miles. Fortunately, I didn't need gas. After about 35 miles I passed through Elk Bend and there was an RV camp with a small store. They didn't have any small cartons of regular milk but did have chocolate milk so I had the chocolate milk and some of my other food in lieu of a second breakfast.
After Elk Bend it seemed like the scenery deteriorated some. Either that or my senses had been overwhelmed by the earlier scenery and were now numb. I rode into Salmon around 3:00 and scouted the town of 3,000. When I spied a Subway I decided to eat there again. The Subways have $5 specials for certain foot long subs and that was a hard deal to beat.
At the Chamber of Commerce I found a brochure for an RV park that claimed to have a hostel so I checked it out. They had a private room for $26 but you couldn't take your bike in the room. For me a large part of the attraction of a motel room was the ability to just roll the bike into the room and only have to unpack a little. So not being able to take the bike in the room killed that deal. The park also had a cabin with 5 bunks for $16/bunk but again the bike wasn't allowed in the cabin. However, their tent site was $10 and included a shower and WIFI. That was a good deal with the only negative part being that it was next to the road so would be a bit noisy for sleeping.
So I took the tent site and set up. Later I moved to the porch of the Laundromat where I could plug in my PC and use the WIFI.
I packed up and headed back into town where they were setting up the main street for the day's marathon run. I stopped at the Salmon River Coffee Shop for breakfast and it apparently was the right choice with lots of folks there. I had my usual pancakes and they were fine.
I left around 9:00, not in
a great hurry because my destination was Leadore, 45 miles away. After Leodore there was nothing until
I took Hwy 28 south between
The ride was a very scenic ride through the valley of ranches. Early on I spotted 10 deer in a field. Through my biking travels I have learned that deer/antelope spook most easily if you stop before you get to them. However, if you keep riding a little past them they are less likely to get spooked. I did this and then stopped to take a photo which they accommodated before bounding off. While I was stopped watching the deer a guy pulled over and asked if I was OK. I said I was and was headed to Leadore and he mentioned a campground for a rodeo just outside Leadore where I could camp.
Riding was easier than I
expected. Initially, I was riding about
8 mph and then later that increased to 10 mph.
I think the increase was likely due to some tailwind that picked up
since the upgrade was a constant slope.
I stopped at the one building town of
I made good time and rode into Leadore, pop 90, around 2:30. It had a bar/restaurant but the restaurant was not open at the time so I stopped at the store where I got a cheeseburger. The lady at the store told me there was another place, Lone Pine, 30 miles down the road with a campground just past it. Since I was feeling fine and had no great desire to linger the rest of the day in Leadore I decided to ride on. This also had the advantage of making tomorrow's ride to Rexburg much shorter whereas otherwise it would have been about 105 miles from Leadore.
However, when I left town there was a sign that said Lone Pine was 42 miles. That made me think again since it was almost 3:30 and it might take 4 hours to get to Lone Pine. Nevertheless, I decided to continue on. Up to this point the road had been a constant gradual grade and it was actually hard to tell that I was really climbing. Now the road started having some grade variations and I wasn't always able to maintain the 10 mph that I had earlier. So I pushed a little harder than usual but taking care not to over do it.
The character of the land also changed somewhat. The almost continuous ranches kind of phased out with only occasional ranch fields on my right. The land was obviously more desert-like than earlier but it was still scenic.
Around 5:00 I rode up a steeper grade than usual which made me think this could be the summit although I thought I had further to go to reach the summit. Nevertheless it was the summit and I reached it a little after 5:00. At that point I was confident about making Lone Pine since most of the rest of the way was downhill. Initially, it was a good downhill but mostly it was a modest downhill that only required easy pedaling and I was churning out the miles in rapid order. This part of the route was a wide, high desert where you could see the road stretch out for miles ahead. It was exhilarating to churn through this distance in relatively rapid fashion.
Shortly before I reached Lone Pine I saw a herd of antelopes in the field on my right. Unfortunately, I couldn't ride past them and take a photo because I would have been staring right back into the sun. So I stopped short and they hit the trail. I counted at least 24 antelopes as they loped off into the distance.
A few miles later I stopped at the small cafe in Lone Pine and had a cheeseburger. It was 7:00 so I didn't linger due to pending darkness in about an hour. However, the proprietor did tell me that they got a fair amount of cyclists through the area which surprised me. Then I thought perhaps the TransAmerica route came through here but I checked later and that wasn’t the case.
I rode 3 miles further south to the Birch Creek Campground, a BLM Campground with no fee for camping. I picked out a site quickly and set up as darkness arrived.
It was another chilly morning
so I had breakfast in bed waiting for the sun to come up over the mountains
which happened around 8:00. I left
around 8:30 and immediately zoomed down the road. Not only was there a modest downgrade but I
had a tailwind. So I was
easily doing 20 mph with occasional pedaling.
Since it was downhill most of the way to
I got confused at one point
when the intersection with 22 showed Dubois to the east. I couldn't understand how to get to
As I rode along, the mountains on each side receded and it was just wide open desert. I passed through an area of INL – Idaho National Laboratory. The INL was established for research in nuclear energy and is noted for being the first to harness atomic energy to generate electric power. At this point the previously non-existent shoulder became a wide 4 foot shoulder. However, the shoulder was sprinkled with chip seal. The old pavement was very smooth but the chip seal created a rough pavement and the mixture of the two was even rougher. So I rode inside the white line most of the time since there was almost no traffic.
As soon as I left the INL,
the shoulder became a consistent chip seal and it was fine for riding. The land was also immediately transformed
from desert with shrubs to irrigated fields.
There was even some modest uphill as I rode to the end of 28 and the
intersection with 33. I turned east on
33 towards Rexburg, my destination, and immediately rode through
The area surrounding
Rexburg was a town of
27,000 whose claim to fame was BYU-Idaho, a Mormon supported university. I rode through town on Hwy 33 expecting to
find several motels. However, I saw only
a Comfort Inn by Hwy 20 and a Super 8 a little further in town. This is where my PC came in handy. Back in Challis, the guide at the
Here I stopped my bike and whipped out my PC and checked for Rexburg motels. I discovered there were only 4 motels so there were only two I hadn't seen. The Super 8 was listed with rooms for $40-70 and the Days Inn as $48-70. So I stopped at the Super 8, which I have not been a fan of since they upscaled themselves from their modest beginnings. I was shocked to get quoted a rate of $71 that the lady said she could discount to $65. I quickly said no thanks and rode two blocks south to the Days Inn where I got a quote in the $50s and then a quote of $45 with my AARP discount – a savings of $20 over Super 8. This was still a little more than I thought I would have to pay but it was in the ball park and it included a continental breakfast which was probably worth about $5 to me.
After settling in I walked two blocks to a Dominics Pizza and got a large pepperoni pizza with breadsticks for $9. It was more than I needed but it was a special and was cheaper than ordering a normal medium pizza. Then after gorging on this extravaganza for a while, I took advantage of the WIFI to check email and write my daily notes.
I checked the continental breakfast in the morning and was greatly disappointed. It was only toast, some mini muffins/donuts, and coffee. Usually these continentals have at least some cereal but not this one. So I had a couple slices of toast but knew that wouldn't be enough. When I left the motel I rode to the east end of town, did a little food shopping, and then searched for the breakfast place I had spotted yesterday. I had trouble finding it again but finally found it and had their pancakes which were fine.
I finally left town around
9:30, which didn't figure to be a problem since I only had 46 miles to
Driggs. There was a bike path just
outside town and I rode that for a couple miles before it ended. Then I rode through 3 small towns,
Heading further east, it started getting hilly and the scenery became more interesting. The predominant land feature was huge wheat fields. Most of the wheat had already been harvested but there were still a few areas where harvesting was still underway. I spent a few minutes watching one operation where a combine unloaded into a grain wagon and then a tractor drew the grain wagon alongside a truck and unloaded it.
Continuing east I had a little fun with a big truck. The traffic on Hwy 33 was fairly heavy all day and it featured a lot of large truck traffic. Most of the time there was a good enough shoulder that the traffic wasn't a problem, just noisy. However, there was a stretch of at least 5 miles where the shoulder narrowed to maybe a foot and a half and it was cracked and not good riding. There I had to watch the traffic carefully. Later when the shoulder was fine I had to climb one fairly steep hill and when I was climbing at about 5 mph I heard this big truck groaning up the hill behind me. I realized I was pedaling kind of easy so I decided to give it a go and raced the big truck to the top of the hill and winning without much difficulty.
All along I could see the
Tetons in the distance but not very clearly because it was hazy. As I rode further east the views continued to
get better. Finally, a few miles from Tetonia
there was a scenic overlook that had a nice view of the Tetons and the
Since I hadn't eaten since breakfast, I stopped in Tetonia and had my second breakfast at about 1:30. When I left I encountered my first jerk of the trip. A driver in a dump truck blared his horn as he passed me while I was on the shoulder with no one coming in the other direction. Of course, the driver didn’t give an inch despite any competing traffic.
After that it was only
about 8 miles to Driggs where I was set to stay with Frank and Kim, friends of
Julia and Thomas. I rode through the
When I reached Frank and
Kim's place Frank was in the process of assembling a cyclocross bike for one of
the team members on the cycling team he manages Giant Bicycles. He needed to have this bike ready by the time
he left for
I had a problem with one member of the family – Sally. Sally was a 2 year old lab who was scared of me and wouldn't come near. Frank tried to coax her but to no avail. Then Frank played a little game with Sally called “throw the ball and bring it back” and I knew I had found Sally's weak spot. So when I finally got the chance I grabbed the ball and heaved it and Sally had no choice but to chase it and bring it back. Then she played a game of tug, refusing to give up the ball. I quickly learned that if I didn't play that game Sally would finally drop the ball, realizing I wasn't going to throw it again until she did. Then the only problem I had was Sally would come bounding back to me at full speed with the ball and almost knock me over unless I dodged at the last minute.
We had a late dinner
because Kim had to work in
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2008. All rights reserved.