Ever seen a three-humped camel? That pretty much describes our day: up/down — up/down — up/down. We rode three passes in succession, topping out on Dixie Pass at 5,277 feet. In total, we climbed 4,650 feet. But Baker City is only about 300 feet higher than John Day, so we had some 4,350 feet of descent. One descent brought us to a pretty little roadside inn where we all gorged on blackberry cobbler.
The people of eastern Oregon have the good sense to build their towns ten to 15 miles from the nearest pass. So we start each morning with a nice, steady ride to warm up and then start climbing. After the last pass, we typically get a nice flat run to the next town. Today was no exception. We started — in 40° weather — with a gentle 15-mile rise. Then the hills, then a 21-mile stretch of flat, straight road into Baker City. The last stretch was in a broad valley, with the winds blowing straight into our faces. The Bernoulli effect got pretty intense at times. I tried to slip under the wind by riding in my drops most of the way but I don’t think it really helped much.
I rode up the second pass with Lovely Lucy. At 22, Lucy is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Tucson Terry — she’s the youngest rider in our group. Three words for Lucy: walking energy field. If you slip within Lucy’s orbit, you immediately perk up as if you had just drunk two cups of coffee. She’s a mere slip of a girl but she’s very strong, has a brilliant smile and a perfect inability to stay quiet for more than a few nanoseconds. (By the way, it’s a myth that guys don’t like talkative women. We’re not thinking, “I wish she’d be quiet”. Rather, we’re struck dumb and wondering, “How does she do that?”) Lucy’s from the “bottom of England” and speaks quickly with an accent that’s unfamiliar to us. I’m not sure that any of us completely understand what she’s saying, but it rarely seems to matter. Today, Lucy chatted me up for five miles as we rode the second pass. It’s a great way to ride a pass — I hardly noticed that we were climbing a 6% grade. Truth be told: Lucy reminds me a lot of Suellen. Same general form factor and same megawatt smile. Lucy’s younger in years but not in spirit.
Day’s distance: 81.3 miles (130.8 km)
Average speed: 13.9 mph (22.4 kph)
Day’s climb: 4,650 feet (1,417 meters)
Total distance: 498.3 miles (801.9 km)