Friday, June 10, 2005

June 9th FTR!

Baker City, OR June 9th 562 miles
Greetings all!!! What can I say!!! Life is so good it's just not fair. Took a nice short day into Baker City today to do some much need washing of gear, clothes, and especially myself!!! And to EAT!!!!!! food food food eat eat eat. The riding is going incredibly. Despite my short 50 miler today, still averaging 70+ a day. Idaho is just outside of town. I can't believe I've already crossed Oregon. I think I'll be taking my daily averages way down to 50 or so miles a day for Idaho. I took a look ahead at the next map and the terrain looks huge. If I didn't believe the map all I have to do is step outside and look to the east at those snowcapped peaks and know I've got my work cut out for me. Bring it on, I'm ready, I have no doubt. It's strange to say, but I think I love the hills. The steeper and longer the better. Put it in granny gear and crank. It just feeld good, and I take real pride in the hills I'm crossing. I feel strong and am constantly amazed by the varying terrain and vegetation. In on day I can go from desert, to pine forests into deep hardwood stands, it's incredible.
So how to describe the last few days? I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll just tell ya'll about one of my favorite days. If I went into detail about it all I'd never get washed, and believe me for the good of this small mountain community I need a shower.
I guess it was two days ago coming out of a little town called Mitchell that it happened. Straight out of town was a large hill, to speak modestly. winding and straight up. That's the best way though, no wondering about what gear to use, just throw it in granny, put your nose down and spin. All the training leading up to this has really paid off, I'm in no way quick on the ups, but I feel like I can go forever. Someone who had obviously suffered this hill before me had come back and taken the time to spray paint encouragement and jokes on the shoulder on the way up. It kept me cracking up the whole way, and eager to climb to see what they had written next. Thanks to whoever did that. But that's besides the point, the hill isn't what I want to tell you about, it's what came next.
Upon topping out and throwing on some wind gear I began a descent into a memory that will stay with me forever. Huge mesas as far as the eye could see, only occasionally topped with small stand of fir, but mostly sage and juniper. On three sides of me a huge electric storm was breaking, boiling and purple with bright flashes of lighting on the horizon. You could smell the electricity and rain on the breeze. When I looked at the map I knew this was going to be a nice long descent, but how long I had no idea. For the next 2 1/2 hours and 20+ miles I rolled down through every tightening canyons and ravines and into more and more sparse desert conditions. Sometimes rolling along at only 5 mph, sometimes 30+, with nothing more than gravity to speed me on my way. I don't think I pedaled more than 1 1/2 miles of that long descent. As I descended into the deepest of the canyon huge sage brush choked the valley right up to the road, many towering several feet over my head. Remember spring has just come to this area and the sage was at it's most fragrant. The smell was intoxicating, the view breathtaking, all the while lighting flashing all around. The road followed a small brooke that bubbled quietly deside me the entire length. I feel like time stood stil while I glided through those valleys, it's really hard to describe. The only rush came in the form of a huge hound dog, who meant business. I found speed I never knew I had. At the bottom of the canyon I came into an area known as the John Day Fossil Beds, on of the most varied in the world. It was like a small grand canyon. When I finally got spit out of the valley at the end of those hours it was a short spin to a nearby town for a shower and food. That section on that afternoon was one of the happiest moments of my life and will stay with me until I die. Like I say, it's hard to describe.
The past few days have come and gone much the same, with beautiful vistas around each corner and a couple friendly faces. Spent a good hour yesterday chatting with a local bike guide Andrew (is that right?, I'm so bad with names) who was out scouting routes for clients. I really appreciate simple conversations these days. I am in no way lonely though, I really enjoy all the quiet. Lots of time to think and dream. If I was hard pressed to tell you where my minds goes on the hours on the bike I don't think I could. Happened to cross paths with Andrew again today and shared a nice ride and chat into town. Check out to see what he's up to. Thanks for the chat, best of luck. Other than that, just soaking in all the sights and sounds of Baker City. It's a really charming city nestled right up in the mountains. Took in a huge lunch of a bacon cheesburger, and an enormous chx ceasar salad, with tons of coffee. Eating vegetarian has had to take a back seat for the moment. Curb your enthusiasm dad!!! It's impossible to find anything out here that fits the bill. It'll probably take my stomach a week or so to cross back over, but I think I'm ready for the challenge. I might get roughed up enquiring about tofu in these parts.
I can only think of one real set back so far. While camping just East of nowhere last night a little kookacho (a.k.a critter, varmint, things that go sniff sniff rustle rustle in the night) snuck into camp and ate the straps off mu helmet to get the salt from my sweat. Unreal. Never thought to hide that. It still straps on, but I look a little ragged. Ahh well, it's gonna take more than that to wipe the smile off my face. Things just keep getting better and better. Send positive thoughts this way for Idaho my way if you would. There's an 11,400 foot pass out there with my name on it. Think about the down on the backside though!!!! all the best to all ya'll.


Anonymous julie willis said...

Well hello Mac! It's Julie! Greetings from Raleigh! It's hot here- other than that, all is well. I love reading what you write! BE SAFE young man! Love ya.

12:28 PM  

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