Day 31, Tour 10 Arco to Challis, ID

Back in the mountains!

An excellent day of touring after a very good rest/recovery day in Arco. I'm doing this web page before I do day30 because I'm in a good mood after another 8 hours of pedaling, ten hours on the road day that was everything day30 was not. day30 was not easy, not pretty, not safe and, most importantly, not any fun. day31 was all of those things, well, except maybe easy since it took eight hour to cover about 85 miles with about 2500 feet of climbing. However, compared to day30 it was very easy!

My day and two nights in Arco were made better both by my inexpensive motel room and by Pickle's Cafe which is right across the street from the motel. Pickle's is well reviewed on the net, so it was an obvious choice for supper. It is a popular place to eat, so I joined a couple already sitting a big table. When they spoke I knew they were Brits and it turns out he is half German and her folks came from Lithuanian. We had good meals, with wine (!), and a great time visiting for several hours that night.

When I was at Pickle's last night, they came in and joined me at my table. Once more a good time was had by all and I got back to my room at 10 PM. Needless to say, I didn't get the day30 ride report done. My new friends are in Stanley tonight and will be there tomorrow when I get there. Visiting with them is much more fun than creating web pages, especially the day30 web page, so there may be further delays.

This morning, after another good breakfast at Pickle's, which I definitely recommend if you are in Arco, I headed out on OR 93 at about 8 AM. Arco got down into the mid 30s last night, so, even at 8 AM, I needed arm warmers, double knee warmers, and my wind vest. I still got cold wearing all that so I had to add q Subway bag between the two knee warmers on my bad knee and my rain/cold jacket over my vest. Windchill from the moderate headwind that I started the day riding in was part of problem, but I kept most of that stuff on until after an early lunch in MacKay Oregon which is 25 miles up OR 93.

I stopped to eat and rest for the first time about 15 miles from Arco. Because of the headwind and some gentle, but long, hillls, it took me about 1:45 to get there. I bungeed my bike to a warning sign at an irrigation canal and sat on the concrete culvert above the canal.The wind had gone away and it was wonderfully peaceful sitting there. I felt sorry for the people - not many of them - rushing by in their cars, trucks, and motorcycles and missing that peace.

My early lunch in MacKay was a triple stack of good pancakes at a grill right in the middle of town. Mackay is smaller than Arko, but has a motel or two and even has a bike lane marked on the main street ;-}. Those pancakes kept me going for another 30 miles! I stopped again to rest and snack about five miles before the steeper climbing started. I wasn't really hungry yet, but I figured it was a good idea to fuel up beofre the climb.At that stop, I sat in a small patch of shade and again felt that strong sense of peace and beauty. When I stopped that time, a pickup truck going the other way also stopped to ask me if I needed any water. I didn't - I started with 4 liters and ended with one liter - but I alway apreciate water being offered when I'm a long way from services.

Leaving Arco

What OR 93 looked like fearly in the day


What the view was like fifteen miles later

Half of my bike at my first snack/rest stop ;-}

I had headwind for only about half of the miles I rode today and most of those miles were after I passed the high point, about 7200 feet, and was headed down during the final 25 miles to Challis. The first 15 miles had headwind, but they were rarely a problem during the next 45 miles. That is where most of the climbing occurred. Interestingly, the steepest climbing today, which only lasted half an hour or so. required less work than most of the riding from Idaho Falls to Arco. I did have to climb gently for about 35 miles and steeply for less than five miles. In addition to being easier riding, it was also safer riding, and had great scenery to distract me from the climbing.

The MacKay reservoir about 30 miles from Arco

Rolling hills along the reservoir

There are lots of Historical and geological info signs on this route
This one explains the history and geology of the Lost River which formed this valley

The ridge on the left had side of this route before Willow Creek Summit contains the two highest peaks in Idaho. These peaks are both above 12,00 feet and highest point on the road is at 7200 feet. !2,000 feet is several thousand feet above tree line, so they peaks are quite dramatic and rugged. After the summit, there are two snow covered peaks in the distance, but none close to the road.The part of this route that has the most climbing also has the highest mountains,

The second highest, and prettiest, of the peaks along OR 93

Part of the climb to Willow Creek Summit from about five miles back

The start of the steeper climb - 3 to 4% grade - to the summit
The darker area is a cloud shadow

Some of of the steepest climbing - 5 or 6% grade

Looking back at the highest mountains in Idaho and the Lost River valley

After the summit, it is about 25 miles to Challis, and about 20 of them are downhill ;-}. It is much faster and easier riding than before the summit, but not as pretty except for a mile or so going through Grand View Canyon which really is quite nice


Heading down at 25 mph

More down, but only at 18 mph because of headwinds

Entrance to Grand View Canyon

Once I got to Challis, I had a strange, but nice, experience. I stopped at the first motel on the south end of town to ask about a room. The fellow there said that he only had double rooms left and one would cost me $70. Then he recommended I go to another motel that would have single rooms that were nice and would meet my needs! He told me which motels he recommended and where to eat in town. His motel had rooms, and a restaurant, but he recommended I check these other places out because he thought they fit my needs better! I'm staying at the motel he recommended rather than at his motel because his motel wasn't the best motel for me. I will, however, stop at his motel's restaurant for breakfast tomorrow.

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