Single speeding Idaho’s Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Single-speed bikes, backpacks, early spring in Idaho, possibly a few brews ... what could go wrong on this bike overnight?

Bicycle Adventurers: Duncan and Travis

When: April 2014

Accommodations: Lakeview Lodge in Harrison, ID. We managed early-season, half-price lodging. Here's a list of accommodation options in Harrison, ID.

Distance: 144 miles over two days.

Bonus tips for this adventure:

Sometimes you just wanna hop on your bike and go for a ride. Several weeks ago, Travis and I decided that we needed to climb down off our bar stools and look for opportunities for a fun early season ride. We knew we wanted to do an overnight trip, but we had no real experience with multi-day bike travel. That being said, Missoula is basically an adventure base camp, and 360 degrees of options materialized before us. The idea of staying on safe pavement seemed to reign supreme for the first large ride of the season. Travis suggested Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a 72-mile, bitchin’-smooth bike path that goes from Mullan to Plummer, Idaho.

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a converted railroad bed that has been voted one of the best bike trails in the country. We checked some info and decided it would be a sweet and relatively foolproof ride. I mean, there’s only 1,000 feet of elevation change over 72 miles. It’s essentially flat. Shoot, I thought, I’ll ride my track bike.

This thought inspired Travis to show a bit of solidarity and ride his track bike as well. So it was decided: 144 miles round trip, self-supported, on fixed-gear bikes built for the velodrome rather than bikepacking. Why not? Our friend Alex was like, “You guys are crazy!” Hey man, we’re just some dudes who like to ride bikes of all kinds ... track bikes it is! I rode my Bianchi Super Pista and Travis rode his new All City Thunderdome.

We figured with light bikes and huge gears, we could crush miles like a fat kid slamming down a plate of burgers.

Day One

We got a leisurely start on Easter Sunday, April 20, beginning with smiles and laughs for the longest ride either of us had ever attempted on a track bike.

The whole trail follows the Coeur d’Alene River through loamy forests and waterfowl-rich wetlands.

We handled the first 20 miles with no problem, distracted only by gorgeous scenery and positive attitudes. But once we hit an open marsh section, we faced a strong headwind that lasted the 20 remaining miles into Harrison. Hungry, road weary, and tired, we made our way into one of Harrison’s few watering holes, where we replenished with pizza and a pitcher of IPA.

With full bellies and a third of the ride done, we were feeling pretty good ... too good: We fell into deep comas after checking into the lodge. We woke up at 8:30 PM, starving, and went to grab some more food before riding the remainder of the way to Plummer and back in the dark. Luckily, we got some grub before the bar closed.

We were the only people out on Easter evening.

The last 15 miles to Plummer and back to Harrison in the dark along the lake was by far our favorite part of the whole trip. Without gear, and in the cool evening air, our bikes felt like rocket ships. It was calm and a bit creepy cruising through little hamlets. I mentioned that this place seemed like where Jason Vorhees might have grown up.

In what seemed like the fastest 15 miles I’ve ever ridden, we made it back to the lodge for some much-needed rest.

Day Two

When we woke up and hopped back on our bikes in the morning, we began to feel the gravity of the trip really settling in. After the first ten miles or so, our aching knees and sore butts started slowing us down. So every 7 to 10 miles, we stopped for snacks or beers, or to just enjoy the incredible scenery. That was the whole point of this trip: just ride bikes in beautiful places.

We made it back to the car in the early afternoon and decided to call the trip rather than risk our good vibes being tainted by saddle sores for the last miles.

Just kidding! We dumped our packs and crushed seven more miles, reenergized by the thought of going fast with no gear. In the end, we felt like we’d accomplished what we set out to do: ride well over 100 miles without coasting. We also drank many beers, saw so much scenic beauty, and had an overall great time. I can’t wait to do it again.

So, get out there and ride your bike, and don’t be scared to be a little unconventional. I mean, that’s what its all about, right?

Your favorite local bike shop? Missoula Bicycle Works, Missoula, MT

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