Road bike tour


A bike tour through the hinterlands of Oregon and Idaho

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

This was an adventure in the biggest sense. First, we have two groups starting from two different states. Mark, Mike, and Marion started in Corvallis, Oregon. Meanwhile, Cathleen and I rode from Boise. We met in Weiser on a blazing hot July afternoon and rode to Farewell Bend State Park.

As Cathleen, my younger sister, and I rode through the Emmett valley, it was super hot. To alleviate her suffering, I was pouring water onto her Peugeot t-shirt all day. When she finished her shower at the park, she noted that her back felt a little sunburned. Sure enough!

Cathleen's Peugeot tattoo

The next day, we rode along the Snake before doing the big climb over to Richland, Oregon. Note that the road from the park down the river was not paved. Signs of things to come.... but hey, it was an Adventure.

That night we camped in Halfway.

(Note: The blue bike in the middle was mine, the same full-Campy Thos. Harper that I raced earlier in France)

Mark, Cathleen, and John on the Snake River
The next day we rode down to the Snake again, and continued downstream. Cathleenriding along Brownlee reservoir
Then, we rode up the Kleinschmidt grade, a 16 mile dirt climb with about 5000' of gain, once used to haul ore down to the river. Click on the picture to see my sister on the climb. Cathleen climbing the Kleinschmidt grade

No more pictures, but more story...

That night, back in the mountains, we became separated. Mark, Cathleen, and I had left our directional rubber lobster on the roadside at a faint intersection to indicate we had turned. When Mike and marion saw the lobster, they picked it up and ignoring the obvious bike tire tracks in the dirt, continued on their way. When we realized what had happened, I gave chase for something around an hour. Fearing being caught in the dark, I finally gave up. They rode into Cambridge and reported us missing.

Meanwhile, we had a nice supper and hit the hay. We finally caught up with them the next day. The problem came from a philosophical difference in bike maintenance. I said that when riding dirt, especially with panniers, you need to keep your tires pumped up. Mike insisted that they should be soft. He couldn't make the connection between his technique and the dozens and dozens of flats he and Marion kept having.

As our tour continued, we spent the next night at Burgdorf Hot Springs. There, brother Tom and another Marion, my Ex, joined us for the remainder of the tour. And Carol Troutner joined us for the ride back to McCall the following day.

That next day, we stopped in Cascade and did some laundry, then rode up past Warm Lake to camp somewhere in Bear Valley.

Then we rode the last of our dirt roads to Highway 21 and into Redfish Lake where we camped. This is where the famous squirrel incident occurred.

Bored, Tom found a plastic shopping bag with handles. By tying a string to one handle and running it through the other, then over a branch, he created a trap of sorts. Baiting the trap was easy, and when the unlucky squirrel entered to sample the peanut butter, Tom would pull the string to capture the varmint. Then he would swing the bag/squirrel for a while before releasing the critter. We laughed for hours watching dizzy squirrels try to run across the campsite, only to return again and again for more peanut butter.

The next day we rode back towards Lowman in a rain storm. Morale was low when we stopped at Kirkham, even though there are great hot springs to enjoy. For some reason, it went way up when Tom and I pulled half-racks out of our panniers. Later, it cleared up, and slightly sloshed, we proceeded over Beaver Creek and Mores Creek summits, camping about 10 miles above Idaho City.

The last day of our tour, we rode into Idaho City for flapjacks, then rode back to Boise. So on a 7 day tour, we were off pavement on 4 of those days. Touring, Idaho style.


It really didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time, but looking back it, it appears like a pretty rugged schedule. According to th mapping software, it's roughly 550 miles with 57,000' of climbing in 7 days.

Cathleen climbing the Kleinschmidt grade

(thanks to my old buddy Mark Sell for the ancient pics)

Mr. Natural Home | 1980s | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski