5 June 2008

Cold and wet but progressing

It was pretty chilly overnight so I didn't sleep the best and was up and packed before Dave surfaced for once. We set a 30 mile target as the price of breakfast and were soon coasting into the first town of Prineville where my iPhone came to life. It picked up signal for the first time since early Colorado and so a flood of texts came through. I guess you don't use AT&T if you live out west!

Despite being forewarned I managed to misread the map leaving town so saved us 3 miles but it meant riding on a horrendously busy highway with very little shoulder. We entered Redmond from a different location than expected and so after navigating some roadworks ended up in the Hispanic end of town with lots of Taco joints to choose from for breakfast. Eventually I found the Black Bear Restaurant which dished up 'The Grizz', a huge feast for $10 although I was stung five bucks for an OJ.

I have been sneakily pushing Dave to do more miles each day (I squeezed 22 extras out of him yesterday) and his original plan had us stopping 19 miles down the road at the town of Sisters today. Since we were on course to get there by 11am we agreed to have a stab at Santiam Pass, the alternative route to Mckensie Pass which was closed by snow.

We stopped in Sisters Library to check mail and met Tom Perry from Knoxville Tennessee who was a few days into his eastbound ride. We left him in fine spirits as he went to meet another rider who had emailed him and was also in town!

The climb up the pass was 19 mile of which 12 were gentle and 7 steep. At 10 miles in the temperature began to drop and the rain started up to accompany the headwind so I put my head down and just worked the hill like a machine. I made the top soon enough but had a twenty minute wait for Dave who climbs a bit slower than me and I started to freeze on the exposed hilltop. I added some layers and we began the descent in driving rain, and I'm not ashamed to say I nearly wet myself. I was riding my brakes but still going about 25mph when a huge logging truck and a big gust of wind combined to fling my bike about, well out of my control for a couple of seconds. I didn't come off or get sucked in by the truck but I was sufficiently scared to grab an extended breather at the next layby!

The next dozen miles were freezing cold with the rain obscuring some nice scenery from what I could see, and eventually it slowed to a light shower and the elevation reduced to a warmer level. We had hoped to stay at a campsite near the pass but the rain convinced us to ride on until we found somewhere dry to pitch up. 98 miles in to the ride and we pulled up at the Belknap Lodge and campsite where we decided to call it a day. Rooms were too pricey since I have spent a small fortune so far this trip and so we opted for the $20 camping option.

The incredibly slow woman at the front desk gave us a map to the camping which was clearly drawn by Stevie Wonder as it bore no relation to reality and so Dave and I were hunting through a thick forest for ages! When we finally chanced upon the appropriate clearings, the rain started up again and I rushed to pitch the tent before it got drenched. Joyfully I chose this moment to combine clumsiness with a mind blank and I was unable to get the tent up for ages! By the time I made it work, it was soaked inside so I just chucked all my bags in and swore my way upto the lodge for a shower.

At the lodge were 3 more cyclists headed East, Brian and Molly from Portland and Gary Hicklin from Virginia. We chatted a while then I showered, caught up on email and booked myself in for whitewater rafting tomorrow morning with a firm that picks up from the lodge. Having seen how high the river was today, it should be quite a ride tomorrow. I'm heading back to my wet tent now for what looks to be a damp night's sleep!

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