August 15, 2006
I woke this morning before 7am on the porch of the store. It was a nice, early start.
I went up and over the final of the three climbs I’d written about the other day, which wasn’t as much of a discomfort as the chill air, empty belly, and sleepy eyes. I came to Prairie City, but the only cafe in town was closed on Tuesdays. I got two Little Debbie Fudge Rounds at a gas station to hold me over, and pressed on.
I met Will, an eastbounder. He’d heard of me from Troy & Mel, who apparently are not too far ahead… they must have passed me when I was in Baker City. Cool!
I arrived in the next town, John Day, where I had my usual pancakes and coffee. Riding out, I met two more eastbounders.
The road through here was mostly along a river valley, with dominantly brown colored mountains to each side, sprinkled here and there with trees. In Mount Vernon I stopped for a quick Coke, and from there it wasn’t a long 22 miles to Dayville.
There I stopped for some sodas and snacks, and watched some guys trim a tree with chainsaws across the street. I met two eastbound girls who are riding the length of Oregon. They were asking me about my ride, and I said, “I think I’m going to stop in Eugene for a little while and look for work.”
“We’re from Eugene!” Excellent.
From Dayville it was thirty-some miles to Mitchell, where I planned to stop for the night. While riding through the awesome Picture Gorge, I had another flat tire. On the front wheel. Again. Unbelievable.
Investigation revealed that the rim tape had slid off to the side, once again revealing the holes for the spokes.
This looked like a job for some duct tape.
Now the hardest part of fixing a flat for me is pushing that very last part of the tire bead over the rim. Sometimes it slides over very easily, but sometimes it can be the hardest thing in the world.
Today it was the hardest thing in the world. You ought to have heard the pretty words that came out of my mouth, with nobody in the canyon to hear. I’m tired of flats! I’m three days from the Pacific Ocean. C’mon, am I gonna have to struggle the whole way?
Finally I managed to slip the tire over the rim, and my thumbs still ache tonight from pushing so hard. Maybe I ought to find a thumb wrestling tournament somewhere. Yeah.
So then I could finally resume riding into the wind, after killing an hour wrought with the temptation to fling my wheel across the canyon like a frisbee.
Didn’t I mention the headwind today? No? Maybe because it’s been a fact of life in Oregon. It’s as though this state is like, “You ain’t reachin’ the Pacific that easy, buddy old pal. Here, have some wind. Gee, your tire looks a little low! What a shame! Oh, thought you fixed it? Ah geez – look at that – it’s flat again, Chief.”
So I was back on the road at 6pm with 32 miles still to go to Mitchell… all up two thousand feet of elevation gain, and against the wind. I pedaled my little heart out for three unrelenting hours.
Now I delight sometimes in complaining like that, but tonight I saw a nice sunset, and reached the top of the pass with only six downhill miles remaining to town at dusk. There was a beautiful red sky on the horizon, over layers of mountainous ridges, and I got to coast straight toward it.
I thought to myself, “You better damn well enjoy this Jamie. It’s not often you get to be 25 years old, on a bicycle in Oregon with a scraggly beard, having ridden from the Atlantic, wind sharp in your ears, crisp mountain air through your fit lungs, and coasting into a perfect twilight scene like this.” Then my mind shut up, and I followed my own advice.
Strolling into the town park after dark, Troy and Mel were sure surprised to see me.
“Jamie?!” Mel said.
“Who else?!” I replied – they’re always ragging on me for notoriously riding late into the evening. We had a fun half hour or so recounting our experiences since we last saw each other.
Now I’m in my tent, content that this entry is done, so now I can go to sleep. Life is good.