Sandpoint

NWP/IDBDR Day #5

Miles Total: 698
Miles Today: 184

Our goal today was to get to Sandpoint and stay in a hotel room. This stretch should have quite a bit of pavement, so I didn’t set any kind of alarm, figuring I could sleep in. Well, I made until 6:30a.

We started off easy today with my dad leading. We wanted to let him get used to the bike without the steering stabilizer on it. The first bit of the ride was along pavement into the town of Metaline for some fuel.

After the fuel stop we had another short section of pavement before hitting dirt again. We saw some turkeys and deer along the road today – no pictures. We also crossed into Idaho, which was marked by a post next to the road.

We decided to take the easy bypass option as we neared Priest Lake. Well, the track that we were following did not match the road we were on. Fortunately, there weren’t really many choices for us to make…just stayed on the same road and it eventually connected with the main track. I’ll bug BestRest Products when I get home and see if they want my track for that section.

Rest break before the easy part.

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All along this dirt section, there were these yellow bear identification signs. I guess there are enough grizzly bears around that this is an issue. Should make camping in my hammock more exciting going forward. Fortunately I got used to sleeping with the grizzlies on my Alaska trip. (Not…).

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When we got to Priest Lake State Park, we decided to pay the day use fee and eat at the picnic area. We paid the fee at the entrance to the park, but when we got to the picnic area, it was closed! So, we went to an overflow parking lot and improvised a picnic spot.

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While riding along today, we decided that we would take a rest day at a hotel tomorrow and watch the Seahawks game before starting the Idaho BDR. I tried to use Expedia at the state park, but had a poor connection. It was good enough for me to see that most of the hotels in Sandpoint were full.

I called my awesome wife and asked her to book a hotel for us with a good internet connection from home. She ended up getting us a room for two nights at a Casino in Bonners Ferry. I programmed the destination into my GPS and hit the go button. It ended up taking us down on some highways. When we arrived at the hotel and I checked our track, it turns out our planned route to the area cut the corner to Sandpoint, so if you are following along on spotwalla (http://tinyurl.com/zlmpeta), you will see the discrepancy.

As we were passing through Sandpoint, we stopped to pick up some tools so my dad could reinstall his steering stabilizer. And then it happened! As I was pulling out of my parking spot, the pavement jumped up and pulled my bike down to the ground…after 5 days of riding on dirt, I finally dropped my bike on a flat paved parking lot. I didn’t get any pictures, if you want to see one, you can check out my dad’s blog at https://charlessk.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/nwp-idbdr-2016-days-5-6/

The hotel room is nice, and should be a good place to rest up.

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There is a restaurant here with a view of the river.

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I ordered the Prime Rib with a loaded baked potato.

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Got some apple pie for dessert.

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After dinner, we went back to the room and watched the WSU/Boise St game. The Cougs did not have a good start, but almost pulled it off in the end. Go Cougs!

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NWP/IDBDR Day #4

Miles Total: 514
Miles Today: 64

Up at 6a again today and had the same old breakfast before packing up to leave. I charged my InReach last night and noticed that the mount was loose when I put it back on the bike. So I opened up my fancy red tool tube, grabbed my tools and fixed it up. Unfortunately, this would not be the only time it was opened today…

There was a bit of mist on the lake this morning…grabbed a quick pic before we took off.

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We continued on dirt for a bit, passing through some active logging areas. There were a couple of spots where machinery had to pull over to let us by. Everyone was very nice about it.

Our first stop of the day was in the town of Northport. They had a very nice park along the Columbia river. They restrooms were well maintained and heated! There was nice grassy picnic area and a boat launch. We actually had cell phone service, so I gave my wife a quick call.

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After I hung up, a train came by…Later on, we caught up to this train again and I got some pretty cool 360 videos going along side.

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After the park, we grabbed some gas and started off toward Boundary Dam. Just after we passed the train, off in the distance, something big moved across the road in front of us. I’m 95% sure it was a bear – I tried to get some 360 video, but when I reviewed it on my phone I couldn’t make it out. Perhaps when I get home on a big monitor I’ll be able to tell. Not 5 minutes after that, there was a big grouse standing on the side of the road.

Eventually, we moved from pavement on to gravel again. The terrain was pretty straightforward and not very difficult at all. I was leading the way and came through a hairpin turn that was a little bit loose. I called back to my Dad on the intercom to see if he made it ok, just as he said he crashed. He wasn’t going very fast and was not hurt at all. I found a good spot to turn around and go help him lift the bike up. I had to take a picture before I helped lift…

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Well it turns out this was a blessing in disguise. After getting the bike up and resting for a bit, we tried to continue on our way. Immediately my dad started freaking out – his handlebars wouldn’t turn in one direction.  The issue – a couple of fasteners on his steering stabilizer had vibrated loose (it was a miracle he didn’t lose the fasteners). The crash had finally pushed it to the point of failure.

If you look at the picture below, the red piece moves with the handlebars, the black rods behind had shifted up to prevent things from rotating. If you look at the close one, you can actually see that the top is scuffed up. If this had happened at the wrong time, really bad things would result.

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Now the problem became tightening those fasteners. Normally they are tightened before the stabilizer is installed on the bike. There was no clearance to get a tool in on either side. After quite a bit of finagling, he got one side tightened up – the other side was just impossible, and was basically not threaded at all. There was so little clearance, the the fastener couldn’t even come out. So, we added a zip tie for insurance, and started toward the Boundary Dam campground. We figured at that point, I could run for tools to do a better fix, or call for extraction if needed.

Here is a pic of him on the side of the trail fighting with the fastener.

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We went very slow through the rest of the dirt section, which gave us an opportunity to chat about our options. We didn’t have the tools to do a proper fix (or did we…) for the stabilizer. The obvious solution – you can actually remove the red piece in the picture above, which essentially returns things to the stock configuration of the bike (my Dad added the stabilizer after his crash on the Dempster a few years ago).

We arrived at the campground and nailed down a spot in case we needed to spend the night. Then it was time to start taking apart the bike. Below, you can see the handlebars off and the stabilizer out.

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With the handlebars off, he tried to get access to the fastener that was still loose. After a long battle, he gave up and put everything back together. To fix the problem, you need to remove the large nut in the steering column – go back and look at the close-up picture of the dampener. The issue was that we didn’t have a tool big enough to take it off. Then it hit me – that nut looks like the same size as the axle nut on my bike, and I have a wrench to take the tires off with me. Sure enough, we gave it a try and it worked.

He really, really, really, really wants that stabilizer installed on the bike. He has had issues with head shake on the freeway when trucks pass by, and the dampener solves the problem. We decided to head into Sandpoint tomorrow and get a hotel room. We’ll take Sunday as a “rest” day, go to a store and get some loctite, and reinstall the stabilizer. It should also give us the opportunity to watch the Seahawks game.

It is about 100 miles to Sandpoint from our current location (at least following the path we are taking, we will complete the Northwest Passage). At this point it is getting to be later in the day, so we decide to camp here for the night.

I haven’t had a shower in 4 days, and my current clothes needed to be washed. So I decided it was a good time to jump in the lake and go swimming. On the way down, I noticed this sign.

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I’m not sure if I should be happy that there hasn’t been a cougar sighting in a couple of weeks, or worried because they have a semi-permanent sign to update the sightings.

Here I am in the lake.

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Here is our campsite.

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That’s about it for today!

NWP/IDBDR day #3

Miles Total: 450
Miles Today: 123

My alarm woke me up at 6a this morning. It was a bit chilly out – 39 degrees, and I didn’t want to leave my warm down quilt, so I hung out in bed for another 15 minutes. Breakfast today was the same as yesterday…I didn’t take a new picture today, if you really want to see it, you can go read yesterdays post again 🙂

We hit the road about 9a today. There was another group camping at the same campground as us and they left about the same time, so we spent much of the day hop scotching with them along the route.

Today was a day of routing challenges. Things didn’t start off too well less than 1/2 hr into the ride, I turned left into an old corral, thinking it was the road we needed to turn on. I had my GPS on too small of a scale, my actual turn was about 100 yards away. To make things even better, the corral was overgrown, and I didn’t take a good line to turn around, and basically got stuck. I had to get off the bike and muscle it around by had to keep from dropping it. To make things even better, I had a big audience – the group from the campsite stopped to watch me struggle. Oh well…

After maneuvering my bike out, and getting on the correct road, I realized that I was a bit thirsty. So we pulled over for a quick break so I could grab a drink of water. This presented an opportunity for another bike photo.

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The next routing issue came shortly after this…I was cruising along in a groove and not looking at my GPS – we came to the next turn and I almost missed it. Locked up the rear wheel trying to stop in time so I wouldn’t have to turn around (I am turn around challenged, most frequent time I drop my bike). Didn’t make it in time, fortunately we did not have to pick up my bike.

The roads today were a bit more difficult than yesterday. We had some climbs with loose rock, some mud, and roads that were just not in as good of shape. Didn’t really have any issues with them though. Here is my dad coming up to a rest stop after one of the harder sections.

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Now, we didn’t really get any pictures of the harder sections because the last thing you want to do is stop, get out a camera, take a pictures, and then try and get started again. Hopefully I got some good video – won’t know until I get home. For now, here is a not-so-hard section shot.

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We stopped in Curlew for some gas and lunch. My lunch plan of buying jerky at gas stops broke down here – the gas station was unattended. So, I had to break into my breakfast kind bars for lunch. I suppose that means I’ll be having jerky for breakfast at some point. We at lunch at the ‘Ol Swimming Hole park.

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Had to go take a picture of the swimming hole as well…or at least the bridge up from the swimming hole.

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We were cruising along a burnt out area, coming to our next turn, when we catch up to a group of riders stopped on the road. I start to take the corner and they waved me down – just up the road, a gate was closed. Kind of a crappy picture, I was too lazy to walk up and get a better one.

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Fortunately the group of guys stopped were the guys who created the route in the first place! One of the bikes in their group had a flat and they were trying to plug it. They were kind enough to let us know that if we continued on the current road instead of making the turn, we would eventually get to some pavement that would take us around to rejoin the route.

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So, that is what we did. As we found the route again, it started to rain. Both of us had down coats that were not in waterproof bags. We pulled over to get them stored properly. We get going again, and after about 2 minutes, my dad realizes that all of the vents are open in his jacket…we pull over and get that fixed up. Guess what happens next…after about 2 minutes of riding my dad realizes that he did not do the chin strap on his helmet.

This did happen along a pretty cool stretch of road. We were right next to the Canadian border. So close in fact, there was a small barbwire fence along the road with US Border signs on them. I wonder if Trump wants to build a wall there as well.

We cut our day a little bit short today. We pulled into a small campground at summit lake. It was a bit small and windy…There was a nice forest service lady there who told us about the Pierre Lake campground just down the road a bit and not too far from our route. It sounded much nicer, so we went and checked it out – it is a pretty nice place. Set up camp during a little bit of a rain squall, but everything cleared up shortly thereafter.

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Here is a picture of the lake.

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Stopping early today kind of messes up the timing of our route. We had hoped to get to the Roman Nose campground tomorrow, but at the pace we are going it is going to be a bit of a stretch. Right now, our revised plan is to stop in Sandpoint and get a hotel room – it will be nice to take a shower and wash some clothes.