Sixty-Three: “Famous Potatoes” (Grangeville to Council)
My day peaked early. At the bottom of White Bird Hill, average speed was a heady 21 m.p.h. I finished the climb I started yesterday afternoon, then zoomed down 95, staying above 30 m.p.h. for nearly 10 miles and grazing 40 m.p.h. for significant stretches.
I stopped at the bottom for an espresso to celebrate “not splatting,” as Sara so graphically put it. The first half of my day was along the Salmon River, and I saw plenty of rafters and fishermen out. Crossing the river put me back in Mountain Time, where I’ll stay till Oregon.
I quit in Riggins for lunch and the library. My waiter must know cyclists, because he brought over a pitcher of ice water with the menu. Outside Riggins, the ACA takes you off 95 for four miles on a parallel road to Pollack. It’s always nice to leave traffic behind, even for a short stretch.
There’s a bunch of “Road Work Ahead” signs out, but the only evidence I saw was smoooooth asphalt. That — and a gentle tailwind — made the 2,000′ climb to New Meadows go easily. At the top, you ride through a scenic valley, where marginal grazeland is in the process of returning to wetland, with government incentive. I crossed the 45th parallel outside of town, and grabbed my first chocolate milk in days. A rafting guide pulled up and offered me a place to put a tent up and a hot shower. His brother-in-law is in the middle of a long tour. An incredibly generous offer, but with a shady day, smooth roads and the wind comin’ correct, I wanted more miles.
Maybe I should have accepted, because right out of town the wind switched direction, my gentle tailwind now a gentle headwind, and then becoming gusty at times. The road work signs continued, but previously smooth asphalt was ground in preparation for repaving. The yin and the yang. There’s an alternate route offered here along the Weiser River Trail, but it’s pretty loose gravel, so I stayed on road, where I spotted a dead cow roadside. Gross, sorry, but even for me, someone who sees more roadkill than’s healthy, this was noteworthy.
Home tonight is Council’s Courthouse Park. I’m set up next to a covered picnic table close to water, bathrooms and electricity. The library’s wifi is available from my tent! No shower — there might be a pool in town, but I didn’t investigate at 8 p.m.