Cycling Around Bear Lake - July 21st 2007
On July 21st, we drove to Bear Lake, and cycled around the lake - a total of 50.3 miles.
This was another of our scenic bicycle trips, and was mostly flat, though a few times I geared down to my slowest gear to manage short climbs.
We started cycling at 10:30 AM, and finished at 6:30 PM. We had an average speed of 10.2 MPH, and were pedaling for 4 hours 55 minutes. It took us 8 hours to do it (counting food and rest stops).
We started and ended in Laketown, at the south end of the lake. We chose (rightly) to do the lonely side of the lake first, so that there would be many places to stop for ice cream (and other refreshments) when we were hot and tired.
Looking back at our starting point in Laketown
The shoulders on this part of the lake were narrow, but the traffic was light - even on this holiday weekend. However, there were vehicles towing boats and trailers, so we had to be cautious.
In places, there was a cleared-off gravel and dirt lane to the side of the road, which signs encouraged bicyclists to use, but where it was infested with puncture-vine weeds (and wasn't paved) there was no way we were going to use that.
A rest stop, early on our trek along the east side of the lake
Bear lake is quite large, and though the scenery is beautiful, and constantly changing, it seems like there is always plenty more of the lake ahead as far as the eye can see. There are a lot of beaches and campgrounds on this side of the lake.
Another rest & water break, on the east side of Bear Lake
We crossed into Idaho, and still the lake stretched out into the far distance. There were public beaches, but much of this seemed to be gated off as private property of the rich. Still, the scenery was good.
Looking back south, after climbing one of the occasional short hills that required gearing-down all the way
During this time, several groups of cyclists going at high speed passed us coming from the opposite direction. When we were stopped, they almost always asked us if we were OK. We smiled, saying we were fine, and waved them on. It was nice that they were all concerned that we weren't broken down. It later occurred to me that these cyclists probably go for speed, and the idea of someone stopping to rest hadn't occurred to them.
Finally we made it to the north end of the lake, and turned west. There is a big public beach here on the north shore of the lake, south of the road. On the north side of the road (actually, it is a causeway), is the Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge, which was much more scenic than the heavily used main part of the lake to the south.
Looking north at the Bear Lake Wildlife Refuge
A bit farther on, we stopped in some shade where water is pumped from the main part of the lake to the wildlife refuge to the north. It looked like the south part of the lake was about 20 feet lower than the north end.
After cooling off, we continued westward. This part of the trip was very flat, and we made good time. But it was beginning to get hot.
Where the causeway meets the main road (highway 89), there was a welcome respite in the form af a drive-in called "The Bear Den". There we availed ourselves of a shady lawn, and enjoyed ice cream and hamburgers & hot dogs.
Refreshed, we continued cycling southward. The road now had wide shoulders, but there was a lot more traffic.
Going through farmland on the west side of the lake, south of St. Charles
This part of the trip was more flat, and we seldom had to gear-down (and then, not to very low gears).
At Fish Haven, we stopped at a store for cool drinks, and talked to a group of motorcyclists who were similarly enjoying the scenery around the lake.
At the Utah border, looking south
We continued southward, arriving at Garden City 6 miles farther down the road. It was a bit hot for me, but often there was shade from trees covering the road, making for cool rest stops.
At Garden City we encountered a paved bicycle path, which was quite good, following the road grade. Unfortunately, there were a number of drivers of cars & trucks that considered it their god-given right to block the bicycle path.
By this time, it had been a long day, and we were hot and tired. It had taken longer than we had originally estimated - not from the time pedaling, but from the time resting. I made good use of the spray bottle to cool off. The coolness didn't last all that long, but it really felt good.
Approaching the south end of the lake, in the lengthening shadows of late afternoon
The bicycle path ended a few miles out of Garden city. We continued on the highway, which had fairly narrow shoulders now, but the traffic was decreasing. Also (thankfully) it was beginning to cool off just a bit.
We cycled into Laketown at 6:30 PM, finishing another fun bicycle trip
We made it! Stowing the bicycles in the van at the end of the trip.
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