"We Cannot Grow Without Challenge"

“To my mind, voyaging through wildernesses, be they full of woods or waves, is essential to the growth and maturity of the human spirit. It is in the wilderness that you really learn who you are. It is in facing the challenges of the wilderness that the thickness of your wallet becomes irrelevant and your capabilities become the truer measure of your value.”
Excerpt From: Callahan, Steven. “Adrift.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (www.hmhco.com).

Days 11, 12, 13
Halfway to Council ID, Council to Grangeville, Grangeville to Lowell

Transient

My 80 mile day was a challenge for me. The hill in the afternoon was short, but hot. I was crabby, and a negative attitude will not in any way help you on an 80 mile day. It wasn't that I didn't want to be doing what I was doing. It was just that, well, I was crabby! The road was rough (friction slows you down), I was hot, headwinds near the reservoir were strong and I started to think about work (will I get contracts again come fall?). I knew I'd cross into Idaho, which was exciting and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I did. At the state line, I literally pat myself on the back. I enjoyed the roads by Brownlee Reservoir but about 10 miles after Oxbow, I had a large, steep grade hill to climb in 90 degree weather. It was slow going. I had some nice downhill after that climb, but 40 miles to go and it was already 3pm. 10 miles outside of Council, my destination for the day, the sky turned quite ominous. Rhonda and her husband John were meeting me in Council ID at the RV park sometime between 6-8. As I entered into Council, I saw a fluorescent green vest coming at me on the other side of the road and an extended arm waving frantically at me. I was thrilled to see Rhonda meeting me along the road on her bike when she knew I was coming. We got to the RV park 5 minutes later and the heavens opened up on us! We sat in their truck as I downed 4 pieces of pizza (ok, maybe 9!) and Rhonda's homemade cookies. I showered and as the rain ended and the rainbows emerged, we were able to set up our tents, drink some tea, catch up and crash early. I went to bed leaving my bad attitude on the last hill I climbed.

Rhonda, a colleague and good friend meets me to ride for 2 days! First rain and a double rainbow!

Rhonda, a colleague and good friend meets me to ride for 2 days! First rain and a double rainbow!

Rhonda and I met years ago when I was the Physical Activity, Nutrition & Tobacco (PANT) Coordinator in Oregon. She is the counterpart in Idaho. She has hired me to do work with their Coordinated School Health Summit in ID and we see each other a couple of times a year at meetings and conferences around the country. A few years back I chatted with her about my ride from Lincoln City to San Francisco. Rhonda did it with her sister the following summer. I was thrilled when she and John decided to make arrangements to two-car it and meet me and ride with me for two full days from Council to Grangeville ID.

We woke up after a stormy night (although cozy in our tents) and ate a big breakfast in Council. We biked our way up a gorgeous area and ate Subway in New Meadows. It was really fun to go around a hill and see Rhonda and John waiting for me. I haven't had the luxury of anyone greeting me around bends or up hills yet on this trip and it sure was nice! We had a fabulous downhill after lunch (about 30 miles) along the Little Salmon River into Riggins. Riggins welcomes you will exposed hills shooting up out of the gorge, hot weather, and trucks and trucks and more pick-up trucks parked on the side of the road fishing in the river for the day. We got to our campground on the Salmon River, showered and walked the mile back into town to eat large salads and brownie sundaes. We each ordered our own desserts... I think that was overkill, but we made a dent on most of it.

What? We each NEEDED one... (hot fudge brownie sundae)

What? We each NEEDED one... (hot fudge brownie sundae)

Whitebird Parade- an unexpected surprise as we pulled into town!

Whitebird Parade- an unexpected surprise as we pulled into town!

I woke up to the sounds of the Salmon River in the morning and we walked back into town to have some breakfast. I started drinking coffee on this trip. I hate coffee, but it's been needed (not for the caffeine, but as a diuretic...TMI? Sorry!). We'll see how long I can sustain this coffee thing. I just don't get it. I know, I know... I live in Portland and I hate coffee. Even what people call, "The Good Stuff". Yuck. After breakfast and packing up camp, we downhilled it to Whitebird and happen to get into town at the most perfect time. If we were 15 minutes later, we would have missed the 15-20 minute Whitebird Parade. We pulled in and as I parked my bike along the side of the road, I was hit with pieces of candy being thrown from multiple floats. I started talking to Hannah, a Grangeville (middle school student I'd say), who just had knee surgery after a hurdle injury during track season. She asked me about my trip and I gave her my postcard and she's already following me on Twitter! Heal up Hannah... you'll be back running again soon enough!

Whitebird 'Hill'. Rhonda counted 18 switchbacks. Quite a climb... but we all did it!

Whitebird 'Hill'. Rhonda counted 18 switchbacks. Quite a climb... but we all did it!

We did a quick PBJ stop in Whitebird, knowing we had a 10 mile, 15 or so switchback exposed mountain to climb. We started the climb and it took about 2 hours. It was awesome! What an accomplishment when we got to the top!

A few more miles beyond the hill, we arrived at our destination, John's friend George who has a great home in Grangeville. Sadly, George and his family were out of town, but we showered, and had a great home to stay in! Thank you George!! I had a beef taco and chicken enchilada at a local Mexican Restaurant and John and Rhonda crashed right after dinner. I made my tea and sat on the back patio of George's place, observing the wildlife and listening to the birds. I slept hard, woke up and said my goodbyes to Rhonda and John. It was John's first voyage bicycle touring and I think Rhonda and I got him hooked. John has about 8 months until retirement, but I couldn't persuade him to take an early retirement and just keep biking east. I'm so thrilled they took the time and made the arrangements to be with me on this trip. It was incredibly meaningful.

Daisies... they are following me across the country.

Daisies... they are following me across the country.

In Kooskia, I met Ray, Terry, Margie and Mike from San Diego and Modesto CA at the The Rivers Cafe in Kooskia. They started in Florence OR and they are riding to Maine. Mike paid for my meal (thank you!!!!). They continued their riding for today, as I wanted to catch up on my riding, but we knew we'd be in the same campground in Lowell. About 8 miles into my ride to Lowell, Ray's truck (they take turns driving a support vehicle) pulled up. They said about 3 miles ahead, there's a 7 mile section of road that is scraped up ready for paving probably tomorrow. In the meantime, Terry and Mike rode about half of it, becoming increasingly frustrated with the ruts in the road and having to pull off into gravel or grass every time a car pulled up behind them. There were cones separating both sides of the highway, so there was no room. After driving Mike and Terry passed that part of the highway, Margie and Ray came back to see if I wanted a ride. I said sure! And we loaded up my stuff. So, today was shortened by about 9-10 miles, but I got to the campground in Lowell with time to jump in the pool, catch up on writing, drink a margarita with Ray and mike and rest before two long riding days.

I haven't felt as challenged as I did on that 80 mile day however, I know there will be more days like that for a variety of reasons. I guess out of those challenges, you grow, learn, adapt, meet people, and see opportunity when things go awry. What did I learn from the other day? Patience. Sometimes I'm delayed during the day, but I happen to meet people as a result of being delayed. I feel empowered and proud of myself. More so than if I had stayed home all summer...

“Avoiding risk is not much of a goal. I am probably a bit more cautious these days, but I often remind listeners that, whether you crawl into a hole or walk a high wire, nobody gets out of here alive. We cannot grow without challenge.”
Excerpt From: Callahan, Steven. “Adrift.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (www.hmhco.com).