In 2009, I slogged my way through the epic bike ride which precipitated this blog. My Sideways by Bike tour took place on the second weekend of July. Nearly 100 miles in two days in triple digit heat nearly did me in.
I have fond memories of Indian Creek Winery, our first stop on that trip. When I learned that Indian Creek would be hosting a fundraiser for Wish Granters of Idaho on Memorial Day, I though: Heck. The Sideways trip was fun up to that point. I bet I could peddle out, quaff a few glasses of vino and a tasty snack, and be home in time to attend Story Story Night in downtown Boise.
This time it would be a solo Sideways trip. None of my friends were interested in a 40 mile bike ride just to drink wine. I’m good on solo trips. I have my iPod with NPR, music, books, and I have my camera. The added advantage of going solo . . . I could chicken out if the weekend downpour continued. My only worry was mechanical breakdowns. My bike tires have given me fits recently. First is the issue of Presta valves. I solved that by buying a new bike pump with a built-in Presta gizmo. I was in the bikebird seat—until my front tire kept losing air and no amount of pumping kept it firm. So….new tube. And prayers that nothing would happen along the way because I don’t know how to change a tire and I don’t want to know how to change a tire. (Stupid, eh?) That’s what cell phones and Better World Club are for.
Monday morning dawned to beautiful, clear, blue sky and crisp, rain-scoured air, prompting a friend to text that she and her hubby and friends would meet me at the winery. Huzza! I left the house around 11 AM, just as four A-10 Thunderbolts from the Idaho Air Nation Guard whizzed over downtown Boise for one of several scheduled flyovers. I would see them again later in the morning, as well.
The temperature was crisp enough that I didn’t even break a sweat slogging up the first hill of the day. For the first hour I moseyed through quiet residential neighborhoods on little roads that connect and mingle, leading me toward the less populated farm country west of Boise.
Seen from a bike, the landscape has so much more to offer. Details like the house sheltered by two abandoned railroad cars in the front yard jump out at you. I was too astonished to stop and document this sight. Then there are the street signs: Vandal Drive, Bott Lane, Aristocrat Drive. Evidence of group kamikaze shows up in batches of flattened squirrel fur that carpet stretches of roadway. The occasional dead skunk or cat clutch my gut.
But a cyclist in these parts can’t spend too much time gawking because the going is treacherous on Idaho back country roads. I discovered that the luxury of a nice broad, clearly marked, bike lane extolls a price. Bike lanes are usually an addendum to main arterial streets which carry a ton of noisy traffic. I had smooth sailing, but couldn’t hear myself think, much less hear Scott Simon on my iPod. So I sought the narrow streets with less traffic but a perilously thin space between the fog line and the edge of the pavement.
On these more bucolic streets, I amused myself by mooing at the cows, meowing at the cats, and barking at the dogs who whizzed by in the back of pickup trucks. I came to kids standing beside the road and salivated, thinking it was a lemonade stand. But it was not. And that is a story of its own, which will comprise my next post.
Before I knew it I saw grape vines, but I was too early! I leisurely peddled a bit further down McDermott Rd, angering a blackbird who buzzed me for a block or two and reminding me of Alfred Hitchcock. As I returned to the winery entrance, traffic had picked up. A steady stream of cars was pulling into the dirt driveway. I peddled up to the ticket takers in front of a huge RV, obviously a partymobile. I chained up little Pinkie to some unused equipment. No bike racks in Canyon County. A pair of Harley’s were parked around the corner from me, the only other bikes in sight.
Once my friends arrived, we enjoyed a lovely picnic on the shady grass, far enough from the music that we could talk without getting sore throats. I had expected to stay for an hour or so, but the afternoon drifted by and we didn’t even notice the changing of the guard at the bandstand. The wife of one of the owners came by just before we left and asked if we’d like to see her cat’s six-day old kittens. So we all tromped into her home and down the stairs into her basement to ogle the proud feline mama and her teeny-tiny, sightless, balls of fur.
By the time we emerged from our kitty fix, the band and the food trucks were packing up to go. I was looking forward to the ride home. The low afternoon light would be lovely and I had this crazy notion that the trip would be somewhat downhill. Boy was I wrong. I had a headwind and it seemed like the route home had sprouted hills that weren’t there in the morning. You suppose it was the wine?
The good news is, I made it home in one piece. No flat tires. No wrecks. Just incredibly sore sit bones, mild dehydration, and physical exhaustion. It only took 30 minutes longer than the morning ride (probably because I was too tired to stop for photos) but it felt like it took twice as long. My odometer had gained 62 miles. Not bad for a non-athlete. Obviously, I skipped Story Story night.