Pump up your tires, psyches and hit the Latah Trail

It was a terrible idea and I knew it.

We have not been a biking family, and going from circles around the driveway to an 11-mile-long trip on the Latah Trail between Moscow and Troy was asking for tears and chaos on an apocalyptic scale, not to mention a lifelong hatred of bicycles and requisite adulthood therapy.

But we went anyway and lived to tell the tale.

Destination: Moscow and Troy via the Latah Trail Trip type: Outdoor, active, kid-friendly Total time: 2-3 hours, plus drive time

Stop 1: Latah Trail parking lot. Given our impressive inexperience, we began our ride at the parking lot halfway between Moscow and Troy, giving us a 5-mile ride to Troy City Park. We started down the path at 10:30 a.m. on a perfect, 70-degree morning, winding our way through still-green wheat fields. Everyone was happy and remaining upright on their bikes: pure bliss and also a miracle.

The trail is fairly level, with slight changes in elevation that you feel more than you see. It was on one of the downhill stretches that I asked my most novice rider to slow down, to which she replied, “I can’t, my brakes don’t work.” It was true. I had checked helmets, seat height and tire pressure, but it turns out brakes are important too. We stopped and made adjustments.

Where the first half of the 11-mile-long trail out of Moscow runs through fields, the second half heads into a forested area. Not only is it beautiful — the green is a welcome respite from the dry brown of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley — but it means you’ve got shade possibilities, depending on when you ride. Benches, garbage bins and even a bathroom are located along the trail. There’s no water, though, so be sure to bring some.

Being wide and relatively straight, the trail was a perfect spot to take our bike skills to the next level. Or maybe just finish the first level, since partway in I realized that another of my kids had never been shown how to use her brakes, but at least they actually worked when she tried them. Because it’s a popular trail, we also learned about riding etiquette and passing safely.

Stop 2: The Filling Station. The Filling Station is a popular stop for trail users and one of the only restaurant options in Troy. After descending into the city park, we crossed State Highway 8. There’s a minimum-traffic route to the eatery by way of the trail on the other side.

For lunch, we split two Turkey in the Garden sandwiches ($8.97/each), the most popular choice for warm days like this one, and a personal pepperoni pizza ($9.51). We washed it down with another customer favorite, lemonade with huckleberry puree ($2.75). It’s real food that tastes and feels good.

Besides sandwiches and pizzas, the restaurant offers paninis, soups, salads and baked goods, including gluten-free options. There are plenty of smoothies, coffees and other beverages as well.

Sufficiently hydrated and refueled, we began the trek back to our starting point. The ride back to the parking lot seemed to go faster, despite the slight elevation increase for the first couple miles back. Between the slight breeze and cycling’s natural cooling system, we rode back in 80-degree weather with no discomfort.

Not only did the apocalypse not occur on the ride, but we arrived back at our truck without having to use our emergency supplies: granola bars, first-aid kit or bike pump. Lewiston-Clarkston Valley riders will be in delighted wonder at the lack of puncture weeds on the trail. As soon as we loaded up, the kids begged to come back and do it again the next day. That is what you call a “parenting win.”

Stop 3: Moscow Bagel and Deli. Naturally, quadrupling your lifetime bike mileage in one day called for a sweet treat, so we headed to Moscow Bagel and Deli for steamed cookies. The result? “They’re basically giant cookies that are perfect,” is what one kid said. It’s true. A few minutes in the bagel steamer makes these cookies like those hot out of the oven, but not too hot to bite right into.

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