An Average Day

Island Park, ID to Rexburg, ID

The Man Cave. Yes, I took pictures inside but I feel it’s not my place to share them.

My day began in darkness. Not that that came as a big surprise given the lack of windows in the Man Cave I was calling home at the moment. And I certainly wasn’t complaining – I was loving said Man Cave. But the darkness was definitely a switch from having the sun wake me at dawn. I actually set my alarm to go off as I thought there was a chance I could sleep late given the slumber-friendly lack of light. And yes, the alarm woke me.

Well-rested, I fixed myself some Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal for breakfast before beginning the packing up process. I was going to miss the Man Cave. Then again, I was also looking forward to getting on the road. Today’s ride had the potential to be a particularly good one.

My plan for the day was to get to Rexburg, ID. More specifically, the Eagle Park Campground in Rexburg. A little over 100 km away. But that wasn’t what was going to make the ride particularly good. What was potentially going to make the ride particularly good was the forecasted winds from the north and a generally downhill trajectory for the day.

The start of the ride was chillier than expected as I had removed my long sleeve shirt just prior to departure – the sun was shining on me and it gave the illusion that it was warmer than it really was. Not long after I hit the road I wished I’d stuck with the long sleeves … well, not enough to stop and put it back on but the thought did occur to me. In reality, the temperature was balancing right on that tolerable level of chilled. Yes, it was chilly but not cold.

As per the forecast, the winds were in fact from the north. Not super strong but strong enough to be noticeable. Much like the overall descent. However, while the overall descent was gentle, there was to be one somewhat significant descent on the day. No, not like the switchback-filled, 10% grade to Lovell after the Bighorn Mountains. But a solid 6% grade. There was just one problem. Construction.

This looks less than promising.

As I neared the beginning of the descent, I was greeted by a large construction sign warning me of a “Flagger Ahead” and to “Be Prepared to Stop”. This was just cruel. Seriously. A five mile descent is put in front of me and now I’m being told I’m going to have to stop? While going downhill? On my bike?? Sigh. SO not impressed. In fact, I was SO not impressed that I didn’t worry about slowing down and figured I’d worry about that when the time came. After all, road construction signage is always posted well in advance of the actual construction, right? And so, I let gravity take over.

As luck would have it, the steepest part of the descent was in fact well before the aforementioned flagger’s appearance. And so gravity, my bike, and I had a blissful time coasting down much of the hill at speeds in excess of 60 km/h (37 mph). And the road actually levelled out a bit before reaching the flagger which meant stopping really wasn’t a problem. Whew. However, there was about a 20 minute wait that followed.

This looks in no way promising.

Much like the construction that I avoided in Yellowstone, this road work was making use of a pilot car to lead single lanes of traffic through about three miles of resurfacing work. Oh, and yes, this was all still part of the descent – not as steep as earlier but still a three mile descent. The question was, “Would they let me ride through or not?”

As luck would have it (again), the resurfacing was currently only affecting the middle lane and all other lanes were still paved. When given the option to ride through, I took it. So, when the pilot car (pickup truck, actually) arrived, she waved me to go in front. It would seem that the pilot car for this particular run was to be ME! This was pretty much ideal as I didn’t have to worry about my speed and I also didn’t have to worry about some overanxious driver behind me. The REAL pilot car was acting as a buffer between me and the flow of traffic which followed.

The descent through the construction zone wasn’t nearly as steep as I expected (or hoped) and I actually found myself pedalling in the highest gear to try to maintain a decent speed. I don’t know how long it took me to reach the bottom (maybe ten minutes) but when I got there I waved my appreciation to the pilot car behind me and continued on my way.

I made a quick stop for lunch not long after that at a gas station which had a bevy of picnic tables. At that point I had only been on the road for 2.5 hours but had already done 60 km. My average speed was close to 28 km/h. Now THAT’s a nice average.

Also nice was the fact that I was able to maintain that average for the remaining 40 km to Rexburg. Such fun. And I made sure to appreciate it as much as I could as the forecast for the coming days wasn’t looking nearly as friendly from a wind perspective. As usual though, I figured I’d deal with that when the time comes. Rest assured though, if I wasn’t a day ahead of schedule (in theory anyway) I likely would’ve taken advantage of the conditions and kept going.

That said, I did make one unscheduled stop after lunch. As I pedalled along Highway 20 (much to the chagrin of the Google Maps lady), I saw a sign for a truck weigh station calling for all trucks to stop when open. It was currently closed. As I neared the weigh station I couldn’t help but wonder if the scale was still on despite the lack of operators. There was only one way to find out.

Hmmm … 140 lbs?

Sure enough, as I pulled into the weigh station it was clear that everything was locked up tight. However, there was also a sign which read, “Push to activate scale”. I pushed. A few seconds later, the display lit up. I was in business.

According to the scale, my loaded bike weighed 140 pounds. That seemed more than a little high. My bike with me on it weighed in at 300 pounds. That seemed somewhat more accurate. The big problem was that the scale only measured in multiples of 20 … and I have no idea what its algorithm was for the rounding off of numbers. In hindsight, I should’ve also weighed just me to help determine how much rounding off was going on. But I didn’t. So, assuming I still weigh roughly 170 pounds, that would put the bike at 130-ish. Likely less with rounding. I would guess around 115-120. Either way, it was a fun experiment.

I arrived in Rexburg around 1:00 PM and as luck would have it (yes, yet again) my route happened to take me directly to a Wendy’s. I figured that was too much of a sign to NOT stop. One large Frosty please.

From there I made my way around the corner to the Dollar Tree to once again seek out the cookies I had tried to find before (but this time knew the name of – thanks for the reminder Jodi). Sadly, no such cookies were found so I had to “settle” for chocolate animal crackers – apparently they’re a thing!

With evening snacks secured, I next headed over to the Madison Public Library … yes, I was in Rexburg, but Rexburg is apparently in Madison County (no, not the one with the bridges). Anyway, I spent the next few hours posting blog updates, route planning, accommodation hunting, and other such online tasks. Admittedly, I was there much longer than anticipated but it was a productive few hours.

By 5:30 PM, I was back on the bike and in search of Eagle Park Campground. It was a bit hard to find but eventually made my way to site #11. Unlike the Man Cave, it was definitely no frills but, on the flip side, had all I really needed. There was water, washrooms, picnic tables, and even a shelter should I need or desire one.

According to the sign at the entrance, overnight camping was $10 but there were no envelopes present to submit said funds. As such, I deemed it to be an optional expense unless someone came around to collect. Spoiler Alert: No one came.

The aforementioned sheltered picnic tables actually worked out really well when it came time to fire up my alcohol stove for supper. I love my little stove but it works SO much better in calm conditions.

Wanted: Marshmallows

The remainder of the evening was pretty quiet. I had spent so much time on the computer earlier in the day that I really didn’t feel like doing any more writing. I figured that could wait until tomorrow. Instead, I decided to take advantage of the leftover logs in the fire pit and built a campfire. Had I known that was going to happen I likely would’ve foregone the chocolate animal crackers and gone with marshmallows instead. Ok, I probably would’ve bought both.

As I sat watching the fire, I reflected back on the fast ride of the day. At one point (i.e., before I started pedalling through the city and to the campground) my average speed was 28.19 km/h for the day. Yup, this was by far my best average day ever.

Today’s totals:
Distance: 106.98 km
Ride time: 3:56:49
Average speed: 27.10 km/h
Maximum speed: 61.92 km/h

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