Work and Play, II

The continuing saga of play.

Day 6.

I was much improved following a day off, icing my tendon and taking aspirin. This meant that I got to ride today! Of course at the outset I wasn’t sure that I wanted to. It was in the 40s and raining at the outset. However, the promise was that the rain would let up and the sun would start peeking.

It was a short distance day. We started off with a great breakfast in Baker City. The place was a refuge of old hippies, with vinyl records and an old fashioned stereo system (the same model tuner/amp that I used to own, so it was an antique). However, it was still raining and cold. It didn’t matter because we all suited up and headed out.

First stop for me was a Forest Service museum concerning the Oregon trail. After hearing about their hardships, I decided to stop complaining. They were happy to cover 10-15 miles per day. I expect to do that in less than an hour. My roads are in a lot better shape than theirs. The museum was sited on top of a hill overlooking the valley. It meant I had a one mile steep ride – probably the steepest of the entire trip. The trip was worth it and I won’t complain.

Most of the afternoon was downhill. We were following Hell’s Canyon. This is the really dry side of Oregon. Little grows except right near the river bed. The canyon walls are very steep in places. But, by traveling downstream, it meant losing altitude. It seemed more like Heck’s Canyon because it was cool, overcast and downhill.
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We paid the price for all the downhill. The last segment of the day was up the side of a mountain. Robert and Gigi opted out of the full climb. Gigi’s knee has been bothering her. Both Joe and Bradon took it on. They finished before I did and we agreed that it was a pretty difficult climb. It only lasted 5 miles, but it was a very slow ride. The worst part is that you can see the road miles ahead of you. I prefer something forested when I can only see the road several hundred feet ahead of me. That way I can fool myself that the climb isn’t all that bad. After cresting the summit it was no time into town.

We had a wonderful little place to stay in Halfway, Oregon. The Pine Valley Lodge is very quirky. The rooms are all different and there is plenty of outdoor space to sit around. Several of us shared a bottle of wine to celebrate the end of the day’s ride (and I iced my tendon). It even warmed up a bit, but the sun made only a brief appearance. It shined on me for two minutes when I reached the summit.
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Day 7.

Sunshine! We haven’t seen sunshine since we started this trip. My tendon felt very good, so I was ready to ride. I think that all of us would have loved to spend an extra day at the B&B. But, it was time to move on.

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Once again we faced a long downhill ride, still in Hell’s Canyon. We have been warned that later in the day we’ll be hitting another pass that will be worse than yesterday’s. It looks worse on the elevation map.

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Joe was worn out from yesterday’s ride, so the rest of us headed out. The downhill continued to be amazing. Today it was perfectly calm all morning. It made riding very nice, especially with the sun. All my cold weather gear is packed away and I hope not to have to use it for the rest of the trip.

Ughhh. The pass was tough. A very long ride uphill that seemed to have no end. It was hot and there was little shade. Even so the ride was pretty and we were rewarded with a fast downhill.

Therese and I grabbed a few beers and I soaked my ankles in the swimming pool. It wasn’t heated, so that made it better than an ice pack. Afterward, in Cambridge, ID we ate gourmet hot dogs at a very quirky place. The town only has 380 people, and this gourmet dog place was struggling. However, it was enormous fun and eating outdoors on a deck was a treat. No mosquitoes so far. A nice end to a sunshine filled day.

Day 7.

Partly cloudy this morning, but plenty of sunshine. We got off to a late start, but we did not have a light day ahead of us. I took off as quickly as possible. The first part pf the ride was through a long valley. When I started the wind was at my back. But by mile 11 it switched to blowing in my face. This was okay, except it happened with the first of the uphills. Today there was a long climb, but slow and in stages.

It was warm enough to ride without jackets and riding into the wind kept me warmed up. Early on in the ride I spent some time in a local town museum. For whatever reason, I love these places. They often have a strange mix of whatever was donated. You can never tell what you’ll find. In this case it was a dentist’s office run by a female dentist who had gotten her schooling in 1912. Apparently she was much beloved and feared by the folks in the town. Quite the amazing story of a woman who fought against the tide.

Robert had the best wildlife sighting today. As he was coming downhill, he watch a year-old black bear cross the road about 80 feet in front of him. I haven’t seen that kind of wildlife so far.

The remainder of the afternoon and early evening was a downhill ride along the Little Salmon river. Again we were back into fir trees. The river was flowing pretty well and was loud. Unfortunately the road was narrow and busy with traffic. Worse, the wind was really strong. I spent all of my time pedaling to keep going downhill. It wasretty demoralizing after 26 miles.

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At the end of the day we met up with Nancy, who is Therese and Robert’s sister. She wanted to join us on the last part of the ride and will be a welcome addition. Dinner was over many beers brewed in McCall, ID. Many stories we told about the siblings. At then end of the meal it was clear that everyone was tired. A longer day tomorrow looms. Yet another steep climb.

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