The next morning we were so over it. We both had permanent sunscreen coatings On our entire bodies, which in turn were coated in dust. One of our sleeping pads is leaking. We used our last two wet wipes (no pit toilets). We had one more hot meal left and just enough fuel to boil water for it. Travis wore a hole in his bike shorts and his thigh was chaffing. He threw them out. I accidentally left my crocs at the convenience store in Idaho City so I was avoiding pine cones barefoot.
I would like to mention that I had not washed my hair in two full weeks, and if I had taken out my rubber band my hair was so stiff I'm pretty sure it would have stayed braided anyhow.
We packed up our final campsite, washed our armpits in the creek and started the climb to Bald Mountain summit at 8am.
Travis did a good job of psyching me out for this one too, AND this road was mostly rideable. I have three standards for dirt roads now. First level: "Oh, I can ride that". Second level: "I can ride that if it levels off a little and it's shady at the top." Third level: "OMG why is that so steep, hell no I'm walking it." This road was mostly first and second levels.
We made it to a shady spot and busted out some bars for lunch, when what did we see? Other idiots riding bikes up a mountain! And then minutes later... two more idiots! All of a sudden we had six Idaho Hot Springs Loop riders all chatting in the shade.
All four riders were about to get started riding the portion of the route that we had completed in our first week. One couple was from Oregon, and they had just started that day from Idaho City. They looked pretty normal (not bike freaks), and were hoping to maybe do the whole route in 11 days (HA HA HA HA HA HA). The other two were two extremely strong-looking women from Utah who had started further north than us, and had taken one of the single track options when they began a week ago. There were so many fallen trees on the route that they had to cross that they "rode" from 9am to midnight on their first day to try and cover enough miles to stay on schedule. They remarked that they had been quite comfortable despite the heat because there had been plenty of shade. Well get ready for that to change, ladies!!!!!!
Eventually it was time to go, and it was disheartening to see the other riders just take off up the incline that we had to walk. We attributed their speed to fresh legs (Oregon couple), strong legs (Utah ladies), and more gears on their bikes all around.
Almost two hours later, the trees cleared away, the road opened up and we even though the road was a level three (hell no), I pushed through and pedaled my way up to the FINAL SUMMIT.
I admit, on many of these roads I thought to myself, "Why are we riding this??" This road was long, tough, hot and steep, but there was a beautiful payoff at the end. The wildflowers were blooming, and the view of the valley really was spectacular.
Then it was time to descend the 4000 ft back to the reservoir where we first started the loop. This was another extremely fast downhill, but this time it was rocky, sandy and gravelly, with sharp cliffhanging switchbacks and hidden dips. It was the perfect time for Travis to break his brakes. LUCKILY he brought replacement pads, and was able to switch them out. We continued descending for like two hours. It kept getting hotter and hotter as we lost elevevation, and I could feel the beginnings of heat rash again.
We made it!
We made a snack with the very last of our food and the very last of our fuel. We waited for it to cool down a little, and the ride out of the reservoir canyon was even shaded in the late daylight. By the time we made it out to the highway, it was past 8pm. The plan was to hitchhike back into Boise to avoid 20 miles of highway riding and climbing. It was so easy to hitchhike two weeks before when my tire popped... but we looked a little more scruffy this time around. Travis looked straight grizzled. I stuck out my thumb and quite a few pickup trucks passed us by. It was getting dark. We had no more food, fuel or water. We were so tired. And then......... a nice guy coming back from the reservoir gave us a ride in his truck!!! He even went out of his way to take us downtown, and dropped us off in front of a restaurant he recommended. Nice people, these Idahoans.
We ate salad (omg VEGETABLES), drank beers and made our way back to Jen's house. She is so nice she told us to take a bath in her bathroom and even offered to get us bath bubbles. No Jen, it's cool. We'll use the bathroom in the bedroom we're using. I have been dreaming about this bathroom and its double shower heads for 12 days.
I washed my hair three times and it is still a little stiff. I didn't want to use all Jen's shampoo, so I rinsed off and went to go sleep in a bed. GOOD NIGHT BIKE TOUR!