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Day 71: The March to Mountain Home, Part II

Today the riding is swift and and the vistas scenic (if sparse) as we follow the Oregon Trail across Idaho.

What child of the '90s isn't shocked and elated to find themselves on the Oregon Trail for real? And riding steeds, nonetheless? (Fingers crossed for no cholera or broken axles.)

Day 71 was a good riding day. We set out once the sun had hit the ground (our habit since the nights turned cold) and we covered ground quickly.

Usually one of us isn’t moving quite as fast as the other. Usually, I loosen up early and feel like I can fly in the mornings. In the afternoons, as we approach the end of our day’s mileage, I start to flag while Sara's backup boosters kick in. So that we don’t end up miles apart, whoever’s slowest usually leads (though this changes on big climbs or descents — when you’re dealing with mountains, ya kind of need to go your own speed).

But this morning found us both in good form: in almost no time we’d flown past Hill City, one of Idaho’s many towners (this is an important term we realized we’d overlooked, so we’ve gone back and added it into our Colorado roundup). We made it probably 25 miles before our first pull over, so I could stretch my shoulder out a bit. In contrast, we usually make it less than 10 miles before our first stop-and-stretch, then another ten or fifteen before a little break. Again: today was a good riding day.

Before long we reached the end of the Camas Prairie, the flat, lava-strewn valley we’ve been following through the mountainous west. The highway began to climb. Unlike yesterday, we're ready for it — we roll right up the first inclines like they're flats. We stop at an overlook near Castle Rocks and wander around a bit before a long descent. We wonder what a “frost heave” is (and so we looked it up).

Around 12:30 we stopped outside a closed (or, just defunct? It's often hard to tell out here) restaurant/inn and made ourselves lunch on the big wooden spool that propped up their mailbox. Then we pushed on through the mountains. The climbing was constant enough but also gentle enough — we never found ourselves winded or struggling today. Probably the most challenging section was the long drop out of the mountains and into Mountain Home. Usually, downhills are a rush in a good way, but this steep, straight descent kept us up in the 30-mph area for miles and miles, while the plenty-busy two-lane highway had the cars and trucks up at 70. It was an experience of speed that bleeds into the uneasy-making, the don’t-think-about-what-will-happen-if-some-tiny-little-thing-goes-wrong territory. But we were careful, as we always are, and here we are, fine, writing about it.

Near the end of this long speed-lane we pulled over and posed with the Oregon Trail historical marker (pictured at top). And so: childhood virtual adventures become reality! Take that, TransAm!

We made Mountain Home around 3, showered, then headed to a coffee shop! We do love and have missed coffee shops. The weather was beautiful (we’ve full-on run the gamut of seasons from summer to fall to winter and now back to some kind of second summer), so we sat outside in t-shirts (!) and put in some quality blog time.

We grabbed a pizza on the way home from the nearby Rocky Mountain Pizza — accolades for a solid parmesan crust. Then we rested up and researched tomorrow’s ride to Boise.

Day 71 stats: Fairfield to Mountain Home, ID, 56.6 miles, 1700' elevation gained, a great day’s ride, one wicked long descents, some blog catching-up

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