6/12/12. 68 miles from Baker City to Oxbow, OR
We left Baker City about 8:45 am. McKenley and Patrice decided to stop at the Oregon Interpretive Center approx 6 miles outside Baker City. I did not want to stop primarily because I just wasn’t interested, but also because I knew we were biking a lot of miles and there was a steep mountain pass coming up after lunch. So, I left them and we agreed we would meet up in Oxbow.
The ride was again phenomenal. Mile after mile of stunning views. Vast flatlands and grassy prairies framed by snow covered mountains in the distance. For the first time on the trip I listened to music. Started with Cynthia Clawson’s CD that had a lot songs she sang at Nancy’s service. Followed that with Secret Garden. The music went perfectly with the stunning scenery. I finally reached Richland a around 12:30 and stopped at a little cafe for lunch. Had a garden burger, fries, and a chocolate milk shake. Some of the locals came up and asked about the ride and warned me about the hill coming ip. As I was finishing up, Frank from Arizona walked in, followed shortly by Randy from Tuscon. This was my first time to meet Randy, but Frank had apparently mentioned that he thought I was a strong rider on the hills – which amuses me because I don’t think I am that strong. I stayed until Frank and Randy finished lunch, and Roger (from the tent) rode up. Then, just as we were getting ready to leave, McKinley and Patrice rode up. I tried to get a picture of the whole crew together for the first time. We all agreed to meet up in Oxbow.
The climb following lunch was brutal – long long steep climb for approx 6 miles and it was hot. But the clincher was the chocolate milk shake that sat like a rock in my stomach. What in the world was I thinking getting a milk shake right before a huge incline climb. It seemed like hours to get to the top – I rode in the granny gear with frequent stops and even pushed the bike at times. Finally, finally I reached the top. What followed were 10 or more miles of glorious downhill – sometimes as fast as 30 mph or more. What a treat after the grinding uphill. When I finally reached the bottom, I caught up with Frank and Randy, who had purposefully pedaled up the incline without the baggage off a chocolate milkshake weighing them down.
We pushed on towards Oxbow on relatively flat roads along flowing streams. We reached the campground around 5:30 pm. It was a beautiful county park with beautiful showers and bathrooms. We got 1 tent site for the 6 of us for 10.00 – approx 1.50 per person for lodging that night. For dinner, everyone pulled out what they had. I had my standard snacks – an apple, fig newtons, crackers and trail mix. Frank apparently felt sorry for me and asked me to take a can of Campbell’s Vegetable Beef soup off his hands so he wouldn’t have to carry it up the mountain the next day. Wanting to be helpful, I agreed. He heated it over his sterno and I ate it right out of the can. It was delicious. Around 7 or so, the girls rolled in looking a little worse for the wear. McKinley had had yet another flat. Just as they were going to sit down to join dinner, it started raining. We all made a bee line for our tents – it was about 8:00 pm. The rain was steady for about 2 hours, and I prayed that my tent wouldn’t leak. Still, in all, I rather enjoyed the rain hitting against the tent and the occasional thunder in the distance. Though I woke several times through the night, all in all I slept pretty well. My stuff didn’t get wet, but the tent was wet and I dreaded the thought of packing it up wet.
Randy, also a Starbuck’s via fan, boiled the water for coffee and that really made me happy. Randy also likes/prefers motels to camping in the cold and rain. So, we definitely have some of the basics in common.
One of the fun things about riding with this group is that everyone knows the final destination for the day, but rides at their own pace. That means you may ride alone part of the day, then someone will catch up with you along the way and you may rode together for a while. Everyone kind of keeps up with where they last saw the others and looks out for each other. The guys have been such considerate gentlemen towards the women, and are very protective. For the most part, McKinley and Patrice have ridden together and I have ridden alone or with each of the guys at one time or the other. I have really enjoyed getting to know them better.