Bike USA: June 5-8, 2000 – Vida, Blue River (Delta Campground), McKenzie Bridge, Santiam Pass, Sisters, Prineville

I guess anywhere you go you will always encounter a homeless guy. Max and I stayed at Blue River, just west of McKenzie Bridge on June 5. After McKenzie Bridge we (I think) did the toughest climb of our entire trip. We stopped at a little market in Blue River before going on to Delta USFS campground to get our dinner (pasta) and right outside there was this homeless hitchhiker guy who was eyeing our bikes while we shopped. When we got out of the store he hit us up for some change.

Paul's house
in front of Paul’s house

For the past couple of days we’d been staying with a total luddite (his own description) who apparently is pretty well known in Eugene. He’s Paul Nicholson, founder of Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, former member of the local government, former professor, total bike afficcionado. On Sunday he gave us a tour of the Solar System. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then you should bike around the waterfront park in Eugene. Even if Paul claims it’s getting screwed up by the local government, Eugene still seems like a cool place to live. I have a sticker on my rear fender that advertizes Portland as the best bicycle city in the US, but Eugene beats it easily. I’d say Corvallis is better than Portland, too. Our gratitude to Paul, his wife, and his daughter for letting us crash at their place and treating us so well!

When we stopped at a cafe in Vida, we met a fellow cross-country bicyclist who is traveling with a woman and her dog (being pulled in a Burley trailer). She was making a phone call across the street so we didn’t get to meet her. They are part of a larger group who are stopping at local non-profits and working for a day or so at each one. We invited them to share a campground with us at Blue River and they agreed but never called us on our cell. We were probably unreachable. The next morning we met yet another biker and found out that he stayed with them at an RV park.

Blue River
Blue River, Delta USFS Campground

June 6 was our big hill day. We went from McKenzie Bridge to just west of the Santiam Pass stopping for lunch at Clear Lake. There was a school group at Clear Lake and there was this little fat kid making fun of our bikes and trailers. There’s another thing to add to my ubiquitous list. The whole day was straight up hill. We couldn’t make it over the top because our legs were jellifled after our lunch. Also we felt a slight drizzle and were afraid it would rain harder, and we didn’t want to ride down the pass while wet. Dangerous, you know? But we weren’t near a campground so we decided to just pull off to the side of the road and camp illegally.

Illegal camping
Illegal camping

It was only around 4 or 5. I think I slept for 11 hours that night. The next morning we left at 7 and got to Sisters for breakfast. On the way down I almost died. I was going about 34 mph when I saw in my mirror a whole line of cars coming led by two semis. I just grit my teeth and braced myself since I knew the wind from the first truck would push me then pull me. I had no idea it would be as bad as it was though! Right as the first passed me I started to wobble back and forth uncontrollably, the weight of the trailer exacerbating my situation. I applied the brakes but immediately decided that it would worsen the wobbling. All the while I keep overcompensating with my arms, first going one way then going the next way. Back and forth, thinking ‘Oh crap. Today I die.’ Finally, I relaxed a little and miraculously straightened out. This is when I realized that the second semi was braking quite hard and that I had drifted to the middle of the lane. Needless to say, I think that from now on, I’ll slow down a little if I see a semi coming down on me and I’m going over 30.

Santiam Pass
Santiam Pass

On the 7th we reached Prineville and became lazy bastards. We just vegged out in front of the TV and read a little; talked about our motivation a bit. I looked at maps for a while and Max told me to stop since it was pointless to look so far in advance, so then we talked about the trip and how hilly it was and how I wanted to be sure it wouldn’t be so bad anymore. Today, the 8th, we were ready to go at noon. I put on a new chain I got in Eugene. It skips when on the two smallest cogs on my cassette. I took a look and it seems I need to replace those two, since a few of the teeth are worn. I guess I just won’t use those gears until Boise.

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