Saturday, January 1, 2011


Today was one of the best experiences I have ever had on a bike. Ever! We ate well and headed out into a cold overcast day. It was 40 degrees, maybe 35, with the windchill.

We rode 13 miles and began to climb. On my right was a lake supporting mist the sun had yet to burn. It fronted a mountain filled with fog topped with late season snow. The setting was so stunning it was a challenge to ride. We climbed through mist which turned to rain, rain to sleet, and sleet to snow. At the top of Lolo pass we stopped at a snow covered ranger station, drank hot chocolate, and headed back out for a thrilling 47 miles of downhill into Montana.

Once in Montana, it seemed odd to ride for so long at 17 miles per hour with such little effort. We passed fields of cattle running to feed through yellow fields. Rain pelted my face and teeth as I smiled a smile of freedom, of life! I experienced the outdoors today. I felt its diversity. Not long ago my reality was the sterile environment of the hospital. It was an honor to experience this day!


We rode from Lowell to Powell today. The river was beautiful as we followed it, like yesterday, for the remainder of the day. The higher we climbed the more rapid it began to flow. The pine trees disappeared as the mountains rose so sharp left and right that cloud cover capped and enclosed my world. There was a steady 1-2 degree grade for 61 miles that added steady pressure to my legs. Cold, rain, and flat tires were the norm for the day.

I'm simply amazed how things work out. Today was filled with cold, rain, and struggle. Yet, it ended with a bed, a log cabin, and a central wood burning stove. I couldn't feel my feet the entire day. My hands were in the same state. My body is now warm. A warmth enhanced from recently knowing cold. Suddenly, my only concern is the number of logs in the stove.


Well, another day. The morning was rough!!!!! We left White Bird, Idaho (pop.106). Talk about depressing. The mountains were so close, so all encompassing, and the clouds so dark and heavy, I couldn't wait to leave. In order to do so, we climbed, and climbed, and climbed up a 12 mile 8 degree grade. My right thigh was tight and the back of my left knee hurt. But, my pace was steady, morning aches wore off, and, as usual, it turned to another beautiful day.

As we crested the peak leaving White Byrd, a Subaru apparently missed a corner and slammed into the corner of the cliff. There was steam and fluids flowing from the engine. As we helped the driver out of the car, others stopped and offered assistance. Knowing she was in good hands, we rolled on. The accident reminded me, once again, of the fragility of life. A fragility, at least for a while, I was able to forget.

The rest of the day we rode along the Snake River. Pleasant, exceptionally smooth and pleasant riding, marked the remainder of the day. I write from the porch of a rafting lodge just feet from the rushing Snake River. I can't help but watch its timeless movement, hear its fury, and feel the deep rumble of power. My life is feeling simple. I wake, I ride, I eat. Like the river, my days are both natural and timeless. I never thought I'd find such peace sleeping on the porch of a cabin.


We left Council, Idaho today. It was a beautiful day with warm winds and clear skies. We road up hill, again, for a while but the road soon leveled out. We covered 91 miles in an effort to regain what we lost yesterday.

The day was a long, tough, day in the saddle. Fatigue forced me to put additional effort into each pedal stroke. I felt like I was going to bonk this morning and initially thought I just needed to eat a big lunch. Actually, eating frequently rather than a lot proved beneficial. Hopefully my body is adapting rather than breaking down.

I watched as the landscape changed from pine trees and wind swept valleys back to mountain passes. I was struck by the wind washed land and the hardiness of both the people and the vegetation. Oregon seemed much more lush and easier on its people.


We rode into Pacific time last night. It was pretty cool to ride your bike far enough to gain an hour. We camped in a little town called Oxbow. It's amazing how the steady flow of a river makes a person sleep well.

Even after a good nights sleep I didn't feel like riding this morning. I was both lethargic and unmotivated. It took a while to get my motor going especially with the initial climb. After a couple of hours I felt good. We rounded a corner with a river on the left and sheer cliffs on the right which hid the sun which dropped the temperature 10 degrees. Movement forced me to look up at the overhanging cliffs as I spotted four mountain goats looking down. As we continued into Idaho the climate changed to hot, dry, and windy. Gearing was tough as the terrain turned to rolling climb after rolling climb.

A volunteer fireman was nice enough to offer a lift to the local corner store. Later, I slept by a park bench after a killer dinner of a heated burrito, milk, Gatorade, frozen snickers, and Corona. Yes, my gut rumbled pretty good that night!

Another good day.