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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Day 15 - Sawtooth

Todays mileage: 61
Total mileage: 751
End point: Fairfield, ID

I left my teepee last night for a wander into town. I wanted to check out the local steak restaurant as I am still awaiting my first steak. Joe's steakhouse as I quickly discovered did not have the greatest reviews. First review - you're better off driving off until find some roadkill, wait till the pavement hots up and eat that instead. Second review - the best thing about Joe's is that it went out of business. So I continued onto the supermarket to get some food there instead. Now let me tell you lots of things are cheaper in the US, but smoked salmon is not one of them, but it made my sandwich :)

I headed back for the teepee and watched some TV on my phone before heading to bed. I woke up in the morning and packed up, but way too late. Just as I was about to set off, the lady running KOA ran out with some gifts: a couple of mini key ring torches and an Idaho bell. And when I say a bell I mean a bell, I'm not sure quite what I am supposed to do with this bell but could be useful when I am bed ridden with man flu. Its at the bottom of my panniers now, and if I was being really brutal with weight it should go, but my heart says no!

Coming out of the town I saw a couple of cool things, in the centre of the city park a fighter jet. And then a few minutes later a tank. Now that's what I am talking about, forget flowers and statues, give me some serious military hardware - YES! I was expecting some sort of military memorial but didn't see one.

So I had two options when leaving mountain home, head south east following the interstate and then highway 30, or head north east on highway 20, a shorter route. I took route 20. Now I'm going to be honest and give my map interpretation skills a low score of 2/10 today. I had read and been told that the lower half of idaho was pretty flat and the north was mountainous. The way I read the map was that highway 20 went up to the foothills and then was rolling hills.

I started up highway 20 which reminded me of the brecon beacons, but I was headed directly into the wind. I climbed up for about 10 miles watiting for the road to curve round to due east. As I rounded the corner the terrain looked more like Snowdonia, and after 2 hours of brutal climbing round another corner - and there it was a full blown epic alp like mountain range. Highway 20 was like a brutal brick wall of a ride. If I had known this I would have set off a lot earlier. After nearly 4 hours of climbing (I'm giving it 4/5 of the official white pass measurement scale). I finally reached the summit. Oh and by the way the roadcount kill was high, I've finally put a photo up but I don't think we'll ever know if this was roadkill or not!

At the top it was getting pretty chilly and I was looking forward to a massive descent. I found from the sign I had climbed to 5,100 ft, I went gently downhill for about 2 miles and then to my astonishment found a huge flat mountain plateau, no mega descent. The wind was fortunately behind me so I zoomed along at over 20 mph which was just as well because it was already past 5pm. At this point my bike was feeling unstable and then I realized that it was flat tyre numero 4. Annoying but at least it gave me an opportunity to get this bloody puncture resistant tube a roll out. A quick change and it seems to be ok so far, if a little bit more difficult to get inside the tyre. This hasn't bean my only mechanical problems of the day. I managed to wrap a bungee cord round my rear derailleur when exiting the teepee (its not easy getting a bike in and out of a teepee) and I've also had some cycling computer issues which I'll not bore you with now.

On the plateau my first town was due 45 miles after Mountain Home, it was called Hill City. This is an interesting name for such a place, its funny I can give them 9/10 for the first part of the name, but I'm afraid its 0/10 for the second part. I should explain for my american readers that we have some quite rigid expectations in the urban settlement hierarchy - cities (catherdral & university), towns (townhall & supermarket), village (post office & pub), hamlet (maybe a post box)... Hill City contained 4 houses, 4 barns and about 10 silos giving this a mention of the map was dubious at best.

I finally rolled into Fairfield, population of 395. I was a bit worried about finding somewhere to stay as there is nothing on the map here. I was told it was legal to camp in the park, but saw a motel. I did some negotiating and got the rate down to $50. This has to be one of the nicest motels I've ever stayed in, the lobby had a roaring fire, wonderful hosts and big sofas and the room is gorgeous too. Given how cold, windy and late I arrived I feel no shame in being cosy indoors. I grabbed a burger across the road and had a quick conversation with a man who worked at the nuclear processing plant down the road, apparently Idaho is the central place for creating fuel for nuclear weapons and I would be seeing this huge closed off area later on the trip.

I should mention despite my complaining and pain, the views today have been absolutely phenominal, stunning and gorgeous. Maybe the most beautiful I have seen on my ride so far.

Anyway I'm shattered so its nearly bed. Two things before I forget, tim palmer has been plotting my stops on google maps, I'll try and share that link some point soon. Secondly I can't leave comments at the bottom of the blogs for some odd reason so please don't think I'm ignoring you, I do read and enjoy!

P.s. sawtooth is the name of the national park - I've only just been to the dentist!


  1. Brian, don't cock this next bit up. Find a pass to Yellowstone that is open. You don't want to be taking a 100 mile+ detour!!!

  2. sentences you never thougt you'd write: "it's not easy getting a bike in and out of a teepee"