Up early and out the door — a big day covering 116 miles with two mountain passes. We started cycling at 6:00 AM when the temperature was in the upper 30’s. We passed through farmland for the first 15 miles and then started climbing to Ochoco Pass (4,720 feet). It’s roughly a 15-mile climb so it takes a while but the gradients are not too steep. Then you get the benefit of all that climbing, a ten-mile bombing run down the back side. Then some flats and a much steeper, seven-mile climb to Keyes Creek Pass (4,369 feet).
The rest of the day consisted of rolling hills through lovely canyons and gorges. Beautiful rivers and steep sided canyons that looked like something straight out of a western movie. On the way up to Ochoco and Keyes Creek, we were in pine forests — not as thick as western Oregon and no birch trees — just pretty pines that were cool and aromatic. After descending Keyes Creek, we re-entered the high desert ecosystem. Trees were fewer and farther between with more grasses and wildflowers. Some of the dappled hills reminded me of Sicily, except the dappling was by pine trees rather than olive trees.
Now we’re in John Day, named after an early trapper in the area. For much of the latter half of the 19th century, the town was largely populated by Chinese immigrants, who were drawn to the gold rush. Chinese citizens developed a trading post in the 1860s which later became a clinic and a general store. Today, it’s the Kam Wah Chung & Company Museum. It’s apparently one of the best examples of a traditional 19th century Chinese apothecary in the country.
We could use an apothecary today. Blisters are starting to take their toll. One rider had to drop out today because of blisters on his bum. Cyclng is probably the only sport in which cover-your-ass is considered a positive strategy. Also Steve, The Locomotive, has a viral infection in his chest and sounds like a dying frog. Still, he did the entire route today. Wisely, I think he’ll take a rest day tomorrow. Perhaps it’s time for a visit to Kam Wah Chung.
Day’s distance: 116.1 miles (186.8 km)
Average speed: 14.7 mph (23.6 kph)
Day’s climb: 5,000 feet (1,524 meters)
Total distance: 417 miles (671.1 km)