Freeze column: Ups and downs of bike riding in Idaho

  • Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013 12:39 a.m.
Freeze got to coast down to the river and road below.
Freeze got to coast down to the river and road below.

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at

Today was another of those days that had its ups and downs.

I started off this morning with a slack tire on the front of the bike again. It holds air perfectly for a several days and then goes slack quickly. I pumped it back up again with the CO2 cartridge, but that option is going to run out soon unless I find a real bike shop and get more.

Today started with another 20 miles down the Little Salmon River, headed toward White Bird and the climb up White Bird Mountain. I asked the woman who ran the general store which of the two options that she would recommend. She told me to take the long version, adding about 3 miles to the climb because it was less steep and it had switchbacks. I found out that switchbacks just add distance and worried that it took me too long to make the climb. I did see a rancher working his cows and realized that he has no fences and the cows just walk across the road, or I guess stand in it on occasion. Once at the top, I had a short downhill and a pleasant and mostly flat ride to Grainger, Idaho, on Highway 95. My next destination was Kooskia and I enjoyed a mostly downhill ride alongside the Clearwater River. I entered the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, and saw a lot of historical markers about the fighting that was done here. Kooskia is a pleasant little town with a couple of restaurants, a grocery, a motel and more.

My ride today was 78 miles, but I wouldn’t have expected to get anywhere near that much based on the long climb. The ride along the rivers and wonderful weather made for a great day. I was ready to call it a day, and it was one of the few times that I have prearranged a room ahead, making sure that I get that far.

One series of funny things occurred today in Grainger. I stopped for a snack and asked the woman in a convenience store if I was on the right road to Kooskia. She replied, “I don’t know. I have never been there.” She was more than a little grumpy. So I stopped and asked at the next one the same question. I got a very pleasant smile, and an even more pleasant “yes” and that the distance was only about 25 miles. She made me feel really good too because I expected more.

Tonight, I asked the motel proprietor if there is a laundromat close by. She told me, “Don’t worry, I will wash them. I have plenty of washing to do already.”

It is always good to get your clothes washed on Saturday night, whether they need it or not.

Tomorrow is another long climb, but Montana is getting closer.

I will count today as one of the best so far. Challenges, discovery and lots of nice people.

View David Freeze's ride in a larger map

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