Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 8 - July 8 - A long and beautiful ride up the Lochsa river towards Lolo Pass

Day 8 – July 8 – Kamiah, ID to Lochsa Lodge, ID (near Lolo Pass)
      95.6 miles ( 153.8 kms); Total so far: 652.8 miles (1049.8 kms).

Distance: 95.6 miles (153.8 kms)
Total time: 8hrs25mins (including stops for many stops for oh-ah moments and pictures, and a long lunch on the riverbank) 
Average Moving Speed: 13.7mph (22.0 kph)
Maximum Speed:35.5mph (57.1 kph) 
Elevation gained:
Calories burned: 4449
Weather:  After the thunderstorm, the air was quite humid and remained that way till later afternoon.  Sunny all day with temperatures rising from 65F (19C) to 82F (28C) during the day.  Light winds from the west helped me a little all the way.

Powered by: a Belgian waffle, a bagel, one scrambled egg, and yogurt for breakfast; 5 liters of Gatorade, 4 liters of water, 3 bananas, 1 small Coke, I GU gel, 2 protein bars and a peanut butter-banana sandwich with a huge dollop of peanut butter (very messy).

Any ideas I had of starting off early in the day were undermined by a small but powerful thunderstorm about 7:30am.  I had heard what I thought was thunder about 4:30am but there was no rain when I looked outside.  It rained hard till about 8:30am and the radar on the National Weather Service website showed that the area of rain was small and moving quickly to the east.  I had a more leisurely breakfast than planned and by the time, I was ready to leave about 10am, the ground had dried, though the air was still fairly humid as the temperature rose quickly.  I started sweating immediately and my bike shirt was stuck to my back most of the day as I had a slight tailwind.

My target for the day was a lodge near Lolo Pass, the divide between Idaho and Montana, between Pacific and Mountain Time Zones, and the crossing point of the Bitterroot range into Missoula.  Between Lowell (about 32 miles from my starting point) and the lodge, the only option is camping and I have no camping gear. So Lochsa Lodge, it was.

The road from Kamiah to Kooskia was rather unpleasant, though it ran along the beautiful Clearwater river. The usual combination of heavy traffic and shoulders (margins) filled with debris and gravel ruined the ride for the first 7 miles.  But after Kooskia, as the route turned east and especially after the tiny hamlet of Lowell, the ride was magnificent.

This sign was accurate 

Last stop for provisions before Lochsa Lodge, 64 miles upriver

   The grade up is at a constant 1-2% and follows closely the Lochsa river for 66 miles to the lodge.  The remaining 14 miles or so to the pass is a bit steeper but that can wait for tomorrow.   Traffic was light, especially after about 3pm and though there really is no shoulder, most drivers are respectful of bicycles and gave me a wide berth.  The road surface is generally smooth.  I saw only 5 other bicycle tourists, three of who were going west.  One couple had  the strangest bicycle contraption I’ve ever seen – a recumbent in the front and an upright behind and above it in a sort of tandem.    At one of my fluid stops, I chatted with a couple from Oregon who had toured in Alaska and were returning from another tour in the Bozeman region.

Because there are no services of any kind for almost 70 miles, I had to pack a lot of water, food and Gatorade and the bike felt more sluggish than normal – but less so as I consumed my supplies as the day went on.  I find that I can crank out a steady 15-16mph pace on the loaded bike on a flat surface with no wind for hours on end but with today’s weight and the slight uphill grade, my pace was a constant 14mph for most of the ride.  As on other mornings, it takes a few miles for my legs to get the message that they need to keep pedaling but I’ve had no leg pains or cramping so far on this trip.

I stopped many times to admire the views of a river that is as beautiful as any I have ever seen.  The fish were jumping, though surprisingly nobody was fishing.  Since traffic was light, I could hear birds chirping, the river chortling, the bike cranking and the tires humming, I saw deer, a skunk, rabbits, lots of little creatures (probably chipmunks), and got hit by about 8-10 bees.  On about 5-6 occasions, I smelled roadkill long before I saw it and often, I heard the crows and other corvids fighting over the juicy bits before I saw the remains.  Getting close to these sights and smells might be one of the few drawbacks of biking compared to driving.  It's quite a massacre of wildlife on the roads, especially of birds. 

Where I had lunch on the river Lochsa

One of hundreds of such nice views along the road

A long way still up to the pass even after 40 miles of gradual climbing

Lengthening shadows on the empty road after 6pm, though it's probably not a good idea to ride and take a photograph at the same time  

The trees smelled like pine forests –the fragrant was quite strong – and after 5pm, I could smell the campfires from the many camping sites along the river near my destination.  I pulled into the lodge about 6:30pm and for once, did not have to quickly shower, change and rush to eat before the only dining option was closed for the night.  From the room, I can hear the rushing river and the temperature had already fallen by about 25 degrees F in the  two hours after my arrival.

I’ll hope to leave by 9am for Missoula about 55 miles away, over Lolo Pass and even with time for sightseeing and the loss of one hour due to the time zone change, I should be there by mid-afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. love the food info! please keep sharing detailed accounts - miss mud pie looks delicious (even if not vegan!) :) this is so much fun to follow and i shared with some folks at natgeo :)