For several years I've dreamed of traveling to northern Idaho to ride the Coeur d'Alene Trail - 71 miles of paved rail-to-trail Nirvana. And early this year I penciled in the second week of September to finally make it happen. But alas - circumstances that have arisen have changed my plans. Next year we'll try again. (Early September is spoze to be the prime time, because the crowds have tapered off but perfect weather continues.)
So, to partially ease the pain, I instead took Thursday off, and rode a round-trip between Banks and Lowman. It's nothing spectacular, like the offering in northern Idaho, but it was pretty sweet. It, too, is another ride I've wanted to go on for years, and finally turned dream into reality.
It's 34 miles in each direction. Lowman is roughly 1000 feet higher than Banks. And there's a higher "summit" in between the two. But frankly, it's not a grueling ride by any stretch. The shoulders are generally adequate, and there are few places with really tight "blind" curves. I wouldn't recommend it on a busy weekend day, but it was pretty nice on a Thursday.
It's probably been 15 years since I last rode 68 miles in a day. The first half was cake. And the second half was tolerable... but by the time I was 20 miles or so from the finish, I was counting down the miles and looking forward to the finish line. It took a little over 5 hours of "saddle time" and about 6.5 hours on the clock.
The day was mercifully cool; in fact, precipitation sputtered a bit as I started the return leg... but just enough to be refreshing.
The thing I really noticed was how quiet it was. Sound always seems to carry in the forest, and in retrospect I believe it's an illusion... it just seems to carry because there's so much less background noise.