Bicycle Tour 2004

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes (West Half)

Bicycle trail causeway and bridge

We selected the Columbus Day weekend, 2004 for our fall bicycle tour, along the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes, a 71-mile railroad grade extending from Mullan, Idaho, at the head of the Silver Valley, down the Coeur d' Alene River and the south end of Lake Coeur d'Alene, before climbing up to join the main rail line at Plummer, Idaho. We planned to start near Kellog, ride down the river to the Osprey Inn at Harrison on the lake, make Sunday a short ride day on the lake segment, then ride back to car on Monday, with possible extensions further up the valley, but the Northwest fall weather had other plans.

We unloaded the bike, a 1985 Santana Arriva XC fat-tire tandem, at Kellog, ID, got the gear stowed, with some adjustments, then set off into the driving near-freezing rain, made it about a mile before the fingers and toes quit sending signals. Visibility was poor, the slip-stream was bone-chilling cold at cruise speed, and the rain worked its way into shoes and the seams of our raingear, so we turned back to the car and proceeded in enclosed comfort. We took the rest of the day to dry out and warm up, so we didn't ride even though the rain had stopped by the time we got to Harrison, our overnight destination. Harrison was having an "open house" with food and craft fair, which occupied us for the afternoon.

Sunday, we set off early, got about a quarter-mile, then our rear tire sidewall started separating, creating a thumping slap, so we went back to the B&B, got the big tire pump out of the car, changed to our spare casing and tube, then finally headed out around the lake, across the causeway, and uphill (a five mile climb with about 600 feet of gain) to the trailhead on the north side of Plummer, ID, on US Highway 95. We had lunch at the Windmill Cafe at the south end of town, then headed downhill on the trail at 25-30Kph (15-18 mph), across the bridge, back to Harrison, about 50Km (31 miles) round trip. The day had turned nice, though cool, so we decided to head up the Coeur d'Alene River to do the "birthday miles" (this is Larye's birthday month: the challenge being to ride a mile for each year. Judy thought maybe a metric birthday ride was sufficient, but we still live in the only country on the planet where people still think in miles, especially old people. In the end, tradition--American --> --style--won out) We turned around about 15 miles up the river and headed back, turning over 61 miles just short of town, reaching 62.1 for a full 100 kilometers on the way back to the B&B from the trail, just to round off the distance. Total time enroute was a little under seven hours: our "cruising speed" is about 20 Kph on the level and climbing speed was 15 Kph on the gentle rail grade (12.5 and 9 mph).

A bad shift on steep street up from the trail to the village dumped us in the street. Judy got a small scrape, but we were OK, mostly. We had packed energy bars and baked potatoes, washed down with lots of water, so we weren't completely trashed, even though we hadn't ridden that far in one day in about 16 years. Larye had his first steak in more than two years (we were still hungry, and there was only one restaurant open within about 30 miles). Other than the ignominous chain drop, the only other problem we had was getting ambushed by a cow that had gotten through the fence and jumped onto the trail right in front of us, about halfway up the river segment. We both swerved in time to prevent collision. No TV, tried to read, but ended up getting lots of sleep, so all in all, it was a restful, relaxed weekend (other than freezing, grinding up large hill, and surviving a close encounter with large animal).

Coeur d'Alene River diptych, near Gray's Meadow

Updated October 17, 2004
Copyright 2004, Parkins Family Trust