Day 7: Mitchell, OR to John Day, OR (68.8 miles)

When I ride, I like to have 10 miles to warm up. I probably don’t need all of that, but in my head, that is what I plan for - 10 miles. Today we left the hotel and immediately started a 6 mile climb. No time to warm up, no easy spin to get ready. Nope. But before that, we had a delightful breakfast prepared by the fabulous WomanTours chef, Sue Lincoln. During our delighted eating, we discussed goat heads.

I have been called a goat whisperer. I love goats and goats respond to me. Apparently goat heads do too, but that is quite unwanted. I believe 2 of the 4 flats I have had are the result of goat heads. We do not have them at home and for that I am grateful. They are very sharp and very destructive to bicycle tires (and Cy’s flip flops!)

This morning, both my tires were soft before heading out on our ride. I expected the front tire to be - the valve may have a slow leak after I damaged it with a CO2 cartridge changing my second flat. I thought it was toast, but it seems ok, it just needs to be pumped every morning. I can do that. However, I was a bit surprised that my back tire was also soft. That was the first flat and it had been fine after getting a new tube. I examined both tires carefully for signs of goat heads, saw none, pumped them up and left.

At about mile 4 of this 6 mile climb I started to feel like I was working harder than I should have to. I began thinking my back tire was going flat. It was. I made it to the top but it definitely needed air. I really didn’t want to change it again because I was afraid there was a goat head in the tire and that if I put a new tube in the same thing would happen again. I could look at the tire there, but I knew that it would be easier and there would be more help if I needed it if I could make it to the first SAG stop at mile 20. I had to stop and pump 2 more times before I got to mile 20.

At the stop, there was indeed help and Sue from Minnesota found the leak, which I patched. Cy checked the tire while I was doing that and also looked to see if there was a heavier duty tire in the trailer. There was not, but the tire itself seemed ok. Whatever the offending puncturer was, it was no longer evident. So we put the patched tire back on the rim and I rode off. I made it the rest of the day with no obvious leaking, so I am hopeful that it is good to go.

The ride today was lovely, despite the tire woes. The landscape here never ceases to amaze and it is different every day. Today we started in the smallest town I have ever seen and in the funkiest hotel I have ever stayed in and then we climbed, descended and rode for miles through beautiful countryside. The thing that is really incredible is the number of types of rock making up all the hills here. Even though I am paying attention when Cy tells us all about them in our nightly map meeting, I can’t remember it all. I will have to go back and read about it when I get home. What is evident every day are the obvious visual differences. I hope that comes through in my pictures.

John Day is a much bigger town than Mitchell - here there are 1500 residents. So over 10 times the size of Mitchell! We are back in a Best Western and although it is quite comfortable, I kind of miss the old Oregon Hotel. It was fun to go around and see all the rooms and laugh together about them. Mitchell also offered us the bus driver who took us out to see Painted Hills just on his own because he thought we should see them and he was right.

For its part, John Day offered its own version of nice residents. I wanted to get some more tubes and the hotel desk clerk told me there was a bike shop close by, so I took off in search of. I missed it, which I knew after I walked the two and a half blocks of town and didn’t see it. I googled “bike shop near me” and it told me it was next door to our hotel. I couldn’t find it, so I went into the Chamber of Commerce to ask. There, inside, was a door to the bike shop. She said I would have to call Russ because he doesn’t really have open hours. I did and his VM was full. I left my info with the woman at the chamber and shortly after I got back to my room, Russ called me and agreed to meet me at the shop in 10 min. I bought all the tubes he had in my size and a couple of patch kits for good measure. He was fantastic and I so appreciated all he did to make himself available on no notice. If you are ever in John Day, Oregon, be sure to check out Fossil Shift bike shop. Russ will take good care of you!

If you want to ride what I did today with me, the link is: