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Tour of Idaho Reports - Finishers

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  • Tour of Idaho Reports - Finishers

    I wanted to get my ride report to paper before I forgot a bunch of details.
    Martin said that this was the best place.
    Here goes.
    Jeff Jensen- Redneck Friend

    Here are a few reflections on my 2019 TOI ride
    There are the obvious needs.
    Bike prep is crucial, no wrenching on the trail. The only thing I did was check my air filter, lube and adjust the chain and check tire pressure.
    Have your navigation nailed down. Do not hope to figure it out when moving.
    Be ready physically, I rode 1600 miles prior to the tour this summer.
    Most importantly, have a good time. This is a big adventure and you should enjoy yourself.
    One thing that stands out consistently in my reflections is that it is important to get the day started as early as possible. This allows you to have maximum daylight in case difficulties crop up throughout the day.
    My Personal Highlights from my trip by day:
    I got lost first thing in the dark in the climb out of Woodruff. There are many BIG climbs right out of the gate, this is not the Idaho many are expecting. The distances are deceiving, it is much farther than you think for the entire tour. I was appreciating what it takes to do this ride and what a rare experience this is and the efforts of the whole community to make it work. Imagine wrapping up day 1 at the Flagpole and getting interviewed by Martin while sucking down ice cold PBR.
    Lay day
    I relaxed and just went over the bike, checking things so that I didn’t have to in the evening’s latter in the trip. I hydrated, ate well and rested up for the next 9 days riding.
    Sunrise on Scout Mountain and seeing two HUGE buck deer first thing in the morning was a great start. Mid-morning, when I was transferring through the farm valleys, it was eye opening to how big of a ride this will be. I was ready for the desert, but it was still very hot and a different riding experience than normal. I was watching Big Southern Butte all afternoon and it never seemed to get closer until I was riding to the top. Then I was able to look back and reflect on where I just came from. I enjoyed the final ride back to Arco reflecting on the day and looking forward to dinner and cold beers at Pickles.
    The terrain is starting to change, and the ST trails are awesome and very fun. The views of Warren Mtn and the descents are cool. Climbing up to the first of many Fire Lookout Towers, Wildhorse, is very fun. I was looking forward to getting to the trails that I consider “local” and personally cleared of downed trees prior to the ride. This part was relaxing. These are some of my favorite trails and coming down Lick Creek to Smokey Bar Stpre and Kaylin was a hoot. Kaylin is so excited to have the Tour participants stay at Smokey Bar and she was so proud of the help and support that she has received (Juan helping with the Shower and her FB page).
    Leaving Smokey Bar and not transferring on any roads before starting up awesome single track was a great morning. The high effort that was required to get up the Paradise trail switchbacks at 6:30 AM was a little bit of a rude way to start the morning but watching the sunrise from Snowslide Peak was awesome. While I was riding into the White cloud’s, I was so happy about the successful implementation of the new Wilderness while designing the boundaries to allow for motorized access, it caused me to have some deep thoughts. I arrived in Challis as the annual Braun Bros Music Festival was kicking off and the place was hopping with partiers there for the gig.
    I was trying to be considerate of the hungover crowd by not warming up my bike long before I left early in the morning to ride up to Twin Peaks lookout, which is a favorite. I was saddened by the devastation that the Hat Creek fire left. It left very rough and rocky trails that were extremely difficult to follow through the blackened landscape. It was eye-opening to see the difference that different trail builders have on the ease of riding similar terrain. The trail crew that built the Taylor Mt. trail had very tight switchbacks that were harder to ride than some of the earlier trails where the crews made the switchbacks a little wider and you were able to sweep them. I was getting hit by the series of cold wet storms that would chase me for the next few days. The crew at the Salmon Les Schwab tire dealership are champions and we are very fortunate to have them supporting the tour with new tire availability at great prices and a willingness to help that is seldom seen.
    This day has a lot of roads early in the ride and the loop allows you to get a real breakfast when you arrive in North Fork. This was a nice treat after eating bars for several days. Continuing, the single-track trails are phenomenal, and Martin has searched out the amazing alternate trail down through Hughes Park. This area has been selectively logged and was a big surprise. Riding up through Gibbonsville to Stein Mountain LO had additional nice single track and the climb up to the Lookout was during a huge Lighting storm that had the LO attendant scratching his head wondering who I was and why was I there. He chased me off and I enjoyed the descent back to North Fork for the evening.
    Though I had hoped to ride the Henderson Ridge trail, it had rained hard all night and I was not looking forward to a long day being wet and cold again with a swollen creek filling my boots first thing. So took the other option. The good news is that Butcherknife is a beautiful trail and it takes you to the Divide another nice single track. Unfortunately, it was cold, wet and foggy through some very scenic areas above Alta, Montana up to Nez Perce Summit where the sun broke out though it was still 37 degrees in early August. This began the long road rip to Elk City where I ran into snow on the side of the ATV trails. Being the first through this season, I was unfortunate to find that the washout on Falls Creek road forced me to backtrack an additional 65 miles to Lowell. There, I found the motel office locked at 9:45 when I arrived, but fortunately, the last person there was still cleaning, and I got keys to my room. Having a fuel shortage problem due to the unexpected mileage, I rode across the river to the campground and was able to scrounge some gas from some departing ATV families. He even offered to cook me a steak he had left over. Karma.
    This was another wet cold day starting on brushy unridden gear soaking trails on Pete King and Fish Creek. The climb back to the Lolo Motorway was so foggy that speeds were very decreased. When I arrived at the Castle Creek Lookout there was yet another lightning storm right on the peak with a 1.5 second duration between flash and clap of thunder. I attempted to outrun the storm but was unable to get off the open ridge. Seeing a big rock pile, I hunkered down for an hour to wait it out. Finally, the weather broke a bit and I made a run for it. My bike was not running well after sitting out in the storm for an hour and being very wet and cold I decided to forego the Windy Bill trail and take the safer solo shortcut out. Arriving in Lochsa after a cold road ride back, I happily built a big fire in my log cabin woodstove and dried out my gear.
    Leaving Lochsa, I was finally on trails that were new to me since my last year’s attempt ended here. While still wet, it was not as intense and since I had not ridden Windy Bill, my morning started in the Rock Garden down to Lunde Ridge (where I lost the trail for a bit). With the weather improving and fast transfer roads this morning’s ride is a blast. The Heller divide trail is recently cleared but I still had some trees to cut. Those that were following me on FB know that this is where I made a wrong turn and dropped down the old Stateline trail which is abandoned. Someone else had recently made the same mistake and I followed their tracks into an avalanche path that I then had to get back out of. When I lost the trail hundreds of yards down, I stopped to walk around looking for trail and heard a pack of wolves howling like crazy in this basin 1000 yds away. Determining that I had to backtrack, my Cascade rescue kit had to be used in 4 separate locations to get up step-ups that I had ridden over but could not ride back up solo. Luckily, I had lots of time and though out of water, I had gear that if needed, I could have spent the night. Being in communication with Martin, he kept encouraging me “get yourself out of there and finish this thing”, if you get stuck, myself, Aaron Stafford and Duane Coulter will come tomorrow to help. In the meantime, Martin had asked his friend Dan Hoheim to ride out and check on me, though he was 3 hours out. AMAZING support! Thanks to you guys!! Though tired, 7.5 hours later I had my bags back on my bike and was back on the new Stateline trail headed for Wallace which I arrived at a little before 1 AM. Donna was extremely gracious and got out of bed to welcome me with much needed snacks and liquids (water and beer).
    The last day and mine to take if I don’t make any more mistakes. I grabbed a cup of coffee in town and Donna had a light breakfast for the Ryan’s guests which was amazing. Though known for being mainly a big road rip to Sundance, this year had a sweet single-track bonanza at Moon Saddle to break up the morning. Riding to Sundance allows you to reflect on the accomplishment and adventure that was just achieved. What a hoot!!
    Thank you, Martin, and all the touracles for the efforts you put into this amazing event.
    Last edited by Jefff Jensen; 08-16-2019, 01:29 PM.