Day 10. Cascade to Crouch, Idaho: Taking Off the Training Wheels
Greetings from Crouch! It smells delicious here, like a sweet wildflower I don’t recognize. The dry air heightens my senses; the afternoon sky is pure blue, and there is no haze, anywhere.
After yesterday, Felkerino and I thought we had these mountains figured out, but we were wrong. Today the training wheels came off, and we worked hard for most of the 67 miles we rode today.
I thank all the riding we’ve done in West Virginia for teaching me about how to maneuver up steeps. Our ride from Cascade to McCall consisted of three significant climbs, and several segments on each with grades of 10, 12, and even 14 percent. These mountains were not so kind to us as yesterday.
Like yesterday, we followed the Adventure Cycling Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route. The most difficult aspect of today was not the climbing which, while challenging, was manageable.
No, the most rigorous parts of our day were the descents. We encountered steep, switchback descents on fine sandy gravel road, often with loose sand piles on the turns. Progress was slow and tricky.
The truth is our day was beautiful, scenery-wise and in terms of traffic, but at times the riding felt beyond us. Our tires– Clement USH 35s– were not wide enough for the gravel (or SAND, I think might be more accurate) or for the ground we covered.
We made it through, but it required patience. Patience with the road and with each other. And some extra mindfulness and concentration.
I think it’s good to take on riding like this on occasion. It’s how Felkerino and I have grown as cyclists and as a tandem team. It’s also how we learn about our riding preferences as well as the weaknesses that exist in our cycling skill set.
I’m glad we took on the Idaho sand/dirt/gravel today. It was not fun, at least not to me, but rides don’t always have to be fun to reward you in a significant way.
Our mountain miles from Cascade to Crouch were an intense engaging experience. We satisfied our curiosity about what these hills hold for us beyond the pavement.
Somehow Felkerino and I kept our cool and made it through the ups and downs together. And our bike rode sure and strong despite the inadequate tires for today’s terrain. We celebrated with ice cream. Go team.