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Bicycle Idaho, 2002

Background

We enjoyed last year's first Bicycle Idaho 2001 tour and planned then to join the tour again this year. Last year's route was a loop in Southern Idaho. This year's route is a loop in Eastern Washington and Northwestern Idaho. As always, the tour was organized by Bicycle Rides Northwest, a company based in Bend, Oregon.

Itinerary

Day Start Stop Mileage Elevation Gain
July 14 Lewiston, ID Pullman, WA 58 3030
July 15 Pullman Fairfield, WA 63 2435
July 16 Fairfield Coeur d'Alene, ID 50 1410
July 17 Layover at Coeur d'Alene varied  
July 18 Coeur d'Alene St. Maries, ID 60 3615
July 19 St. Maries Deary, ID 54 3585
July 20 Deary Lewiston, ID 48 2270
Totals
333+ 16345+

Diary

13 July 2002 (Saturday)
We drive to Lewiston, Idaho, from our home in Bend. There is a strong wind across the Columbia Plateau from the east and it is hot. As we drop down to the Snake River near Clarkston my truck outside thermometer reads 111 degrees F. It is hot at our camp at the Lewiston Rodeo Grounds, but we have exciting thunderstorms during dinner that cools the temperature down and we have a much more comfortable evening. We see several people from previous rides, including Pete who we last saw on the Ride the Rockies 2002 tour last month. We listen to the tractor pull and the adjoining stadium and several thunderstorms during the evening and night.

14 July (Sunday)
We leave the Rodeo Grounds and ride to Lewiston, then cross the Snake River in Clarkston, Washington. After passing the Port of Clarkston we cross the Snake River once more and ride north along the east bank of the river to Wawawai Landing. The headwind is strong along the river, but the temperature and views are nice. At Wawawai we turn away from the river and climb towards Pullman. This is a strenuous and hot climb, but is soon over and there is a cool breeze at the top. We enjoy a pleasant ride through green farmland the rest of the way to Pullman, where we stay at the Sunny Side School. We walk downtown in the afternoon for lunch and enjoy a pleasant evening at the school.

The Palouse north of Pullman
Palouse River

15 July (Monday)
We ride north out of Pullman on Highway 27 through rolling farmland. Linda feels strong and attacks the rollers in her highest chain ring. I stop for photos and find Linda in Palouse where she was waited for me. We ride north along the scenic Palouse River and then on to Garfield. North of Garfield we turn right onto Farmington road and enjoy a scenic and very pleasant ride through Farmington and then on to Tekoa. We find a used book store serving espresso and we enjoy our first lattes of the tour. We continue on Highway 27 through Latah to Fairfield. It has been a hot ride, but everyone we speak with is very impressed with how scenic the day's route has been. We camp at the Fairfield City Park along the highway. A few trees provide shade, but the best shade is on steeply sloping ground, so we compromise and camp beside the horseshoe pit. Rick, Ray, Daniel, and John pitch horseshoes for several games without landing any horseshoes onto tents or bicycles. We sleep fitfully with the bright park lights and sounds of traffic, barking dogs, and a domestic argument across the street.

Spokane River

16 July (Tuesday)
We continue riding north along Highway 27 past Rockford and Mica. The drop down into the Spokane metro area is fun, but several bicyclists are riding slowly two or more abreast on the wide shoulder in heavy vehicle traffic so we descend carefully. We find the excellent bike path along the Spokane River and follow it east into Idaho. Soon the bike path leaves the river and winds amoung busy streets. Due to construction we are rerouted onto a very busy Seltice Road with little or no shoulder. But we all arrive safely to the Coeur d'Alene Fairgounds. It is very hot and we find the best available tent spot we can, since we will be spending the next two evenings here. After setting up camp several of us take a bus shuttle downtown and enjoy a dip into the Coeur d'Alene Lake, a few shops, and the Coeur d'Alene Brewery Pub before returning to the Fairgrounds for dinner. It is relaxed around camp in the evening. Even those planning the full optional ride tomorrow don't have to plan an early start. Someone plays a practical joke on Pete, stealing the wine and postcards he purchased downtown that afternoon. These are eventually returned to his tent the next day.

17 July (Wednesday)
Dave, Linda, Pete, and I ride an abbreviated, but interesting version of the day's optional bike route. We ride to Hayden Lake and along and above its northwestern shore in thick forest, then return to Highway 95. We turn west onto Highway 53 to shorten the route, but find the traffic too busy for comfort and begin following a series of back roads. We have to ride on some short gravel stretches, but manage to avoid most of the traffic on our way back to camp. Linda and I ride downtown and swim in the lake before returning for an excellent dinner (tri-tips) at camp.

Coeur d'Alene River near Harrison

18 July (Thursday)
Today we begin our return ride to Lewiston through Idaho. We ride downtown Coeur d'Alene, then climb onto Interstate 90. We ride along this busy highway, stopping for photos of Coeur d'Alene Lake, until we exit at milepost 22 towards Harrison. We follow the shoreline for several miles, visiting several bays separated by climbs of varying difficulty. There is some truck traffic and the shoulder is narrow, but most of the drivers are very patient and considerate with the many bicyclists on the curvy road. We cross the Coeur d'Alene River just before entering Harrison and stopping at the City Park. We soon climb away from the lake towards St. Maries and drop down into another valley. It is warmer now that we are away from the lake. We cross the St. Joe River, enter St. Maries, and find camp at the school. Linda spots a good tent site along the edge of the field where we are able to find variable shade. The gear truck is later than usual and I am able to help unload the truck with many other eager campers. The gear is color coded and we make three rows behind the truck as it moves forward. The bags are treated rather roughly, so it is best to pack the bags snugly with the most fragile items deep inside.

19 July (Friday)
It is cooler, today, as we leave St. Maries to climb along usy Highway 3 through thick forest. There are many log trucks sharing the road with us. The shoulder is narrow. I stop to allow trucks to pass before I enter one inside curve and then hurry through the curve before more trucks arrive. At the top of the first climb we find rollers, then drop back down to the St. Maries River. We turn onto Highway 6 and pass through Emida, then climb to the Palouse Divide. Here we find the owner of the adjoining ski lodge providing us a small water stop. He seems to enjoy visiting with the bicyclists and we learn he has recently moved here from Bend, our home. The descent to the Palouse is fast and fun and we continue on to Howard in a light rain shower. We turn onto Highway 9 and climb once more and ride on to Deary and our camp at the Deary High School. The community is expecting us. The camp is close to the downtown and the bicyclists swarm over the few food and drink establishments in town. There are a few sprinkles in the afternoon. Linda and I check our email at the City Library. The camp is festive -- it is our last camp of the tour. We have a nice salmon dinner and then a local Bluegrass musical team entertains us. It is a cool and quiet night and we sleep well.

Countryside south of Deary, Idaho
Canyon Overlook
Canyon Overlook
Dropping down to Kendrick
Linda at the end of the Ride

20 July (Saturday)
The tent is wet with dew in the morning. We leave Deary south on Highway 3 in the cool morning. Linda and I take our time and photograph several scenic vistas. Linda lingers along the road photographing many of our fellow bicyclists. I enjoy the long, steep, and scenic drop to Kendrick, where we turn onto the bike path along Potlach Creek. We cross the Clearwater River and follow its south shore downriver to the Nez Perce Park. Here we enjoy the last rest/water/snack stop of the tour and say goodbye to many of the support crew. We take some back roads, then turn onto Highway 95 and follow it to the Webb Cutoff Road. We turn onto this road and climb our last hill of the tour in the hot sun, then descend to the Lewiston Rodeo Grounds and the end of the tour.

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