Uhl in Eagle, ID – Today is the first day of spring and it sure felt like it. It got up to 67°F in the valley with strong sunshine. I setup a group ride with some of my buddies and since Heather didn’t have any appointments for the late afternoon, she actually joined us for a change. She’s a “trainer” gal; between her work schedule and lack of aversion to riding a stationary trainer, she’s typically trains indoors year-round. But today was the exception and we started out with four of us: Jeff (a neighbor), Ben (my teammate), Heather and me.
We rolled out at around 3:40 PM. It was a southeast wind today so we had a nice tailwind on the way out which added to the feeling of warmth. It was nice to be riding in shorts and no vest. We headed up Hwy 16 where Jeff turned around as his lungs weren’t feeling good. He’s been fighting off something the whole week and didn’t want to make it worse. It’s always good to play it safe.
Ben kept us at a tempo pace up the hill, taking longer and harder pulls than Heather and me. But I didn’t complain as the quicker we got off Hwy 16 the better. It’s a high-traffic road that time of day on a Friday. When we got to Emmett, we eased u a little bit and I told Ben I wanted to tone it back a little.
As we headed east we had headwind. We got to the dam, where Ben kicked it up the back-to-back jammers that made my legs hurt. But once the road flattened out it was back to the medium-tempo rotation. We took long pulls and kept it at a brisk pace through Black Canyon. The wind was bad at the front but it was nice to have a couple minutes rest as the others rotated. I’m so used to doing this ride solo in which case I don’t get a break until Horseshoe Bend.
Just after the Sweet/Ola turn-off, Ben broke a spoke on his rear wheel, vintage around ‘96. I helped remove the spoke and evened out the tension with the spoke wrench I typically have in my saddle bag. I managed to get it pretty straight and since it was moderately deep rim, I didn’t introduce a hop in doing so. Ben joked that it actually looked truer than before the spoke broke!
We remounted and continued our way eastward, now at a slower pace. I always need time to get back up to pace after resuming from a dead stop. I wanted this to be an “easy” ride from the beginning so finally the pace matched what I planned on.
As we approached Horseshoe Bend on Hwy 52 I saw a bird hovering over the LDS church just before the town line. As I got a closer look I realized it was a bald eagle! I pointed it out to Heather and Ben then slowed down to take some pictures. I knew trying to take a picture of a bird a hundred meters above my head with a point-n-shoot camera, wouldn’t work so well. So this shot is the best I could do.
Ben had the humor to ask if it would be “okay” to stop for water in Horseshoe Bend. I laughed as I always stop in Horseshoe Bend to refill. I drink like a fish anyway. By summer I’ll typically stop twice during this 3-hour ride, the first time at the Wild Rose park by the dam. So we stopped and filled up our bottles then headed for the hill.
Ben led us to the turn-off onto the Old Horseshoe Bend Hill Rd. He was going harder than I wanted and we weren’t even on the hill yet. I consider the “hill” the section between the cattle guards. I always like to time myself cattle guard to cattle guard, even if I plan to ride it at an easy pace. I just like having the data.
So even though I dropped off Ben and Heather’s wheels on the run up, I caught them only a few hundred meters later, when Ben slowed down his pace. Heather and I ended up riding just ahead of Ben for most of the climb. It was a “talking pace” and we enjoyed the scenery. It was easy for me to do as I put on my 12–27 cassette before the ride, knowing that I didn’t want to push it that hard up the hill.
Towards the middle of the climb, where it’s a free-grazing zone, we went by a cow hanging out, towards the side of the road. It just kind of looked at us and then moseyed down the hill.
Later, as we approached one of the sweeping turns, there was a whole gang of them standing in the road! We kind of spooked them (not on purpose!) and they went scurrying up the road. There was one baby calf with them, and it fell during the frenzy. Its mother stopped and looked back at us and waited for it to get up and return to her side. At that point Heather and I really slowed down so we wouldn’t get close to the calf with its mother staring at us like that! Once the calf was at her side they made their way off the road and down the hill. It was cool to see that motherly instinct, in the “wild”!
After that bit of entertainment, we continued at the same slow pace to the top of the hill, as Ben caught back up to us. It was cooler at that altitude, but not enough to warrant putting on the vest I had packed. We descended and then let Heather do the brunt of the work on the flat sections. She seemed to want to take really long pulls and wouldn’t flick her elbow to indicate she was done. I told Ben if he wanted to take a pull, he’d better just go around her!
We finally eased up as we approached Floating Feather and spun easy back to my house. Even though I didn’t push the whole EHB loop as I typically do, my legs still felt like they got a decent workout. We managed to do it in three hours even, a good time when solo, not bad with only three people. My TSS was only 163 at a .74 IF, but that was exactly the type of ride I’m was looking for. This past week I’ve trying to restrain myself and get in some lower intensity miles, for a change.