Challis, ID - MacKay, ID: Besides the flat, climbing the pass, the headwind, and the rain, it was a good day. - Four Weeks in Oregon and Idaho - Summer 2006 - CycleBlaze

July 6, 2006

Challis, ID - MacKay, ID: Besides the flat, climbing the pass, the headwind, and the rain, it was a good day.

We had breakfast at the yummy restaurant just because it was next door. Breakfast was just as exciting as dinner. Jacinto did get his coffee. This much older, shopworn waitress knew to keep the coffee cup full.

We had a two mile downhill out of town, then the road headed up for 20 miles through the Grandview Canyon.

We were riding along the Lost River Mountain Range.

My tire troubles continued. I had been rotating tires regularly. I could probably apply for a job on a pit crew for a race team. Well, maybe not. It's a bit different having to unhook the BOB and unload 'stuff' in order to get to the wheel. At the moment I was using my original tire. It developed a big bulge in the sidewall that rubbed as the tire rotated. We stopped and looked at it. We decided the bulge was way too big to try and boot, we'd hold our breath and see if we could make town. Perhaps MacKay would have a bike shop.

The landscape was more desolate, dried grass, open spaces. Worrisome dark clouds forming.

A sheep dog sized black dog came out to visit us. He followed us down, down, down the road. Unfortunately we were heading up a pass and couldn't get enough speed to outrun him. The dog followed us for 7-8 miles. Jacinto tried throwing rocks at the dog to get him to go home, but all he did was follow us on the far side of the fence. Finally we hit a little down run and were able to get ahead of the dog. I hope he made it home okay. I've never had a dog follow me that far.

We stopped for a snack break next to a HUGE rattlesnake. It was a bit away and appeared to be sleeping all coiled up. We looked and looked at it trying to decide if it was more than one snake because it was so huge. We finally decided that it was only one snake because of the thickness of the body. That was a bit exciting, it doesn't pay to get too close to a rattlesnake.

As the road took a serious bent up, the wind picked up and the clouds looked more and more ominous. Finally we reached the top. A woman had her pickup truck parked at the top. She and her husband and their dogs were looking for fossils. They hadn't found any yet. They were from Denver and had wanted to move to Idaho for years, but said it was too expensive. She did give us a fill up of water. Looking towards town we could see we would be riding right into the rain. We put our raincoats on at the top, took a deep breath, and headed downhill into the wind and rain.

Even though the shoulder was wide, the wind made riding difficult. Finally the rain picked up enough we agreed to look for shelter. We saw what appeared to be an abandoned very, very old trailer inside of a closed fence. Having grown up in the west, I know that you do not enter a closed fence. However, we did not see any cattle close (that's a huge, huge offense - letting someone's cattle out). We decided that should anyone show up we would plead traveler's mercy. We opened the gate and wheeled our bikes over to the cow shed. We peered in the windows of the trailer. It did look as if someone lived there. A very messy someone. We debated if the place were abandoned, as it appeared from the outside. The furniture looked like the type of stuff you could leave without a care. But there were open food cans and boxes in the kitchen. In the end we decided someone did live there and then we felt even more uncomfortable about trespassing. I wanted to light up the stove and cook something hot to warm up, but Jacinto wanted to be ready to leave as soon as the rain let up. I made us both peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches. I got cold standing around in my wet clothing. finally the rain let up a little and we wheeled our bikes back out to the road. We were very relieved not to have anyone chase us off with a shot gun.

I had called ahead while we were waiting the storm out to the Wagon Wheel Motel and RV Park. $45. for a room with a Queen bed. That sounded mighty fine to our water logged selves. We had a nice downhill run with 9 miles of fresh pavement. When we got to town the lady at the motel said, "Rain? Why, no we haven't had any rain. Oh, well, it does rain up on top of the pass all the time, but not down here." Ha. Laugh's on us. The pass certainly didn't look lush as if it rained all the time. It reminded me more of Utah with lots of rock and sand.

Jacinto was happy with the TV. I was happy to walk barefoot between the bed and the shower. I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a bicycle shop in the phone book and the local tourist brochures. I did find one 'bike shop' but I was pretty sure it was a motorcycle shop. The guy ran it out of his house and said to leave a message, he'd call back.

We went to dinner at a Mexican Food Restaurant in the Bare Bottom Inn. The bar stools were very unique. They were legs carved out of wood with seats on top. Bear legs, horse legs, female legs. Where was my camera when I needed it?

MacKay was a cute little town. They had a small, but nice grocery with friendly workers. There was a tiny movie theatre that was currently showing the Davinci Code both Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM. The town in general had a welcoming feel. It was one of my favorite towns of the trip.

We asked at the restaurant about a bicycle shop. They gave me directions to the 'bike shop' man. It was only a few blocks away. We walked over after dinner and coincidentally arrived just as the man pulled into the drive way. He ran a bicycle shop out of what looked like a former chicken coop. He had a variety of 26" tires. I knew enough now to ask for a 559 size tire. But these weren't such fancy tires as to have the European sizing. I think the poor man wanted to get to his dinner. He told me to take one, try it on my bike, if it fit I was welcome to it. His contribution to our trip.

We went back to the motel. I unload my bicycle yet again. Took the tire off yet again. the tire did not fit yet again. I felt like crying. I walked back to the man's place and left the tire hanging prominently on his fence post. Plodded even more slowly back to the room.

Jacinto and I had a big heart to heart about the trip. I wanted to go home. This tire problem was so silly, yet so overwhelming. I should have had a tire shipped to us way back when. But I kept thinking we'd run into a bicycle shop. I was so tired of having flat tires. So lonely for home. So ready to sleep in my own bed with my own huge feather pillow. But what was with all of this? I loved bicycle touring. While we were riding I was having a great time. But as soon as we quit all of the doubts came crashing down again.

Jacinto, the one we all thought would quit, wanted to keep going. I wanted to go home. In the end we agreed we'd get a UHaul the next day. I felt a sad/happy relief. There was a practical side to all of this. They'd been having assorted small troubles at the movie theatre and were slated to start a busy, busy movie. Pirates of the Caribbean. It would be better if we were there to make sure the movie was shown with no problems.

Today's ride: 54 miles (87 km)
Total: 1,220 miles (1,963 km)

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