My Route

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Day 66: Wednesday, 5th September. Destination: Big Iron Motel, Riggins, Idaho

I started the day from Grangeville with a puncture, but after that a spectacular descent - a little over 2,500ft - straight down endless switchbacks to the Salmon River Valley. White Bird Hill should be called Bald Mountain: there are no trees on it, so you can see the road before you, unwinding endlessly and mostly without safety barriers. Thrilling might be the word; or scary.

On leaving White Bird (a small place at the bottom of the hill) after an early lunch I met another coast-to-coaster, Erin Roden (26), who's cycling from New York, NY to Newport, Oregon. Actually, she started off walking across America back in February but after developing a stress fracture in March and 2.5 months recuperation she set off again on the Appalachian Trail but on reaching Damascus, Virginia (in June) decided to continue by bike. Phew! Plus, she's carrying a tent and all kinds of stuff: kinda puts me to shame… but, anyway, there's the possibility of a bike buddy for the next few days. That'd be nice. However, she's taking it at a pretty gradual pace (around 40 miles per day, right now) and camping, so our route stages don't quite mesh. She headed off and I had another puncture. To make up for that frustration, I stopped for a delicious slice of 5-berry pie with ice-cream a little later down the dry, dusty valley, and fixed the puncture in my spare inner tube using a spare dessert bowl filled with water to detect the hole.

Passed Erin as she stopped to buy some cherries at a roadside stall, just before arriving at the Big Iron motel in Riggins for the night. This must be just about my No.1 favourite motel so far: welcomed with an ice-cool beer, given a cyclists' discount and a delicious bowl of Indonesian vegetable soup (home made), plus a whole shelf of VCRs to borrow. Thank you, Scott & Rose! I picked 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', but didn't get round to watching it, alas. Instead I wandered through town as dusk fell (looking out for those vampires), passed parked logging trucks, deer grazing in front gardens, and cheery neon signs for motels and diners, all against the backdrop of the high, steep, and treeless valley.