Day 8: John Day, OR to Baker City, OR (79.4 miles) / Day 9: Rest Day
Baker City is a small Victorian town that is totally different from the other cities/towns we have visited. It was a long day yesterday getting here. The night we stayed in John Day, it rained overnight and into the early morning. It was the first rain we had seen and none of us were excited about heading out on a very cold, rainy morning. We could see it had snowed in the mountains visible from our hotel. There was much discussion and debate about what to wear. We knew we had three summits and three descents and we had many miles to cover so we were starting early and would end in the middle- to late-afternoon. Very different terrain, very different times of day. What to wear and take with us was a challenge.
I opted for long pants, my first day in those. I wore a short sleeve jersey with arm warmers and a fleece cycling jacket. I wore my Showers Pass socks and long fingered gloves over my regular riding gloves. I took a wind/rain jacket with me in my bike bag. By the time we climbed the first summit at over 5200 feet, I was sweating. The only thing that was cold was my feet. They were freezing. At the summit, in what would become the pattern of the day, I put on the wind jacket and took off. I nearly froze on the way down. My teeth were chattering and all my muscles were tensed due to the cold. I stopped twice to try and get fingers and toes working again. Happily at the bottom was a coffee shop. I went in and had the most wonderful cup of hot coffee I have had in a very long time. I would have been happy to stay there for the rest of the day, but there were many more miles and two more summits before I could stay anywhere.
The rest of the day included spectacular views and landscapes along with hard work on the climbs and descents that were much less cold than the first. It is not possible to put into words the beauty of this land. It is vast and varied. I feel both awed and insignificant as I make my way as a little dot through this enormity. I feel so lucky to be able to experience this and I am thankful to all who are helping to make it possible.
As we approached the final summit of the day, the shortest of the day, I stopped to take of a layer of clothing and discovered my front tire was quite soft. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was going to have a day without a tire issue. I thought I had just 2 miles to go before the SAG at mile 50 and the top of that third summit, so I decided to pump it a bit and then change it when I had a full size pump. I was with Marsha who held my bike while I vigorously pumped away, and she agreed to ride with me to the stop. When we got there we saw no SAG. We waited and a third rider arrived and together we figured that the SAG must be at the picnic area that was at mile 58.8 rather than at the summit. I was not going to be able to make it on that tire. It was time for a CO2 boost. With a little bit of effort, we got the tire full with the CO2 and left for the picnic area. My tire remained full for the rest of the ride, so overall, it was a minor inconvenience on what was otherwise a fantastic day.
The picnic area was at the bottom of the final real descent for the day and then it was an essentially flat ride to town, 20 miles down the road. That 20 miles was the hardest of the day. Not that it wasn’t beautiful, it definitely was. We rode by a creek most of the way and there were all kinds of hills on either side of us. There were lots and lots of cows and birds. It was a beautiful 20 miles, but honestly, my butt was so ready to be off the bike! Even though my Caroline’s Dream Chamois and Recovery Cream is doing a great job, I was ready to sit on something other than a bike seat. It was an emotionally and physically tough last 20 miles. I was just ready to be done.
My day today has been a combination of taking care of my personal needs and my bike’s needs. I got up fairly early and walked to the supermarket to get some food and coffee. I dropped the food off at the hotel and went in the opposite direction to the laundromat. After those needs were addressed, it was my bike’s turn. I took both tires off and inspected them for punctures. I put both tubes in the bathtub to look for holes that might not be visible. I found goat heads in both tires and I patched both tubes. Then I went out to the WomanTours trailer to clean my bike. Wow, did it need a good cleaning, especially after yesterday’s early rain. While there I learned there was a bike shop just a couple of blocks from our hotel. Others on the tour were not too optimistic that they would have new tires for me because they seemed to be very mountain bike focused, but I figured it was definitely worth the time to find out.
I ended up going back and forth between the hotel and the bike shop a few times this afternoon. The bottom line is that they did not have tires that fit my rims. They did not have the liners that were my next request. But the mechanic did suggest that I try Stan’s in my tubes for some inside-out protection. Stan’s is some kind of sealant that should disperse through my tubes and seal any puncture created by an errant goat’s head or other thorn. The mechanic was quite emphatic that this should solve my problems. I am optimistic, but somewhat skeptical.
I reached out to Georgena Terry, who designed my beloved custom bike, and she recommended some tires, so I am hoping to have some sent to a future location, but in the meantime, she agreed that Stan’s is a great interim solution. That made me a little more optimistic, though still skeptical. We shall see as we head tomorrow to Hells Canyon on our way to Halfway, OR. Onward!
To relive my full ride, go to this link: https://www.relive.cc/view/1840180935