Day 11: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Ochoco Lake to Dayville: 80 miles
|Breakfast at Ochoco Lake|
Today was fantastic!
Let's get the stats out of the way first: 24 miles up, 17 miles steep down, 7 miles up, 25 miles down, 7 rolling miles along a river. Total: 80 miles, the longest day so far - and it was great!
Those downhills - especially the 25-miler - have restored my faith in the value of uphills. Of course, the uphills had worth in and of themselves: they gave me time to observe the red-wing blackbirds flitting from fencepost to tree, calling to each other with their soft tink! tink! and then fleeing with a warning chirrup! chirrup! when they realized I was near; the three hawks soaring in a thermal only fifty feet over my head. But the downhills were a blast! Especially that 25-miler. On one grade, I surprised a group of mule deer, grazing in a farmer's field, and they bounded away with their characteristic springy gait. And on the other side of the road, a small herd of cows took fright and headed down-path, and I felt for all the world like a cowboy. Don't ever think you can outrun (or out-bike) a cow! (At least with fully loaded panniers.)
Mitchell is at the bottom of the first of those downhills. The entire town could fit into a Costco parking lot. I stopped to visit and to have a bowl of taco soup at the Little Pine Cafe. Yum! Excellent! It gave me the energy I needed to climb to the top of pass #2.
|The entire town of Mitchell (almost)|
Prineville seems to be the dividing line, traffic-wise, between the more heavily populated western Oregon and the open spaces of central and eastern Oregon. There were times today when five minutes went by before a car came along. The constant whiz-whiz of cars and trucks can really detract from the pleasure of cycling, and today's lack of vehicle noise let the sounds of nature through and made the day much more enjoyable.
I haven't mentioned the scenery yet. Wow! Every bend in the road opened one panoramic vista after another. My photographs can't do them justice. Blue skies and 5-20 mph tailwinds eased my way through the day. The terrain, of course, is mountainous, with Ponderosa and lodgepole pine, and the valleys are heavily irrigated, primarily to produce forage crops for cattle, it appears, which typically graze on the scrub-filled hills. This area is home to the John Day Fossil Beds and Painted Hills. I wish I'd had time to make a side excursion to see them, but I had to make Dayville by dark, and it was a long day.
|One fantastic view after another|
Today was the first day I met any TransAmerica cyclists. A pair of cyclists from Dorset, in the south of England, overtook me on the first hill. We chatted a while, comparing experiences so far. They were traveling light, compared to me. Not long after they left, they were out of sight. On the second hill, I met a cyclist who was doing the trail backwards - east to west. That's generally considered harder, because it's against the prevailing winds. Besides, I wouldn't have wanted to do today's ride backwards. The grades that direction would have been a lot less rewarding.
In 1981, due to flat tires, Jack and I made it only as far as an island in Rock Creek, where we spent a pleasant night. Now, Rock Creek is behind a fence, with big "No Trespassing: You Will Be Persecuted" signs. So I cycled on in to Dayville. The Presbyterian Church there runs a hostel for cyclists: we can stay inside, in the social room (and even sleep in the sanctuary!), and they have a shower with towels, and a laundry room, and a kitchen, and even some food! Not to mention wi-fi. It is a really cool place! They've been doing this since 1975.
|The Presbyterian church in Dayville|
runs a hostel for bikers.
|The British cyclists in the social room|
The British cyclists had stopped here for the night as well, and we chatted some more before hitting the hay.