It is evening and I am sitting on the deck of my cozy little cottage high above Coeur D’Alene Lake. The sun is setting on the water, the power is out for the entire region as the result of a rumoured fallen tree, the occasional tune from some unknown rock band is drifting across the bay and I am enjoying the cool breeze and the good feelings that come from spending time vacationing with my best buddy. Yvonne, energizer bunny that she is, has decided that an additional 5km walk down by the lake is necessary to complete the day; as for me, the 120 km ride along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene will have to suffice.
When I contemplate where I want to do a cycling vacation, rail to trail is hardly the first thought that comes to mind; too straight, too flat, too boring. Perhaps it is the 190 lbs I am packing around that made me reconsider the rail to trail option; for whatever reason Yvonne and I decided to check out the Trail of the Couer d’Alene. We have not been disappointed.
We decided to break up the trail into two days with out-and-backs from a place called Bull Run to Plummer on the border of Montana on day 1 and then from Bull Run to Mullen on the Washington border on day 2; this would make two consecutive 120 km days. The trail was built along the Union Pacific line and was a joint project of various governments, the railway, the Coeur d’Alene tribe. The Montana side of the trail runs through numerous mining towns including Wallace, from whose mines came 7 Billion dollars of silver. When the railway was built contaminated waste rock from the mines were used to build the rail bed. The rail to trail was in part an answer to the desire to build tourism, but also a solution to the contaminants leaching out of the rail bed. By covering the rail bed in pavement it help to seal in much of the toxic materials; the result is a fantastic ride that traverses the pan handle and creates a fantastic riding experience through absolutely spectacular scenery.
I have always enjoyed riding along water and the trail essentially follows the Coeur d’Alene River from where it begins as a small fast flowing mountain stream in Washington to where it enters Lake Coeur d’Alene with its many arms. All along the river there are backwaters and swamps filled with water cabbage, water lillies and the occasional moose. The trail can be divided up into four quarters with the western most quarter of the trail being industrial with mining and logging towns, second quarter is a great river for fishing and rafting, the third quarter is along the shore of lake Coeur d’Alene, and the final quarter is a beautiful ride up a mountain through the aromatic pine and cedar forest of the Plummer Indian reservation.
If anyone is looking for more information on the trip, I’ll be happy to share info about where to stay, how to access the trail, etc.
Due to sever weather conditions on Saturday morning we will be gathering on Sunday at 1:30 pm at the water tower for a ride to Richer for fasba.
For the riders who think they are hardy or have obsessive compulsive disorder where high winds mixed with rain and the occasional thunder and lighting mix just doesn’t matter, we will be meeting at the usual time Saturday morning.
I haven’t had a lot of motivation to train since last fall. Hip tendonosis, herniated discs, a tired brain, bad weather, marking papers and the Jets kept me from getting much exercise over the winter. The byproduct of my apathy is a comfortable layer of fat around the mid section, lungs that seem to have shrunk to half their previous size and legs that want to quit after an hour of pedaling. I need some outside help to get this ship moving before it retires permanently to dry dock.mEnter the Tour of Romandie and stage 4, which will take place tomorrow.
When Yvonne and I ran our little bicycle tour enterprise in Europe, one of our riding days was a 105 km loop from the alpine town of Juan, over the Juan Pass, down the most awesome descent a roadie could ever hope to ride, up and over to Saanenmoser for coffee and eclairs, through Gruyere for some cheese, and then back to Juan through the town of Charmay. Tomorrow’s stage will follow much of this route and then take in part of my once usual Saturday loop, going from Gstaad and Gsteig, over the Col de Pillon and ending in the town of Leysin. I watched the promotional video that the TDR put out for stage 4 and felt like I was on my bike again, hurtling down from the Juan Pass at 80-90 km/hr. Sitting in my easy chair I felt 20 years younger and 20 lbs lighter. (At the present rate of weight gain I’ll be 223 by the time I’m 77.) My hands remembered the hurt of braking into the hairpins and my eyes started tearing. Is it the wind of the downhill or the heroic music in the video making me nostalgic. The climb through Gstaad and Gsteig is a nice steady one, and is followed by another long fast downhill that ends with the climb back to Leysin. My lungs are burning just thinking of the 12% leg buster at the beginning of that final climb. In my present condition I imagine my heart would be hammering along at 240 bpm just trying to keep the bike moving. The video short changes the climbs but makes up for it with a lot of downhill footage. Oh the downhills! So now the question; am I willing to put in the work to get back some of the fitness needed to ride these climbs? Am I willing to hurt for a while in order to enjoy tackling some mountain passes in the west this summer? Or should I become a cycling pedestrian, cycling only flat roads on windless days, and dreaming about what once was. I guess time will tell!
So here it is March 2017 and it’s too cold to ride bike without covering every square mm of skin, at least for some of the fair weather riders. The 2017 ride schedule has now been posted with the first official ride only 3 weeks away, April 1, 2017. I know time to get ready.
With that I am posting a picture of Jimmy’s bike seat taken last summer when he was out riding with us. Yes this is the same Mr. Fix-it that tried, to some level of success, to manufacture any repair from sunglasses to shorts to helmets and pedals; then there is his bicycle seat pictured below.
And he rode it like that all summer. Don’t know the whole story but I would not recommend that seat on the next Naked Bike ride event!
Last winter I was looking to replace my bike seat and came across a story in Roadbike Rider regarding a bicycle seat for ‘older’ riders. The name of the company is Kontact and after reading through the reviews on Roadbike rider and on the web site I ended up purchasing the seat. I found that it took very little time to break the seat in, was very comfortable and worked well for me all summer.
Check out the information on the seat here http://www.kontactbike.com/
As we begin to fondle our bikes with the anticipation of warm weather rides it is good to work at getting the bikes ready and dream about the saturday morning rides.