Sunday, June 29, 2008

Looking back at Cycle Montana and ahead to whitewater rafting Snake River in Idaho

Kooskia, Idaho, Reflections Inn, 10 a.m. Sunday, June 29

The yellow highway sign warned: Winding roads - next 77 miles! Since I skipped a careful map study before my road trip, that came as quite a surprise yesterday during my drive west on Highway 12 from Missoula, Montana, to Kooskia, Idaho. Negotiating the hairpin turns and cruising the short straightaways that follow the bends in the Lochsa River, I had about three hours to think about my Cycle Montana trip and my upcoming whitewater raft trip with ROW as I drove my rental Toyota to my fantastic overnight bed and breakfast, Reflections Inn. I have postd Cycle Montana photos on the photo gallery of my website.

Some superlatives came to mind:

Best Part of Trip: New friends! The trip had a capacity of 120 riders, but only 60 showed up, which turned out to be a great size. Our oldest rider, Ken, was 81, and the youngest, Hannah, was 16. We had cyclists from Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and many more from Western states including California, Washington, Montana and Oregon. Theresa came from Nelson, Canada. We had a father-daughter duo, an engaged couple, two friends who see each other only once a year to ride together on a bike tour, and many retired and active professionals: lawyers, judges, surgeons and accountants. I was the only active journalist - although Ken worked for many years as a reporter at the Sacramento Bee.

Best Town: Philipsburg, Montana. I swear that the free fudge samples at the town's famous candy store did NOT influence my decision! I only tried the chocolate, chocolate-peanut butter and fudge of the week: chocolate-peanut butter caramel. Philipsburg also had a fine ice cream shop, but all I sampled there were the rockin' 50's tunes they played.

Worst Part of Trip: Mosquitoes swarming in buzzing packs in the town of Wisdom. They were so bad that we were given permission to sleep indoors at the local school rather than at the campsite. I left there with bites ALL over. Second worst: a few too many cold showers, but I can live with that.

Number One Thing I would do differently:
Pack ligther! Every morning and evening, I wound up shuffling through unneeded clothing and toiletries that had seemed prudent when I was dashing out of Santa Cruz. Why on earth did I think I would need a full tube of tooth paste and large toothbrush as well as a travel size toothbrush and mini tube of toothpaste? No, I did NOT pack two different size tents!

10 More Thoughts on Cycle Montana:
1 - Flat rear tire on the final day came from riding on the highway back to Missoula
2 - The average number of people I rode with on a daily basis
3- The number of nights I spent in Missoula before I started the bike ride on Sunday
4 - The number of meals I ate each day - breakfast, lunch and dinner were all provided by Paige, our fabulous caterer. I would also make an extra sandwich each day to eat around 4 p.m. (Zero - number of pounds I lost).
5 - The number of bike tours I learned about from friends that I want to do - RAW in Washington, RAGBAI in Iowa, Bike Idaho, mt. bike tour with Adventure Cycle and Ride Wyoming.
6 -The number of days we cycled (Sunday-Friday with the biggest mileage day of 75 miles).
7 - The number of mornings when I was practically the last person to leave camp due to sleeping in, reshuffling luggage and general slowness.
8- Times a day I checked to see if I could figure out how to properly use my bike odometer.
9- Every nine minutes, it seems, I stopped to take photos.
10 - This trip definately counts as one of my top 10 trips ever. Very fun and scenic!