Day 40: Unity to Dayville OR: 82 miles with 2500 feet of climbing
I started this day really early for several reasons: first I had just come into Pacific time, so everything was an hour "earlier," second, because there was no place to get breakfast before 9:00 A.M. in Unity, I improvised breakfast in my room, and finally I was trying, once again, to get in some good riding time without a headwind. This time, it worked. I had no wind problems till after Prairie City and no real problems till the last ten miles or so to Dayville.
Unity at 7:00 A.M.
US 26 starting to climb
It was a gentle ride north and later north west out of Unity. Chilly, at about 50 F, but sunny with no wind. This lasted for about five miles and then the road began to climb. It just kept climbing for the next hour and more than 1200 feet of vertical. It was pretty riding through pine forests with many National Forest service campgrounds along the way. The grades were moderate, typically 3 or 4 percent, but getting up to 6% near the top.
Then, as I hit the pass, there was a sign saying "Intermittent construction for the next nine miles." Then there was a flag man who moved into place just before I got there. I rode up and asked how long the wait would be and he told me to go ahead but "be careful, there is a lot of machinery on the road.." He wasn't kidding, the next nine miles seemed to be a massive road widening project with lots of trees being cut and rock moved. This ended at Austin Junction, where I stopped for a snack, before starting another > 1000 foot climb up to Dixie Pass. Again it was a pretty gentle climb, until near the top where it became a steady 6%. This was a pretty climb along a creek on a road with bike path signs and a good shoulder. It also had a lot more traffic, especially truck traffic, than the earlier section.
After the top of the second pass, a 2000 foot downhill led to the John Day Valley. Quite a nice ride down with the Strawberry mountains, with snow visible in a few places, sticking up on the other side of the big valley. A few miles later, I was in Prairie City.
Prairie City is a neat little town and I was happy to reach it after about three and a half hours of riding. I needed another breakfast! There are several restaurants in town, but most of them were closed (Monday morning). I found an open one and had my, late, breakfast just before the switched to lunch mode at 11:00 A.M. I was surprised not to find any motels in Prairie City, but there was one B+B.
John Day, fourteen miles down US 26, has lots of motels as well as lots of restaurants. I stopped for a milkshake, then rode on toward Dayville. The wind was picking up by this time and I was really blasted by the wind from some large trucks heading east as I headed west out of John Day. Later, after Mt Vernon, when I stopped for a snack I discovered that I had lost my homemade ear and neck shade. It was basically a handkerchief attached with velcro to my hat. I think one of those blasts blew it way. Oh well, not a big deal, but it was an effective way to keep sun off of my ears and neck.
Mt. Vernon has a motel as well as a cafe and several 'one stop' places. It is 23 miles from Dayville, my destination for today. I was heading for Dayville because it is located in the right place to, pretty well, split the days of riding between Vale and Prineville, and because it has a hostel in a Presbyterian church which would make a nice place to stay, and finally because Steve Cookinham, who used to be active on the touring list, runs a neat general store there. When I was still about ten miles from Dayville, I met two guys from Columbus Ohio who were headed east. They told me that a Adventure Cycle group was stopped at the hostel in Dayville. Neat! I had forgotten that this was part of the Bike Centenial route. That route turns north at Austin Junction, so I'd only been on it for 39 miles or so.
US 26 and the John Day River near Dayville
When I finally arrived at the hostel, it wasn't neat. The riders were OK, but not really friendly. I left my bike at the church (safety in numbers? - there were a dozen touring bikes there!) and walked through Dayville, stopping at a one-stop for a large coke and to use the bathroom, to Dayville Mercantile. On the way I noticed a B+B as part of a RV place.
I walked to the back of (neat) store, spotted someone who looked like he could be Steve, and introduced myself. It took a few minutes for him to remember me, mostly from my trip report postings, and then we had a good ole' time visiting about bikes and touring. Steve was one of the Odyssey 2000 riders and had had a bad crash in South Africa which he is still recovering from, andthat, combined with running the staore has kept him from bicycling a lot recently. I asked him about the B+B and about phone access so I could upload some ride reports. He recommended the B+B and offered the use of his phone line, so I headed back to the church, checking in at the B+B on the way, then rode back to the B+B, cleaned up and rode back to Steve's store. After some more visiting, I did my uploads and read my mail while Steve stocked his cooler. Then Steve and I went to the tavern next door for supper and, a bit late (yawn...) I headed back to the B+B to create this report. It was a nice evening, but it is time for bed!