Friday, June 1, 2018

Potato Diaries, Day One: Testing the Roads

I am currently in Idaho. Why am I in Idaho you may be asking yourself (or, perhaps you couldn't care less)? Well, a little over a year ago, my mother and step-father moved away from California and settled into the land of potatoes for some yet-to-be-deciphered reason. They had no one living in Idaho and it seemed as arbitrary a place to pick as any, so I'm still not certain what prompted it. I "get" that it's expensive to live in California (and has been for a very long time) and for retirees it's even more difficult to stretch their dollar, but I'm still stewing about the abrupt departure and selection of location for their home. Of course, it's not my home, nor my life, so I suppose it doesn't really matter one way or another what I think or feel.

There is also nothing worse to me at this present stage of life than driving. Oh, how I despise it. Particularly any sort of distance driving. It seems as though I hate it more the older I get. Spending 13 hours in a car is not my idea of fun (and I'm reminded that I'll be doing it again in order to get home). ::sigh::

But, enough of my personal issues. As I was saying, I'm currently in Idaho. More specifically, about 20 miles outside of Boise, pet sitting my parents dogs (along with one of mine who came along to keep me company and to harass their two dogs - Our other pooch stayed home to keep "dad" from feeling lonely). The folks had several things they needed to take care of in California and had an undetermined timeline, so they asked if I'd be willing to come out and stay in their house and attempt to keep their pups and plants alive (so far, so good - but then again, I'm only on day one, so I won't throw a celebratory party just yet).

Since they didn't know how long they'd be gone, I decided to bring a bike along too. No reason to let my legs have some kind of respite, I figured. Sam suggested bringing two bikes with me, but I figured one was enough. I can't ride them at the same time and I figured I could choose one that would be able to do any of the rides I'd want to do.

So, after tiring out the dogs as best I could (see above for a brief visual of the 3 hour exhaust-the-dogs session), I decided that today would just be a short exploratory ride to see what the roads here in the 'burbs of Boise are all about. Even though it was a short ride, I have to say that I have never in my life been so grateful for the roads, paths and infrastructure that is available to me at home in Colorado. I've definitely taken for granted the fact that motorists are used to seeing people on bikes, and even if they don't like it, they (for the most part) accept that bicycles and the people riding them are a part of every day life. I wish I could say the same for this area, but thus far my short, near-death ride hasn't given me the greatest confidence that Idaho drivers understand that bicycles are able to use roadways too. I believe the roads here also leave much to be desired for those on two wheels... but I'll get into that shortly.

I had taken the dogs on a walk this morning down a path that runs right through my parent's neighborhood. I figured I'd start there on the bike and work my way up to deciding which roads seemed like good choices. Having done a bit of research before arriving, I realized that not many of the roads have 1) bike lanes, 2) wide shoulders (or any shoulder for that matter), or 3) easily navigable bike paths. It may be a bit easier in Boise proper, but being about 20 miles away from the city, I'm struggling to find places that work for riding.
The path started off quite nicely. The city has used asphalt for the MUP, which is great for walkers, runners and cyclists alike. I expected this to continue and was enjoying it until just a couple of miles in when the path turned into dirt and gravel. I have nothing against dirt and/or gravel, but it's apparent that this portion of the trail is not as well maintained as the piece that has been paved.
After navigating my way through some tricky rock portions that I wasn't expecting (not pictured, unfortunately, as I was focused on not falling over), I decided I'd better make my way onto some actual roads. The issue was that I had no idea where I was or which direction to go. I did have my phone with me, but with no way to attach it to my handlebars for use as a map/directions, I decided to travel in a rectangle shape so that eventually I'd end up back where I should be.
The gated portion has the "pool" area for dogs to swim, while the surrounding area has a walking path to keep everyone moving around.
I passed what has to be one of the coolest dog parks - ever. It's hard to see everything in the photo here, but there are separate areas, a walking path within the park, a swimming area for the pups, plenty of benches, and lots of shade, water, and balls for dogs to play with. I can't help but think more dog parks should be designed this way.

Dog park aside, the road I was riding was quite busy with motorized traffic and it lacks an appropriate space for bicycles to travel, so unfortunately (much as I think it's the wrong place to be), I spent most of the time on this road traveling on the sidewalk. Maneuvering around left-out trash receptacles, fallen branches (the wind has been blowing quite hard the last couple of days as I'm told), and other debris was less than fun.

The decision was made to head south, in hopes of getting away from much of the motorized traffic. Although the traffic somewhat lessened, the road was still difficult to travel, changing from loose rocks at the side of the road to rougher-than-usual chipseal that was in terrible shape. There wasn't a shoulder to speak of which made riding with the cars a bit more challenging too. Unfortunately, the cars and trucks passing weren't horribly cooperative, but I wanted to get through a short ride to see if there are any streets somewhat close by that would be better for travel on two wheels.
As my surroundings changed slightly to more rural views, I found that I loosened up a bit and started to accept that the cars and I would simply have to share the same lane. Although this happens at home too in certain spots, it was bothering me more in my current location - perhaps because in a very short amount of time I'd been yelled at by multiple passing vehicles.

Still, I have to admit that the visuals were lovely in areas, which did help make up, at least somewhat, for the occasional cranky person passing by. I should also say that not every passing vehicle was difficult. Many of the cars provided a huge amount of space when passing, which was much appreciated.
The ride wasn't as flat as it appears from this and other photos. There are definitely rolling hills all around.
I haven't quite yet figured out where people ride here. I've seen only a handful of individuals on bikes thus far (and a couple of those were middle-school-aged kids), so it's been challenging to ask others for thoughts on the matter. There are a plethora of bicycle shops within a 15 mile radius though, so I'm guessing there are places that are more hospitable. My plan is to pay a visit to a couple of the local shops and inquire as to where people ride in the area. Hopefully, that will give me a better idea of where to go on the next portion of this mini-adventure.

If you are familiar with Boise and the surrounding areas, let me know any spots that might be a good place to check out. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing as much as I can while I'm here in the state known for its potatoes.

**Day 2 can be found here.


  1. I’ve had some interest in visiting that area. My spouse is a photographer, so there are some hikes nearby that we’d like to try out. I’ll be eager to hear if you find good places to ride.

    Now the real question: Which bike did you settle on?

    1. I think Boise probably offers a bit more by way of biking, but I'm still curious to see what can be found outside of the city. I do hope to get into Boise for at least one ride at some point though.

      I brought the Hillborne after some back and forth. I figured it's a good all-around option (perhaps a bit slower when riding roads than a true road bike, but faster than a mountain bike would be on the roads), giving me the possibility of riding dirt trails and on roads. I may have been better off bringing a mountain bike, given what I've seen thus far, but it's worked out fine thus far.

    2. It seems like that is the bike you keep reaching for.

    3. I think it's why it is the bike that's hung around for years. It just seems to be an easy bike to ride, even though we have our tiffs now and again.

  2. I too hate driving, and cars generally, the older I get (early sixties) and I don't even have to do it very much. I'd much rather be on my bike.

    1. Driving is just so exhausting! It's not that riding a bike can't be tiring too, but I just feel as though I get so much more out of it. :)


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