When a bike brings father and son together

Jerry Painter, left, and Julie Painter pose next to the entrance sign at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon in 2018 after a week-long tour bike ride from Mount Rainier National Park to Crater Lake National Park. Jerry Painter was joined by children a couple of days during the ride.

Support Local Journalism

My youngest son bought a bicycle.

It’s one of those fancy touring bikes with racks for carrying panniers, and it’s built sturdy, to last forever. He said he got the bike so he could go on long tours with his Dad. (A little more information: My youngest son is married and in his late 20s.)

So, as we talked about his new bike over the phone, of course, we immediately began making plans to do a ride together.

He lives in Moscow, Idaho, and doesn’t have much vacation time to work with. With that restriction, we started looking around for ride possibilities in the northern Idaho area. We’re looking for three or four-day trips with cheap camping along the way.

My general go to for information is the Adventure Cycling Association. This group is all about tour biking and has maps and routes all over the country. I have several of their maps and find the group’s information to usually be spot on.

Sure enough, they have a great ride that passes near Moscow. A piece of the Lewis and Clark Route along Highway 12 from Lewiston to Missoula, Montana. Of course, the complete Lewis and Clark bicycle route starts out in Missouri and goes all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River on the coast. I doubt Lewis or Clark would recognize much of the route today. We’ve managed to tame much of it down to a civilized mess in the last 200 years.

This small section through Idaho would be about 250 miles — just about right for a quickie vacation on two wheels.

One of the fun things about these types of vacations — whether it be big mountaineering objectives, tour bike rides across the country, week-long backpacking trips — half the fun is in the planning and preparation.

There’s organizing the logistics, getting in shape, honing your skills, practicing for the hard parts and buying new gear. It’s all part of the fun and stoke.

Sometimes everything goes exactly according to plan, but that’s rare. Generally, I find you make decisions on the fly, have unexpected experiences, and that’s what makes it an adventure.

My sons and I have had many adventures together. Some are thrilling and some harrowing. And the memories get talked about and passed down as family heirlooms.