As a young kid, I would flip through my parent’s Atlas and Gazetteer for hours looking at all kinds of places. I often looked at Idaho, envisioning it as a mountain paradise filled with mountains all around the state. Moreover, I remember being in college, thinking I was going to graduate with a computer science degree, move to Boise, experience the mountains, and work for Micron Computer.
Often, with far-off life goals, life has a way of humoring us along the way. I was able to experience the mountains in Northern California, but the rest of my life had other plans. Boise always remained on my radar, but I never made the trip.
My good friend Sarah said, “You need to see your friend Andy.” Andy was the first friend I ever met in California. He is a super fantastic human. Our paths have ebbed and flowed over the years as he moved to the Pacific Northwest and, more recently, to Idaho. I’ve remained in the San Francisco Bay Area. He married his lovely wife shortly after college. I’m still figuring all that stuff out. Sarah usually has good intuition around people; her guidance brought me this far east. It’d been years since I’d seen Andy and almost a decade and a half since being in his home. Both Sarah and I thought it was time to fix that.
In a very different vein, I received questions more than a few times, “Why not ride your motorcycle on this adventure?” First, I wanted to experience the Rivian and learn about road trips with electric vehicles. Secondly, I wanted more creature comforts available in a four-wheeled truck. Lastly, I wanted more flexibility in how I traveled, and trucks are better for the traveling I wanted to do.
If I wanted to, I could rent a bike somewhere and explore the local area on two wheels. With that being said, I left San Francisco with all of my motorcycle gear in a big green tub that took a sizable amount of the truck’s bed to store.
I thought I would ride through eastern British Columbia, seeing beautiful parks like Banff, Mount Assiniboine, and the cities throughout the Kootenay Mountains. Unfortunately, large swaths of eastern British Columbia were hazard zones due to out-of-control wildfires. Randy and I discussed riding through the islands along British Columbia’s coast, but time got away from us. So here I am, in Idaho, with my motorcycle gear, having driven over 2000 miles and no bike time. I wanted to see the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. There were virtually no chargers that were reliable around the entire journey making travel with the Rivian sketchy at best. If I’m going to the Sawtooths, I’m riding a motorcycle.
Riders-Share is a peer-to-peer motorcycle exchange program. Think of it like the motorcycle version of Lyft, Uber, or Turo. Motorcycle owners can list their motorcycles for you to rent. The service validates your identity and has liability insurance around all parties – so everybody remains happy and protected (in theory). I found a 2005 BMW R1200GS available for rent in town. It’s the perfect cross between the bike I have (1250GS) and the bike I used to ride (2003 V-Strom). The owner was a cool guy with this bike and a supersport in his garage.
My first caution with Riders-Share is how they handle authentication and authorization. This topic is near and dear to many IT professionals. Authentication is proving who you say you are. Authorization is the permission you have to do certain things. My challenge with Riders-Share is they do a incomplete job of protecting my identity for authenication. The owner takes a photograph of my driver’s license, which may or may not remain on the host’s phone. There’s got to be 100 other ways to do this more securely, so rider beware. Riders-Share should have an app that shows my driver’s license for the host to verify, prevent screenshots, and have mutual signoff between rider and host, locking the rider’s identity behind the Riders-Share cloud. How this isn’t a basic premise of the service, I don’t know.
All that put aside, I wanted to ride. Today’s trip was out to the Sawtooth Mountains. The Sawtooths appear to be some of the most beautiful mountains in Idaho as viewed via photographs from California. I centered around the town of Stanley, which sits in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains. Since Boise is surprisingly removed from the mountains, the ride began with an extended jaunt through the Treasure Valley. Boise is a chokepoint for several highways: Interstate 84, US 20, US 30, and Idaho 55 all travel the same pavement. The highway signs to the right were comical.
Once leaving the Boise area, the Treasure Valley makes her presence known. Golden hills and golden plains fill the landscape. The east end of Interstate 84 mimics the west side of town: speed limits are 80 miles an hour, LOL. This time, I’m on the motorcycle, and traffic is moving at a very good clip. About 15 minutes into the flight down the freeway, I could see the right turn signal beginning to shake. Upon closer inspection, I saw electrical tape keeping the turn signal in place. The long freeway run was putting undue pressure on the owner’s hack job I didn’t catch. Strike number two. In motorcycle safety training ever rider learns about TCLOCKs.
- T- Tires and Wheels
- C- Control Levers
- L- Lights & Battery
- O- Oil Levels
- C- Chassis
- K- Kickstand
Always, always, always run the TCLOCKs inspection when riding a rented bike, especially from a private party rather than a motorcycle dealer.
With a quick trip to the local truck stop and Walmart, I bought two lines of defense: electrical tape similar to what was on the bike and gorilla tape in case I needed it. I removed the existing electrical tape and put new electrical tape around the base of the turn signal. Hopefully, that would hold. Fingers crossed!
What surprised me was how long it took to see alpine towns. The young and college me thought the mountains were right outside of Boise. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get to the town of Hailey to experience the alpine. Hailey was a neat town and obviously well-funded – a stark contrast to the smaller surrounding farming communities. I stumbled into Sun Valley Brewing Company for lunch, which proved to be a great stop. The burger was fantastic, using locally sourced meat from the area.
From here to Ketchum was an absolute grind. Traffic was packed in, slow, and aggressive. While riding, I didn’t put two and two together that I was in the same Sun Valley as the nationally known alpine resort. That explains the traffic, the money, and bourgeois all throughout these two towns. Fortunately, the bourgeois was short-lived, and Highway 75 opened up his shoulders with the ride I came to do in the Sawtooth Mountains.
Idaho 75 is a beautiful piece of calligraphy through the Sawtooth Mountains. His turns are like broad strokes throughout a very aggressive, sharp landscape. What makes these mountains attractive is the ruggedness and austere features of the landscape. None of the riding along Idaho 75 was all that technical. It starkly contrasts California’s 108 up and over Sonora Pass with its intricate, sharp turns and steep climbs. Idaho 75 is gentle all the way through this territory, allowing me to focus on the landscape and less on the technical nature of specific turns.
Unfortunately, my handiwork with electrical tape just didn’t hold. The last thing I wanted was to lose a turn signal out in the Idaho countryside, for a multitude of reasons. I was hoping the Gorilla Tape would have slightly better adhesive to keep the turn signal secure, even if it was a touch too secure when the turn signal would eventually be replaced.
Today’s high point would be Redfish Lake – one of Idaho’s clearest bodies of water. I can tell you the lake did not disappoint. Redfish Lake’s waters are clear and cold, with visibility extending feet down into the water. What surprised me, however, is how shallow its waters are. Usually, inside these alpine lakes, one step gets to your knees, two steps to your chest, and three steps to underwater. I had to walk out quite a ways to get to waist-deep water. In that respect, it’s great for kids.
The late afternoon proved to be a great time to experience Redfish Lake. I lucked out on a bluebird sky day with temperatures well into the 70s. You could tell winter was coming as lows were going to be in the 30s, as this is one of the coldest places in Idaho. Lodging in Stanley is hard to come by, but I lucked out. Two of the nicest places in town are the Redfish Lodge in the Stanley High Country Inn. The Redfish Lodge demands obscene money per night as it sits directly on the water. The Stanley High Country Inn was significantly more reasonable and had a vacancy this Monday night. Luck surely hit me, as my hosts in Boise were surprised they even got a reservation in the entire town.
The Stanley High Country Inn was a fantastic place to stay for the evening. The rooms exude a cabin feel with generous log beds and plenty of room to spread out. It’s a small hotel with only 10 rooms, so the place feels intimate. Remember, though, the hot tub requires reservations. Book sometime right when you check in!
Now, it’s time to go get some dinner. Life is good. I love it here and then using the time to think about how to strengthen the community I have back home.