Don's Blog: June 26: Baking in Boise, Like a Potato
Sunday, June 25
Reality hit the group again today, in the form of oppressive, baking, oven-like heat. Although the temperature was moderate when we started out in Baker City, by the time we got near the final destination of Ontario (Oregon, that is), the temperature had soared to over 90 degrees. Thankfully I was near enough to the end that I only had to spend a couple of hours it the furnace-like climate, before cooling off in the motel pool and an air conditioned room at the less-than-stately Rodeway Inn.
Riders Karen and Barry from Los Angeles were not that fortunate however. Among the slower riders in the group, they were delayed by a flat tire, resulting in even more time out in the heat. By the time they arrived at the hotel it was late afternoon, and our daily meeting was taking place. All of sudden Barry collapsed, suffering from heat exhaustion. It was a reminder that just because we are seemingly in good shape, we are also subject to the physiological difficulties presented by extreme heat. Thankfully Barry was o.k. after a trip to a local hospital for treatment, including an IV.
In a way, I think Barry’s incident helped pull the group together, further cementing the bond that has started to build during the week. Many of the riders were mulling around the motel when Barry returned, and immediately went up to him to express their support and thanks that he was all right. It was heartwarming to see. Everyone is rooting for the riders to have a successful trek.
As for the ride today, we were able to enjoy quite a bit of downhill from outside of Baker City to past the 50-mile mark. I have to say that it was very enjoyable to click off the miles at more than 20 miles per hour, in lieu of a five mile-per-trudge up a steep mountainside. In fact, on a long downhill straightaway today I reached my top speed for the trip so far, 39.5 miles per hour. I lacked the proper gearing to reach 40, but it was still fun to blaze downhill at that speed for a short while. Despite the heat, I managed to complete 84 miles in four hours, 50 minutes, a snappy 17.2 mile-per-hour average.
Today was a day for other milestones as well, as we completed our first full week of riding and passed the 500-mile mark en route. In addition, we very nearly completed the state of Oregon, as the Idaho border lies just across the Interstate. At dinner I sat with some of the tour managers; it seemed they are as tired as the riders. They are busy each day supporting the riders and dealing with the metaphorical bumps in the road, while we deal with the actual bumps in the road. Hats off to them for being so helpful and supportive.
Monday, June 26
Today’s ride was a bit different, in that upon its conclusion we will not be riding again for approximately 42 hours─there will be a day off in Boise, Idaho, the capitol of the state, on Tuesday. That should have translated into an inspired ride on my part, but unfortunately did not. I felt tired today. I did not have much strength at all on any of the uphills, which were very modest in comparison with some of the mountains we had scaled earlier in the ride. But like life, a long bike ride has its ups and downs, and you just have to push through them and carry on.
The weather was very warm again today, although not quite as oppressive as yesterday’s. Some 611 miles from Astoria, I think everyone in the group is looking forward to the day off from riding, even though some might feel a bit out of sorts early tomorrow morning.
By all accounts Boise is a nice, family-oriented city of about 500,000 residents. Certainly for a state capitol the noise and traffic seems modest. It is home to the Boise State University Broncos, which boasts a pretty good football team, ranked in the top 10 in the country at times last season. They had a 48-game unbeaten streak at home, which was snapped by Boston College in the MPC Computer Bowl last December. The team is probably most famous for its blue Astroturf field.
In addition, at about 15,000, Boise is home of the largest Basque community in the United States, and the second largest community in the world outside the Basque Country in Spain and France.
According to Wikipedia, the name Boise comes from the French word boisé, which means "wooded.” One legend claims that French-Canadian fur trappers of the early 1800s came over the mountains looked down upon the Boise River Valley and exclaimed "Le Bois!" (The trees!) This is also how Boise gained its nickname 'The City of Trees'. In actuality, the name was apparently a translation of an earlier English name for the Boise River, the Wood River.