Eastern Oregon Bike Tour: Day 6

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Start: Dayville Presbyterian Church
End: Malheur National Forest–aptly named since le temps était un malheur indeed
Miles Biked: 63
Money?: $29: 19 for groceries, 10 for an amazing gardenburger in John Day

Inevitably, a bike tour will contain a day where you just don’t want to leave your warm, cozy camp. Today was that day, and my warm, cozy camp was the Presbyterian Church where I had a whole kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, computer to myself–not to mention a dry roof protecting me from the still-angry clouds and crazy wind. Even though I’d thought that with a sound night’s sleep and yesterday’s light mileage I’d wake up rarin’ to go, I woke up and wanted to crawl back into my sleeping bag with my book. Outside was cold and wet. Inside, there was free pancake batter (even though I opted, again, for oatmeal), a chance to call my grandma to wish her a happy birthday, and lots of cozy nooks to curl up with Tale of Two Cities or my journal.

I did not want to leave. Especially when I checked the weather and it seemed like this storm was settling in for at least the next day. I hemmed and hawed. On the one hand, there’s so much to see out here! Why waste a day? On the other, I’d probably enjoy myself much more if the weather were nicer. But then again, it didn’t really look like it would be that much nicer tomorrow anyway. What’s a girl to do?

Even though I have a really hard time doing this kind of thing, I gave myself permission to hunker down with my book for a while, call my grandma, call my brother (I left him what may be the most pathetic message ever: “Alex. The weather blows. I don’t want to leave. Trying to decide whether to rally or to hide in my sleeping bag; need some moral support”). Of course, once I gave myself permission to just hang out for the day, I found that I actually wanted to leave. So I did, in fact, rally, pack up all my stuff, and launch myself into the storm.

(those clouds? That’s where I’m going)

After a stop in John Day for more groceries and a gardenburger lunch, I again deviated from the Old West Scenic Bikeway loop for a trip south through the Strawberry Mountains, which I’d heard were amazing. It promptly started raining on me, hard. And it never let up, not for the next 5 hours or so of biking. Needless to say, I don’t have many pictures today, except for this one…

(tangerines so I don’t get scurvy:)

…which I took sort of in an effort to cheer myself up with bright colors. Actually, with the same philosophy, I sang a lot of songs about sunshine as I biked today, trying to will the clouds to part. When it became clear that it wasn’t working, I switched to songs about rain, hoping that by embracing the weather I would enjoy it more.

And honestly, I did enjoy the day. Though I was wet and didn’t stop much (except for lunch, where I was covered), the Strawberry Mountains even under grey grey grey are beautiful, and I kind of couldn’t believe that there were paved roads through them. And that no one else was on them. The scenery and the fact that no one else was around made me feel like I should be way out in the backcountry, yet there I was on my bike, on fairly well maintained roads, if a little roughly paved.

It also helped that I went up basically all day. Well, if I recall correctly it was pretty flat to John Day, but once I turned south for the mountains is was a gradual up, up, up for hours. I was grateful, since it kept me warmish even when I was thoroughly saturated. But even with all my wintertime biking practice in Portland, there’s only so much saturation this little honnold can handle. By the time I got to Logan Valley at 5ooo feet, where the road levels off for a little bit through an absolutely amazing meadow (I bet it’s ridiculously nice when the weather’s good and the birds are out), I was done: cold and wet to my bones, no end to the rain in sight. I set my tent up as best I could under the downpour and huddled in my sleeping bag for a good hour before I felt warm again.

So what did I learn from today? Even though the weather sucked, I was glad to be out; even though I’m sure the Strawberry Mountains are much more glorious under sunshine, I don’t get to pick my weather. Sometimes I just have to suck it up and enjoy what’s available as best I can. And I’m always glad to prove to myself that this kind of heinous-weather travel is possible, if not as ideal.

Even as I lay in my tent with all my wet things strategically strewn about to “dry”–I knew they wouldn’t; if anything, they were just going to freeze solid–I was glad to be out there. Of course, it probably would also have been lovely to stay in Dayville for another night, but even as I pulled my sleeping bag tighter and marveled at my breath billowing around me, I was glad to have another night with nothing but the sounds of birds, rain, and the nearby creek. Even if the rain on my tent froze solid overnight;)

(more pictures here)

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