Eastern Oregon Bike Tour: Day 7

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Start: Malheur National Forest
End: Malheur National Forest. heh. Really! I entered and left it about 10 times today. It’s a crazy one.
Miles Biked: 45ish
Money?: $15: 4 for groceries, 11 for another amazing (and huge) vegetarian sandwich at Chuck’s Diner in Prairie City

If yesterday was the day where I just didn’t want to leave my camp, today was the day where I most loathed biking. Okay, no, I never actually loathe biking, but today was just not that fun.

(though it did feel good to give my bike some love in the morning–removing all the crap from yesterday’s slog through the rain; re-lubing the cranky chain)

It started with the rain on my tent frozen solid; I shook it off like icicles when I finally had to pee too much to stay huddled in my sleeping bag. Though I was lucky to have about an hour and a half of sunshine in the morning, it wasn’t enough to dry my clothes out–but at least it lifted my spirits and allowed me to see the rest of the Strawberry Mountains in fine sunlit splendor.

(so lovely:)

By the time I hit the summit, I was feeling pretty good, though still a little soggy. And then I started going down. Down in this weather = very, very cold. My poor little fingers in their wet gloves turned into fingersicles, even though I put on almost every layer of clothing I owned. (Greatest lifesaving thing I almost didn’t pack? My beanie!) There was a short little snow flurry. And then once I was thoroughly frozen, oh! the headwind that sprung up! At one point, I was screaming downhill–in my second-lowest granny gear. I hardly even use that gear when I climb up the killer part of the hill to get to the zoo.

It’s safe to say the biking was absolutely miserable today.

(America full of headwind)

(some of that snow was not there the day before)

At a lunch stop in Prairie City, blissfully out of the wind for an hour or so, I turned on my phone and was happy to discover I had reception–time to get some moral support. Sadly, I’m not good at asking for help or support, so I just sent a few text messages about how shitty the weather was, got back nothing in particular, and was on my way no more cheered up than before. Only later did I realize I probably could have told someone I needed some cheering up and maybe would have gotten more of what I needed. Oh well.

Wind? Wind sucks. I seriously thought I was going to go crazy in that wind: it was all I could hear around me, all I could feel, and it kept me from making any real progress. It was all-consuming. I couldn’t get away from it biking; I couldn’t even get away from it when I tried to huddle behind a giant conestoga wagon at a scenic overlook.  And after a while, I couldn’t think about anything else. The weather was crappy, I was grumpy, the world was against me, I was getting blown all over the road, the weather was crappy, did I mention the world was against me? blah blah blah. I can’t really describe this to do it justice, but I was convinced that this wind could drive me certifiably crazy.  I was so relieved to finally make it back into the Malheur National Forest and set up my tent after only 45 miles of biking.

A walk made me feel much better, and the wind finally died down in the evening. Phew! The only thing left was for a horde of rats to invade my campsite at, oh, 1:30am, clawing at my tent seams and squeaking their little rat squeaks to each other. Rats don’t bother me that much, but I didn’t want them to gnaw through my tent, dammit! That sucker is NEW! I spent a loooong and delirious hour (two?) playing vigilante with my headlamp, shining it in the direction of rat rustles to make them scamper off temporarily, only to squeak in the bushes, work up their courage, and make another run for my tent.

They finally left me alone when it started raining. Or maybe it started raining and I fell asleep, not noticing them anymore in my slumber. Who knows. But at least in the morning my tent was still intact.

So yeah. Today was kind of lame. But that’s okay. Every bike trip needs a low point, I suppose, to put the rest of it into perspective. And what the heck, if the price of taking a bike trip is a crap day every so often, I’ll take it.


(more pictures here)

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