A Museum For Potatoes, Who Knew?
Idaho Falls, ID to Pocatello, ID
The hours between my head hitting the pillow and my alarm going off went by far faster than I expected. Or would’ve liked. Apparently a comfortable bed and pillows can have that effect.In order to stay on schedule for my August 12th arrival in Salt Lake City, my plan for the day was to get to Pocatello. Roughly a 90 km ride. And a ride that had a few options in terms of routing. As usual, Google’s route wasn’t entirely direct but not TOO ridiculous. However, after chatting with Ken last night, he recommended that I take the backroads to Blackfoot (i.e., the first half of the ride) and then hop on Interstate 15 for the remainder of the day. Given that I don’t mind riding on the interstate, that seemed like a good plan to me. It was shortly after 8:00 AM when that plan officially began.
The backroads from Ken’s place made for a very easy ride. There was no real traffic to speak of and navigation was super easy. Well, I say that but I still managed to miss a turn. Well, technically I didn’t MISS a turn but I went a bit further than I should have and my final remaining option for turning was a gravel road. Sigh. I reluctantly decided to backtrack to the previous road since it was faster to do that than to take the gravel road.
The first half of the day’s ride went MUCH faster than expected. The winds were unexpectedly light and it would seem my legs were well motivated to keep moving at a generous pace. As such, it took less than two hours to get to Blackfoot.
Prior to yesterday, I had no intention of making any significant stops in Blackfoot other than for a quick food break to fuel me up for the second half of the ride. However, somewhere along the line I learned that Blackfoot was the home of the Idaho Potato Museum. Seriously. It’s a thing. And they have a big sign and even bigger potato marking the location. How could I NOT stop for that?
I didn’t actual go for a tour through the museum because I knew the longer I spent in Blackfoot the more likely it was that I would get caught by the inevitable headwinds that would be joining my day. However, I did go in and peruse the gift shop for a bit and, despite the aforementioned concern about the wind, I most likely would’ve had a baked potato at the cafe had said cafe been open. I mean, what better place to get a baked potato than the Idaho Potato Museum? Side note: I’m not really sure WHY the cafe was closed … according to the hours posted online, it’s supposed to open at 9:30 AM and it was clearly after 9:30 AM when I arrived. Oh well, perhaps I’ll get to have an Idaho baked potato another day.
With my museum duties filled, I got back on the bike and made my way towards the interstate for part two of my ride. As mentioned, I made a quick fuel stop (i.e., a peanut butter and banana bagel) to ready me for the remaining ride. As I consumed said bagel I couldn’t help but notice the huge flag across the parking lot. And it was blowing quite easily. It would seem my headwind had arrived.
Indeed, when I turned onto Interstate 15 there was a lot of wind to greet me. There was also a lot of debris and a lot of traffic (relatively speaking). Oh, and later came the construction. The debris and traffic didn’t really surprise me because, well … that’s pretty typical of all interstates – although there was a LOT of debris. However, the construction that came in the final hour was definitely concerning as the shoulder was repeatedly blocked off and the barriers forced me to ride in an actual lane of the interstate. The length of such situations were relatively but they repeating nature of them was less than ideal. At one point there was a bunch of tire debris right before the barriers and a big cluster of traffic approaching from behind. I don’t really have a fear of traffic but in situations like that, I have a healthy respect for it. I opted to wait for the cluster to pass and then pedalled like a madman once it did. Some traffic did have to pass me but they all gave me a full lane of clearance. I really can’t complain about the drivers thus far – despite being warned of the contrary.
By the time I got to the end of the construction zone I was very close to Pocatello. And I was pretty happy about that. Between the debris, the traffic, the construction and, of course, the wind, I was very much ready to finish the day. While the first half of the ride was borderline effortless, the second half was definitely work. Much like yesterday, the terrain of the day was mostly a gradual descent; however, the wind more than offset that descent. Today’s average speed was CONSIDERABLY slower than yesterday and at one point my actual speed dropped under 14 km/h. And I was going downhill. Sure, only slightly but in the same situation yesterday I was doing well over 25 km/h. Headwinds are the worst. On the upside, prior to going to bed last night I had pretty much decided that I was going to opt for a motel tonight because, well … I just felt like it. I also opted to get a pizza. Also because I just felt like it. Perhaps eating it all at once was a little excessive but, well … it’s a little late to change that.
The rest of the evening was pretty quiet. I did manage to plan a few days ahead and found a Warm Showers host for Sunday night (assuming all goes well between now and then). And I found a state campground about 80 km from Pocatello which I figured would be a good place to stop tomorrow. The next few days are going to be somewhat short distances so that I arrive in Salt Lake City on schedule. But, based on the weather forecasts, those short distances are going to feel much longer given the strong headwinds that appear to be here for a while. Prevailing winds are funny that way.I have to say the winds have become so unpredictable. They REALLY picked up late in the afternoon today and the third hour of the ride was more than a little tough. The fourth hour wasn’t as bad as the wind shifted and became a bit more of a crosswind. That’s not particularly ideal either though as it was occasionally blowing me towards traffic but fortunately not drastically so. Then, later in the day when I was out getting pizza, the wind had shifted even more and it would’ve actually been a bit of a tailwind had I still been on the road – and that definitely wasn’t in the forecast.
So, all that means is that I’m not sure what to expect from tomorrow but my plan is to get an early start with the hope that the winds will be calm. Since the prevailing winds in this area come from the south, I’m not going to wait around in the hopes that the forecast is wrong.
Distance: 89.25 km
Ride time: 4:05:13
Average speed: 21.83 km/h
Maximum speed: 35.34 km/h