2019 TransAm

Day Four – Bates State Park to Baker City, OR

Day: 4
Day Mileage: 51.4
Total Miles: 230.5

It got cold last night. I was sleeping in my tent for the first night and the temperature dipped into the 40s. I was in pants and my down jacket while mummified in my sleeping bag. I didn’t have on socks though I had them in my tent with me. I was too warm inside the sleeping bag to bother getting out to put them on. I slept much better last night than I did inside the church but it was also after my biggest climbing day.

Once up, I prepared for the day I had two big passes to climb before it was to be mostly downhill into Baker City, OR. With that in mind, I made 4 PB sandwiches for the road and two packages of ramen for breakfast. Tasted like college. I also made sure to drink the broth as I noticed I needed to increase my sodium intake a little. Once packed, I set off with James and we were climbing not a mile into the day’s ride.

Passing Tipton Summit at ~5,000 ft was not terrible being fully fueled and chatting the entire way up. I enjoyed the decent but even that was short lived as we were needing to climb the next pass, Sumpter Pass at another ~5,000 ft. James has a few days on me traveling and is a cyclist back home in England so when he takes off on climbs, he’s nice enough to wait for me a time the top. Descending into Sumpter, we stopped for lunch on the side of the road when we realized we had cell service.

With a few messages sent and phone calls made, there were 29 miles before reaching the final destination for the day. I had gone through my entire water supply on the two climbs and needed to stop and refill. There were a few campgrounds ahead though I wasn’t sure of the distances. Luckily, only 7 miles into the final push, we pulled into a park near Phillips Reservoir and topped off. A Vietnam Veteran came out to chat with us for about 10 minutes. He still been retired for some time now and travels, has speaking engagements about the war, what happened to him after and how he dealt and isn’t dealing with it all now. He was happy to share is story and we were happy to listen with full water bottles. We said good luck to one another and then we cruised alongside the Powder River to Baker City City Hall.

James had a warmshowers host set up ahead of time so I reached out asking if she had availability you host another. Turns out, she was hosting another rider heading west and has almost completed the full TransAm route. She was out to dinner so James and I made a stop at Safeway to load up for the upcoming days as towns will be few and far between. After weighing our bikes back down, we stopped off at a bar on Main Street for end of day drinks.

We then met Nancy at her house. She is a cyclists but not done a tour herself. She likes to have company so her friend suggested warmshowers. She has hosted only 3 cyclists before and now she’s hosting 3 in one night. She’s a school psychologist in town and has been in Oregon for the last 30 years.

James is taking a rest day and we’ve decided to keep riding together to Missoula as there aren’t parts of the next 6 days that preparation is key as services aren’t a readily available as they have been. That’s saying something considering services aren’t THAT readily available already. The plan is to be in Missoula by Sunday. So for me, rest day as well. My legs and butt will appreciate it.

Day Three – Dayville to Bates State Park

Day: 3
Day Mileage: 61
Total Miles: 179.1

I didn’t sleep well at the altar. I thought I’d sleep great but was unable to for some reason. I popped up early at 5:45 and knocked out some NCLEX Prep questions before having to wake up my church bunk mate, James, as I snuck not so quietly to the bathroom. It’s an old church, nothing is quiet. After showering and getting things prepared for day, I made pancakes in the stocked kitchen for cyclists use. We each had 6 and debated on making more. Instead, we cleaned up, prepared our bikes and set off just after 8.

We had planned for 60 miles to Austin Junction where a cafe allowed cyclists to camp in the back lot, so that’s where we headed. It took 22 miles until the next town, Mt. Vernon, before we stopped to have a bite. I’m still learning my fueling for the trip so before we left Dayville, I bought bread and peanut butter and made 4 PB sandwiches to pack. I had one in Mt. Vernon and a root beer from a gas station and we were off again, this time to Prairie City. That ride had some gradual climbing but the real surprise was getting caught in traffic in John Day behind the 110th County Fair, the longest in Oregon. Once we arrived in Prairie City, I ate two more sandwiches and James made coffee. It was nearing 3pm and I had my biggest climb thus far to 5,277 at Dixie Pass. It was an 8mile climb lasting well over 1:30 and was every bit of a 1,900 ft climb from Prairie City. 

It was a smooth 7 mile decent into Austin Junction, where the cafe was without internet for guests, showers or bathrooms after 7 for those staying so we pushed ahead another mile to Bates State Park, where there is no internet (expected), showers (unexpected, but sprinklers did the same trick), and 24 hour access to bathrooms. We got settled and used my SPOT Tracker Jared Muse was kind enough to let me borrow. It register with GPS to send a preprogrammed email to recipients letting them know you’re where you needed to be and also the location. I had my 4th PB sandwich and some instant potatoes before winding down. On Day Three now and my legs felt in on the climb. We have 2 big climbs tomorrow before we make it into a more populated city, Baker City.  Today is my first day camping and it’s very exciting and not as lonely with James, who recently graduated from University in England, to chat with. It was a really good day today. 

Day Three Bonuses 

  • Town parades, complete with everything you know small town parade to have
  • A riding partner to learn all things England and one to navigate American culture 
  • Root beer
  • Rob, in the middle of my climb, encouraging me at a view point
  • Not dying of dysentery 
  • Better meal planning
  • Knowing what I need to adjust… like more salt intake
  • Live music at camp, a couple jamming some bluegrass?

Day Two – Mitchell, OR to Dayville, OR

Day: 2
Day Mileage: 38.1
Total Miles: 118

Day two began after a 10.5 hour nights rest at the Spoke’n Hostel. I woke up just before 7am and I knew I was going to make it a lazy morning. I spoke to Pat, who ran the shop, last night and he was sure that I’d be able to make it to John Day today which would have put me at 70 miles for the day. I had options but both began with a late start. I made coffee, showered and chatted with my bunk mate, a man named Tom, originally from Kentucky, traveling on foot for the past 12 years finding jobs where he could.

Before leaving, I rearranged my gear, adjusting the weight distribution and found my butt butter. I was in a hurry to leave the first day that I didn’t bother to find it only to have paid the price after 80 miles. I made sure to find it this morning. I also made sure to fill up my two Nalgene bottles and my 24 oz water bottle before leaving too. And with my situation handled and water filled, I was off for the day at 10am.

I didn’t quite know how my legs would be initially but I knew I had a climb immediately out of the gate. That climbed lasted all of 6.5 miles of uphill and an hour And ten minutes before I had reached the summit of my second pass at 4,369 ft. After that hour, it took me a little more than twice as long to reach Dayville, another 33 miles, nearly all downhill.

Once arriving in Dayville close to 1pm, I had a decision to make: either continue on to Mt. Vernon or remain in Dayville for the day and cut today’s ride short. I met a guy named James on day 10 of his TransAm trip who was finished for the day and staying at the near by Presbyterian Church where they’ve opened the doors To cyclists for full use of their church, laundry, kitchen, showers and WiFi. Needless to say, I stayed in Dayville.

We had a chat over Budweisers in the nearby park and finished it off with dinner at the Dayville Cafe where James was treated to his first burger off the trip. Were planning on making pancakes in the morning before heading out to our destination tomorrow in Austin Junction, 60 miles down the way.

Day Two Bonuses

  • Coffee. Unlimited coffee.
  • ice cold water bottles. All of them.
  • a tail wind that cools you off going uphill because you are going terribly slow
  • a descent that will make you physically shiver because of your sweat drying
  • energy chews and raw ramen blocks that you eat as candy bars on a ride because you haven’t quite figured out how to fuel properly
  • My first rider to run into

Day One – Tumalo State Park to Mitchell, OR

Day: 1
Day Mileage: 79.9
Total Miles: 79.9

So I’m an emotional person now it seems. It began at my rehearsal dinner where I lost it. Happened again my wedding night. Happened most recently at a nursing graduation party. And for good reason it happened this morning as Megan left our campsite to drive back to Portland before flying back to OKC. It was a very tearful goodbye. And then I had a whole bike ride ahead of

It started out a pretty straight forward day. I was shooting for Ochoco Lake County Campground, just 11 miles past Prineville, where I would reach as Megan was pulling into Portland.

I sat down to have lunch and could barely eat. My nerves and emotions were getting the best of me. I ate what I could manage. I attempted to eat all of it knowing I’d need those calories, but just couldn’t. I decided then that’s there is just no way that I could arrive at a campground with 9 hours of daylight with me, myself and I and maybe no way to speak to anyone which depended on cell service. I made the call then to push ahead to Mitchell, an additional 47 miles. It was going to be significantly more than I had originally intended. Probably not the best idea to go HAM on my first day, but I needed some semblance of home, even if that just meant cell service.

I’m currently in Mitchell, Oregon at the Spoke’n Hostel, a church turned bicycle tourism advocate with bunk beds, a kitchen and a short walk to town where I had dinner at Tiger Town Brewery. I’ve been able to FaceTime Megan, text my family and message friends. I needed it. It’s only day one, but I remember the mental part of a trip like this is significantly harder than the physical. I hope to be less of a mess going forward, but it still may take some time.

Day One Bonuses

  • The support to go on a bicycle ride
  • A great vacation that included a weeklong bender of pizza, beer and everything else that I leaned on heavily today to get me to my destination
  • Climbing an hour and forty-five minutes for that decent
  • Trail angels right where I needed them
  • My first pass at 4,720 ft
  • The Digital Age
  • Encouragement from a group on motorcyclists at rest stop
  • Showers