• Kellogg to Thompson Falls
  • 69.2 miles
  • 3575’ gain
  • 498.5 total miles
  • cloudy and spitting then sunny at the pass and beyond

Today we rode to Montana from Kellogg, Idaho. It was a relatively short ride, only 69 miles. But it included crossing into the Mountain Time Zone at Thompson Pass, 4,852’ high. Since we started around 1900’, we had some work to do!

It all started simply enough with a return trip down the Coeur d’Alene Trail. As we rode swiftly along, Sheila yelled, “Bike in a tree! Stop!” I did. Sure enough, someone had mounted a bike in a tree. Most of the cyclists missed it, being too focused on riding. This is another great advantage of having a stoker. She can look around and make sure I don’t miss stuff.

Then we turned into the beautiful Coeur d’Alene River Valley. It was gorgeous. High rocky cliffs, swift water, and lots of beautiful trees. Quite idyllic, actually. We tend to ride on our own a lot on this trip, even after the group bunches together at stops. Others just don’t ride the same way we do. Today that worked to our advantage.

Moose up close on the roadWe were cruising along the road, quietly admiring the view and how little our butts hurt. We rolled over a rise and I yelled, “Take a picture! Take a picture!” There was a moose standing in the middle of the road not 100’ away. It stared at us. We stared at it. It must have stood 7’ tall at the shoulder, maybe 9’ tall in all. It was huge! It finally decided we were benign, so it moseyed off to the side of the road. We rode by as he clambered into the forest. Later we learned that Alex and William and their dad Robin actually saw a mountain lion! WOW!

We continued up the valley. After 25 miles, the road kicked up to 1 or 2%. Not bad at all. After 30 miles it went up to 4-5%. At 35 miles it jumped to 7%. At 41 miles, it hit 10% and higher. Through it all we fought wildly varying winds, sometimes really intense headwinds, occasionally shifting to tailwinds. The clouds were dark and threatening in one direction and light and sunny the other. The winds were sometimes freezing, sometimes warm. We couldn’t figure out the right combination of clothes to wear. Eventually we were working so hard we got down to jerseys and shorts for the final climb.

Crossing from Idaho to Montana with time change and 2 other tandemsWhen we crested the pass we were thrilled to see our picnic lunch stop. Our food was wonderful. We were disappointed there was not a “Welcome to Montana” sign. William quickly drew one up on a whiteboard from the lunch stop and we posed for a picture with the two other tandem couples on the trip.

The descent was thrilling as usual. We sailed along sliding past singles all the way, until we caught up with Greg, Robin, and Alex. We swooped past them at 28. I slowed a bit to see if any of them wanted to catch on. When she looked back, Sheila saw Alex with a giant grin on his face. He had turned on the afterburners and caught up. Then the three of us picked it up and continued to fly down the mountain. Alex basically didn’t have to pedal. After about 15 miles he left us as we slowed down.

turtleJust as we were getting ready to turn into where our overnight high school accommodations Sheila spotted a whole row of turtles sunning themselves. This one was all by itself.

After setting up the tent and blogging we were shuttled to the Elks Club for a very elaborate catered dinner. A step up from eating at the Middle Schools.


One state down
Made it to Missoula