We’re in the Idaho Panhandle near the Canadian border in little Bonners Ferry. This 250 – 400-mile route (depending on how many side trips one makes) is called the Selkirk Loop and is highly touted in cycling circles. After chickening out on the Sierra-Cascade route (see previous post), we chose this as our consolation prize.

We thought we had escaped the trauma of Highway 371 when we hitchhiked the hell out of Southern California. But no, it seems remnants remain in our scarred psyches. Highway 2/95 north from Sandpoint, where we began riding this morning, is quite busy and even though it has a decent shoulder, we found the whizzing cars unnerving, scarily reminiscent of Highway 371. So this is how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) works. Our morning ride reminded us of that California hell hole and the experience evoked the feelings we had when those two trucks clipped our safety flag. Never mind that you tell yourself the danger here is far less. The brain has a mind of its own – the heart races and the muscles tighten involuntarily at the sound of a truck approaching from the rear.

After twenty miles of riding, we turned off onto a quiet country road that parallels the main route. That was much better. That reminded us of why we like to tour on a bicycle: horses grazing down by the creek, snowy mountains above dark green forested hills.

We had our first flat before the ride even began. We were driving (the car) near Newport, WA when we heard a sound like a tire hitting a pothole – except there had been no pothole.. A few miles later, the unmistakable sound of a flat tire flapping against the asphalt. Unluckily, the road there had a concrete wall and a narrow shoulder. The choice was to continue on and shred the tire or pull over with the car partly protruding into the traffic lane. I chose the latter.

I soon learned that Honda equips their Element with a substandard jack. I was grunting and squirming, trying to get that piece of junk to lift the Honda when two kindly sheriff’s deputies stopped and let me use their jack. We also appreciated the safety afforded by their flashing lights. I took the car into Les Schwab this morning and it’s good to go.

The weather is beautiful today: blue sky with puffy white clouds, 70 degrees.

It’s rather early (3:30) so Mary and I are going to walk this town and look for a little “action.” We’ve heard that little stand near Safeway makes a mean mocha.