Hank – Jim fixed us a great breakfast of poached eggs on English muffins. I’ve never had poached eggs before and now I know what I’ve been missing. They were so delicious. We thanked Jim and Christy for their amazing hospitality and walked our bikes across the street to WinCo to pick up bananas, apples, and a couple of Clif bars. Then we rolled down to Hwy 95 and started our trek westward. The multipurpose path running alongside the highway was much more pleasant than riding with traffic and we enjoyed the few miles of it. Getting onto the highway we encountered a head wind. I lead to help Kathy conserve energy because I knew we had over 3000 feet of climbing to do today.
We stopped by the Nez Perce Historical Museum to have a snack, use the bathroom, and get some info on what lie ahead of us. A ranger told us there were a couple of food stops on the way to Craigmont, our original destination, and that Winchester Lake State Park, six miles shy of Craigmont, had better facilities. (I had contacted Craigmont last week and was assured we could camp in the city park.) Winchester park sounded much better and I sang it’s praises to Kathy as we pedaled past Lapwai. She wanted to make it to Craigmont today so we could make it to Boise “on time”. Again, I reminded her we were not on the clock and that showers, a lake, and shelter sounded better than a city park. But I didn’t press the matter. Gravity and time would do that for me. The day warmed and there was little protection from the sun. We stopped for a cold drink at Drover’s bar and grill/cafe/restaurant, near Culdesac, ID. I was surprised Kathy had a Mike’s Hard Lemonade but she said it hit the spot. I went with the regular stuff. We kept pedaling and the road ever so slowly got steeper. After 25 miles or so Kathy wasn’t so intent on getting to Craigmont. She was running low on water and climbing on a bike weighing 90+ pounds was wearing her down. We spotted a school bus and a bunch of cars ahead and stopped to rest and ask them for some water. It was a school outing where the kids camped out and were now trying to catch bugs and other creatures in a nearby creek. A couple of adults were interested in what we were up to and grabbed some water bottles for us. We were very appreciative. Two lessons learned today: (1) you need more water than you think you do, and (2) there’s a creek running alongside the road, dumb ass Hank. Use your water filter.
For the most part, the shoulder of Hwy 95 had plenty of room between the rumble strip and the guard rail or road edge. As we were climbing the roadway had several very short slow-vehicle passing lanes. These tended to be sketchy for us because the gap between the rumble strip and the guard rail would shrink, which meant we’d have to ride on the right side of the lane so we wouldn’t hit the guard rail with our panniers. We tried to time those moments for when no large trucks were coming.
Our plans changed from stopping in Winchester and grabbing a bite to staying in Winchester. This was the hardest day of cycling Kathy has ever had and climbing a couple more hours to Craigmont would be miserable for both of us. The temp was probably in the 80’s and it helped we had more shade during the last few miles of our climb, but the wind was going our way so it wasn’t cooling us off much. So we called it. I was happy we were staying in Winchester for the reasons I mentioned before but I was also pretty tired myself. After perusing the camp sites and seeing that thunderstorms were on the menu for tomorrow we decided to treat ourselves to a stay in a yurt. Then, if the weather was nasty and we wanted to rest up more, we could stay an extra day in a nice shelter. We returned to town and picked up some spaghetti noodles, a jar of Prego, and a bottle of wine. But first we ate some huckleberry ice cream. Then we went back to the campground where we showered and washed our bike clothes and hung them up. Kathy opened the wine and I made dinner. The noodles and wine were very comforting.
At 11:00 pm I woke to the sounds of a torrential downpour. But we were in a yurt so I went back to sleep.
Kathy – After a wonderful breakfast by our Warm Showers host Christy and Jim we left Lewiston, Idaho to head towards either Winchester, Idaho or Craigmont, Idaho (8 miles more and more elevation). We decided our stop for the night would depend on how tired we were once we got to Winchester. OK, Winchester is our stop for the night. The long climb up the mountain side was enough for one day.
We started out with Hellish Headwinds as I hoped for the Tailwind Goddess to show up but she never did. Hank was nice enough to break the wind for me as he rode in front. That typically saves you 10-20% on your energy expenditures. After about nine miles we started uphill and the winds dispersed. We rode 42 miles today in 85 degree weather. Of that, the last 33 miles were all uphill with a total elevation of 3,400 feet. That is the most I have ever climbed on my bike! Having an 80 – 85 pound bike made it a challenging ride up the mountain side. My Fitbit says I burned over 4,000 calories! We were careful but at times the trucks and cars seemed very close to us. The shoulder on the road sometimes was narrow and the wind gust from the big trucks would blow so strongly that I had to really grip the handlebars to keep from swerving or falling over. I can only compare today’s physical challenge to my previous marathon runs. I truly was taxed mentally and physically – but I did it!! I was not going to give up and walk my bike up that incline. I actually felt pretty good once we finished our ride today. Let’s see how I feel in the morning. If we are too sore we will take a day off. We are on Day 6 and we have not taken a day off yet.
Once we got to our camp site we checked the weather – rain and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. We decided instead of tenting it we would rent a Yurt. It is pretty cool and best of all we will be dry – at least tonight. Headed over to the showers at the camp site and a nice cold (fast) shower was there to welcome me. I held my head under the hand dryer a few times to try to warm up and reduce the dripping from my wet hair. Oh how my life is changing – no make-up, no hair straighter, and no fancy clothes. 😊 Those that think this bike packing trip is so wonderful may not understand some days can be much harder than others. Today was one of those days. Steph and I always say to “flip it” and find a positive in every negative. Well even though it was a tough day, I am truly thankful for Hank and all of his amazing support as I continue to get stronger and we enjoy this journey together.