Day whatever #1

June 15, 2008

Peter writes: Well, here I sit in a La Quinta Inn in Caldwell, Idaho, writing after yet another long day in the saddle. We’ve had quite an adventure since the last time I wrote, the day of the big Cascades ride. My dad filled in some of the details of our rides through central and eastern Oregon, so I won’t go into the gory details, but basically there are two Oregons: the part that gets rain and the part that doesn’t. It’s kind of hard to believe that a single state contains climates that can pour buckets of rain on you for days on end and climates that don’t see rain for weeks or months on end. Our ride from Bend to Burns on day, umm, let me count, I think day 4, was an intense ride¬†through rolling hills and flats¬†across the high desert. After the cold and rain and snow of days 1-3, initially we were all grateful for sunny skies and 75 degrees. Unfortunately our beautiful road conditions didn’t last, as the smooth 4-foot aprons of the Sisters to Bend run were replaced by hideous roads with 2-foot shoulders. I think I’ve vented my spleen already at these roads, so I’ll save the gory details, but I’m getting the sense that the west is mostly these rough roads. If that turns out to be true, we’re going to get a thorough bone rattling. The highlight of the day was a lunch at¬†a restaurant/post office/out of order gas station/saloon/knife shop. A true experience, in every respect. Life out on the desert is solitary, but everyone we’ve met out on the road has been thoroughly pleasant.

After Burns, we had an interesting few days. On day, umm, 5, we did a short ride of 60 miles to Juntura, Oregon (which had something like 2,000 vertical feet of climbing, which nowadays ain’t much, to be frank). Then we loaded up the van with all of us and Brian, and headed to Boise to drop him off at the airport. Brian occupied what we came to call the Mercury capsule in the van. Basically, he took one seat in the last row of the van, surrounded on 3 sides by¬†luggage, food, helmets, camping gear, bottles, a huge box of Clif bars, shoes, baubles, bags, and assorted trip detritus. He couldn’t see anything besides the back of my head in the middle seat and a small sliver of window, out of which I suspect he pondered the odd state of his existence. Brian’s a good friend and a very¬†strong rider. I hope he enjoyed the riding and, just as importantly, doesn’t think my family is too weird. We’ve given him plenty of ammunition to make a determination on the latter score.

After a rest day yesterday in Boise (which, by the way, has a pretty cool downtown), today we did something that took real guts, or perhaps more accurately phrased, lack of brains, by¬†piling into the van and GOING BACKWARDS to Juntura (120 miles from Boise, roughly) and restarting the ride where we left off two days before. The ride today wasn’t too bad, being more downhill than up,¬†and ending on the Oregon/Idaho border, where we’ll pick up tomorrow for our run across the potato state.

The most interesting part of today’s ride occurred at one of our rest stops, which we take every 10-20 miles, depending on the state of the roads, the amount of climbing, the weather, and/or the degree of suffering going on in our shorts (trust me, your butt hurts on a ride like this). As my mother normally does, she drives ahead and finds a suitable place to park the van by the road. When we reach her, we get off the bikes, unload the food and drink, and try to recover for 15 minutes or so. As I was in the middle of eating yet another Clif bar (the mere thought of them now makes me want to retch), I turned to gaze out at our surroundings and, whoa, noticed the bottom half of a mule deer’s leg (complete with hoof) lying not 15 feet from the van. The trouble was, there wasn’t any sign of the rest of the mule deer, which in this particular case constituted the remaining 95% of the animal. Nor was there any blood on the road, any bones, or any signs that this mule deer had met its fate where we stood. And, to make things a bit stranger, the leg looked like it had come off the unlucky creature not 10 minutes previously, as it looked mighty fresh to us. Dad thinks a car hit only the leg of the poor beast, clipping it clean off and¬†punting it into the air while the rest of the animal limped into the bushes on 3 legs. My personal theory is alien abduction.

Well, that’s it for me for the evening. We’ve had quite a ride already. My odometer reads 400+ miles, just for Oregon. A week’s gone by and we’re still here, albeit with quite a bit of soreness, a desire to ride on smooth midwestern roads, and some interesting sunburn marks. But everyone appears to be¬†healthy, and we all¬†seem to be getting stronger as the days progress.¬†¬†

Oh, a note to Stu: turns out my mother accidentally erased your comment to a previous blog post. The answer to your question is that we are all riding standard road bikes. My dad rides a Trek Pilot, Ian is riding a LeMond Reno, and I’m on a Specialized Sequoia.

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