Moving On

The original purpose behind The Fourteen Percent Ride has long since been fulfilled. So, I've decided that Mighty Proud will be the last posting. It just seems right.

But, don't worry. Or maybe you should. In any event, I plan to continue. I'll keep riding. And writing. Click here to come along in my new blog ~ The Long White Line. <-- check it out!


As I've ridden for the last two years, I've picked up on the fact that Shirley, my darling wife, has been more worried about my safety than impressed with my "accomplishments." How do I know this? Well, when I'd come back and tell her, for example, that I'd hit 53.6 mph going down FO, she'd reply, "I don't want to hear it." Being the sensitive sort I figured out, after many such comments, that just maybe we were not on the same page here. But last week, she told me that she would "greatly reduce her focus on the 'fear for my safety' issue." We talked about the tour, looked at some maps, researched nutrition suggestions on the internet, and so on, just enjoying the idea of the ride. How nice is that? Thank you, Shirley!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Riding High

Friday, June 22
Kellogg, Idaho to Thompson Falls, Montana

Kellogg, Idaho is home to the world’s longest gondola, if you believe the sign at the boarding station. You can ride up to the top of one of the mountains that surround the town and come back again. You end up having gone nowhere, but with, I am sure, a lot of oohs and aahs along the way. And maybe a few shivers, depending on your attitude about altitude. It isn’t the destination, it’s the journey. It makes me think of the training I did. Two thousand miles and on the day before leaving for this trip I was still in La Crosse. But it was quite a journey in those two months that I rode. Two bikes, all the hills and rides along the river. Now, on this journey, one with a destination - Missoula, Montana - I am having the time of my life. Every mile something new. Well, there were those few endless stretches in the high plains, but even they have their place in the patchwork of experiences that make up the journey. This was a journey I had sought, worked for. Wanting the experience of long rides, big climbs, new landscapes. It has not disappointed.

After taking four and one half days to ride across Washington and get into Idaho, we will cross the Montana state line at about the two-thirds point in today’s short ride. When I wrote this in my paper journal, it struck me that in a matter of just a few days, 69 miles had become a short ride.

In spite of the pace of yesterday’s ride, I feel very good upon arising early on this Friday morning. We backtrack on the bike trail for about 7 miles then head off to the northeast on River Road. This is another of the several nice rides on winding roads and rivers. We are making our way towards Thompson Pass. On the route sheet, I read, at the 42.6 mile mark, "Long Climb 1 1/2 miles 9%." I'm not up on grades. We apparently did some 6%'s earlier, but I can't really picture 9%. Well, actually I can and it is not too pretty. We stop briefly at a Husky service station and get chilled Starbucks Frappuccinos. The guy holding down the fort tells us about the fishing in the nearby river - cutthroat trout. I can see it now: fishermen pull up in a rugged four wheel drive, saunter into the store and come out loaded with six packs of caramel latte coolers. A day in the wilderness.

Off we go, soon to turn off onto Thompson Pass Road. Just another spectacluar ride in the Idaho panhandle. It is 14 miles to the 9% climb, but the climbing starts much sooner. First 2% then 4%, up to 6% (yes, I'm guessing). Finally the road takes a sharp turn to the right and THE climb begins. I pedal along in low gear. It is not easy, but not, on the other hand, nearly as hard as I had expected either. Near the top of the pass, I am riding from one marker to the next (reflectors at 0.05 mile intervals), but it is clear now that I will make it to the pass, this one topping out at about 5,000 feet. And so I do. The picnic stop is set up in the parking lot of the overlook. Michelle is cooking sausages to go along with the rest of the generous lunch goodies.

You can look down on the road that you have just ridden up. It looks far away. It is far away. This is where you are allowed to pause and reflect, "I just rode up that road on a bike!" It feels good to sit on the rock in the warm sun and enjoy the achievement.

Soon it is time to go. Another long, tense downhill. Not terribly steep - about 35 mph for the most part, but it goes on and on. Once down to the lower levels, I ride through a few "towns," but it is mostly forested hills. Turning onto highway 200, I am greeted by a sign that says Thompson Falls. Montana. I never saw a Welcome to Montana sign and wonder when the border crossing actually happened. Several other riders commented later that they did not notice any acknowledgement of the Idaho-Montana border either.

After setting up our tents, we decide to walk back into town for the afternoon refreshment. We meet one of the local residents on the sidewalk and, being the observant sort, he notices that we are "not from around here," as he puts it. Wonder how he could tell? I say we are biking through and he says, "I ride a Harley myself. But, there's nothing wrong with a good Honda or Yamaha." "Bicycles," I tell him. "Oh. I'm not much for riding them." I never would have guessed. Later he tells us that he owns a town on the road back towards Thompson Pass. "It's just something I do," he says, as if this explains everything.

We have some transportation issues to deal with which end up in us having to walk back to the school to get a ride to dinner at the local Elks club, about two miles on the other side of town.

Today's ride ~ 69.6 miles
Trip total ~ 514.7 miles
Ride time ~ 4 hours 41 minutes

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