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Memorable Challenge Experiences 2016

by Craig O. Olsen (Platinum Tire Level Winner) 
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, January 2017

2016 marked the 7th year of the IAMC Challenge. I have enjoyed the IAMC Challenge each year. It has been a good incentive for me to get out riding, and it has taken me to many places in Idaho and surrounding states that I might otherwise never have visited. It has also been the means through which I have met and ridden with many members of our club, both new and old. 

I have had the good fortune of being a Platinum tire level winner for five of those seven years, including the last four years in a row. Typically, I have been a procrastinator to getting my challenge sites completed early in the year. In 2010 I achieved the bronze tire level with 11 sites, the last of which I obtained on December 21, 2010, on a solo ride to Mayfield, site #-10 that year. In 2012 I achieved silver tire level with 21 sites. Unfortunately, I waited too long to get into central Idaho and was blocked out by all the fires that year. In most of the other years (2011 and 2013-2015) I finished late, obtaining my last sites well into October or November and sometimes being impeded by snow. 

The year of 2016 was different. I started my challenge quest on May 4 and completed my last challenge site on July 7, and none too early as you will find out. Some of the years have had themes to the selection of the challenge sites — “spooky and high” (ghost towns and mountain lookouts for 2012), historic places (mostly for 2013), forest lookouts and water (2014), and county courthouses with optional individual county off-road sites (2015) — while other years the sites were grouped by their distance from Boise (2011). The theme for this year (2016) was small Idaho towns. Forty of Idaho’s small towns were picked and listed alphabetically. The average population for these 40 towns from the 2010 census was 253 with a low of 16 (Warren) and a high of 1,189 (Cataldo). 

Chattanooga Hot Springs located about 1 mile northeast of Atlanta on the Middle Fork of the Boise River.
The moss covered Atlanta Hot Springs located next to East Power Plant Road about 1/4 mile southeast of Chattanooga Hot Springs.

I enjoyed visiting each of these unique communities, many for the first time, particularly those in northern Idaho; but there were a few of the eastern Idaho ones that were also new to me (Acequia, Atomic City, Castleford, Rockland and Eden). On May 4th I began my 2016 Challenge quest with Dennis Hill (AKA Dennis66) on a ride to Atlanta. We visited the Chattanooga Hot Springs, which was very inviting. The same could not be said about the mossy Atlanta Hot Springs. 

In mid-June I made an approximate 1,500 mile trip to visit all the northern Idaho Challenge sites. I enjoyed revisiting Avery, which I have ridden through several times on various dual sport trips and stayed there at Sheffy’s Motel in 2009 while riding the Idaho Centennial Trail. I always enjoy riding north on NF Road 225 from Avery to Wallace along Slate Creek through the several old railroad tunnels. 

Sheffy’s Motel in Avery, site #-5.
One of several old railroad tunnels along NF Road 225 between Avery and Wallace.
Post Office in Murray, site #-27.
Totem poles across street from the post office.

The post office at Murray has to be one of the most quaint in Idaho, if not the entire USA, and seems to fit right in with the totem poles located diagonally across the street. 

Winchester has one of the more unusual, if not somewhat intimidating, town signs you will find anywhere depending where you stand on second amendment rights. The roof of the visitor’s center in Winchester is taken over with a heavy growth of moss. 

Town sign in Winchester, site #-39.
Winchester visitor’s center with moss covered roof.

My last 2016 Challenge site was Dingle located in the southeastern corner of the state. Arden Hill (AKA AGHill) and I visited there July 7th on our way to ride the northern portion of the Utah Back Country Discovery Route from Garden City, Utah, to Moab, Utah. Garden City is about 21 miles southwest of Dingle. In Moab we picked up the western portion of the Trans-America Trail on our way to Port Orford, Oregon. 

Fire statton in Dingle, site #-14, with Arden Hill.

Six days after visiting Dingle while riding a remote section of the Trans-America Trail in Nevada between Eureka and Battle Mountain, I had a ride-ending accident. Heading up a heavily rutted two-track jeep trail, my front wheel became trapped in a deep, narrow rut. 

I could feel my Tiger 800 starting to lean to the right, out of which I could not steer. Fearing that the front end would dive and the lean become precipitous if I braked, I shiked all my weight to the lek peg while standing and opened the throttle slightly to pull the front end up out of the rut so that I could control the bike. I had nearly cleared the rut when the front wheel suddenly washed, and the bike went down to the right. 

Unfortunately, I had my right foot slightly cocked outwards, and the toe of my right riding boot caught the side of the rut as I was going down, twisting it backwards resulting in a spiral fracture of the distal tibia and fibula. I instantly knew my leg was broken (both heard and felt it snap), and remember that my last thought before hiting the ground was “please don’t land on your right leg.” Luckily I didn’t, but the result is shown in the photo to the right with both knees pointing straight forward and the right foot pointing nearly 90 degrees to the right. 

Deviation of my lower right leg at the crash site.

The extraction to the Northeastern Regional Hospital in Elko (the nearest hospital) took several hours due to the remoteness of the area and difficulty for the rescue agencies to get into the area of the accident. Much to my benefit, my riding boot acted as a perfect splint, and I had very lifle discomfort during the long wait and approximately 95 mile ambulance ride over rough roads to the hospital. The X- rays confirmed my suspicions of both the location and nature of the fracture. They splinted my right leg in the emergency room and released me to travel back to Boise, which I did the following morning. Six days later I underwent open reduction and internal fixation of the fracture with a plate and eight screws at St.Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise. 

Spiral fracture of my right tibia and fibula.
Surgical reduction of the fracture.

After 2 1/2 months of healing and intense rehab, I was back to walking, and after three months, I was back to riding, albeit a little more cautiously. Five months after the accident, I am hiking several miles daily and back to skiing vigorously. I am looking forward to the 2017 IAMC Challenge and continuing my dual-sport riding.

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