Anyone who has read more than a post or two here in the trusty Mountainstroh blog, will quickly realize that I truly love cycling. I’ve ridden in rain, shine, fog, hail and even snow. Never have I regretted being on two wheels.
I would be lying, though, if I said all rides are the same amount of fun. Too much heat, cold, wet or sadistic winds can make even a short ride harder than it should be. (it’s still better than being in an office or stuck in freeway traffic for hours though.
There are some rides, though, that are just perfect. These come about unexpectedly sometimes, but when they do, a rider can’t help but smile when he thinks (or blogs about it!) Last evening was one of those rides….
Yesterday was my 4th day of being in Spokane. I wanted to head east from the office after work and head for Idaho. I was told by Sarah from Honoringmycompass.com that Idaho was one of the prettiest places to ride in the Northwest. This was a prime opportunity for me to check this.
I decided to maximize my cycling time in the evening, and drove with the bike to the office. This meant I could spend more time on the ride and not worry about the extra 14 miles to get back to the hotel. I didn’t want to just tap the border and leave, I wanted to see part of the state!
I headed east at 4:15 and the first thing I noticed was the ever-present eastern Washington winds were blowing in force! However, to my benefit (at least at the start) the winds were out of the west, I was being propelled along by an excellent tailwind. In the back of my mind I kept hearing a voice murmuring “This is going to be HARD on the way back!” But with a smooth path along a gorgeous river surrounded by trees, it was easy to squash that voice!
As the trail leaves Spokane valley and heads toward the state line, it gets much more rural. Aside from a small stretch that ran right along I-90, I could hear the river, the birds and the wind. Plus, the smell of pine trees was everywhere. I am telling you, riding in trees fills the body with pure oxygen.
Nine miles after the start, I found myself at the state line.
It did not take long for Sarah’s pretty country tip to come true, as just past the border was this river crossing
Much to my surprise, I found the trail was in even better condition in Idaho than Washington, and there were not near as many users. At times I had the place to myself, I would go miles and not see a soul.
How does one know he is in a place that welcomed cyclists? When one is greeted with this kind of art along the path!
I decided I would go to Post Falls and turn around. Later, when I have more time, I will go all the way to Coeur d’Alene. I had been told by some I work with, “Well you can, but that will be kind of a dull ride!”
I remembered being told this while I stopped to snap this picture of the Spokane river as I approached the town.
Yep totally boring, then I noticed this in the distance. OK I HAD to go there!
Oh yeah nothing to see here!
I went into the town of Post Falls, and in the effort of following the signs (the trail peters out for a bit, but there are bike lanes) I flat missed the entrance of Falls Park, where the water was coming from.
I went through town, past 6 houses, ALL with chainlink fences and big barky dogs, and got to a point to turn around. I wanted to get back with daylight, and I still had the headwind to contend with… (and the same big barky dogs)
On the way back, I saw the entrance to the park. I hesitated for a second, wondering if I should keep going, but the bike sometimes decides for me, and we were down the hill. This is a power station along the river, and the water was crashing over the spillways.
I have always been a sucker for waterfalls, natural or otherwise, and I can watch them for days. I would’ve stayed longer, but I had interrupted a young couple kissing to get this shot, and they didn’t me hanging around.
I did stop to take this photo of the original spillway though. I would have loved to see that work!
OK, a new state for me to claim with a bike, cool views and thundering water is enough to make a great ride. But the best was yet to come.
As I made my way west, the winds started to slow, and the clouds moved in to darken the sky. Not in a rain way, but enough to make the path and river seem even more wild and secluded.
It was one of those rare times when I felt like the bike was more floating than rolling, there was no friction or resistance at all. When I looked at the sky, the sun was streaming through the clouds
I found myself thinking, this is the perfect ride. Warm enough no coat is needed, beautiful scenery, birds
rabbits, squirrels and fish jumping. I found myself sad that it was almost over, but still smiling (I got bugs in my teeth!) because it was so much fun! In short, there is a feeling of peace and content (I know sounds weird coming from cold and callous me) that happens when the bike, rider and route become one, and all the senses can reach out and just enjoy.
It is for rides like this, I became a cyclist, and will ride until these old legs can’t push me anymore….