Road Trip 2019, parts 1 and 2 are now completed. One of the goals for our road trips in our 70s is to ride our tandem bicycle on great bike trails and routes across the U.S. and Canada. This trip was no different: we took time out to ride parts of:
- Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in Idaho
- Missouri Headwaters Trail in Montana
- Rapid Creek Trail in Rapid City, South Dakota
- Iowa Great Lakes Trail around Lake Okoboji and Spirit Lake
- Simcoe Loop Trail in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada
- Great Lakes Shore Trail along Lake Ontario near Bath, Ontario
- Pheasant Branch Trail in Middleton, Wisconsin
- Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes again
- Shelton Valley Loop, a quick ride at home between the two parts of our road trip
- Bear Creek Trail in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
- Canyon to Coast Trail near Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Our total riding distance between the start of our adventure and the end was just a few meters shy of 340 km, while the bike rode nearly 15,000 km in the back of the van in that time.
As we usually do, we document most of our bicycle adventures with a video diary.
This was a very cold morning near freezing, at the end of April, so we rode a very short way down the trail and back, from the trailhead we rode up the trail from last year.
We camped overnight at the Headwaters State Park, where the bike trail ends, and rode into Three Forks in the morning. It was cold, so we didn’t stop in town, but drove back in the car after the ride for our morning coffee.
We drove a short way, from Belle Fourche to Rapid City, intending to ride the length of the trail. We rode from the Founders Park, near downtown up the creek to the end of the trail, racing back to the car ahead of a rain storm, cutting our intended ride a bit short.
We stayed in Rapid City overnight, then started early on Saturday morning to ride the rest of the trail, again starting at Founders Park. Bridge repairs near the end of the trail cut this ride a bit short, too, so we retraced a bit of yesterday’s ride and a spur trail to the north.
In 2017, we rode most of the way around Lake Okoboji, anti-clockwise, from the east side, when we had a tire failure. A runner on the trail gave us a ride to the bike shop, where we got the bike tuned and new tubes and finished the loop. This year, we started on the west side and rode clockwise, completing the loop with no problems. We didn’t know it then, but my cousin Jack Parkins lives at the top of the hill on the on-road segment of the trail south of the lake: we visited them a few days later.
Instead of riding from our resort and repeating almost half the previous ride, we drove to a trailhead in Spirit Lake and rode up the west side of the lake and took the Jackson County [Minnesota] trail to Loon Lake, where I spent several summers camping as a Boy Scout, in the 1950s.
After some rainy weather that kept us off the mostly gravel trails near where we were staying, we drove up to this paved trail, which was very nice, but the rain caught us at the turn-around point near Midland. Still, it was a good ride.
This was quite a drive from our lodging, but was a route mostly on paved roads. We had driven through Collingwood on the way to visit Own Sound a few days before and decided not to ride the gravel rail trail beyond Collingwood. This one took us through beach home neighborhoods and through the Sunset Point Park on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron.
A short segment of the Simcoe Loop Trail, designated the Millennium Trail, runs along the shore of Lake Couchiching in Orillia. We rode this on Saturday of this long holiday weekend (Victoria Day), so there were lots of people out. We also encountered thick clouds of midges, and had to stop and clean them out of my eyes, nose, and beard.
We left the Orillia area on Sunday during the Victoria Day holiday weekend, driving east to Peterborough and then south to Bath, where we stayed at an AirB&B. In the morning, we rode west from Bath along the shore of Lake Ontario before joining the heavy traffic into Toronto as holiday travelers returned home.
We had ridden the Pheasant Branch trail, near our son’s house, in 2015 and 2017 and counted it as one of our favorites. We were appalled to find that the trail had been almost totally destroyed in a flood in August, 2018. Fortunately, most of the bridges had been restored, but it was largely rough gravel and sand down through the canyon, so we returned via the city streets.
On the way home, we camped in Cataldo, Idaho, taking an early evening ride up to where we had turned around on that freezing April morning more than a month ago. Passing our campground to ride farther down the trail, we spotted a young moose headed toward the trail through the campground. We stopped for a few long-distance photos, then pedaled on. We hadn’t gone too far when the storm clouds building to the west flashed lightning and a very close thunderclap. As it was warm and humid, we hadn’t packed our rain gear, so we turned around and sped back to camp. However, the rain passed to the northwest. So, we have a 10-mile section from mileposts 29 to 39 yet to ride on the lower half of the Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, plus the section from Osburn to Mullen through Wallace on the upper end. The weather has never cooperated with us: it’s taken us 15 years to complete 96 miles of the 144-mile round trip ride on this trail, and 61 of that was the first time, in 2004.
When we really need a bike ride and don’t have time to drive to a trail or rural area, we ride the 10-mile loop through downtown Shelton and around Shelton Valley, just west of town. We can choose to ride clockwise or anti-clockwise, and there is enough climbing to give a good workout. This was an anti-clockwise run.
We thought we might get to ride some on the way to and in Prince George, but the weather didn’t cooperate on the way up and our weekend was entirely taken up with the fiber arts conference. Then, we stayed with relatives on a gravel road west of Dawson Creek, so there wasn’t much opportunity there. But, we found this delightful urban trail down the creek running through the middle of Grande Prairie, Alberta. We camped next to the trail, but the wind was too strong to ride the afternoon we arrived, so we broke camp in the morning and rode from the parking lot at the mid-point of the trail. The trail was a good workout with curves and rolling up and down the sides of the canyon, with a lot of children in summer programs along the trail, so we took the city streets back to the van, driving another 175 km south to our next stop: we should have pressed on another 150 km, as we drove that the next morning–in a late June blizzard along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Our last ride started where it all began, 33 years ago. In 1986, one of our first big group rides was an 80-km (50-miles, a “Semi-Century”) ride from Nooksack School in Washington State, down the Sumas River, across the border to Chilliwack and return. This trip, we parked on the north side of Chilliwack and rode the dyke along the Fraser River to the Rosedale-Agazziz Bridge and back along the Camp Slough, reminded on the way back of the persistent wind that blows up the Fraser valley: that long-ago ride, we fought the wind all the way back, 40 km, arriving an hour later than the rest of the quite large group, though we had been with them at the turn-around. Choosing to ride along the cottonwood-lined slough was a good choice: we had much less wind.