Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 8 The Thin White Line Challis – Butte City, ID 105 miles

The air was sharply cold when I woke this morning, about 38 degrees. I enjoyed a strong tailwind to Challis, where I ate my second breakfast of the day at a local diner. Route 93 between Challis and Arco is an incredibly straight road. The first 30 miles of it leaving Challis felt like I was in quicksand – uphill, headwind, rough road. I stuck to the thin white line that separates road from shoulder. Here the paint smoothes out the cobble on a chip-sealed road. Obviously in a car you’d never think about it, but with 28 mm tires, and looking for every advantage I could get this morning, I tried to keep my tires on the line.

Ironically, what jump started me after about 40 miles of riding was a sharp climb up Willow Mountain. It made me think of a professional bike race in Europe; I envisioned simple resolve and human willpower – nothing more, nothing less - propelling each racer to the top of the road. My reward for myself at the top of the Willow Mountain climb was an outstanding view of Mount Borah - highest in Idaho – which I gazed at while downing 4 granola bars and two bananas.

The weather for the bulk of the day was near-perfect for cycling – 75 degrees for a high, and broken clouds. Mount Borah (just above the front of my helmet) and its surrounding peaks showed a new coating of snow from the weekend’s cold, wet weather. The rest of the day featured flat roads and serious desert. A couple hours before dark I spotted my first antelope of the trip. As I slowed by bike to gaze at them, I hit a rumple strip in the road. Sensing danger, they took off at a speed that made my biking look slow indeed. As I made camp, I had a couple from Virginia snap a photo of me in front of one of the many stand-along peaks of eastern Idaho. It was good to hear a southern accent! One last look outside before sleep showed the red moon coming up over the desert horizon.