Day 20: New Meadows, Idaho to White Bird, Idaho

After a good night’s stay, with a really decent motel, good WiFi, and good sleep, I was ready to go. The evening meal the night before was just so-so. I went to a BBQ place and had the smallest plate of ribs, baked potato that I could find. The food was okay, but the service was terrible.

Outside my room there were two chaps from California that were seeing the country on motorcycles, one was riding a Triumph, and the other, a Suzuki. I was surprised that they’re still making the Triumphs in the UK, I figured by now it would just be in name only.

Anyway, I digress. After an egg and sausage sandwich (obviously a frozen thing cooked in a microwave and not very good) from the motel, I was off. I was looking forward to today, the profile map showed a mostly downhill ride to White Bird. The first thirty-five miles did not disappoint. I hardly had to pedal. On the other hand, the weather was cold, so much so, that I had to put on all my warm clothing and had to stop about every ten miles to let my hands warm up, even with good gloves.

I recall at one stop the cows all stood in the field and just looked at me. Like so many of the cattle I have seen along this ride, they just don’t know what to make of me. Am I a weird looking predator? Do I have a treat? They look at me with a wary eye, yet something else is there in their gaze. The young bulls eye me up as if daring me to jump over that fence and the females with calves seem uninterested and the calves view me as something they could frolic with. A few even jump up and down and romp around.

I’m getting closer to the North Pole, I wonder when it will start getting cooler?

I could see the breath from all the cows and they seemed relieved to have a break from the hot sun, we all did.

As I was flying downhill for a change, I came upon some sort of ruckus on the road ahead. I could see a few vehicles and motorcycles pulled over in a rest spot and then realized that there was a crashed motorcycle off on the left side of the road, a big motorcycle. It was a shiny and new looking Harley Davidson full dresser. It appeared the driver had lost control in the turn. The machine was really messed up, the front wheel was hanging off, but the rider was limping around and appeared to be relatively unscathed. He was lucky, those turns around there have thousand foot drops on one side and walls on the other.

Riggins, Idaho, considers itself the White Water Capital of Idaho. With such a dry season this year, it wasn’t too “white.”

I stopped along the way to watch the white water rafting, it looked like fun, but the water was a little tame with all the drought this year.

There are dozens of signs warning of stock and game animals. I can attest to running into dozens of deer.

I get a kick out of the hunting channels on TV. They make it sound like the most difficult thing in the world to bag a deer, yet this old geezer on a bicycle could have bagged about twenty so far. What gives?

As I travel eastbound, I am seeing many riders going west, finishing their cross-country rides. They make me feel so inadequate. I’m only approaching my first 1000 miles (1660 km) and they’ve already done three or four times that. I ran into a group of fourteen young people today, a group that is riding an Adventure Cycling Assoc. ride from the east coast, to the west. I hope to hear from them, they took a photo of me and I wish I had down likewise.

It made me proud to see all these young people out, walking-the-walk, so to put it. These rides are difficult and trying, and here they are out facing one of the toughest challenges of their young lives. More power to them, they’ll carry this experience with them forever.

Old gold mine along SR 95 out of Riggins, ID

I ran into a gold mine just out of Riggins, ID. It was right next to the road, across from the Salmon River. Oddly, few people see it as they whiz along at 80 MPH. I stopped and poked around. I guess somebody found a huge nugget of gold here at one time, maybe 1875. The area had several gold rushes.

The results of hydraulic mining. All for some gold.

I stopped a little further along and viewed a historical marker that described hydraulic mining. I wonder how much gold they actually found?


This is the beauty of traveling by bicycle, as tough as it can be. By slowing the world down you find things that you’d never see flying along.

Bar in the Mac’s Supper Bar. One fellow told me the bar has been there since 1873. The bar itself was built in St. Louis, MO and shipped there.

Mac’s Supper Bar in White Bird, ID is a mostly, family-run business. I was just about totally dried up and parched when I arrived there. I didn’t even want anything to eat. The heat was just so oppressive. The bar keepers, Jason and Asher, kept the liquids flowing. They then filled me on on the town, it’s history and where I could camp for the night.

They also pointed out several bullet “ricochets” in the bar. I’d bet there are some stories behind those.


Mac’s bar ricochets.


The camping choices were across the street from the bar, on what they called the “park,” really just a small lawn with a very nice veterans memorial, or up at the school. After cooling down I went to check the park, and would have stayed, however, it lacked any sort of bathroom facility and the electrical outlet on the side of the building had no power. They did have running water.

Note my camping spot for the night, where the bicycle is.

The school is no longer an operational school, it is just used as a municipal building. It has a nice playground next to it and green lawn. The problem with green lawns as any hiker/biker knows is: if everything is brown in the area and the grass is green, there must be sprinklers. Many sprinkler systems are timed to run during the night. Not wanting to risk getting soaked, I opted to sleep in the vestibule to the building. As it turns out, the sprinklers never did run, but at least I didn’t waste time putting up a tent. With my sleeping pad, the concrete is not as bad as it seems.

After a 66 mile day, it was time to sleep!


Author: Dennis Blanchard

Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.

2 thoughts on “Day 20: New Meadows, Idaho to White Bird, Idaho”

  1. hey dennis- how is the journey going? i haven’t seen any posts for few days.
    after the not too good race in june; i had to race again. today i completed the haulin aspen 6. 5 mile race and finished 2nd in the 70-79 group. my time was slow, but at least this race went better than the last one.
    anyway, i hope thing are going smoothly for you and that it cools down . we could really use some rain here in bend.

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