Saturday, July 26, 2008

Day 45, Like biking through a calendar photo

Day 45, Lolo, MT – Kooskia, ID 136 miles (3385 total)

July 25, 2008

Time on bike: 10:39:23

Avg: 12.8

Daily Ascent: 2349 ft (17 ft/mi)

Elevation at days end: 1400 ft

Max: 41 mph

Like I was cycling through a calendar. Last night I met Jim. A 70 year old cyclist from London (originally from Scotland) who was cycling across America going west to east. We shared a campsite outside of Lolo. It was more of an empty lot across from trailer homes, but we were able to get hot showers. He was doing about 60 miles a day and had taken the day off of cycling. He said that when he reached Missouri that his wife was going to fly over for 10 days and he would take that time off of cycling to drive around a bit. I told him I thought that he should throw his gear in the car and have her drive a support vehicle. In classic Scottish response, he said, “Well now, that wouldn’t be much of a vacation for her now, would it?” Jim and I shared an interest in running also and we talked late into the evening about marathons and triathlons.

I had breakfast #1 from McDonalds just before I set out. Breakfast #2 came 26 miles up the road at Lolo Hot Springs which was 8 miles from Lolo Pass (elevation 5,235 ft) which was also the Idaho/Montana state line. The climb up wasn’t terribly difficult or steep. The descent wasn’t steep either… just looooooonnnnngggg and gradual. Over the course of the next 100 miles I gradually descended nearly 4,000 feet and there was a 70 miles stretch without a house, gas station, restaurant, or any services whatsoever except an occasional rest area which only included an outhouse. It was highway 12 and it ran along the Lochsa River. From Lolo Pass down was just a scenic ride along a gradually widening mountain stream with old pine trees lining the mountains on each side. The road curved along the river for mile after mile after mile. The scenery never changed for the next 70+ miles but it was like I had cycled into a scenic calendar of the mountains. This isn’t what I thought Idaho was supposed to look like. Where are the potato fields, for crying out loud? Not that I’m complaining. The sun was shining and the fresh mountain water was glistening. I passed 3 cyclists peddling up the hill. Each one seemed to be cycling alone and each one had his headphones in when I passed. At one point I had to go and get into the water and splash around a bit. Man, was it cold! I saw a number of fly fishermen trying their luck.

It really was the same scenery all day. Gorgeous, but I was ready for civilization, which finally came at the end of the day. I entered the town of Lowell and the sign read “Population 24” with the 24 crossed out and 23 written in its place. I asked the clerk at the gas station what that meant and she replied, “I think it’s someone’s idea of a joke.” Since I crossed the state line into Idaho, I entered into Pacific time so I took advantage of the extra hour and added another 25 miles to my day for a total of 136. My 2nd highest total since I entered into Mountain time when I did 175. I like high mileage days but they take their toll.

So I’m now at a Chinese Restaurant in Kooskia which is on an Indian reservation. They are having “Kooskia Days” and the locals are doing burnouts on Main Street and creating a plume of white smoke. There are a few booths set up selling knives and whatnots, but mostly people are just hanging around on Main St.

Weather permitting, I should reach Astoria, OR in 8-9 days or so. It’s difficult to believe that the trip is coming to an end, but I still have all of Idaho and Oregon yet to go, so there’s still plenty to see and do yet.

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