Day 37, Tour 10 Burns to Christmas Valley, OR

Lunch in Wagontire Oregon
It was nice to have an easy place to park the bike and to have a smooth, shaded, place to sit while eating

It was another 100 mile plus ride today, ending on a road that made US 50 in Nevada not feel at all lonely. There were no services, and, during the last 45 miles, almost no other vehicles. The wind wasn't bad, but the last 28 miles were very reminiscent of the last 23 miles into Burns: Head down cranking into a moderate headwind. Coming into Burns was flatter and there were a lot more indications that a town was ahead. Out here, the only indication was that, about 15 miles before Cristmas Valley, power poles appeared along the road ;-}.

It is a long way to anywhere leaving Burns heading west
Riley is the service station where I turn south

I prepared for a long day with no services. 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 bottle 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 lose its contents if my bike fell over while the bladder probably would. Today my bike fell over and I lost about 3 liters of water. I had less than one liter left when I reached Christmas Valley. Alaways carry extra water in the desert!

This is what the road was like between Burns and Riley
Note the, nasty, rumble strip, no white lines, and loose gravel covering the shoulder

The road to Riley has a bad shoulder. The edge of the road proper is a narrow, nasty, rumble strip. There is no white line. The pavement outside the rumble strip is covered with loose gravel and then there is deep loose gravel outside that. Sometimes it is impossible to tell where the pavement ends and the deep gravel starts, but, if you cross that line with your bike, you will crash. I rode mostly in the lane, crossing the rumble strip when traffic conditions made it necessary.

Riley ;-}

Heading out into the desert

My bike at my first rest stop in the desert
Cattle grates, even fake ones, are the best places to lean a bike

This morning, in Burns, I had a nice visit with another bicyclist. He was also a backpacker and we talked about week long, solo, hiking and the wonderful solitude when doing that. Solo riding in the desert is another way to experience true solitude. There is 'nothing' out there except you and the desert. If you are comfortable with yourself and confident in your ability to deal with whatever might happen out there, the desert is a wonderful place to be.

Turning south on 395 was entering the desert. The road climbed some ridiges, went around others and generally headed south towards the {former) town of Wagontire, pop 3. Ther was lots of sagebrush, several cows, a couple of cattle guards, a good bit of, mostly gentle, climbing, and not much else in the 28 miles to Wagontire. Wagontire itself offered a closed cafe where I was able to lean my bike against the front wall and sit in the shade while eating from my supplies.

After Wagontire, which is located at the gap in a big ridge it was about ten, mostly downhill, miles to where the the road to Christmas Valley headed off to the west.

Lots of cattle guards, few cows

Desert, with car
The gap we are heading for is behind that first ridge

Heading for a gap in the hills

My bike at our second desert rest stop
This is where I spilled the water

Climbing towards the gap

Still a few miles to go to Wagontire

Coming down after Wagontire

The first paved road off of 395 after 37 miles - the road to Christmas Valley

The road to Christmas Valley started out less lonely but, after about ten miles and a steep hill, became much lonlier than US 395. That hill was the longest 8% grade of this tour.On the other side of that hill was 40 miles of 'nothing.' The highlights of this part of the tour were a trashed Forest Service (?) vehicle ten feet off the road, big high voltage power lines, hills, wind, an off the grid ranch, smaller high voltage power lines, and, finally, regular high voltotage power lines running down the road to Chistmas valley. Oh, and lots of sagebrush.

A high desert hay farm on the road to Christmas Valley

8% hill sign
THe last time I saw a sign like this at the bottom of a hill was in Romania
Dacias, the Romanian car, had a hard time climbing that steep a grade without over heating!

8% hill, and it was, sustained 8% for a few hundred feet vertical

Lots of nothing as far as I can see

Power lines!

Off the grid, wind powered, ranch

Power lines along the road

My shadow, eating an apple to get the energy necessary to ride the last five miles into town

When I did get into town, I found a nice place to stay - Desert Inn, a good place to eat breakfast - Feedbarn, and really friendly folks. It would have been a great place to spend a rest day.

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