We started in the deep green forests of western Oregon — so dark they’re almost black. Then we climbed into the high desert with its deep reds, yellows, and ochres — where one tree standing alone is noteworthy. We’re now moving back into a greener region with more trees. Not forests exactly but good stands of pine and deciduous trees. The soil seems richer and more farmable. There’s more irrigation and the horses and cattle — instead of being free range — are more likely to be found in fenced-in pastures.
We followed the Deschutes River, a major tributary of the Columbia and a key link in the Oregon trail. The name is from the French — River of the Falls — an indication of the French presence in the early days of trapping. It’s a rich blue-green band in an otherwise arid area. We didn’t see any fish jumping but we did see at least one bald eagle and several eagle’s nests.
Now we’re in Prineville, a pleasant town of 10,00 people that has a rodeo every Saturday night. Other than the rodeo, Prineville seems a little sleepy — it didn’t get its first Starbucks until 2006. The big new news is that Facebook selected the town as a site for a major data center in 2010. So your Facebook posts may be coming right through here.
Today’s ride was a simple 60-miler, with stiff headwinds at the start and one long hill that lasted about ten miles. Most of us lollygagged around to save our energy for tomorrow’s monster ride: 117 miles and over 5,000 feet of climbing.
I introduced Steve “The Locomotive” Berthe yesterday. Today, I’d like to introduce Tucson Terry. At 74, Terry is the oldest person on this ride. Originally from London, then from New Jersey, Terry finally saw the light a few years ago and moved to the southwest. If I had only three words to describe Terry, I’d say: dog-toy tough. Terry is perhaps the skinniest human being ever built. He looks like a pile of tooth picks loosely joined with bubblegum. But he’s a hard rider. I’m a pretty good hill climber — not in Loco’s league — but not bad. So what does Terry do on the first big hill we hit? He drops me. I’m thinking: he’s older than I am, he’s skinnier than I am, he’s got a funny accent and yet he dropped me like a bad habit. Hmmm … maybe it’s the bike. I’m sure you’re going to hear more about TT in the weeks to come.
By the way, I forgot to mention where you can find The Locomotive’s blog. It’s at: http://berthe.squarespace.com/. Check it out. It’s got a lot more numbers than mine does.
Day’s distance: 59.8 miles (96.2 km)
Average speed: 14.4 mph (23.2 kph)
Day’s total climb: 3,300 feet (1,006 meters)
Total distance: 300.9 miles (484.2 km)