The trip report: grab a cup of tea or beer before you start, its a long read.....
Day 0 : A day if good omens, plains trains and automobiles.
I arrived at Portland safely and so did my bike and luggage, bonus. But then the luck was all used up, my plan to hire a car wouldn't work, everything was already reserved....So I had to quickly come up with a plan b, so 2 taxi rides 3 hours in a bus and 180 dollars later I was in Florence, I got a motel for 75 dollars per night for 2 nights, not bad for Florence, and the room wasn' t as bad as I expected.
The next day was an early jetlag start, huge breakfast, couple of hours sorting my bike out and the compulsory trip to the beach for a foto.
Day 1: Climbing, smog, trucks and a flat tire (105km).
I managed an early start at 0745 (very early for me), a porridge breakfast then on the road. The 126 Florence to Eugene road is not very pleasant. It was busy smoggy full of trucks and had a small shoulder full of glass and stones. 8 Hours later I found myself in Eugene. The only plus points of the day where a great 1000 calorie 2nd breakfast and a warm reception from my warmshowers host for tonight (and use of the laptop!). Min point of the day, was my first and I hope the last flat tire of this trip. Was probably more like a snakebite than a puncture, I'll have a look tomorrow.
Day 2: Another flat tire more smog and trucks (102km).
The day started with another flat tire, great start! The first part of the ride outside of Eugene was nice but once back on the 126 it was all smog and RV's heading to the mountains for the weekend. The scenery did improve alot though as the day progressed. And once near Makenzie bridge I was able to get the last spot at a campsite by the river Makenzie, unfortunately in between all the big RV's which wasn't very appealing. After setting up my tent I got to work sorting my inner tubes out to find out why they both had slow punctures. The continental turned out to be a snakebite as I expected and the schwalbe turned out to be a leaking valve (not what I expected from a new inner tube). Just as I was getting finished my neighbours from the RV next door turned up feeling sorry for me and invited me for dinner and proceeded to pour cold beer down my neck all night, a big thanks to Rockie and Ren!! After that I slept like the drunken fool I am.
Day 3: A long climb and a long day (115km 1500m+ climbed):
My cunning plan was to sleep in and then cycle to town and have a huge 10 dollar breakfast as a fuel tank for the rest of the day. Well that was the plan!, instead I woke up at 6am with a hangover, so got packed and was on the road by 0730, at Mackenzie bridge there was only a general store (read petrol station with shop) and therefore no huge breakfast, doh!!. So with 2 peanut butter sandwiches and a handful of nuts I started the 4000ft climb up to Mackenzie pass. It is a climb of about 40km and isn't too steep, but even still its one continuous climb at 8km/h so I wasn't at the pass until after 1pm. It is a beautiful climb through a pine forest with great views of the lava fields and Cascade mountains.
Then a short fun descent into sisters for lunch and internet.....wrong yet again there is wifi everywhere but if you don't have a laptop your stuffed!. After that the plan was to sleep in Sisters and take a short (35km) trip into Bend the next day as a rest day. But I got it into my stupid head that it would be a better idea just to push on through to Bend and get a motel for 2 nights then I could have a full rest day and not have to move.
This 30km took me almost 3 hours until I was in my room. It was almost 30 degrees, I had a headwind and had already cycled 6 hours including a long climb. The disadvantage of being on your own at such moments is you really give yourself a hard time. " I should of just stayed at the free campsite in Sisters instead of having to pay 2x70 dollars for a room" for example. It was a long 3 hours I can assure you, I'm great at pissing myself off and giving myself a hard time.
Once in Bend (which isn't very big) it still took me almost an hour to get a room (77 dollars for 2 nights so the hard talk to myself wasn't even needed!!). So I'd been on the road for almost 11 hours in the sun. Luckily for me there was a huge safeway supermarket nearby where I spend 50 dollars on things I thought would be nice , I.e lots of salad,meat, beer and a liter of ben+ jerrys.
Nice idea but I fell asleep after the salad and meat and didn't get to the good part.
So today I'm resting, eating, resting and eating. My metabolism has finally kicked in (not suprising after yesterday) so I'm eating like a crazy fool today. And finally after several days I've found somewhere to use the internet, its a slow connection though so no foto's yet I'm afraid.
The next week or so I'll be cycling through the high desert from Bend to Boise with only one city in between, so the next couple of nights I'll be sleeping in the desert or forest (no ben+jerrys or beer then). So with that and the lack of internet places, dont expect regular update as often as Thailand (the USA really is the new third world country).
Day 4 - Rest, sleeping and litres of Ben and jerrys.
The route page has been updated so you can follow me on google maps, and I've also added some fotos at the foto page, Enjoy!!
Day 5- Bend to somewhere in the High desert(110km).
Day 6- Somewhere in the High Desert to Burns(102km).
So, about the high desert, well yes its high 1500m (4500ft), and its hot, sandy, barren and the only greenery is small bushes that give no cover from the sun.
The desert is beautiful if like me, you like emptiness and solitude. The temperature was 35 degrees by noon, and only 5 after midnight, so quite a change.
And about cycling in the desert? well basically you sweat alot, drink alot and cycle to the horizon, and once at the horizon drink again and cycle to the next horizon, once you've done that about 100 times you look for somewhere to sleep. There was unusually little shade, so there was not much point in stopping for long, otherwise it got really hot. And I quickly learned, if there's a tree take a break weather you want one or not, the next tree could be hours away. Despite what you might think the desert is not flat, its all up and down all day, when you think your going down hill....your usually not its just an optical illusion (especially if there's mountains around). If you think your going up hill...you are that's why your legs hurt and your eyes are stinging from the sweat.
I had seen on the map that there's about 3 " towns" (petrol stations) along the way, but I still took food for 3 days and 6 liters of water (just in case). The first town was closed and had been for years, and at the second " town" (cafe!!) I got some pie and ice cream plus 2 litres more water (it was going down way too quick). I've brough a water filter with me for this kind of legs, but hey its a desert so there' s no water to filter DOH!!!!By the time I found somewhere to camp and eaten I'd used 5 litres and only had 3 left for the next day, so I was really hoping the last " town" was open or that I found a river......
And about camping in the desert? well that's not as easy as I thought found a nice spot, but the desert is full of small bushes to make sure you can fit your tent in anywhere, and where it fits there's lots of volcanic rocks you don't want to put your nice tent on. And finally you find a large spot of sand and there's a large ant nest in the the middle. The desert sand is great for cleaning your pots and pans when you want to save water though.
I enjoyed a great sunset and a great view of the stars at night (there's no light pollution so you see loads of the milky way). And then off to bed, only to be woke up a few times by the baby wolves calling for there mother about 50 meters away (I'm not scared to admit I was shitting my pants when I went for a pee!! at which point the realization hit me that should something happen nobody in the world knows where I am......).
Today was more of the same, drinking, sweating cycling from horizon to horizon, it was very dusty though because they are working on the road, one of the Obama projects to get people to work (rebuilding a perfect piece of road). Water was an issue today, with only 3 litres to start the day I was really on rations by noon. Luckily the " town" of Riley was open so I was able to stock up when I was down to my last few mouth fulls. So basically I've carried my half kilo water filter for the last week for nothing!, maybe Ill get round to using it later in the trip. My stocked up water was also done within two hours when I reach the next rest stop where I could get water. All in all a long hot thirsty day. So I've taken a motel in Burns(thanks to the silver spur motel for a great room at a discount and a great breakfast) instead of a campsite so I can cool off a little and do a wash. The next two days is back in to the desert, and the temperature is supposed to continue going up this week. So more horizons more thirst. I cant wait . The last couple of day have been great though now that the roads are quieter.
Day 7- Burns to Juntura (95km).
Hot hot hot: After the 30km straight road out of Burns (and I mean straight). The scenery for the rest of the day was desert with mountains, slight more variation than the last days, and some beautiful views. I was planning on sleeping in the desert again, but after cycling 6 hours with a temperature of 35+ degrees (in the shade, and I wasn't in the shade) when I arrived at Juntura with only 3 litres of water left and I saw the oasis diner and campsite the decision was easily made, a great meal great service but the less said about the campsite the better. One thing I never really thought about in an oasis: its the only water supply around so guess where all the mosquito's hang out, yup on my camping spot or my legs. All in all with the mossies and trucks it was a shitty nights sleep.