Biking in the Idaho Panhandle – part 2

FH000019Since I already had the bike today, I was able to be on the road by 6:15am – a much cooler time of the day. Today my trip was 350+ miles or so, in a loop from Coeur d’Alene through St. Regis, MT, Plains, MT, Paradise, MT, Noxon, MT, Sandpoint, ID and back with a few side trips thrown in for good measure.

The departure was great, cool enough for the occasional shiver in while in the shadows but a welcome change from yesterday. I told myself that I would long for a shiver later in the day and to just accept it as a gift. I stopped at a couple of turnouts along I-90 to take some pictures, just couldn’t pass them by. It was a really scenic ride through Fourth of July Pass and Lookout Pass, you just don’t see that kind of terrain in northern Illinois. Tractor-trailers inching down the east side of the pass at 20-25 mph is just not a common sight in the flatlands of Illinois. There were a couple of lakes along the south side of I-90 with mountains in the background that just begged for pictures so I reluctantly accomodated them. Hopefully they will turn out.

My first stop since leaving Coeur d’Alene was in Wallace, ID. I decided that I needed a cup of coffee since my last coffee was in the hotel lobby as I was leaving. A small, sleepy on Sunday morning kind of town, I found the Briggs Hotel and got a cup of coffee. I took it outside and sat at a table on the sidewalk relaxing and watching things wake up. I could be at home in a place like that. The coffee cup was empty and it was time to saddle up and get going.

The next stop was in St. Regis, MT at the MT-135 exit. Time for fuel and a stretch. I met a couple of bikers from Washington, they were headed for Colorado, then New Mexico and finally Arizona. Quite the adventure, I’m sure. I headed north on MT-135 looking for MT-200. From the signs I was on 135 for about 20 miles or so, nice scenery, elevation changes, and the river (at least initially) was on the right. I made some pictures along the way. Got to MT-200 and turned west. Fairly soon after turning west I was in paradise. Paradise, MT to be specific. The town looked to be easy to miss, but I guess Paradise is only for those folks paying attention. The next town was Plains, and just before town was MT-28 that heads towards Glacier National Park. I stopped at that intersection and seriously considered turning on 28. Ultimately, I chose to skip Glacier and continued on 200. Several reasons, primarily distance, heat, and time. I may rent again the next weekend I’m out here and if I do will probably head to Glacier on Saturday, stay the night, go through the park and return on Sunday. Much more reasonable riding schedule and I wouldn’t feel rushed if I did it that way. From all accounts, Glacier is worth taking the time.

The Clark Fork river is really nice on the south side of 200. On the north the terrain rises quickly and there was a turnout describing a trail from the 19th century and continuing to describe the Thompson Falls mountain sheep herd. I didn’t see one but didn’t really expect to given the heat. I did see a warning sign the likes of which will never be necessary in Illinois – “Watch for Big-Horn Sheep”. As you get closer to Thompson Falls the Clark Fork widens and appears to slow down. Past Thompson Falls towards Noxon the reservoir is much larger than I thought it would be. You can go to the lower side of the dam and see the resulting water flow on towards Lake Pend Oreille.

I’m a little confused about the river’s name. Signs called it “Clark Fork” out by Plains, but as I got closer to Sandpoint, the signs were calling it “Bull River”. Maybe I missed something.

I stopped and read the signs describing the glaciers and melting that created the lake, very interesting. The volume of water that must have flowed when the ice dams melted would be breathtaking to witness. On northwestward around the lake to Sandpoint, and the intersection with 95. The temperature seemed to rise 20 degrees or more from the lakeshore temperature, the ride south on 95 was brutally hot. The news had the temps topping out at 105 and I believe it. I was glad to get back and relax in some cool air in the hotel.

I still have to get pictures developed (taken using my trusty Rollei 35 TE). I’ll post an album when I get them back.

Biking in the Idaho Panhandle – part 1

Lake Coeur d'AleneWell, I picked up the HD Fatboy at Shumate’s in Spokane and headed east on I-90. It was later in the day than I had wanted to get started (and hotter too) so I decided on the shorter ride around Lake Coeur d’Alene. I was thinking of going past the hotel to leave a couple of items, but the traffic on 95 north from I-90 changed my mind and I just got back on I-90 east. East for a ways, then I-90 turns southerly along the eastern side of the lake. A really nice ride with the lake on the right, changes in elevation give you different perspectives as you move around.

I got off I-90 at ID-97, towards Harrison. The ride on ID-97 is much closer to the lake and more twisty; you see much more of the homes and people from that road. It was HOT. By the time I was on ID-97 it was at least 97 – no joke. Even with your own generated 20-30 mph wind it was still HOT. I stopped in Harrison and found some ice water and a really good mint ice cream sandwich. I sat on a shady bench on the sidewalk and ate and drank and watched people come and go from the town beach. There were a few bikers on the road, and if they were as warm as I was they were hoping for some shade. Continuing on ID-97 I turned right on ID-3 towards St. Maries, where I took ID-5 west. On 5, I went through the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation. In Plummer I took 95 north back towards Coeur d’Alene and the cool temps in the hotel.

A few side trips and look-sees added a few miles, plus the miles from Spokane to get started – I wound up riding about 210 miles today.

Biking in Idaho – planning

I’m renting an HD the weekend of July 22nd and I’ve been asking some other bikers about suggested rides, places to go, places not to be missed, and I’ve distilled their suggestions down to a couple of routes.   One is basically directly east out of Coeur d’Alene, around Lake Fernan, ultimately winding up back on I-90 –  I don’t have a exact route on this one yet.   The second is the trip around Lake Coeur d’Alene.   This should be a really nice, scenic ride and will probably take me 5-6 hours to do.   If I was just riding and not stopping to take pictures, etc. it would take 2-3 hours or so.   I’m not in a hurry on either of these rides, that’s the point.

More parts arrive

While I was away on business, UPS must have thought Christmas came early. I received black powdercoated handlebars, black replacement grips, GPS mounting hardware, a sun shield for the GPS, a document stash tube, and a helmet bag. Most of this translates into work to do, but in the long run the updates should be well worth it.

I’m going to replace the handlebars, grips, and risers. Mark gave me a set of riser blocks off his Retro and I’m going to remove my Neo bars and risers. I intend to run the wiring through the bars, and replace the grips with all-black HD grips. The GPS mount will require some drilling and tapping so that the mount is clean, but it should be fairly simple.

The document stash tube will mount below the headlight on the front of the lower triple tree. It’s intended to hold registration and insurance papers so that I don’t forget them if I leave the saddlebags at home.

Bike show prep

After I got the headlight shell and air cleaner cover home I put them on, of course.   Tom at Black Magic Customs did a great job on both parts.   The red stripes on the headlight shell are horizontal which isn’t easy to determine by just looking at the shell off the bike.

With it all assembled, it needed cleaning and waxing to get ready for the bike show sponsored by Black Magic Customs during Sandwich Freedom Days.   The show is Sunday, July 2nd at 12 noon in the Hideout parking lot.   I washed it and used my dog drier to remove the majority of the water.   They are selling dog driers for twice the price and calling them motorcycle driers.   Oh, well, it does do a good job.   After waxing and polishing I decided to head the 3 miles up to the show.   Some very nice bikes, but I tend to favor the old-school bobbers over the latest choppers.   There were some really nice examples of both styles.

I headed home early as it started looking like rain.   The motorcycle washing and waxing gods must have been on my side because it rained 5 minutes AFTER I parked the bike in the garage.   OK, maybe it was just dumb luck.   Since I’m leaving on a business trip in a couple of days anyway, I just covered it up in the garage.