Biologist on a Bike

Day 14: Cambridge, ID to Riggins, ID

Distance: 82.72 mi
Average Speed: 12.1 mph; Max Speed: 36.1 mph
Elevation gain: 2,865 ft
Average Temp: 79.4 F; Temp Range: 64.4-95.0 F


What a difference a day makes. After yesterday’s brutal heat and climb, it was nice to have a day that didn’t bash my self-confidence over the head and leave it to bake in the sun.

Some people say you’re likely to complete the crossing if you make it a week. Others say two weeks, and a few say three weeks. Well, today is the end of week two, and I’m still feeling it. Ask me again after Lolo Pass in 3 days, though.

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Where I woke up, Day 14. Oops, I forgot to take a photo this morning.

Breakfast was eggs, toast, and jam. And coffee, of course. By the time I had packed up my panniers and loaded my bike, it was beginning to warm up, but the forecast predicted much more comfortable temperatures than yesterday. Yay! Bob predicted that I’d be facing a headwind much of the way, which was a much less welcome prediction.

I actually started out with a bit of a tailwind to get me going, always a nice thing when you have a long day planned. The start of the day was mostly flat, and I was able to spot some birds as I rode. I’ve never seen a yellow-headed blackbird before, so that was an exciting sighting for me.

Yellow-headed blackbird

Throughout the day, I was keeping an eye on the racers, specifically the race leader. While I was eating breakfast, he was around Halfway and traveling over 20 mph. An hour later, when I set off, he was likely about 30-40 miles behind me, and I wanted to see him pass by. It actually took longer than I expected, possibly because I was making good time for a fair amount of the way. Not ‘superb athlete on a racing bike not carrying any gear’ kind of good time, but good for me. Finally, around 1:50 PM, and 51 miles into my ride, I spotted him in my rearview mirror. I have a video clip of him passing me, but that’ll have to wait for a better internet connection.

At one point today, I was equidistant from the equator and the north pole. Is it nerdy of me to find that fun and interesting? I must not be the only one, then, since there was a sign on the highway and an informational kiosk off to the side.

The 45th Parallel

The landscape was gradually changing as well. I passed fields with healthier looking growths of grass than I had seen in a while, and I rode through some forest! Oh, trees, how I have missed you…er, the shade you cast. Although it wasn’t the trees that kept the day comfortable but the lower temperatures and puffy white clouds that blocked some of the sun’s intensity.

A typical view for the first half of the day.

A red-tailed hawk just chilling

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the road here, though. Route 95 varies from narrow and winding with no shoulder to broad but with a shoulder that is a little rough for comfort. At least when there’s no shoulder, cars usually take some care in passing a cyclist. When I was on the shoulder, trucks would pass at speed, generating a slipstream that would buffet me a bit, especially if I wasn’t prepared.

The climb today was slow with manageable grades, and I enjoyed it to the point where I didn’t feel the need for any music to distract me from the ride. Mostly, though, I was looking forward to the downhill on the other side. My expectations were foiled once again by the weather. On the other side of the hill was a strong, gusting wind just waiting to turn what might have been an exhilarating coast downhill into something that felt more like a normal ride on a flat. There were a few bits where the grade was steep enough or the wind died down enough that I could build up some speed, but mostly not.

The wind might have stolen the breath-stealing speed from my descent, but it didn’t steal the beauty of riding along the Little Salmon River and its tributaries.

Little Salmon River

A waterfall feeding into Little Salmon River

The clouds built up in the later part of the afternoon, and a few miles out of Riggins they started spitting at me enough that I put away the laundry I had strapped to the outside of my panniers to dry (that me keeping it classy) and pulled out my rain jacket. It never became a full-blown storm, but the wind is still kicking things up even at the (overpriced) campground.

I’ve had a long day and a filling dinner. Here’s hoping I’ll add a good night’s sleep to the mix to carry me over tomorrow’s long climb.

Side note: in a day or two I’ll be entering an area with no cell service for over 60 miles. I’ll post again when I can.

Roadkill count: 1 bird, 2 unknown mammals, 2 snakes

Map Day 14


12 thoughts on “Day 14: Cambridge, ID to Riggins, ID

  1. Suzan Lauder

    Are you into bird watching or are you looking these birds up on the Internet as you go? I’d never be able to cross ecosystems and name birds! Heck, I don’t know very many of the birds in my own area, never mind the ones that come by in the spring on their way north! Of course, some are ubiquitous across the country. Not being American, I don’t know which ones are common across latitude 45, so I’m quite impressed with your ability to photograph and name them.

    ETA: I posted for yesterday’s leg about 10 minutes ago. When I tried to post this, I got a message that I was posting too quickly and to slow down. Never had that happen before, let alone heard of it! LOL! Not sure how long to wait…

    1. Rob Carlson

      When you and Jerry post comments from the same internet connection the blog suspects you’re the same person. Looks like he commented on the Day 13 post less than 15 seconds before you hit “post comment” on this one. You two just have impeccable timing.

    2. Spin Doctor Post author

      I do enjoy watching birds, but I’m far from a birder. I’ve been looking them up and enlisting the help of my Warmshowers hosts, several of whom are into birds.


    You might run into some precipitation tomorrow night and Thursday. 20% chance of showers.

    Awesome scenery. Will you be passing through Pennsylvania?

  3. Connie Joki

    There is a spot on I-5 near Salem,Oregon where we have the 45th parallel sign. It nice to remind you that we are quite North compared to much of the rest of the states.

    You are so going to make it, I think we with the start you had and you pushed through shows your determination and commitment. You keep going!

    Hope good weather holds for you and you can make it through Lolo pass.

  4. Andrew Roth

    Surprised a little at all the headwinds you have been experiencing. Two weeks in though, and I think you are doing great.

  5. gailw

    Just catching up on your last few days. I can’t believe someone was so rude as to throw a can of soda at you! I’m so glad he missed! You do take the most awesome pictures and I’m enjoying the scenery and the birds along with you.

  6. Elaine

    Most importantly, be safe! We’re just waiting for you to get to cell service again, so you can update us on the stuff that you’ve been doing (love your pics!).

    Plus, that roadkill tally at the end of the post – I find it so funny. (We live in an area where finding roadkill is an almost daily occurrence – deer, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, rarely cats – and I have memorized the state phone number for large carcass removal.)

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