sweets and the squeeze.... - Seattle towards Minnesota - CycleBlaze

July 31, 2007

sweets and the squeeze....

There was a weird, rhythmic sound in my motel room yesterday evening. The sound began again this morning at 8:00. Unlike the usual rhythmic sounds one would expect to hear emanating from outside one's motel room, this wasn't that sound.

It's a hard sound to describe.... you could feel it more than hear it. The sound started low, gained in intensity, vibrating the whole room, then stopped. Half a minute later it restarted. It was similar to the sound of a bearing going out on a machine, but considering the volume I thought there might be a battleship engine on the roof.

I was surprised when I finally figured out what it was... they were grading the road beside the motel. The giant roller that compacts the road base didn't look like it was bouncing up and down, but it was.

I blogged another hour this morning, then left. I think I'm getting writer's cramp instead of rider's cramp.

By now you're probably thinking that bicycle touring is all fun and games. It's not. Sometimes you have to make the hard choices. I realized that that time had come for me today...

Standing there in Safeway in front of the powdered donuts and the custard-filled chocolate covered donuts, I knew it was crunch time. Should I go with the tried-and-true powdered donuts, the perennial bike tour favorite? Or should I go with the custard/chocolate combination and the promise of even more calories in a smaller package of confectionery wonder?

It's a tough call, but I'm up for the challenge.... I go with the custard/chocolate donut.

By the time I finally left New Town, errrrr.... Newport, it was around 10:30.

One thing I haven't really mentioned as I've been writing about specific details of the trip... where/when I stop, what I eat, who I meet... is how much fun I'm having. I don't know if it comes across in the writing, but this is FUN. (perhaps you should try it)

On the way to Sandpoint, a bee landed on the left lens of my sunglasses, spun around in a circle, then flew away. By the time my slow-processing brain could form the thought, "There's a bee on my sunglasses," it was gone.

There was some loose gravel for about four miles, then some packed gravel for another twenty or so.

Pop Quiz:  What's the only road surface worse than ChipSeal?
A:  human bones
B:  hungry, sentient flesh-eating bacteria
C:  large pieces of loose gravel
D:  crushed hopes of humanity

C!  Always choose C if you don't know the answer!

There's a bike trail from Sagle to Sandpoint, approximately nine miles long.  Bike paths are always nice.

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Just before I arrived in Sandpoint, my chain slipped off and got jammed between the rear cassette and the chainstay. I coasted to a shady spot to fix it. (Mark's Bike Tip #1: Always stop in the shade) When I say jammed, I mean it took a pair of pliers to pull it out.

As I was riding today, I kept getting a whiff of what smelled like a Porta Potty, or maybe a sewage treatment plant. I never determined where it was coming from, but I smelled it for at least thirty miles.

In Sandpoint (pop 6835), I picked the Blue Moon Cafe for lunch, partly because I liked the name and partly because I heard Norah Jones coming through the speakers.

I arrived at 2:24. They close at 2:30.

As in Usk, I didn't linger.

After lunch, I tooled through the downtown area and stopped at two bike shops to see if they had any padded handlebar tape. My tape is coming off and I've been wanting to get something padded for a while, but neither place had any.

There's something I find interesting about Idaho. I've pedaled through a lot of states, and Idaho is one of the most beautiful. It's truly gorgeous.... and yet, if you look at the license plates, what does it say?

Famous Potatoes
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The road from Sandpoint to Clark Fork was pretty bad... not much of a shoulder and enough traffic to keep me on my toes. I would liked to have listened to some music, but didn't think it was safe enough.

This part of the country, I hear, is having record highs. It's toasty today. One nice thing, though.... once the sun goes down it cools off nicely.

I stopped for the evening in Clark Fork (pop 530). I rode hard to get there before the bike shop closed at 6:00.

I arrived about 5:45 and asked the owner it he could adjust my bike. We rolled it around to his workshop where I took off the panniers and he put it up on the stand.

As he was adjusting it I looked around the shop. In addition to cycling posters of the Tour de France, Eddie Merxx, and old advertisements for bicycles, I noticed some bicycles with the name "Sweet" painted on them. The name of the bike shop was Sweet's Bike and Marbles Gift Shop (the store is also a gift shop).

''Did you build these?" I asked in amazement. Some of them were very impressive-looking.

He said he had. One, in particular, caught my eye. It was a flat gray- colored cruiser with no markings on it. It reminded me of something you might see being ridden during WWII. I took a picture of Jim next to his bike but saw it looked better in real life.

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I rode my bike for about fifteen seconds and it seemed to be working okay. He wouldn't let me pay for the adjustment.

I asked him about places to camp and he directed me to the Clark Fork Lodge where you can pitch a tent and get a shower.

When I got there I asked about a campsite, but was told there weren't any vacancies.

"For a tent??" I asked.
"Oh. I thought you had an RV."

With the sweat dripping off my face, helmet hair, biker's tan, and a bicycle conspicuously perched ten feet behind me.... I see how that could've been somewhat confusing.

By the way, a biker's tan consists of tanned thighs and calves, but white shins and rear thighs (picture a person on a bike and you'll see why). The back of the hand will have an irregularly-shaped area of tanning consistent with the shape of the person's gloves. Some people, like me, have two bars on their forehead where the sun shines through the vents on the helmet.

All together, it's quite an attractive look.

I paid my $10.00 to be able to pitch a tent and take a shower. Out of curiosity, I asked what a room costs: $50.00.

I set up my tent, showered, put some clothes into the washing machine, then pedaled to the Squeeze Inn. Jim had described it as "upscale" and I was curious what "upscale" meant in a town of 530 people.

I wasn't disappointed. The food was excellent. As I was enjoying some black bean soap I wondered, "Does food taste better after you've been riding a bike all day?"

Absolutely. I don't know why, but it does. Taking an objective step back I asked myself if this meal would be as good if I'd eaten it after having worked my regular job all day, or was it good simply because I'd been riding.... I think I would've enjoyed this particular meal regardless, but it tasted even better today. I came to that conclusion over the huckleberry ice cream for dessert.

I got back to the washing machine at 8:30 and put my clothes into the dryer, thinking everything would be dry by the 9:00 closing time but it took another twenty minutes. Valerie and her husband waited patiently.

That evening, after having ridden all day, showered, and eaten I lay in my tent quite content.

Miles 64.40
Max 34.8
Avg 12.0
Time 5:23:20
Cumulative 440.94

Today's ride: 64 miles (103 km)
Total: 441 miles (710 km)

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