September 24, 2016
Thanks to the generosity of my hosts from Warmshowers.org, on my single night in Idaho I met several cycling enthusiasts in what was clearly a very warm and friendly community of outdoor enthusiasts, and they happily shared some of their favourite biking routes.
So when I left Bonners Ferry, Idaho on a sunny Saturday morning, I headed not to the highway but to a meandering gravel road that would take me through the lowlands of the Kootenai River valley.
This road led me first around the southern and western edges of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, passing wheat fields, cattle pastures and a large hops farm, before winding back to the east across the Kootenai River, where I would turn onto the highway north to Canada. Since the major highway route from Bonners Ferry to my next stop, Creston, BC was less than 60 kilometers, my more circuitous route would round out an easy day by adding another 16 km.
Just north of the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is Budweiser Loop, the site of an intensive hops operation owned by Anheuser-Busch.
Where the valley-bottom road crosses the Kootenai River before heading uphill to the highway, I stopped for an early-afternoon picnic lunch.
My afternoon’s itinerary included riding the entire length of Idaho State Highway 1 – all 20 km of it. That would take me to the US/Canada border, where the Kootenai River mysteriously transforms into another stream with a different name. (Don’t ask me y.)
Although I would return to this spell-shifting river several times over the next few days, my brief rest on the flatlands was quickly drawing to a close. When I pedaled in to Creston that afternoon, there were just 500 meters of road between me and my destination for the night – and that half a kilometer was on a 10% uphill grade.