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Sometimes it feels as though everyday is a brand new kick in the teeth. I’m no different from anybody else. We all have our own personal Mt. Everest to climb and sometimes it feels like we are on the Hillary Step….our oxygen bottle has quit working and our crampons are loose.
From time to time, I need to escape. The best way I know of to do that is to load onto my bike everything I need in order to live for a few days and start pedaling. It might appear as if I’m being selfish to do that. It might appear to be a little bit odd and not that much fun. But I know that for those few days, I am a different person with different problems and a different set of needs, and the person I was, with his problems and worries, is far, far away.
I made plans to ship my bike to Portland two weeks ago and then ride it back to Idaho after the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Challenge, which we were attending as members of the press. Here are some random reports and thoughts from my ride across Oregon:
Riding in Portland
I am continually amazed by the number of people who really use their bicycles in Portland and by the infrastructure for bikes that is in place. Dedication to bicycle travel is much more than lip service here.
The Boogey Man Forest
When night falls in these Doug Fir and Ponderosa Pine old growth forests, it falls like a drunken man who blacks out when his head smacks the pavement. It is not possible to see ones hand in front of ones face. Alone in the National Forest campground and completely covered up by darkness, I slept like a dead man for 11 hours.
KOA Kamping, and Kross Kountry Riding
I could have got by cheaper than the $24.00 I was charged for a tent site at the KOA by finding an RV park with tent sites. But I knew KOA’s have nice clean facilities with showers and laundry, and I was wet and tired. Next day I used the Droid to find an alternate route to the state highway rather than backtracking 7 miles back to Madras. A little scenic detour on dirt roads and I was golden.
In the Ochoco National Forest I had the opportunity to spend $13.00 for a tent site without so much as water. I opted to ride another mile and pitch camp a hundred yards off the highway in the forest. I actually felt pretty comfortable for my first wild camping experiment, but I was extra careful with the stove because fire hazard was off the charts in Oregon this year.
Lucas has been on the road for about ten weeks, having started in Central Park in New York City. He was still fired up though and he said he didn’t really have any expectations but was always excited to see what was around the next corner. An attitude I was to remember and take to heart for the rest of my trip.
Oregon State Parks
Clean, well maintained and cheap. Five dollars for a tent site in the hiker/biker areas in the Oregon State Parks includes all the facilities, such as showers. Oregon is serious about encouraging bicycle travel.
Just outside of Prairie City begins the 1700 foot climb to Dixie Pass which tops out at 5276 feet. Near the top a car pulled off and the woman who was driving asked if I needed anything. I let her fill my water bottles as she told me she had ridden this pass in 1996 on her way across the US on bike. Now she always tries to stop when she sees tourists to see if there is anything they need. Very thoughtful and I appreciated it.
After Dixie Pass I knew I still had two more summits that day before stopping for the night. In my mind the 5100 foot pass came first and then a 4500 footer. At the top of the big pass I again checked my maps and realized that the shorter climb had come first and it was all downhill to Unity Lake State Park. Nice surprise!
Then when I finally pulled into the park, the ranger happened to be there and told me that even though it was not shown on their board, they did indeed have hiker/biker sites and he pointed them out to me. I decided to appreciate the little things that did work out today instead of focusing on the fact that park was full to overflowing with hunters and their noisy, smelly rigs and their impossibly bright lanterns and spotlights.
Notes to self:
Get some better sunscreen for my lips. I still have blisters 3 days later.
Get a handlebar clamp for the Droid
Bring the video camera
Bring a small pad to use to sit on