Good morning! Nate here. After our most difficult day of riding yesterday, I’m committed to leaving even earlier in the morning to try and beat the afternoon winds. Because of that, it’s currently 4:35 a.m., and I’m awake, packing up my tent. My goal is to get rolling by 6 a.m., stop for a snack-breakfast at the local gas station, and then roll on.

We have a long ride scheduled for today: about 90 miles. A few days ago, we found a Warm Showers listing that offered a “guest house” to stay in, and we couldn’t turn it down. It’ll be a long ride for sure, but hopefully with less winds than yesterday.

Check back later for an update!

Mid-Day Update (3:30 p.m.): First things first: I made it the 90 miles to Fairfield! Michael is a little ways back, and will hopefully be here around dinner time.

Despite plans for a quick breakfast at the gas station, by the time that I had packed up everything (about 5:30 a.m.), I was much hungrier than expected, so I sprung for the local diner, Pickle’s Place, in Arco. I pulled in at 5:55 a.m., a few minutes before they opened.

A table of six locals were already inside, so I went in. As I walked through the door, one of the locals–noticing that I was obviously from out of town–called out “the waitress isn’t here yet, but feel free to grab yourself a cup of coffee from behind the counter!” I did exactly that, and sipped on my coffee while I waited for the staff to arrive.

It was worth the short wait, and I was able to be back on the road and start making westward progress by 6:30 a.m. Michael later texted me and said that they have 10-inch diameter pancakes–perfect for the touring cyclist.

Morning rides are my favorite; Being on the road before the traffic, and I much prefer 50° over 80°.

We passed through Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve today, with volcanic formations and black sands surrounding both sides of the road.

I didn’t go into the park, but got good sights from the roadway. Like yesterday, there was a whole lot of desert throughout today’s ride.

I made my first stop at mile 45, for a perfect cycling snack: chocolate milk and a pickle. Yes, I completely understand that that sounds like a disgusting combination, but it takes care of the protein, sugars, and sodium that are burned through so quickly in the saddle.

The next 45 miles were where things got a bit tough. The headwind started to kick in by late morning (it had been calm in the morning), and a slight gradual uphill combined with varying shoulder-widths made riding difficult.

Unfortunately, about 10 miles outside of Fairfield, the shoulder disappeared completely, and I was forced onto the roadway. During the final stretch, I was forced/blown off the road by passing semi-trucks a handful of times, which was slightly scary. I made it unscathed though.

Fairfield is undergoing some major town renovations, but there is a great Italian place downtown, where I got some pasta. Plenty of leftovers for dinner tonight.

Around the block, I located where we’re staying tonight. It’s an ENTIRE HOUSE! I have yet to meet Laura, our host, but from what I understand, this is her boss’s house who allows touring cyclists to stay in, free of charge. It’s so nice to have space to spread out in, even if it’s for a single night. I’ve enjoyed reading the guest book while hanging out.

That’s all for now. I’ll update again once Michael arrives!

Update (Day’s end): Michael arrived around dinner time, but actually met our Warm Showers host, Laura, a few miles back on the road coming into town. Laura is amazing, and has said that she’s cooking us breakfast tomorrow morning before we get on the road. With us being in town, it’s obvious how much we stick out among the locals.

A few notes from Michael’s ride:

  • He visited Craters of the Moon this morning and enjoyed seeing a few of the park’s strange, other-worldly formations up close. He could only go so far off the paved roads in the park wearing cycling shoes and having his bike in tow, but still managed to walk a couple short trails to see the volcano domes, basalt mounds, and more.
  • The wind was “mean-spirited, and hateful” again, but not as bad as yesterday. Even with 20 more miles today, it was all-around less miserable comparatively.
  • The drivers in Idaho are surprisingly discourteous to cyclists. (Idahoans, by contrast, have been generally welcoming and kind, and our WS hosts have been awesome.) Several times today Michael was air-blasted across the shoulder by hay trucks passing too closely. In general, drivers here don’t give enough clearance and stay too close to the white line.

We have a short(er) day planned for tomorrow: around 60 miles. The best part is that we’ll be dropping in elevation from 5,000 feet to about 2,500 feet–which will make it our largest net-descent to date. Woohoo! Check back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled blog.

You can view the Relive ride here. (It looks really cool going through Craters of the Moon!)