Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 27, 2013: MIM Day 12, Hermiston OR to Biggs OR

Our hotel in Hermiston, OR
After 11 days of cool or cold weather, today the forecasters said things would be changing dramatically, bringing temperatures that could rise into the mid-90's in some parts of the Northwest. As this day was expected to also be our longest, and with little to any shelter from the sun, we were eager to get an early start. It was largely a downhill ride to the I-84 bridge back to the Washington side of the river. We found US Highway 14 with little trouble and started cranking away to the West. As you can see in the photos below, this area is regarded as desert.

What you see here is pretty much what it looked like for most of the ride. No trees, and very much the desert.
Almost immediately we encountered a sign saying, "No services next 83 miles." Our research showed a few scattered places to get some food, so that was a surprise, but we had enough snacks and liquid even if it turned out to be true. A highway worker a few miles up the road indicated that our research was correct, but it was not until about mile 59 that we encountered a little convenience store that also served as a basic restaurant. In fact, they were used to catering to passing cyclists and encouraged us to share their cyclist guest book, which we did. Some other diners warned us of a significant climb close to the end of our route. That corresponded to the profile in the Adventure Cycling map, though their description was more extreme.
More turbines.

Fred and I get older, but never seem to outgrow our 9 year old sense of humor.
Wind turbines lined the bluffs on both sides of the river for tens of miles. At one point we watched a train of a hundred cars full of coal roll by in the foreground, with hundreds of wind turbines in the background. No photo, unfortunately.
The river has several significant hydro-electric dams as well.
When we finally got about 10 miles from our destination, a huge brown butte appeared, dominating the skyline. We gradually noticed trucks coming down the switchbacks on its face, and finally accepted that this monstrosity was what the woman in the restaurant was describing. Yikes! This time it was I who invoked Fred's "Strength in numbers!" battle cry, and headed out to face our fear. Just as on Monday, once on the hill, we found it to be manageable -- five to seven percent, long but quite do-able. A couple of miles from the crest, we turned onto a steep descent that put us on the bridge back over to Oregon.

This is a shot of the bridge that brought us back to Oregon at the end of today's ride, shot from outside my hotel room in Biggs. Note the turbines on the ridge above the bridge.

A typical scene in Biggs. There are three highways that intersect here. All local business cater to truck drivers and others who are just passing through.

It is unclear whether or not Biggs (or maybe it's Biggs Junction) is an actual legal entity, or just an intersection of highways that has sprouted a motley crop of lodging and eating establishments of questionable quality, in addition to associated convenience stores and truck service facilities. Anyway, we had booked at Biggs Three Rivers Inn, and had ridden over 90 miles in the hot sun, so this was our home for the night. It was also my birthday, so we hoped for something decent to eat at Linda's Restaurant. That was not to be, unfortunately. In addition, I felt a bit depressed, probably due to the cumulative fatigue of yesterday's  85 miles and today's 91. Anyway, tomorrow should be fewer miles and hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight. I'll celebrate my birthday properly with Kathy in Seattle next week. That is, assuming that she'll still need me, that she'll still feed me, now that I'm 64.

Stats: 91 miles, climbed 2800 feet, 7 hours saddle time.

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