We started the morning with free fresh coffee and donuts from the volunteer stand. Well, Quinton had coffee and I had hot cocoa. Another one of the “hippie” buses pulled in during the night and we talked to one of its occupants. He was much nicer than the last guy I tried to talk to. He told us about their mission and what they stood for.
In Ennis, at the distillery, I fixed my ground tarp to the bottom of the tent. This kept it from moving around and made setup and tear down much easier. Another idea I had was to leave the sleeping pad inside the tent when packing. Otherwise it gets rolled up and put into its own stuff sack. Now, it gets rolled up inside the tent, making the setup and tear down of camp much faster and easier. I’ve gotten into a routine and it takes me maybe 3 minutes to get everything packed onto the bike. That routine includes checking to make sure all of the bolts on the bike are tight and checking the air pressure. For some reason, I didn’t check the air pressure the day before. My front was sitting at 30 lbs and the back at 80 lbs. I run both of them around 95 lbs. That is probably why I felt so tired the day before. I was rolling flat!
Eight miles to the top of Lookout Pass and then it was all down hill. At Mullen, a few miles West of the summit, we found the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a paved bike trail following I-90. This trail was a highlight of the trip. We didn’t pedal all the way to Wallace. Outside of Wallace we started seeing Apple trees and of course had to stop to pick. Once our bags were full we moved on down to Wallace.
In the middle of downtown and along the bike trail was some kind of market. There were vendors stretched out for a mile. The food from the food trucks was alluring, but expensive. One guy offered me some type of sandwich with every type of smoked meat on it. I had to decline. We were forced to get off the bikes and walk through the chaos.
It was nearing lunchtime but we decided to push another 15 to a Walmart. Along the bike trail were these concrete poles. They were placed at road crossings and occasionally for reasons unknown. Rather than putting them on the side of the trail they stand right in the middle. I was leading with Quinton on my left hip. When we came to one of the random posts I let the bike drift to the right of it. Out of the corner of my eye I see Quinton drifting to the right with me. He was looking down at his phone and not at the trail. Like in slow motion, I watch as he and his bike crumples over the top of the post. He somersaults over the handlebars and lands a few feet away with his bike hanging off of the post.
Other than his pride he was fine. The bike not so much. The collision bent the front of his frame just behind the fork. The next 30 minutes were spent trying to bend back the frame so that the front tire would clear the frame when turning. Besides the small bubble in the frame, you could hardly tell anything happened. For the rest of the day I made sure to point out any obvious obstacle so he wouldn’t be tempted to hit anything else.
The ride to Walmart was pleasant. There were so many people on the trail, either walking or riding. The trail was littered with fruit trees. We stopped and sampled from many of them. The plums were not as ripe as the apples, so we kept them for later. At the next town we ran into a peach vendor so I got a couple. The vendor was from Coeur d’Alene and told us about the trail leading up to it. He said we probably wouldn’t make it over Fourth of July Pass, but if we did to give him a call.
Smelterville wasn’t much of a town, but it did have a Walmart. We may have splurged at Walmart. It was the first time in a while that we had the opportunity. We both bought a bag of cereal and a carton of (almond) milk. I got fresh tortillas, veggie hotdogs, salsa, and some things to snack on. For lunch I had hotdogs with salsa and a couple of bowls of cereal. We had to drink as much of the milk in that setting otherwise it would go bad.
It was hot now and smokey. Without resting after lunch we got back on the bikes, determined to make it over the next pass to Coeur d’Alene. We followed the bike trail as far as we could before getting forced to get off and back onto I-90 in order to get into Coeur d’Alene. “Peach’s” warning about Fourth of July Pass was warranted. Quinton followed me as we started to ascend. Without knowing how far it was to the top we rode until seeing a sign that said Fourth of July Pass. I was so excited for it to be over, but for some reason the road kept winding up. Assuming we were close to the top, Quinton took off. Since my bike is geared lower than his it is hard for him to maintain my slow cadence. It caused him to grind on the pedals when I was easily pedalling. I settled in to my pace, stopping occasionally to rest. The angle my body is in while ascending puts alot of pressure on the pudendal nerve, causing pain and numbness.
I caught up to Quinton at the top of the pass. By this time we were both out of water and in desperate need of it. Coeur d’Alene wasn’t far and it was mostly downhill. Still on I-90 we decided to stop at the first creek, pond, bar, restaurant, or gas station with water. We must of been in better shape than we thought because we passed up a few water spots. We came to another construction zone on the interstate and had the West bound lanes to ourselves. Finally with some cell service we check the map to see where we were and what was up ahead. Just to the South of I-90 following the lake was a bike trail. It woul take us along the lake and straight to a bar! To get there we had to Frogger across the interstate traffic and then descend a cliff. Quinton opted to go straight down the cliff face. I rode down a half mile, crawled through a fence, and then rode back to where he was. There was a group of people coming off of the lake that sat watching us get down to the trail.
We were getting there as the sun was going down, which made for a wonderful view across the lake. When we got to the bar Quinton went straight in and I got stopped by some locals asking us about the trip. I walked in with them and stood at the bar as the bartender filled up my bottles. Quinton was jealous of my cold water since he got his from the restroom. There were lots of places to stealth along the bike trail, but we had already settled on the dog park in town. I wanted to sleep on one of the many empty docks, but he was too cautious. We split up at the dog park. I went to Qdoba for a burrito and he went to find a campsite. Qdoba was 3 miles uptown so I got a good tour of the town. The park and town was full of people. The bars downtown had people waiting outside and I even saw a party bike, which is a bicycle that seats 7 people and has a bar in the middle.
After dinner I went back to the park and tried to find Quinton. He was hidden so well I had to call him. Behind the dog park was a wooded hill with paths cut everywhere on it. He had found probably the only flat spot on the hill. We had to push/carry our bikes through bushes and up a steep, rocky, path, but from the flat you could see the lights of Coeur d’Alene downtown. I was a little afraid that we had grabbed some homeless guy’s spot, but he never came around. I was also afraid that the guy in the park that thought he was a zombie might come up the path and try to eat us. That also never happened. It was a good night.