Missoula, MT to Lewiston, ID
40, 88, 40 miles
Our ride out of Missoula was a slow and steady climb, but the wind was at a dead calm and the weather was pleasant. We were in familiar country for the first time ever, on familiar highway 12 even, and the forest and riverside scenery were idyllic. We stayed at Lolo Hot Springs and warmed ourselves up in the hot pool.
The morning we left Lolo Hot Springs was cold. So very, very cold. The cafe was closed but when they saw us shivering on the front step, they let us in for some coffee. We ate our peanut butter and trail mix quesadillas and tried to warm up over our cups. We only had 7 more miles to Lolo Pass but we ran into some pretty heavy construction almost immediately. The flagger was directing cars to follow a pilot truck, which we were about to follow until she waved us to a halt and gave us a thorough warning of the dangers ahead. Apparently, we had about 5 miles of one way road with construction vehicles and lines of traffic competing to get through, all uphill and with no shoulder. Since we weren't about to take a 200 mile detour, we told her we'd be careful and as we pedaled onward, we could hear her radio ahead that some "pedal pushers" were on their way through. It sounded kinda derogatory coming from her.
One thing that flagger lady had managed to give us was the adrenaline to charge up that mountain pass like we never had before. All of the construction vehicles and pilot cars were slow moving and courteous, and we always had enough grass to move off the road when necessary. We were rewarded at the top with an extra hour as we crossed into the Pacific time zone and Idaho!
Our excitement for an entirely downhill day from that point on quickly faded as we blasted through the next 10 miles at a solid 30 mph coast in the 40 degree weather. I got cold again, and quickly. By the time we made it to the Lochsa Lodge, which we weren't even sure would be open, my lips were numb and my fingers weren't working. We stumbled through the door and I immediately peeled off my coat and shoes and curled up in their fireplace. We ordered french toast, huckleberry pancakes, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, sausage, eggs, toast, hot chocolate, and coffee. We stayed there at least an hour and even then I didn't want to leave because I was still shivering.
Nevertheless, we continued our downhill trek into Lowell in great time. Highway 12 is narrow and windy there, and we had a few uncomfortable moments with semis, but all in all we loved the river views despite the thick, thick smoke from nearby fires.
Lowell was a lowpoint for us which meant our next day into Winchester totalled about 4000 feet of climbing throughout the day. We finally broke out of the forest and into the rolling hills of the Palouse. It was a long, hard day of climbing. One of my favorite moments was in a grocery store in Kamiah, ID when an old man told David in his cycling outfit to "put some clothes on, boy!"
That night in Winchester our motel had a hot tub and a BBQ, so we took full advantage of both! We bought two thick 12 oz steaks from the butcher as he cut the meat right in front of us, then grilled them up and downed one each.
The next morning we had another great start to the day with the biggest plate of biscuits and gravy we've seen yet and something called "The Whole Hog." And yep, David ate the whole thing.
This day's biking would benefit from all our climbing the day before. We cruised down almost 40 miles to meet our friend Jordan in Lewiston. He gave us a ride up to Moscow/Pullman, where David and I went to school. We got to hang out at his place, make peach cobbler, see all our friends, and eat out at a few favorite places. It was a wonderful rest and such a great encouragement!
Our time in Idaho was sponsored by our biggest fans Josh and Amy Martin, our friends and purveyors of green chile Nathan and Tracy McCranie, and my grandma Nancy! Thank you all for your support in getting us this far.