Read Ferguson just didn't think it was comfortable to sit upright or hunched over anymore for a 75-100 miles on an upright bike, so he purchased a Cruzbike S40 endurance recumbent road bike. In this guest post, he shares his experience cycling the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho. Thank you for sharing your experience, Read. This trail is now high on our bucket list!
Over the last few years I discovered the existence of Rail Trails, and I thought a recumbent would be just the ticket to start discovering these trails. I knew about the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene and knew it was a Hall of Fame Rail Trail so it was on my list of things to do. I also knew that I wanted to do it in mid-Spring before it got too hot in the Idaho panhandle and to do it mid-week when the fewest number of people would be around.
Railways, nature, history and riding are all interests of mine, and all those things intersected in a lovely manner in this route. The trail is also a tour de force of political will by its very existence in an unlikely place.
It basically stretches for 75 miles from Plummer, ID to Mullan, ID, and has very recently been named as part of the National Rail Trail route from D.C. to Seattle. It connects a number of very small communities, the largest of which is Wallace, ID, the epicenter of the Great Burn.
The southwestern 50 miles or so crosses many rivers and a lake or two, then skirts about 15 miles of eastern shoreline of Lake Coeur d'Alene, then heads into the foothills for the Bitterroot mountains through marshes, wetlands, etc. finally meeting up with the I-5 corridor and shadowing it the final 20-25 miles into Mullan through a number of small former mining communities.
My plan was to drive the 7 or so hours from Puget Sound over to Plummer, ID. Stay the night at Heyburn State Park. Ride to Mullan. Stay the night in Wallace, ID. Ride back the next day because one thing I have learned is that whether in a car or bike or whatever the same route never looks the same going and coming. Stay the night again at the state park. Drive home the 4th day.
The trip was a whopping success in my book. I had a little bit of everything weather wise. Sun, towering clouds, a couple of brief showers. Just no snow, but temperatures in the low 60s. My favorite riding temperature.
I saw animals of all sorts. I came around one curve and a moose was straddling the trail. I slammed on the brakes, fumbled around trying to get my phone out of my pocket to take a picture, and by the time I finally got it aimed she was gone back into the forest. Sounds like a good fish story doesn't it? The big one that got away. No picture for proof.
Among other bird species, I saw white pelicans for the first time. I had never seen that species. I had only seen pelicans of the brown variety on the coasts. Of course I saw many raptors of all sorts, eagles, hawks, etc.
One thing I learned about a recumbent, is that you can see a lot of the sky particularly right overhead. I was never able to bend my neck that far on an upright. I could easily watch the soaring birds for much longer as well as see the mountain peaks close around me.
For sure the recumbent riding position is so much more comfortable for long periods of time. Finally, I will just mention the amount of history preserved around and along the path was extensive. It certainly lowered my average speed because I wanted to stop and look or read things along the way.
I now have my sights set on a slew of other trails around the country. I know there are a lot of good ones back east. Those will be more of a logistical challenge. I don't want to have to buy a motorhome just to get to all these locations, and packing up one's bike and sending it on a plane seems a little dicey if not complicated, but I guess people it do it.
Post written by Cruzbike S40 owner Read Ferguson