Tour Day 25: Stanley, ID to Montour, ID

September 11th, 2007

[Editor’s note: ok, ok, new pictures!]

117.18 mi / 7:52:13 time / 14.8 mph avg. / 35.5 mph max. / 3291 ft. climbing
Staying at Montour Campground (Bureau of Reclamation)

Stanley Lake @ 24 deg. FTwo pairs of socks (short cycling socks and long warm Smartwool), four bottoms (cycling underwear, full-length tights, Windstopper pants, baggy shorts), three tops (long-sleeve zip-top, t-shirt, jacket), two hats (a face-covering balaclava and sweatband hat), and full-length gloves. That’s what it takes to survive a night where the temperature dips down to 24 degrees (the lowest reading I saw on my thermometer was 27, but that was after the sun was up, so I bet it did get down to the predicted 24). And with all that, I actually slept pretty well. Even better, getting up in the morning is pretty easy, since I already have all my clothes on!

Stanley Lake, IdahoAnd what a sight to awaken to! The haze was gone from the sky, so the rising sun was lighting the sawtooth peaks quite dramatically, as tendrils of mist were rising off of calm Stanley Lake. Hopefully the camera saw it as well as my eyes did.

I was out of camp a little after 8 AM, and I had one last push up a hill for the first 20 miles, and then I would go down, down, down. The Wind Gods had taken another day off, so what little wind I felt was changing direction aimlessly and not affecting much. I crested the hill at around 7000 ft., and then caught up with the South Fork of the Payette River, which I would follow down the mountain. The area I was riding through truly National Forest land. National Forest SignageIn many National Forest areas, there are lots of private lands within the boundaries, so it hardly feels different than any other road. But I rode 46 miles before coming across the first private parcels (so it’s a good thing I had plenty of breakfast to get me that far!) There are also about a million campgrounds and trails; I could spend weeks exploring the area.

I got lunch in barely-a-town Lowman, from the store which is set up inside of a trailer. After that, my “riding along a river is good riding” rule was violated, as I climbed a huge hill that eventually took me 500 feet above the river, even though it was still right next to me. I guess the river canyon is just too narrow to fit a road down there too, so the road has to ride up the mountainside. Sawtooth National Recreation AreaThe up and down pattern continued, but there were more downs than ups, and climbing hills actually makes the riding seem to go by faster anyway, since I’m constantly changing my approach and doing something different. I’d heard yesterday that they were closing the road between Lowman and Banks from 5-9 pm each night for fire-related activities. So I was a little concerned about that (and more concerned about the reported smokiness and my ability to breathe), but I didn’t see any evidence of impending closure, or smoke. I saw a helicopter carrying a bucket fly by, but that was the only fire-suppression activity I noticed.

When I headed south out of Banks, I discovered a new type of rumble-strip, this one designed to irritate drivers instead of me! It was right down the center double-yellow line in the road, I guess to really discourage passing in no-passing areas. Luckily, they seemed to annoy drivers less than they annoy me, so the drivers generally had no problem rumbling over them to go around me and pass.

Judging by all the rafting outfitters and the size of the parking lots and the signs warning about congestion near the put-ins and take-outs, this Payette River must be one heck of a popular place for whitewater rafting. I didn’t actually see anyone on the river today though.

117 Miles And A BeerWhen I got to Horseshoe Bend, I went looking for the Subway mentioned on the town’s website, but it was nowhere to be found. Since I didn’t feel like dinner at a steak place, I had to settle for the grocery store and dinner in camp. I’d already gone too far south looking for the Subway, so I decided to take the direct, gravel-road route to the campground and save myself a few miles and two river crossings. It turns out that it was quite an adventure, with a lot of unnecessary 8% grades to climb (again, I’m still following the river). But I was feeling unusually strong from mile 80 on until the end, so it was no big deal. Was it the Cherry Garcia bar I got in Garden Valley that fueled me? Or was it spending weeks riding at well over 5000 ft, so now I’m getting oxygen-overload down at 2500 ft.? My only concern was that I wanted to cover the 8 miles before my 22oz. Fat Tire beer got too warm! I can’t figure out why that beer is so widely available, but since it’s better than most, I won’t complain. And how could a beer get too warm after a 24 degree morning? Well, the temperature had probably increased at least 60 degrees throughout the ride, which is one hell of a swing.

So with that, I say goodbye to the Rocky Mountains (though not mountains in general). I haven’t been this close to sea-level since before the Black Hills. Thanks guys, you treated me fairly, and gave me more than I could have imagined. I hope we meet again sometime!


6 Responses to “Tour Day 25: Stanley, ID to Montour, ID”

  1. Joel Says:

    Satan Sub!

    “Uncle Neil drinka the beer!”

    Oregon!! Woohoo!!

  2. Swati Says:

    Yay! You’ll be in Oregon next. Had to check the map to see how far you were from the border. And so Joel and you still have plans to go touch the Pacific ocean? Yay for you!

  3. Swati Says:

    Oooh, can’t believe I left a comment without a smiley, so here goes – 😉

  4. Swati Says:

    Thanks for the pics! Saw that you made it to OR. You got two little cuties waiting for you there. I did go “Eeewww” at your dead skinned hand. Also, your blue sweatband and beard makes you look like a total sardar! Its pretty funny how much!

  5. Greg Says:

    Check out this story in the Herald today on this guys biking to South America on an old rusted Schwinn (22,500 miles). Love reading your journal, wish I could do a ride like that some time. Be safe and have fun. –Greg

  6. Dana Says:

    Dude, totally awesome pics! Seriously, what gorgeous scenery! You could be an author and a photo journalist. No fair. I also appreciated the brand of beer in that one photo.

    Too funny how there’s buffalo or bison or whatever they are all over the place. I’m so used to cows, that seeing another animal caught me off guard. It’s nice that they travel the highways once in awhile too. I guess everyone runs late for work on occassion! : )

    P.S. I will send you some coupons for hand lotion when you return.
    (“Put the lotion in the basket!” Actually, I hate that quote and that part of the movie. Got goose bumps now just typing it. Creeps me out!)