The first day was really cool, riding out of Astoria. We had a big mass depart: everyone left and sort of grouped up for the first 10, 12 miles or so. You get to chat and talk with some of the riders that you don't normally get to ride with.
It's sort of a bummer because I flatted out and took a spill the first 20 miles or so, and had to replace a tube, and later in the day I realized that my derailleur hanger was bent. I was going to tough it out the rest of the day, but there were too many climbs, and the derailleur was only letting me ride in the harder gear. So I pulled over at a truck stop (which was pretty cool because I happened to stop somewhere with free coffee!) and then back out on the road.
There was a lot of up and down yesterday in the coastal range of Oregon. Then we turned east, and I stopped in Corvallis, which was pretty cool; I ate a bunch of tofu lo mein and fell asleep.
So that was the first day. I covered about--I want to say 175, 180 miles, maybe? My longest day in the saddle ever. Until today.
* * *
I just finished day two a couple of hours ago. The first day was a lot of magical tall trees and forest, lush green Oregon coastline. That was the case again for a lot of today, when I rolled out of Corvallis. Rolling fields and farmland.
Then up into the mountains on the climb to McKenzie Pass. That ended up being about 5,000 feet of climb from where we started off!
That was a really, really long, tough climb, about 60 miles that switched back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It was crazy because it went on and on. Eventually you think, how much farther can it be? How much longer can it be? I didn't want to look at the map. The trees get smaller, more and more snow starts appearing.
At the top, there’s a huge, open vista of mountains, the Three Sisters. There’s a crater in the middle and all this exposed volcanic rock, and the huge snowy peaks around you. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
That was the first major climb and peak of the ride. After that, there was a really fun, really long descent down into the town. I ran into a bunch of other cyclists, and we were all just so exhausted and hungry. We went to a Mexican restaurant and then rolled out.
Once you get over those mountains, Oregon turns really dry and sort of desert-y, almost, and flattens out into a valley. A lot of the grasses and stuff here--it’s weird to see pinkish, reddish, purple fields of grass.
I ended up deciding to stay in Prineville. It’s right after this canyon--what used to be the rim of a canyon, eroded down--opens up. You dive down and around the edge of it, at least 35 miles an hour around the lip of this bowl, down into the bottom of the valley, into town.
I came in as the sun was getting lower in the sky, and it was absolutely amazing. Three or four times today, just from the views I had, I was left with my mouth open at how beautiful it was.
So, staying here tonight. And washing out all the salt from my kit that’s accumulated in the last couple of days. And getting back to it early in the morning!