Day 42: Mitchell to Redmond OR: 68 miles with 3300 feet of climbing
I wasn't in the best of form today, but I was less sick than yesterday and I managed a bit more riding. I still collapsed when I got in my room and I still have flu like symptoms, but my stomach hasn't hurt as much and my digestive tract seems to be working normally. Hopefully tomorrow I will be better still. I'm in Redmond which was my middle option. Prineville, at 48 miles was my bailout and Sisters, at 86 miles, was my feeling good destination.
Mitchell downtown and park
I rode into Mitchell a little after 7 PM for breakfast at the Little Pine Café. I order a full stack, but the waitress only brought me a short stack. She was right, I couldn't eat it all. One other café, in Colville WA, served me pancakes so big that a full stack is impossible to eat. I repeat Mitchell is a neat place! While I was in the café, I listened to a trucker complain about bicyclists riding three abreast uphill near Mt Hood. He had to pull into the other lane to pass them and that was difficult and dangerous with a fully loaded double trailer semi. I didn't say anything since those bicyclists were obviously jerks, but I'd like to point out here that that kind of behavior hurts all of us. This truck driver, who drives roads with lots of bicycle tourist on them, was pissed at bicyclists. I did make it a point to be well over on the shoulder and to wave when he passed me half a hour or so later.
Heading down 26 south of Mitchell is indeed heading down. The road goes downhill for about five miles. It was chilly, if easy, riding. Then it climbs gently for another five miles, basically gaining back the few hundred feet it lost in the first five miles. It is nice riding through pretty country with light traffic and a good shoulder.
Then the real climbing starts, and it doesn't stop for about seven miles of, mostly, 6% grade.
Most of the time the shoulder is good, sometimes it is great (8 feet!) And sometimes it goes away or gets covered by rocks. Not bad, but not ideal. I, in my somewhat debilitated condition, found it to be the hardest climb I've done since Wayah Gap. It is about 2400 feet of climbing and there are only a few places, near the top, where you get much of a break. I made it, but it required several stops and a good but of determination. The ACA folks climbed both Keyes Cr and Ochoco passes yesterday and camped at the Ochoco Divide Campground last night. That is about 5000 feet of total climbing. I'm impressed.
The western side of Ochoco is much gentler than the eastern side. It drops to around 3000 feet in 20 miles or so and then is fairly level into Prineville. Not an exciting ride, and it was made less exciting by the headwind that started about the time I reached the pass at 11 A.M. I stopped by Ochoco Lake for a snack and rode into Prineville looking for a place to eat lunch. I was actually looking for a Subway, but I missed seeing it in the process of taking a picture of Prineville! I ate a Dairy Queen instead. I really wasn't hungry, but I'd seen the climb heading west out of town and, hungry or not, I figured I'd best get some food in me.
That climb is only about 350 feet, but it was made more 'interesting' by construction that left just one lane for climbing with no shoulder and, part of the way, a nasty drop off. There was a moderate amount of traffic, and some of it was pretty big, so that part of the ride was a bit tense. After getting to the top of the inital climb, there was a gradual climb of a few hundred more feet with rolling hills and then a gradual descent back to 3300 feet. The shoulder was sometimes not very good and the traffic was heavy at times.
There were two exciting things that happened on that stretch: I could see the mountain clearly for the first time and I met a terminally clueless lady.
Seeing the mountains made the climb up from Prineville worthwhile, and this lady helped me understand why Oregon needed to put a 'Do not pass snowplows on the right' sign on the passing lane section near the top of Ochoco pass. She was the passenger in a large flatbed farm truck that had harvesting equipment sticking several feet off of each side of the bed. It came slowly up behind me on a bad section of the road. There was little shoulder and the equipment stuck out beyond the shoulder. I looked ahead and saw a hill with a wider section of shoulder (small gravel, but that beat the ditch) and cranked on up the hill 100 feet or so to get to that place where I could get out of the way. As I did so I heard a womans voice braying at me, but I ignored it. When I got the top - we are talking maybe two minutes after the truck came up behind me - I pulled off into the gravel and slewed to a stop to let the truck go by. Instead, the truck stopped and this woman continued yelling at me about how they could have run over me. I looked behind the truck and saw twenty or thirty vehicles that were stuck behind the truck and yelled back at her to get going. I never saw the driver, but the driver, I assume her husband, did get going and I was able to get restarted long before the entire line of vehicles passed. I usually get a wave of thanks when I get off the road to make way for an overly wide vehicle. This lady was so intent on lecturing me she didn't seem to realize that I had gotten out of the way or that I had know all along exactly where the truck and its overly wide load was. Clueless and obnoxious, but also kind of funny if you weren't stuck behind her!