Ride on, it's the Summer of Pedal-Powered Love

click to enlarge Ride on, it's the Summer of Pedal-Powered Love
The tunnels of the Hiawatha Trail are even cooler at night.

The bicycle was invented far too late. Even at birth, it was an anachronism. Think about it. The first bike — a simple machine without a motor — came a decade or so after the extremely complex and powerful steam locomotive. The internal combustion engine wasn't far behind. So what took so long for the bike? After all, the know-how and materials needed for bike building had been around for hundreds of years. If the bike had been built on time, our world would look much different. Bikes and bikeways would've been codified in our culture. So, with all of this in mind, let this be the Summer of Wheels, where we mend our space-time fabric and take back our streets to make this a world of bicycles. Even if just for a season.

NIGHT WHEELS

The day is a perfectly fine time to ride a bike. The night, though, is something else entirely. Moon shadows play tricks on your eyes. Sounds from the dark get the heart pumping. Go nocturnal this summer by trying one, or all three, of these regional night rides.

The Hiawatha Trail Moonlight Rides are a good place to start. At just $40 — upgrade to $65 for a T-shirt — this guided ride along one of the Inland Northwest's most lauded trails will let you rest secure knowing your adventure won't devolve into a Donner Party scenario. The moonlight rides began in June, but there are still more, on July 3, Aug. 1 and Aug. 30. For more information, visit ridethehiawatha.com.

For a more urban, and shorter ride, check out the CDA Full Moon Ride, which takes place year-round in Coeur d'Alene. The ride typically ranges between two and four miles, and all ages and types of bikes are welcome. It all begins at 7 pm at a local restaurant or watering hole, and riding begins around 9 pm. Join the fun, and find out more at the CDA Full Moon Bike Ride Facebook group.

Lastly, for the hardest-cored among us, there's the Midnight Century, a 100-mile gauntlet on trails and the unlit, dirt backroads of the Inland Northwest. It begins at midnight at the Elk Public House in Spokane's Browne's Addition and ends when either you finish the brutal course, or it finishes you. Visit midnightcentury.com for more details. If you dare.

WILL RIDE FOR ICE CREAM

The first time I rode the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes was a revelation. I'd parked at Heyburn State Park with nary an idea of what lay ahead. I crossed the Chatcolet Bridge and felt like I was riding over one of the Great Wonders of the World. My awe only widened as I rode along the banks of Lake Coeur d'Alene. About seven miles in, I thought, "This is a land of amazement and the only thing that would make it more magical is a cafe, with espresso, wine and ice cream." A mile later, my wish was granted in the town of Harrison, Idaho, which has all of the above and more. To this day, I wonder if Harrison existed before I imagined it, or if it's been a perfect wayside all along.

click to enlarge Ride on, it's the Summer of Pedal-Powered Love
Have bike, will camp with alpacas.

PEDAL THROUGH THE PARK

There are many types of wheeled locomotion in Riverfront Park. On any given day, you can see bicycles, scooters, one wheel skateboards, so-called "hoverboards" and the occasional rollerblader. Get in on the fun with Pedal Karts, four-wheeled, pedal-powered go-karts available for rent at the Skate Ribbon. Kids five and over can ride them. Adults can ride them. Anyone can ride them. So ride them. Rentals cost $9 for a half hour, or $13 for an hour. Discounts are available for veterans or active duty military, seniors and groups of 10 or more. Helmets are required but can be had for free at the Skate Ribbon and SkyRide building.

GET PAMPERED

We've all ridden — or seen — the Spokane Party Trolley, the lovely pedal-powered beast that takes a lane of traffic, all in the name of reverie and celebration. Sure, it's great for birthdays or bachelorette parties. But what about date night? Or if you simply want to be toted around Spokane like some sort of ancient royal in a palanquin? Try the Trolley for Two. Same company, different vehicle, lower price. For $60, get rickshaw-ed around town for a one-hour private and personalized tour. If you see one of these little vehicles-that-could plying downtown Spokane, hail it and hitch a ride for $1 per minute.

BIKEPACKING WITH HIPCAMP

The urge to get out of town is strong among we people of the Inland Northwest. The lake beckons. Campsites call. The woods want us. But all that driving, ugh. This year, try bikepacking. Strap all you need for a night or two under the stars to your bike, and go. But where? Check out Hipcamp, which is something like AirBnB for camping. Within easy riding from Spokane or Coeur d'Alene, there are places to pitch a tent at a former bison ranch, on Williams Lake, in the forest near Riverside State Park, along Idaho's Finger Lakes south of I-90 and at an alpaca farm. What are you waiting for?!

THE HILL CHALLENGE

Summer's fun and all, but all that lazing around in the sun can be such a bore. Up your summer by climbing the area's steepest and longest hills on two wheels. Start with Tower Mountain, which isn't far from the intersection of the Palouse Highway and 57th Avenue. There it is, in the yonder, with all the radio towers. Follow Ben Burr Road up and up, just three miles, until you hit the gate — and perhaps your limit. But the view, and your sense of being a badass, is worth it. And that's just the beginning. Complete the challenge by riding White Road, the Freya Hill, Carnahan Hill, Eagle Ridge and, heck, Mt. Spokane, and your summer will be one to remember. ♦

Disability Pride Celebration @ Riverfront Park

Sat., July 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
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Nicholas Deshais

Nicholas Deshais served as editor of the Inlander from fall 2022 to spring 2024, overseeing the entire editorial operation and supervising news coverage. He was a staff writer for the paper from 2008-12, and has worked for various news outlets, including Portland’s newsweekly Willamette Week, the Spokesman-Review,...