June 20 - 29: Oregon

6/22 - John Day (81 miles 3638.5 total)
there was a big push to get us out on the road early today. we had a long day ahead & it promised to heat up, as yesterday did. breakfast was at 5, with the treats table available at 4:45. even at that early hour it was a beautiful day.
sari & i managed to leave the motel at 5:35...a record for us....tho' that still made us almost last. as we rode by a time/temp, it said 55 degrees--great for an early-morning bike ride. we enjoyed quite a spurt of energy & passed a few other groups on our way to today's first pass. on our way to the first official pass there was (as sarah calls it) a faux pass. we climbed & climbed & got to the top of something that wasn't an official pass. what a disappointment.
but it wasn't long 'til we got our chance at a real one....sumpter summit, 5,082 feet. & look who was at the top. jo is back! behind her is becky (our tour leader). jo is a womantours staff person; she was with us for the first couple of weeks back in virginia. she missed us so much that she flew to boise & took the greyhound to baker city to join us for the last week of our ride. we're overjoyed to have her along again. tho' we have to feel sorry for her that she got an 81-mile day with 3 summits to ride her first day back.
most all day we spent riding in the high country....with not a town in sight. at last night's map meeting becky told us about 3 food-stop ops along the way, but our spirits fell as we found a 'closed' sign on the front of each as we encountered it. debby was driving the subaru today & stopped to provide us bing cherries, fresh orange sections & bananas, & the usual assortment of other goodies....along with cold lemonade. without her we wouldn't have had any refreshments for the first 69 miles of today's ride....beyond what we carry on our bikes. & i, for one, can't carry enough water on my bike for 69 miles of a hot oregon day.
(by the way, we still haven't been officially welcomed to oregon.)
we cruised down from sumpter summit, then had little reprieve before starting to climb toward tipton summit (5,124). on the way up i took this photo to show you what our roads looked like as we pedalled from summit to summit.
tho' a road with one measly vehicle on it doesn't begin to truly represent our traffic for today. we had lots & lots of RV's; at one time i saw 6-8 coming at us at once. must've been an RV convention. & the truck traffic made the day especially stressful. many large trucks carrying gravel sped past us; sometimes pieces of gravel flew out. a piece hit sari in her glasses, tho' didn't break them. the majority were logging trucks. i'll never quite feel comfortable with those huge things lumbering past me at such close range.
here's a photo that gives you a biker's eye view of one of those monsters.
dixie summit was our last & highest pass at 5,277 feet. by that time we were just real tired of climbing. our total climb today ended up being 4,260 feet; no wonder we were tired. after passing over dixie summit we began a beautiful, gradual descent.
here's a view of our road winding downward toward an expanse of valley with snow-capped peaks on the horizon. we were headed to prairie city, our first town of the day...at 69 miles into our route!
just above prairie city we came upon a roadside historical stop. there was an oversized replica of a conestoga wagon. i took this picture looking out toward the beautiful valley below. i could just imagine how overjoyed the emigrants must have been at coming out of the trees on the mountain & seeing the welcoming valley spread out below.
once down in prairie city we put out our radar for sarah's bike. we found it & others at a cafe & entered. the group had mostly lunch things, but sari & i ordered the blackberry pie. it was very good...not too sweet, so you really got a good solid taste of blackberry.
after pie it was only 13 miles to john day. as i pedalled into town i was hit right in the eyeball by a dairy queen sign. sari was a ways behind me, & besides, she said she wasn't interested in a DQ today because she had some ice cream with her pie. so i wheeled into the shop & ordered a small georgia mud fudge blizzard (with chocolate DQ & hot fudge on top). i was going to bring it to the motel to eat, but struck up a conversation with a couple at the DQ, so ended up sitting down & eating it there while we all chatted. they provided me lots of interesting info about this area. they told me that the city up the way, canyon city, was once a bustling metropolis of 10,000 during the gold rush days; its population is now 300.
i finally made my way another 2 blocks to the sunset motel....nice accommodations. patty fixed a delicious chicken stir fry tonight, along with a big green salad, plus sliced fresh strawberries on angel food cake for dessert. at tonight's map meeting becky described tomorrow's ride....70 miles to mitchell. thankfully it's only a one-summit day--keyes creek summit at 4,357 feet, but it's at the end of the day so that'll make it seem higher.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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