08.20.11 – What I Know About Idaho Pt. 1

Leaving Ogden felt like starting a new leg of my ride. I had originally planned to go from Fort Collins to Seattle without stopping anywhere longer than 3 days. Having unexpectedly stayed in the SLC area for a week, I felt that itch of excitement and uncertainty that I felt only when leaving Chicago and Fort Collins. Part of my uncertainty was whether or not my knee would still hurt.

The 50 mile ride to Tremonton was fairly flat and easy so I iced my knees for an hour while debating whether or not to do another 30 to Snowville. With little to no more knee pain and the entire afternoon ahead of me, I decided to go for it. My only concern was that the pain would hit me after 20 miles and there would be no place to stop. Oh, I forgot to tell you that when I left Tremonton I had to ride on I-84 all the way to Snowville. The only other routes were incredibly out of the way and in talking with people in SLC, I knew other cyclists had ridden it. On my way to Snowville, a gentleman pulled over to talk to me. Apparently he had ridden this same stretch of I-84 twenty-some years ago when he rode from Florida to Portland, OR. I wish I could’ve heard more about his story but the interstate wasn’t exactly the place for conversation. Other than this brief conversation, the riding here in northern Utah is nowhere near as interesting as southern Utah. With no mountains and rumble strips that span the entire shoulder every 50 feet, there was a lot to be desired. I arrived into Snowville, ate a big meal at the town’s only diner and with nothing else to do in the town, headed to the campground.

In the middle of desolate Utah sits this small town of Snowville that is only conveniently accessible by the interstate. Yet somehow they have one of the nicest campgrounds at which I’ve ever stayed. The owner was a nice older gentlemen who drove a four-wheeler around with his Jack Russell constantly taking care of the grounds. While all the other grass in a ten mile radius was brown and could have probably cut your feet like razor blades, the grass here was as green and soft as a golf course. Speaking of golf, the owner also bought land behind his campground and set up markers to create a driving range! A campground with a driving range? Only in the middle of nowhere. Not being much of a golfer I blogged for a bit, ate a second dinner and called it an early night. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about sleeping in open places like northern Utah, it’s that the land retains no heat. Therefore, unless you want cold clothes in the morning, you better put them in your sleeping bag with you.

In the cold and early morning, I realized just how slow I really am. The first to rise and the last to leave, that was me. While everyone else slept, I cooked and ate my breakfast. While everyone else packed up their tents and left by RV, car or motorcycle, I was still cleaning my dishes. The motor vehicle doesn’t require much food to operate. A bicycle on the other hand, requires at least two packets of Maple Sugar oatmeal. Three miles in and I reached the Idaho border. A couple miles down the rode from there I spotted a moose and it’s calf, which would have made for a great picture but as I grabbed my camera, the darn things disappeared. Who knew there were moose in Idaho? Now I know. The rest of the day seemed to go on forever and if I wasn’t battling hills, I was battling wind. When I finally reached Burley, I stopped into Rock’s Cycling and Fitness, which was owned by a guy named, well, Rock. Within minutes, I had found a good place to eat and one of the customers even offered me his yard on which to pitch my tent. This gentleman, Dave, lived only a couple streets away and when I arrived I was greeted by his son, Andrew. I was informed me I could use Andrew’s room for the night so I wouldn’t have to pitch my tent. Who knew they there this generous in Idaho?! Now I know. After showering, I spent the evening talking with Dave and Julie, his wife, and their five children. The language of choice in the house is Spanish, which is great because the children can learn English from other environments around them. Thankfully they spoke English around me! The house and garden were beautiful and the cooking was amazing! To top it all off, it was great to see how well everyone in the family got along. In the morning they had planned to go mountain biking and invited me to join. Having seen their bikes in the garage, I knew this family was serious about riding.

I immediately accepted the offer and the next morning I rode a long-travel 29er designed and built in Rupert, the next town over. Damon is the owner and operator of this small mountain bike company, Priority Cycles. It’s rare that you find a company as small as Damon’s that has successfully developed their own solutions to the full suspension issues of today and has a solid line of bicycles. The trails we rode were some of the best I’ve ever ridden. We drove halfway up the mountain, climbed to the top and then descended down to the base where Dave picked us up. Riding with Damon and Dave’s older daughter, Elissa, we tore it up on singletrack that zipped through trees, creeks and open fields. Having never been to this trail before, it was helpful to follow someone else but it meant I had to keep up. They knew the route and rode it as such. Somehow I kept up but I knew this bike could’ve taken more. The tires never slipped and I always felt in complete control (except when I gave it up for the sake of the rush!). I will seriously consider buying a bike from Damon and Priority Cycles. Thank you so much for letting me ride that bike, Damon. I wish you the best of luck and will offer myself as a test pilot anytime. After feeding me a wonderful pre-ride meal, I snapped a picture with the Greenman family and headed off toward Twin Falls. I rode into town knowing nothing and no one and a day later I now know the wonderful Greenman family.

The short ride to Twin Falls was easy but uninteresting. My couchsurfing host, Jake, biked ten miles out of town and road with me to his house. When his wife, Danielle, came home we went to an all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant. While it was probably one of the unhealthiest things I could have eaten, I had oreo pizza it was insanely good. I also ate a smores pizza but after that I restricted myself to normal pizza and pasta. They kindly provided their extra bedroom and I left the next morning before they woke up. The ride to Glenns Ferry was pretty awesome. Old Highway 30 took me through Hagerman Valley. This region is the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway and boy was it scenic. Across the river on the other side of the valley, water came out from the side of the valley walls and created (not quite a thousand) springs and waterfalls. After following the Snake River for a while, I eventually had to climb out. The road slowly rose up the valley wall and wasn’t difficult compared to some of my other experiences climbing out of valleys. The last 15 miles into town were extremely desolate and once the road intersected the interstate, Idaho stopped painting lines in the road. I recorded the hottest temperature yet at 110 degrees but with lots of water it didn’t feel that bad. Before reaching town, I stopped by a water hole where some people were relaxing. Gary and Paula were an older couple who met in Arizona 9 years ago and decided to move back to Paula’s hometown. I asked about campgrounds and they offered to let me crash on their lawn. To exercise my word-mash skills, I’d say there’s a lot of Idahospitality here.

Though I could’ve easily biked the 5 miles to their house, it was just easier to throw my bike in their truck and go with them. We arrived at their house and while I unloaded my bike, I got an unexpected phone call. It was Kristen from SLC and she was coming to Glenns Ferry! But why the heck was she coming to Glenns Ferry? Well remember how she likes to just up and go visit far away places? She decided to head to Ketchum in Idaho and on the way she realized that I would be in the area. Since I’m somewhere around ten to twenty-five times cooler than Ketchum, she decided to visit me instead. I tried to get her to take me to Ketchum but to no avail. Instead we hung out for a few hours but before it got too late, she made her way back toward Ketchum. I headed over to meet Gary and Paula and found them fast asleep out on the couch. I guess the older you become, the more tired you get from sitting out in the sun, drinking beer. I set up my tent, picked up some food from the market and then received another unexpected call. It was Kristen again! “Hi, so I was driving back east, away from the sunset, and realized that I’d rather be driving TOWARD the sunset! Would you like a ride to Boise?” Okay, I knew this girl liked to do spontaneous things but Boise? Where did that come from? Apparently she knew someone there she hadn’t seen in a while. Considering the following day would have been mostly interstate riding, I had no particular desire to do it and gladly accepted the offer.

Once again, I found myself being chauffeured by a wonderful new friend. My couchsurfing host, Keesha, was cool with me coming in a day early and letting me stay two nights. I was happy that I could now have a day to figure out how to get to Seattle. The next day I visited Idaho Mountain Touring bicycle shop to get some ideas for getting to Seattle. Not wanting to go over the Blues mountain range in NW Oregon, they helped me with a route north through Idaho toward Spokane. I also picked up some camping food and one of the packets had a whopping 62 grams of protein! Before she left town, Kristen and I grabbed a bite to eat and walked around downtown Boise. She left Boise and promised she wouldn’t stalk me anymore (I didn’t believe her). Keesha got home a little later and took me to a lake where we got to go swimming. Having already decided on my route, the rest of the night was spent stress free watching a french thriller movie.

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