The terrain became much more rugged as we did a fast ride — nearly a century — with a gradual climb from Mountain Home (elevation 3,146 feet) to Twin Falls (3,745 feet). We had a nice tailwind as we entered a land filled with buttes, canyons, and gorges. We saw potato farms and wind farms, two of Idaho’s big crops. Idaho’s biggest crop might well be sage brush if only we could find some practical use for it. While we saw produce for most of the morning, by the afternoon we had entered cattle country and saw (and smelled) one feedlot after another. It’s very dry out here and each agricultural field was serviced by a huge infrastructure of irrigation equipment. When the wind was just right, the sprinklers would send a cooling spray of water over us.
We followed the Malad River and Snake River most of the day. One of the first major water control projects on the Snake River was Milner Dam, completed in 1905. The dam and a series of irrigation ditches and canals made large-scale agriculture feasible for the first time. The dam also created the raison d’etre for the town of Twin Falls which was founded when the Milner Dam construction began. One of the earliest planned communities in the United States, the town was laid out by a French architect named Emmanuel Louis Masqueray. The streets were laid out in a grid but not north-south and east-west. Rather, they extended northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast. Masqueray apparently chose this arrangement so that sunlight would enter every house, every day.
If you’re my age (more or less), you may be thinking, “I know I’ve heard of Twin Falls but I can’t remember why.” Think back to September 1974. Still can’t get it? Think of Evel Knievel. Yes, it was near here that Evel made his fabled but ill-fated rocket cycle jump over — actually into — the Snake River. Apparently the parachute deployed too soon and Evel wound up in the water rather than on the opposite rim. Evel’s launch pad is barely visible in the photo at left — it’s the small spot of lighter brown near the top center of the picture.
I tried my own death-defying leap today. My right knee bothered me a bit near the end of my ride. So I did what the racing pros do (and what the doctor on our trip recommends), and sat in a tub of ice water for ten minutes. It certainly made my knee feel better but it may be because it made everything below my waist feel numb. I hope I don’t have to do this every day.
Day’s distance: 97.7 miles (157.2 km)
Average speed: 17.4 mph (28.0 kph)
Day’s climb: 2,350 feet (716.3 meters)
Total distance: 799.1 miles (1,286.0 km)