Ride Idaho with the YMCA: August 10-16, 2008

Sheila and I decided to travel to Idaho for our 6th week-long state tour on the tandem. Sponsored by the YMCA, Ride Idaho had charted a course through the SE corner of the Gem State. The scenery was advertised as breathtaking and it didn’t disappoint.

Idaho Falls, the terminal point of our loop, is a long way from anywhere. It took us two days of driving to get there. After one uneventful, but long, day we were in Missoula, Montana where we stayed with a camp friend, Flower and her partner. We arrived after 7 having filled up at a biodiesel (B20) pump, the only one we could locate between Seattle and Idaho Falls. We had a pleasant evening visiting and left early the next morning.

Our journey south from Missoula took us through Spencer, Idaho. It’s the opal capital of the country. We got a small rock sample to commemorate it, took some pictures and continued on. In Idaho Falls we checked in, got the important ride information at the first night’s meeting, then retired to our hotel room. Our rule on these trips now is that we only sleep in hotels. Tents are for kids.

Ride Idaho route map

Then we set out on the first day of our 480 mile journey covering 17,763 feet of elevation gain . We traveled north to St. Anthony the first day on mostly flat roads. The second day we did more climbing, going east up to Mesa Falls on the way to Driggs. On the third day we had a short day as we rode south to Big Elk Creek Y Camp along the Wyoming border. We slipped in and out of Wyoming on the fourth day and ended up in Soda Springs. Now we were heading west again. On the fifth day we rode to Lava Hot Springs and sampled the relaxing pools there. Next we turned north as we rode to Pocatello. On the seventh and last day we rode back to Idaho Falls. Throughout the week the weather was stellar, with cool to cold mornings, clear blue, sunny skies, warming to 75-85 each day with just enough breeze to be comfortable but not too many headwinds. A cyclist’s dream.

Obviously there is more to be said about each day’s ride. That information is on following pages. Here I’ll just say the scenery was grand, filled with more potatoes and wheat than you could imagine, and that Sheila and I discovered a competitive streak that surprised us.

We got in the last day around noon anticipating getting a good jump on the return trip, possibly even getting past Missoula. (Home of the biodiesel we didn’t want to miss. We’d carted 10 gallons of B100 with us, but it was all in the tank by now even at 39 mpg.) As we left the finish area, I heard (amazing!) an odd sound from the tires. We stopped and I found (more amazing) a screw imbedded in the front tire. Our GPS came to the rescue and took us to a Les Schwab store. In 15 minutes, we were gone again. They are great.

We were in Missoula by 7 p.m. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant then discovered to our dismay that the B20 pump was not working today. Rats! We headed west looking for more miles before we got a room. Did we ever get them.

Turns out that since it was one of the last weekends in August and there was a Tom Petty concert at the Gorge, there were no rooms available. Not in Wallace, Kellogg, Couer d’Alene, Post Falls, Spokane (!), Moses Lake or any place else. Unbelievable. Finally at 1:30 AM we slept in the car in a parking lot in Moses Lake for an hour and a half. Got up, had a little breakfast at a diner, then drove the rest of the night. Finally we arrived home at daybreak, two very tired, punchy vacationers. We’d been going for a little over 24 hours counting our ride from Pocatello to Idaho Falls.

The trip was wonderful. The support was great. The other riders were fun. We even got in some pinochle! That’s Dave & Lenette who we played with. (I was dealt aces around and a double pinochle one hand!) The food, as to be expected, was challenging but we survived and were thankful we made the journey. Next time we’ll reserve a hotel for the return!

Spring Break San Diego
Idaho Falls to Saint Anthony