Day 36, Tour 10 Vale Burns, OR

It was a long hilly ride on a windy day

My all time record long riding day started at 6:45 and ended at 9:30. On a day with only gentle winds, it covered 145 miles between Cheynne and Lusk in eastern Wyoming. The ride from Vale to Burns wasn't quite that long. It started at 6:30 and ended ay 8:30 and covered about 116 miles. It also climbed nearly a mile and had strong side and headwinds for the last 60 miles. On both these rides, there were very few service. Today, I had a late lunch in Juntra, which is a vey small town, conveniently, half way between Vale and Burns

My bike a rest stop
The right rear pannier - with a rain cover to increase visibility hold my water supply

I prepared for a long day with no services in case the Oasis in Juntra was closed. I was carrying about 9 liters of water and four 'bagels' in my right rear pannier and four bananas, three large apples, and a jar of Nutella in my left rear pannier. The water was in the 3 liter bottel I have been using and a 4 liter Platypus bladder - I have two of these. I used the 3 liter bottle instead of my second 4 liter bladder because I knew the bottle would not loose its contents if my bike fell over while the bladder probably would.

An excellent 'lite' breakfast at the restaurant near the Burns end of Vale

Leaving Vale on US 20

Flat, straight, and easy riding between wheat and sugar beet fields

15 flat miles from Vale, I encountered this 600+ foot, bump

I was not expecting that I would be, once again, following a pretty river valley, but, after a flat 15 miles of riding followed by a mile or so of 6% climbing over a ridge, US 20 comes down into Little Valley and, for the next 40+ miles, follows the Malheur river up stream. It doesn't always follow the river exactly - too many bends - but the river valley, which winds through many big hills, if its route. Aside from many smaller climbs where the road climbs away from the river, there is a steady climb of about 500 feet in the next 40 miles. The short climbs add another 1000 feet to the total, so, from Vale to Juntra, there is about 2000 feet of climbing. Most this part of the ride was very nice riding with good shoulders, great views, and very little traffic.

Coming down into Little Valley

My bike at our first rest/snack stop about 22 miles from Vale

Descending from one of the many smaller climbs after Little Valley

Climbing alongside the river

When I reached Juntra, I found that the Oasis was open, but that its small motel had no vacancies. I had thought of staying there and riding on to Burns the next day, but the quality of my lunch - way too salty and otherwise tasteless - and the lack of rooms at the motel presuaded me to go on.There was a bit of wind, but it was light enough not to be a major problem. After lunch I headed out, expecting to be able to get to Burns in another 6 hours.Boy was I worng about that!

US 20 was flat for about a mile, then I saw a snow zone sign. I'd seen one of those before the start of the first 600+ foot climb. Oh dear, here we go again! I started climbing after stopping to drink some water and eat a banana because my right leg was threatening to cramp.I climbed and I climbed and I climbed, finally reaching the top of that climb, Drinkwater Summit, after about 1200 feet vertical in ten miles.As I climbed the headwind from the west kept getting stronger.It took me nearly two hours to cover the ten mile of that climb. Now I knew I was not going to make it to Burns, still 50 miles away, in six hours. I was going to be lucky to make it there before dark.

The Oasis Motel - Restaurant - RV park


I reach the Pacific time zone in the middle of the climb

The second chain up area on the first big climb, indicateing more steep climbing ahead

Coming down, slowly beacuse of a strong headwind, from Drinkwater Summit

Looking down from Drinwater Summit, I saw a lot of hilly, windy country. I really didn't think I could make Burns before dark, so I started looking for places to camp. I stopped several time to check out possibilities, and got a lot of stuuf stuck in my socks, but never found anything that looked usuable. A big part of the problem was that the land was either fields or fenced government land.

Riding was very slow, 7 - 8 mph max, even down hill into that headwind. Finally, US 20 turned southwest after the wind had shifted to the North and riding was easier, even though I was now climbing another, steeper, 1200 foot in five miles, road up the side of a big ridge. I was getting desperate, so I tried hitch hiking. There wasn't much traffic and none of it was interested in picking up a bicyclist hitch hiker. Now my hope was that I would come upon a gas station - a sign just past my first rest stop had said next gas 69 miles - where I could ask to camp. Then, after the top of that summit an old VW van drop by, heading away for Burns. It slowed down and the woman driving it rolled down her window and yelled "You can make it!"

I stopped for a food break because I was afraid I was going to boink. It was 6:30 and I was still 30 miles from Burns. but the next seven miles was mostly downhill with a side/tail wind and the last 23 miles was flat with a moderate head/side wind which I was able to grind out, head down on the drops, at 11 mph.It wasn't quite dark when I reached the first motel - Horseshoe Inn, nice, and inexpensive - near Burns. I checked in, literally stagering, got to my room, showered to warm up - it had gotten right chilly cranking into that wind - and, after sending an I'm in Burns email, fell into an exhausted sleep. Today, I'm taking a rest day since the wind forecast is for light winds tomorrow.

Seven miles from Burns - my shadow at a final rest stop

Sundown near Burns

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