Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 1: Pocatello, Idaho to Arco, Idaho

Good Morning Pocatelloooooooo! I could hardly sleep last night I was so excited about starting the route today. Yesterday groups arrived throughout the day with the entire group together by about 6 pm. Some of us went over our bikes and gear while others went for a local ride. I took it easy. I really wanted an "off day" to just relax. We found a nice restaurant nearby and enjoyed a nice meal, serenaded by a jazz band, and watched the sunset against a backdrop of mountains. A nice end to a hectic day for everyone.

I woke up at 5 am local time (7 am at home) and immediately got busy readying my gear, repacking my bags, and generally gave everything one last look. OCD is a 24 hour a day job. It seemed most others were on my Eastern schedule and we had the group milling around the parking lot with the other early risers. Oh, I didn't mention the VIP's in town, and sharing our hotel, is Extreme Home Makeover who is rebuilding a home in town. I nearly ran Art over in the parking lot yesterday (he's pretty forgiving) and the crew is full of nice friendly people that we've had a nice time with. So they were up bright and early with us on the way to the job site.

I rode with Greg Calhoun, Stan Nelson, Bob Shields, and Greg Mulinax today and we were among the last to leave. I started out leading the group but was relieved of that after 2 wrong turns in the first 2 miles. Once we got that sorted out we exited town on some paved roads which pretty quickly got into some beautiful country. The 360 degree view included mountains, valleys, lots of wild life, and almost no signs of people. That's one reason we're in Idaho and it really delivers. The big highlight was a Moose we startled grazing at the side of the road. Our approach startled what I'm guessing was a female who took off into the brush. My first Moose and it was cool.

We eventually made our way to dirt and after a nice run of dirt roads we came to a trail that was as primitive as I've ridden with a state or county designation. But it's an Idaho road! I enjoyed the double track with grass anywhere from knee to hip high and dotted with wild flowers. I wasn't too far down the trail when it occurred to me how different this is from Colorado already. The wild is more wild, remote is more remote, and difficult is more difficult. But none of this seems daunting. The miles are more work but the work so completely consumes your mind that at the stops I wondered where the day was going.

After a mid-day convenience store lunch we headed out to some high desert for a mostly gravel run toward Big Butte Mountain. You can see this mountain for probably 60 miles! But what we also saw was a front moving in which appeared to be bringing rain. It was surely bringing wind. We did our best with the changing conditions and finally arrived at Big Butte as it was getting on in the day. I still wanted to climb it and I felt really confident after the day of riding I had under my belt. The locals we met at the base told us the first section was the hardest and after that it was just a pretty ride. That's about right. I still had a heckuva time getting traction and got bounced around alot on the way up. But I made it and the view from the top was amazing. The views must by 100+ miles and if not for the low cloud ceiling I think I could've seen my house in North Carolina. I took video that I'll try to figure out how to upload.

The trip down wasn't so much fun. In general I like going up hills better than down them and I kind of knew that if I had traction problems going up I'd have my hands full on the way down. The fatigue of the day was catching up to me too which didn't help. So I took it slow and easy, make that scary, and got to the bottom with only one spill. My only fall for the day and a pretty cheap one at that. But by the end of that section I was beat and my confidence was shaky. We had an uneventful ride across the desert floor to Arco which was 27 miles away.

We were the last to arrive but all groups arrived within 45 minutes of each other. The total miles for the day were in the 220's for all groups. Most of us made a quick change into something halfway decent for a trip across the street to an inviting diner. I loaded up on a food like I hadn't eaten for days. What a day.

Tomorrow we're going to try to roll early. Everyone has a better handle on their prep for tomorrow which should make it easier. Tomorrow the ride has no fuel on the route. This is the day that Ryan and I have had to plan for because our bikes carry so little fuel. I got some really encouraging news at the first fuel stop of the day when my fuel economy came out to 64 mpg. I need to do better than 48 mpg to make the distance on my fuel load. So that was really good news. Let's hope I can do it again tomorrow.

Pictures are going to be tough for awhile. My camera battery is dead and the charger has gone missing. I'm taking stuff with my phone and hoping to get pictures from others. So the pictures will be up when I can beg, borrow, or steal them. Until then I'll tease you with my phone camera pictures. Good night Arco.

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