Friday, September 20, 2013

Oregon Chapter 5: Final Day

Our last day in Oregon started out pretty chilly, at least compared to most of the other mornings on the ride. I suffered a bit for the first few miles since I knew it would warm up significantly. It is a bit difficult to dress for a day where the temperature will change 50 degrees over the course of a few hours. Layers are usually the answer, but on the bike, there's nowhere to shed them when it gets warm. My solution was to ride hard for the first leg of the ride on day seven.
Day seven promised another long climb up a mountain pass. With six days of riding behind me, I actually felt pretty good. At the top, we were rewarded with this view and a long, winding descent. The only thing that made the descent less than perfect: cattle guards, nine of them. A small price to pay for such a beautiful ride.

Near the bottom of the hill, we had a rest break with a great view. This is looking back on the mountain in the picture above.
The last ten miles of the ride took us on U.S. Highway 26, where we had the most traffic of anywhere on the ride. The traffic wasn't anything compared to what we are used to in Maryland, but it was still a lot after being able to ride for hours on rural roads without seeing another car. The three of us were cruising along in a small paceline, just focused on getting to town (and not having to sit on a bike seat anymore), when Michael got another flat. On the bright side, I got to take some great pictures that we never have stopped for otherwise, since all we were worried about was finishing. The Strawberry Mountains are above.
Looking east towards John Day, Oregon and the finish line.
We finished!
Final mileage for the ride.

When planning the end of the trip, I just took the directions from the Cycle Oregon materials for the most direct route back to Portland. We had a flight relatively early in the morning and I figured we'd just get their as quickly as possible. The route wound up being one of the biggest surprises of the trip, just because the amazing views and scenery were so unexpected. It was an area of Oregon I had never seen and I knew nothing about the roads before we were on our way back to Portland.
It started as soon as we turned off of U.S. Highway 26, just 38 miles west of John Day. This is Picture Gorge from a pullout near the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center (which was, unfortunately, closed for the day). We got a bit of a late start out of John Day, but that wound up being a great thing because the light on the hills was incredible.
Another view of the hills in John Day Fossil Beds near the visitor center.
An irrigated hay field in front of the hills.
We were driving northwest, so it took a very long time for the sun to go down. We wound up chasing the sunset for a couple of hours - probably the longest sunset I've ever seen. West of Condon, Oregon, we came out on a high plateau with a number of wind turbines. While we were stopped, the awesome mechanics from the Bike Gallery in Portland passed us, one of only about half a dozen cars that we saw in several hours of driving.
About fifteen minutes after we stopped for the wind turbines, from the backseat, our friend said, "STOP THE CAR!" This view of Mount Hood was the reward for the slow drive and late departure from John Day. A fitting end to two wonderful weeks in my favorite state. 

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