Monday, April 6, 2009

Hell's Canyon and the Bruneau area

After a few weeks of not being able to bike for various reasons, I needed to get back on my bike. I gained five pounds from March 27 to yesterday. So, I decided I needed to get back out on my bike and go far.

On Saturday, I went to Hell's Canyon. (the deepest gorge in North America) The road I wanted to ride on is 23 miles long. I was thinking I could do the 46 miles (out and back) given enough time. I didn't leave the house until 11 and ran two errands before heading out of town. About an hour from the parking lot, I started getting really dizzy. Not a fun feeling.

I got to the parking lot at 2:30. I knew I would be pushing it. I have become the slowest biker there is. I loaded my panniers with rain gear and cold weather gear. The sky was blue and clear though so I ditched the rain gear in the car and took the food, water and cold weather gear in the panniers.

After 10-15 pedal strokes, I entered Idaho. I had parked in Oregon. So Oregon is now the second state I've biked in that I haven't lived in.

I really enjoyed myself. The wind blew hard and the hills just kept coming. When I realized I wasn't going to make it to the end of the road (I'm sad about that) I picked a spot I would make it to before turning around. To get to that spot meant a LOOOOONG and painful climb. I managed to get it done. I took time at the top to enjoy the view while eating some food.

The further I got in, the more beautiful it became! I wish I had had time to see the rest of the canyon. There weren't many trees so the wind just howled right on through quickly. The snow melt trickled down the mountainsides in cascades that were so loud, every time I heard one, I was expecting something much larger. There was almost no traffic so I felt safe despite constantly being dizzy and losing my balance as a result.

I had good speed coming back until I came upon some cows. There were about 10 of them walking down the road right toward me. I did a quick u-turn, hid my bike and climbed up the tallest rock I could find. I can't tell you the fear a cow puts in my soul!!! I was going to wait until they passed but they pulled off into a pit. I couldn't see the anymore. I waited 20 minutes then I heard a car coming. I pulled into the road and biked beside the truck past the group of cows. I thought I was safe but a few minutes down the road, I spotted another cow. This one was alone and really trotting along at a good pace. I stayed behind it and it kept turning around and looking at me. I picked up a 5 pound rock and put it on my handlebar bag in case I needed to use it. It turned around and started walking toward me and snorted a couple of times so I screamed and flailed my arms and it took off running. I watched it get a good distance then took off. Unfortunately, the cows released all this adrenaline into my blood stream and I couldn't really get going again. I biked slowly on the flats and had to walk up the hills.

I finally made it to the car just after 8. I biked 33.71 miles. I made it home around 11:30. I was so tired!!! If I didn't live so far away, I would go back but 3 hours is a long way to drive and I don't like driving much.

The next day, I drove down to Bruneau. I wanted to see the sand dunes, the reservoir and the canyon overlook. I was thinking I would bike a bit in each place but drive to each one.

The overlook turned out to be on a gravel road and I didn't feel like biking on gravel so I just got out of the car and walked the fence line. It's a beautiful place. For being so far out of the way, it was busier than I thought it would be. I spent about 20 minutes there before heading back to the main highway.

I parked the car in a grove of trees and took off for the dunes. None of my pics of the largest part of the dune came out good so I added some older pics with it in it. This dune is the largest single standing dune in the world. I rode into the park. They didn’t charge me anything since my bike had no motor. I rode out to the end of the road and ate my lunch, lounged in the sand and got back to work.

*** The 3 pics below are from a previous trip to the dunes.***

largest dune

side of largest dune and lake

small side dune

The wind was blowing really hard but I took the brunt of the wind on the way in so going back to the car was much quicker than coming in. I took a quick jaunt to the bridge over the reservoir and saw enough to suit me. The ride from the dunes to the car was very pleasant with a tail wind doing a lot of the work. I had more energy but decided not to over do it. I ended the ride at 13 miles.

Just after getting back from GA, I rode 24 miles and my knees were killing me! I was worried about a long ride and riding two days in a row but my worried were in vain since my knees never hurt once despite the killer hills and strong headwinds. I definitely didn’t feel as strong today as I did on Saturday starting off but 12 miles is an average length ride for me and I felt I had more energy at the end than I did even a couple of months ago so all is looking well.


Valerie said...

Pretty photos and I'm sure it's even prettier to be surrounded by all that. But you left me wanting a video of your funny cow encounter. Well, it's funny to us, but I'm sure not to you.

Stella Andes said...

Great pictures! Congrats on your ride. You're doing so well!

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