Sept. 26, 2016—The Idaho mountains in the fall are coloured such a deep red orange it’s like we’re riding through a forest on fire but without the smoke. When I close my eyes after riding all day, my eyelids reflect the colours back at me before I fall asleep. Along the way, Dave, Mike and I ride through old burns, the dead trees still standing like the quills of a porcupine, as Dave once said. Its spine is our road. The sky is blue and makes everything more intense with its low afternoon light. Damn gorgeous!
Fall on Fire. Dave riding the IDBDR in September. Photo: Heather Lea
The three of us rode for another 32 km (20 mi) out of Pierce, ID, where we’d said goodbye to Ismail, before finding a really cool camp spot at a fire-lookout just before dark.
Camp spot for the night beside a fire lookout along the IDBDR. Photo: Heather Lea
Camp spot for the night beside a fire lookout along the IDBDR. Photo: Dave Sears
Mike Neudorf’s DR650 takes in the sunset. Photo: Heather Lea
Mike and Dave at breakfast the next day. Yes, Dave’s eating steak leftover from the night before. The steak whose raw blood leaked all over our kitchen bag. But it was worth it. Photo: Heather Lea
Camping beside the fire look-out. Photo: Heather Lea
Although Dave and I had previously ridden much of the Idaho BDR in two different attempts the year before and then again this past summer on our way up north, we estimated still another 1280 km (800 mi) to go before we’d be able to say we fully completed this state’s 1930 km (1200 mi) route. The nights were getting cooler and we wondered about snow landing in some of the higher elevations on the route. We also wanted to finish off the Utah BDR, which definitely gets wintery.
A whiff of rotting meat trails under my nose. Dave has opened his pannier to retrieve the kitchen bag so we can start on dinner. We still haven’t cleaned the blood-soaked bag. We kept forgetting at ideal spots, like when we were at the restaurant for dinner, (although it’s unlikely we could have washed it in their kitchen) and kept remembering when it was not ideal, like on the top of a mountain with no water in sight.
We’d have to hope for another wildlife-free night of camping with our putrid kitchen bag.
In the morning, Mike rode off ahead then waited for us at an overlook along the IDBDR called Devil’s Chair.
Devil’s Chair along the IDBDR. Photo: Heather Lea
We got off the bikes, seeking shade and ate a little lunch. I took my apple and walked through the woods to see how far I could scramble up the Devil’s Chair, a big outcropping of solid rock looking out over the valley below.
Time for a scramble up the Devil’s Chair. Photo: Heather Lea
I thought I might be able to get to the top of the escarpment and Dave could get a cool photo but once I started climbing the rock, I realized the top was not an easy walk-up. There were steep drops off both sides into the trees below and something of a sidewalk-wide bit of rock to access the point. Falling would have kept me off my bike for a while if not forever. I didn’t jump the airy gap between the two rocky ‘summits’ for the hero shot but it still felt great to touch rock. Climbing is a sport I’ve done for years and greatly miss whenever I see a good line or two in places along our trip.
As far as I got along the Devil’s Chair. Photo: Dave Sears
I was hoping to sit in this Devil’s Chair but it was a bit airy up there. Photo: Dave Sears
Sept. 27, 2016—The MaGruder Corridor was dry and dusty. My eyes felt like sandpaper. I wished for an onion nearby so I could tear up and clean some of the gak out. My right shoulder was becoming an issue on the trip, an old injury that would sear after a long day of trying to keep the bike in position amongst rocks and boulders or just around tight, dusty corners. I drank a beer and took two Tylenol with it. Recommended by doctors world-wide.
My beer spill landed in the shape of Alaska! Photo: Heather Lea
I felt my shoulder relax its death-grip before it could climb up into my neck. I was looking very forward to tomorrow, when we were going to make it to Burgdorf Hotsprings. Mike had ridden off ahead this day because he wanted to get to the hotsprings before us and have a two-day vacation off the bike. Earlier, Dave and I pulled into Elk City, which is more like a charming little village, and found a much-needed gas station.
Elk City is more like a village but was a godsend this day with its cold drinks and free gas! Photo: Heather Lea
I went in to use the bathroom and Dave filled our tanks. When I came out, he had a big grin and said, “It’s really weird when you go into a gas station in a place you’ve never been and the cashier says, ‘Are you Dave?’” When he went to pay for our gas, the cashier told him a guy named Mike was in earlier and left a twenty for our gas. What a guy!
For lunch, Dave and I found a viewpoint off the road in amongst a huge burned forest. As we were high up, we could see a long ways. The road getting to this spot was pretty epic, both for the scenery and for the crushed rocks under our tires that would fling out at a bullet’s pace when the rubber couldn’t quite grip anything solid. I was a ways behind Dave but once I got to the viewpoint, I could look back and see for at least two miles. He’d watched me make my way up and had taken a few photos through the trees.
Beauty riding through old burns along the Idaho BDR. Photo: Dave Sears
Beauty riding through old burns along the Idaho BDR. Photo: Dave Sears Can you see the bike? Photo: Dave Sears
Photo: Dave Sears Photo: Dave SearsLoving my F800. Photo: Dave Sears
I felt pretty awesome. It was hard not to be in love with life at that moment; the clear blue sky, the fall colors in the valley below, the silver burned trees. It wasn’t easy churning through the miles of loose rock along this section but riding this type of stuff was becoming far less intimidating for me and my new bike.
Still, I was sure looking forward to those hotsprings…
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