This is part of a series of posts written during my cycle from Vancouver, BC to Minneapolis, MN in June 2013. For the most part I followed the Adventure Cycling Association’s ‘Northern Tier’ Route, but deviated where I saw fit. It was a great experience, read on to find out more…
Today was always going to be a tough one – two big mountain passes and over 100 miles to cover. I was on the road by 8 and, although I’d missed most of the rain overnight, it was still drizzling. I had the 5500ft Sherman Pass to cross as soon as I started riding – although it was a big climb, the road was graded and not too steep. In just under two hours I’d reached the summit, although the views were shrouded by cloud. I wrapped up for the descent, and quickly covered 25 gravity-assisted miles. At the bottom of the pass I had a second breakfast before setting off again.
The middle section of today, much like yesterday, was flat – following a winding river through a valley for 30 miles. Again, like yesterday, I had a stiff headwind — by the time I reached the base of the second pass I was tired and dried-out by the wind. One of the worst things about a headwind, particularly when humidity is low, is that it dries out your mouth and nose, making you feel thirsty even when you’ve just had a drink. Although the wind was irritating, it did bring the sunshine with it – pushing away the rain and clouds of the morning.
Thirst quenched at a gas-station, I began to climb the lag pass of the Cascades — Flowery Trail Pass. Unlike the passes so far, the road here was not graded for trucks, but steep and filled with switchbacks. It was a hard, hot slog to the top, but the views were worth it in the end, as was the descent. After summiting I enjoyed 15 miles of fast tarmac, eventually being dumped out into another river valley.
Hard work done, all I had to do was cycle 15 miles into the town of Newport, where I crossed into Idaho. I went to the first restaurant I saw – a Mexican – and ate a truly massive burrito, going some way to repairing today’s calorie deficit. Dinner entertainment came in the form of eavesdropping the customers at the next table over, who were discussing the trial of someone they knew who was accused of murder — I was treated to a discussion on DNA evidence, the movements of the person in question, and the details of the crime. It felt more like an episode of CSI than a Mexican restaurant! Fed, I made my way down the main street of town and after asking a few people I had directions to a campsite. A quick shower and I collapsed into my tent – another hard day done.