Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 54: Bent on Bend

Day #54) August 5, 2011. Burns, OR to Bend, OR: 132 miles in 10:19 hrs.

First of all….Happy B-Day Dad. All the best and lots of love. I hope your day today was a great one.

Ok, I bloody well did it. It hurt. It was hard. And I’m pretty wickedly tired. My arse is literally raw! I think I need a tube of Second Skin to plaster all over my arse cheeks! Also…not many pictures today. I was more concerned with keeping the rhythm going today than I was in taking pic, so the picture show today is rather meager.

So I got up at 3:30 am and got really to roll for a 5 am shove-off. Downed some motel room coffee and then pounded a foot long Subway sub as insurance for a long day. I had bought 2, 1-liter bottles of water and stowed those in the top of the yak for easy retrieval. I also had bought some Cliff bars, trail mix, and fruit trail mix. I mean I was prepared to make the camp-out in BLM land if it was just not in the cards today. I also broke out a new set of cycling shorts – one bib and one regular. These guys had never been used on this trip, and I wanted the very best padding on my arse that I could get today, seeing that I was getting mentally prepared to go up to 12 hrs in the saddle. And lately, with my arse getting pretty sore around 3 hrs in, I need extra insurance there to.

So I made it out the door at 4:50 am, and was riding before 5. The air was pretty damned cold, probably like about 48 degrees. I had on the polypro long sleeved top, vest, and I should have had my gloves out, but I shined that on. Too late there. Turned on my headlamp and got rolling, with a sign at the west end of town saying that Bend was 132 miles away. That was daunting to see that pup so early in the ride. Now the road kind of was doing this false flat thing for the gazillionth time, and on this day that’s not exactly what I wanted to see. The road was good, the traffic was almost non-existent and the berm was about 4 feet wide, so I was in good shape for my 30 min of night riding. Hell, I had toyed with shoving off at 4 am, but that just seemed a bit too dangerous to push my luck that long with a night ride, so I went with 5 am.

That false flat…well, it pretty much was the start, the base so to speak, of the first summit, and it just went and went and went until the morning dawned and I could see the ridge in the foreground that was the pass. Now the elevation of Burns is 4100 feet, so these passes today were not going to be the beasts that I did yesterday. I already had the elevation, and just had to gain several hundred feet on each of the passes today – but it was still climbing in the middle and little cookie! Climbing is climbing on a day when you have to pedal 130 miles. Probably took like 30-40 min of gradual climbing to get over this first one, Sage Hen Hill Summit at 4600 feet.

Topped out, took a quick picture and then just descended to the town of Riley. Now look at a map and you’ll see that Riley is a dot on the map. But in reality all Riley is…is a grocery store/gas station. That’s it! No houses, nothing else there but this little store. So I made it to Riley in 2:15 hrs, and that was 26 miles so my average was way under where I had wanted it. But nothing to do – can’t hammer for 130 miles – so I have to take what I can get. Stopped in the store and had a quick coke and bought two packets of Honey Stinger shot blocks. Those are the pups that saved me on the day I did 98 miles to Heber City, UT. Did the NASCAR pit stop thing and was back on the bike in about 8 min. And wouldn’t you know it, but when I hit this long section of false flat I detected a headwind out of the northwest. It was subtle first with the sun having just came up. The day dawned as a clear, cloudless day that was just beautiful. The temps were great, being nice and cool. Yanked the polypro top and vest and kept it going.

Rode past another sign: Bend 104 miles/Hampton 62 miles. “Ok,” I thought, “making a little headway here. I’ll see how I feel by the time I get to Hampton. That’s where I’ll decide if I can pull this off today.” So I kept it rolling. Around me was this just massive, endless, emptiness of a landscape. I was in a basin with mts to the north and south, on a false flat with a headwind picking up ever so gradually and this was like so bleak and barren. Gave me the feeling that I was totally outclassed by Mother Nature. I could really get my ass handed to me if that headwind got worse, and that’s usually the case as the sun rises higher into the sky – really stirs up the atmosphere. Made me wonder if I was in for a royal ass kicking today by the headwind and the false flat. This stretch certainly was NOT flat. It was really rolling up and up and up in steps.

Now I was really trying to be cognizant of my gear selection today and the amount of pressure I was putting on the pedals. What I’m saying is that I had to really concentrate on not mashing today. Mash for 4-6 hrs and you’re legs are just totally cooked. I had to spin at a higher cadence and just take what I could get – not to fight the headwind. And speaking of the headwind, it had gotten worse as the morning wore on – just as I had expected it would. And I was kind of bitching to myself about how I’d had these easterlies for so long on this trip that I’d come to expect them. And then WHAM I get a westerly on a day when I could least afford it. Poor, poor pitiful me!

So let’s see, we’ll make a list here: good temp and great day as opposed to hilly and false flat roads with a growing headwind. I guess that’s a wash right? So on to Hampton. And this was a grunt indeed, as it seemed that I was just false flat climbing and battling a growing headwind the whole bloody time. Made it to this little gas station/restaurant in the town of Hampton in 5:15 hrs. Again, just like Riley, the town’s nothing more than this gas station/restaurant. Went inside and this one guy at the lunch counter told me that I looked pretty tired. Told him that I wasn’t very good at hiding it was I? Yea, I was like 67 miles in at that point and I was indeed tired. So I ordered a giant fountain Dr Pepper (no coke) and a fresh strawberry parfait. Must have knocked it all down in about 10 min. The folks inside were just really friendly and asked me to sign their register. So on the way out I had a group of tourists looking over my rig, commenting on how cool the trailer was. And I told the one fellow, “yea the trailer is great, but the problem with the trailer is that you have so much room.” And he was perplexed by that. So I added, “well, when it’s roomy you tend to just fill it it – like I did! And then it’s heavy as hell!” He just laughed, and off I went again.

On to Brothers, OR for the next stop, some 21 miles west. Now on this stretch was more of a false descent, and I was able to work into the headwind with some decent speeds. Brothers, same story as the previous two towns – nothing but a gas station/store/restaurant. At this one I got a Powerade and a big blueberry muffin. This place is run by a couple of really nice ladies. They cook food as you order it, or you can choose from the limited amount of groceries. I wanted to make this another quickie stop, so I didn’t order a burger or sandwich. The one lady refilled my water bottles and then brought me a big pitcher of ice water and a glass of ice water in addition to the stuff I bought. Downed all the water and ate the muffin, and again, back to the road.

Now at this point I was a whopping 43 miles from Bend. And what with that wind it could have been 143 miles. It was going to be tough. From this point onward there was nothing in the middle. So I had everything I needed what with my food and water. And wouldn’t you know it, the first 20-mile section was all false flat leading into the final pass. This pass was a breeze compared to everything else, but still, it was climbing with 90 miles in the legs. Made it to the top of the pass with 20 miles to go to Bend. Wouldn't you know it, as I looked to the west I could see these big beautiful coastal mts in the distance, all snow capped and massive. What a sight to see after crossing the OR interior. And at that point I broke out the Honey Stingers and just gobbled down two packs of the shot blocks. They just exploded in my mouth. And then on to the descent – just about 3 miles down onto this place that’s called Oregon’s Badlands, and let me tell you that all of a sudden the temp increased by like 15 degrees, and suddenly I was really feeling the heat for the first time in the day. Really, like it was as if I’d descended into an oven. And what’s more ahead of me was a gradual climb that just went off into the horizon.

“Jesus,” I said outloud, “this is just NOT going to get any easier.” And so into the middle ring and I must have climbed for about 30 min up this thing. Topped out, then climbed yet again. And this stair step thing went on for another 10 miles. By then the headwind was really starting to howl, so I was thinking that this thing was going to be a grunt from mile 1 to mile 132. No “Freebe’s” today! That’s about the time I actually started to look deliberately at the mile markers to do the big countdown. And damn they were slow coming.

Made it into Bend in just under 10.5 hrs. And I was feeling pretty wrecked, but nothing like the day I stumbled into Jefferson City, MO. Checked the first motel I saw – Friday night and booked solid. Then on to the Sleep Inn – one room left on second floor. “I’m there,” I told the girl. Now this wasn’t one of the cheapies I’m usually getting, but I was so tired that I’d have payed triple one of those cheap places. I was done!

Showered and then did a chinese place where they had a 6 dollar special, and then rolled over to Subway and ordered two footlongs for tonight. Also got a six pack of Black Butte Porter. No work tonight, just this blog and then I’m vegging.

Well, I thought long and hard about it and I decided to take an off day tomorrow. I was really hoping to do this thing with just one off day. But man, I am just so cashed right now. I’m going to enjoy the city of Bend tomorrow and just relax. Then I have about 200 miles to the coast. I’ll break that up into 3 days of 70 miles/day. So that’s it right now. I’m going to lay down and rest up the legs – which have been going in and out of cramping spasms for the last hour.

All the best……Pete

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