Monday, August 20, 2012

Grandma rides Highway 12

After the maintenance, new tires, and a new chain the bikes were eager to ride West.  Early Saturday morning, we took the Highway 12 turnoff south of Missoula, and headed for Lowell and Lewiston.

We were soon into it, with long curves and gentle swoops.  Ian and I had ridden this road three years ago, and while I remember some of the features of the ride, the specifics were once again, new to me.   The beauty of a failing memory.

We stopped at Lolo Hot Springs, where Ian and I had camped, and a a couple of decades earlier, Lewis and Clarke and soaked in the pool.   I remembered the rock face which was across from our tents, and the outline which looked like some proud Sioux chief.  I think we are in Nez Perce territory, however. These guys were waiting for their next paying customer, and one of them was sleeping on the job.

The road carried on, following the Clearwater river, and providing us with over 200 km of great riding. Towards Idaho, we were beginning to feel the effects of a local forest fire, in that smoke was getting pretty heavy, but not enough to slow the Spyder down.  

Grandma handled the Spyder like a trooper, and carved the corners with ease.

By late morning, we had traversed Montana and entered Idaho.  The surface work of the highway crews was excellent, and all of us commented on the smooth highways and good signage.  We were careful to keep within the speed limit as the Idaho State Police have a zero tolerance law for speeding.

The Idaho side of the ride on Highway 12 was exciting and as the day wore on, so did the heat.  We had dropped out of the mountains  and were getting hammered with the heat of the flatlands.  My thermometer registered 38 degrees, and Blondie was not running well: she would stall for gas at a critical moment.

We recognized that  all of us were overheating and that it was dangerous to be riding in this heat.  We managed to roll into Lewiston and find a motel with a pool.  We left Lewiston fairly early in the morning, in an attempt to beat the heat.  We climbed out of the river valley onto the flat wheatfields of the the Idaho panhandle.

There were very large grain farms for 50 kms or so, until we hit the small farms and the beginning of the forested area of northern Idaho.  We found some good side roads that kept us of the main interstate, and went through some interesting small little towns.

We travelled through the Idaho Panhandle, eventually stopping at Sandpoint.  There is some very beautiful county in this part of the world, and a couple of great lakes.

By this time the heat was on us again.  My sister tried out a cooling vest which is designed to help keep your core body temperature down when the air temperature gets unbearable.  She seem to like it and found it useful.

Finding some shade while we water up..

We left Sandpoint early and managed to cross the border at Eastport.  The Canadian border guard was polite, informative and human...maybe he could teach some of the others how to interact with the public.

We moved on to Radium, and rode the fine highway between there and Lake Louise, where we have stopped for the night.