4 June 2008

Mountain Men

Yesterday at the church was cool, getting all of my laundry done, drying my tent out from the previous night and meeting Ted and the gang. The computer was on dialup internet which was a shame as I wanted to upload a few photos but should get a chance at the weekend. For dinner we walked down to the only restaurant in town and the fools offered us all you can eat tacos for $6.95 which we gladly accepted and we certainly got our money's worth with about ten each. Once Ted, Ian and Nikki got back from Ted's ride I played frisbee with his dog, Angie, before getting an early night ahead of today's climbs.

Dave and I were up, showered, packed and out by half six and hungrily set off since there was nowhere in town open til 11 and nowhere on route for 40 miles. The morning session was an absolute bigger with 32 miles of constant climbing into an incessant head wind that kept you at 6 or 7 mph. It was understandably slow going and my frustration mounted every time I clicked through on my speedometer to check the mileage only to find I had travelled about 2 metres forwards.

One redeeming factor in the morning ride was the scenery as we were riding through the John Day Fossil Beds. This now arid area used to be a tropical jungle back in the olden days and was inhabited by rhinos, sabre-toothed tigers and giant sloths, fossils of which can be found today.

Near the top of the hill I met a father/son combo who were riding do Idaho with all of their kit being driven by mum but I didn't catch their names before finishing the climb and a 7 mile descent into the town of Mitchell.

This old mining town has had it hard since it began as a trading station, with two huge floods and a fire destroying 90% of it over the years. I waited 15 minutes or so for Dave to cone down off the pass then we ate well at a small cafe on the outskirts of town where there was a grumpy cyclist from Vancouver going to Ohio who wasn't up for much chat.

Having won the endurance contest against Keyes Creek Pass, we had the shorter but steeper 16 mile, 2500 foot climb up Ochoco Pass next. Our ascent stopped after about half a mile as my bike's handling worsened and I could tell we had puncture problems again.

It was the back tire but I made surprisingly light work of it and with a hand from Dave, was back on the road in about 15 minutes! A mile or so later we met Slade Bradbury from Colorado Springs who had a racing bike with trailer and was going from West to East. He was a great chap and should make good time with his light set up so we recommended the Dayville Church and carried on upwards.

We stopped a few miles further when I spotted a rattlesnake by the road and the little chap was both alive and active! He gave us a little rattle and posed for some photos before skulking off into the bushes.

The rest of the climb was steep but bearable since only the last 7 miles were granny gear material and soon enough I was relaxing at the top snacking and returning waves from drivers whilst waiting for Dave.

From there we had a 22 mile downhill that took us to Ochoco Lake Country Park (the lake is in the top photo) where we are camping for the princely sum of five bucks! Dave cooked a mean bowl of Ramen Noodles whilst I repaired the inner tube from earlier and it is now time for a trip to the land of nod as there are big riding plans for tomorrow.

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