Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 67 to 70, entering the final state and serious elevation gain!

Day 67 Council, into Oregon and Halfway. Mr Mower woke me up at 6.30 which was perfect so that I could make it to the roadworks early before traffic had a chance to build up. On the road at 7.30, up a quick climb and down the other side before hitting the 10 miles of roadworks outside Cambridge. I had to ride in a pilot car for the first mile through past the asphalt layers then rode the remaining 9 on mud and gravel which was pretty bumpy! A quick coffee and pastry and then the next couple of hours climbing through the heat into the Hells Canyon area where the temperature was above 100F. At least the roads were quiet and there was a huge downhill to Brownlee dam and the state border. Now into Oregon! I took a long break at Oxbow as I was at risk of dehydration and then pushed to the RV park in the town of Halfway, pausing only to repair a rear puncture (number 2 of trip). I must have looked beat as a couple at the park brought me cold drinks and snacks!

Day 68 Halfway to Baker City
Baker City marked the end of map 3 so I got up early to make a start (and try to avoid the mid afternoon heat) but started with breaking the key to the restroom in a freak accident. Luckily the RV owners let me off. Lots more climbing today in searing heat - a hall mark of Eastern Oregon, followed by a blisteringly fast downhill into Richland where I ate a large omelette at the Shorthorn cafe. An 18 mile stretch of uphill with no shade to Baker city was tough. I wanted to see the Oregon Trail Visitor Centre but saw it was on top of another hill so decided to get into Baker and skip it. Into town at 2pm and set up in the RV park on the edge of town. Laundry and swimming pool before going into town to see what was happening for the annual Miners Jubilee. Buffalo burger at the fair, Deshuttes beer and a trip to the grocery store before heading back to camp. 

Day 69 Baker City to Prairie City.
The new map (number two) has an intimidating elevation profile. The first 60 miles outside of Baker have three immediate passes with pretty significant grade. I was also to find that the heat still hits 100F! A habitual cycle tourist in camp called David made me coffee in the morning and then I was off on the road at 7.45. Over Sumpter pass at 10ish, Tipton pass around 1.30 and then a long break at the shop at Austin Junction to cool down and rehydrate. Climbed Dixie pass at 3.30 and then down into the cute town of Prairie City to the RV park there. Te site is very picturesque, very quiet and also next to the old train station that is now a cool museum - a relaxing spot. Jumped into the stream to cool down and then to the historic Oxbow Bar on the main street for a massive meal. Carb overload and thoroughly tired so I retired to sleep at 7pm.  

Day 70 Prarie City to Mitchell
I caught up my sleep debt with 12 hours of kip, waking up at 7. After a few days of super early starts I took it easy starting with coffee at the Java Jungle (where if I choose to I could also get a tan to even out my nice bike lines). My caffeine rush got me going at 9.15 and it was a nice mild downward slope to Mt Vernon where I got a quick snack at the gas station before continuing to Dayville. Total 40 miles so far but it was only 2.30 after eating a piece of cream pie. I decided to push the second 40 miles to Mitchell but this was through the heat of the day. The road winds through Picture Gorge and uphill for 30 miles over Mitchell hill. A very tough challenge and wasn't helped by flat tire number 3, seven miles out of Dayville, a piece of wire had worked its way through the rear. Water levels were a concern as there was nowhere to refill (John Day Fossil Bed Visitor Centre is closed on Mondays) so I had to conserve what I had till I got to Mitchell. Finally over Keynes Pass and into town around 7.30pm. Free camping in the park with water taps so I could drink a couple of liters. Unfortunately all the shops in town (2 of them) closed at 7 so I had a fabulous dinner of peanut butter straight from the jar. 5 tablespoons and I had my daily allowance of fat. Sleep at 9. A quick toilet break in the middle of the night and a view of a bright full moon and a big deer less that 10 meters from the tents!