Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 4 - Kah-Nee-Ta to Prineville, OR

Today: 60 miles, 3395 feet of climb
Cumulative: 301 miles, 15944 feet of climb

Climbing a hill, headed east away from Mt. Jefferson and the Cascades

If there was a biker heaven, today would have been it. With all due respect to my biking friends in Georgia (and Scott, ha-ha) today was the best bike ride of my life. Picture this: You are gliding effortlessly down a smooth straight flat road, southbound. There are farms on your left and right. The sky is clear blue, not a cloud in the sky. It is a bit brisk, with a slight wind in your face. But the sun on your left warms you just so. A slight smell of burning wood indicates a fire, miles away. The birds are chirping. And there is a yellow prop airplane buzzing back and forth across the road, crop dusting. Then, on your right are all the snow capped mountains of the Oregon Cascades. Three Sisters, Mount Washington, Three Finger Jack, and Mount Jefferson, with Mt. Hood towards your back. That was the first half of today’s ride.

Mt. Hood receeding in the distance

We started a little later than normal at 7:30AM after a nice buffet breakfast. Climbing away from the hotel, the Cascades became visible. Then it was south for about 25 miles of spectacular scenery until we turned east. At Madras (30 miles) we said goodbye to the Cascades and they disappeared behind a ridge. We are now in farm country, though we also rode through Crooked River National Grassland the second half of the day. We topped out at 3400 feet elevation before a seven mile descent into Prineville where several of us went to Brothers Restaurant for lunch before checking into the hotel. It’s a Best Western, and the room is just fine.

Luckily, I have not had a flat tire yet. Margo had the honor of the first flat tire, about 4 miles from Astoria. Yesterday, poor Dan inflated his tires to 120 psi in the cool morning. At the second SAG stop it was quite warm and he laid his bike down on the hot road surface. About 5 minutes later both tires punctured at the same time from the heat. Fortunately, Dan wasn’t back on the bike at the time.

We have a long way to reach John Day tomorrow

We are starting to put a dent in the total mileage now. No more signage to Portland in our rear view mirror. Tomorrow is a long day of 117 miles into John Day. That will be the longest I’ve ever ridden by 12 miles, so I conserved energy today.