Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 12 - Twin Falls to Burley, ID

Today: 43 miles, 1932 feet of climb and one scavenger hunt
Cumulative: 842 miles, 37777 feet of climb and one scavenger hunt

It was another gorgeous day to ride our bicycles and see new sights. Cool and mostly sunny with a tailwind at our back. The route today was due east and at times near, but not on Interstate 84. In the morning we took two side trips to Shoshone Falls and Twin Falls, and then continued on straight farm roads to Burley. Here, where the land is left to itself, it is arid and dry. Where the land is irrigated, we pass fields of barley, potatoes, corn, and alfalfa. The interstate traffic was at times heard to our side. Otherwise, we heard the wind as it rippled through the fields of barley. And on the right of us we can now see mountains in the distance; the Rocky Mountains. We’ll be climbing towards the Tetons in just a few days. But for now, it is relatively flat riding in what is called Magic Valley.

Snake River Canyon at Shoshone Falls (rainbow barely visible)

This was a short riding day, the shortest ride we’ll have on the entire tour. So our schedule included a late breakfast at 7:30AM and luggage load at 8:30AM. Then, we were off.

Another view of the Snake River Canyon

Shoshone Falls was very nice. Taller than Niagara Falls at 212 feet high, we took the two mile side trip down into the Snake River Canyon to see it up close. The volume of water going over the falls was impressive, in addition to its height. It does remind you of the Niagara, but perhaps the American side of the falls rather than the Canadian side. (And we’ll see both of those in early August.) We also took a side trip to Twin Falls which was not as impressive as Shoshone. At Twin Falls there was once two falls, as the name implies. One of the falls has been dammed up for power, and the volume of water going over the remaining falls is greatly reduced. Never the less, it was another nice trip down into the canyon before heading on our way. The latter falls also involved a descent and climb that reached 17 percent grade.

Shoshone Falls

Before reaching Burley we also crossed the Hansen Bridge over the Snake River Canyon. The bridge is nearly 400 feet above the river. Until 1919, when the original bridge was built spanning the gorge, travelers had to take a row boat to ford the river. Imagine how hard it must have been for travelers to cross the country in the 1800’s when this area was arid and desolate, in addition to its difficult topography.

The Hansen Bridge

Overall for us, it was a quick day into Burley which we covered in about two and a half hours, an average of about 17mph of easy riding. Again Mark W., Mark K, Dave, Jeff and I rode the whole way together, although there was no need for drafting owing to the tailwind we had.

Because of the short mileage and early arrival time, today was the official America by Bicycle “Scavenger Hunt”. Everyone needed to break into teams of four or five, which was perfect for the five of us. Each team was supposed to find sixteen items including an Idaho quarter, a piece of fan belt, a clothespin, a #4 golf ball, a round ban-aid, a blue flower, a popsicle stick, a church key, a pretty rock, a sprig of alfalfa, a bottle cap, and a store stamp from a store in Burley. Now, those of you who know me would know I normally don’t go for that kind of stuff. And let’s just say the two Marks, Jeff, and Dave were equally motivated as well. But with no effort put into it at all (wink, wink), miraculously we came with all of the items before we reached the Hansen Bridge. That included us having the store stamp from a store in Burley, despite the fact that we hadn’t even reached Burley yet; if you know what I mean. And then, "The Incident" happened. For some reason, the judges didn’t believe our story about trying to save a poor little white lab named “Jimmy” who was running along the cliff overlooking the Snake River Canyon at the Hansen Bridge. While we were saving the dog, the bag containing all of the scavenged items slipped out of Mark's hand and went over the cliff. A totally true story, completely believable, although only witnessed by the five of us. For some unknown reason, the judges did not believe our story about The Incident and we were awarded negative points and our team finished in last place. We think the judges were bribed. However, we did get some of the better laughs of the night.

Tomorrow, we get more serious with an 83 mile ride to Pocatello. We’ll also be riding a bit on I-86. It is hard to believe it is two weeks tomorrow since I left home. In some ways the two weeks have gone by fast. And in others, it has seemed like a very long time. I am having a great time on the ride, but I do miss Karen, family, friends, and the mountains of Big Canoe. You really appreciate things when you don't have them.

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