Oregon Outback :: Day 3 :: The Big Day
We woke up early, we had a huge mileage goal and it was the day of the "red sauce". Waking up dry, Tobe and I packed up from our hotel room. I was nervous about a 90 plus mile day, I made sure I had enough food and water. I was carrying an 40oz steel water bottle, 20 oz plastic bottle and a 100 oz bladder, added weight but worth it. The rain was still among us as well, I had to stop at our first mile in and put on tall socks. It was cold and damp. The inclement weather and my nervous feelings worked to keep me unexcited about the beginning of the day. Once we got back on the gravel I was warmed up and back in the mental grove. Tobe and I came up with our team name, Team Turtle Power, slow but steady riders of the outback. Fort Rock was our first main attraction for the day.
Fort Rock looked really cool, I want to go back and explore it more. We were lucky and found water outside at a local bar. People collected, we got a chance to talk and meet people that usually just whiz past us on route. I took the opportunity to share some of my group names that I was giving to people as they passed us, Four by One was my favorite. It was a group of riders with a single speeder among them, it was silliness to help the miles go by. Tobe had some time to talk a friend from the Bay Area that passed us on route as well. My favorite part about the biking community is that we are all a degree apart and such a small community of awesome people. The remainder of a long day was mentioned again plus the “red sauce”, so we headed out. We were also back to riding with Chris and Todd, we had a good little pack going ourselves (Three men and a lady).
We headed towards Cabin Lake for a lunch break, it was right before the “red sauce”. The rain was a real blessing, the roads were packed down and there was minimal dust. Todd had a mechanical problem though, so we stopped for a longer lunch so he could replace a broken spoke. Carrying fiber spokes is totally worth it, everyone touring should have one or two. With his bike all fixed up we started to mentally prep for the “red sauce”. Then we reached it and it wasn’t bad at all, it was some of the best gravel riding we did for the whole trip! What a mental release that was, now I finally felt confident about this long miles day. We all laughed and enjoyed the ride thru bright red roads, tall ponderosa trees and a fluffy clouds on now emerging blue sky. The day just kept getting more and more epic.
The hills on this segment were bigger than the day before but nothing I hadn’t ridden before living here in the Bay Area. With big up hills came fast downhills on gravel, I still shudder at the speed I was going, but my tires and bike held my solid lines. After one of good climbs on the downhill we had to stop to let two bulls fight it out in the middle of the road. We climbed and summited to see a gorgeous valleys, the sun peeked back out to make for awesome photos again. We bombed down another long gravel downhill into a valley that was just breathtaking. The roads never seemed to end. I felt we were biking forever and we still had 30 miles left. I was keeping in good spirits though, Tobe's knee had started to hurt, so I was making sure he was ok and we stopped frequently. I wasn’t until our last climb that I cramped up and started feeling extreme exhaustion.
The last climb for the day was on road, it was no harder than climbing Tunnel up the top of Grizzley about 1,800 feet with a steady grade. Mentally and physically I was cracking, Tobe put music on, we sang and climbed. He pulled ahead, I couldn’t hang on, my legs were cramping big time. I ended pedalling myself to the top with my own mentally energy which wasn’t in a happy place. I got to top and wasn’t happy to be left in the dust when I was struggling. I voiced my opinion and then decided to pull my shit together because the day was almost over and it was all downhill from here. Also I had met my first group of women, not only did I get to ride them, I got to camp my only night with other women. One of the women is on the all women's bike camping team, Komorebi Cycling, check them out.
We rolled into to Crooked River campground, Chris and Todd took on talking to the camp host and were the ambassador for all us cyclists about to pull in. The camp host agreed to let us camp in an open patch of area above the RV “campers”. Happy to be done for the day, I needed food, rest and more food. All of us sat around, told funny jokes, made new friends and I got some lady time talking about the mental struggles and positives of the adventure so far. It was really nice to have other women to talk with. I couldn’t sit up anymore, I had to go lay down. It was a no rain fly night, you could see the stars, but all I could feel my ass throbbing, my calf muscles cramping. We had already decided that we're going to have a slow, low milage day the next day, which helped me relax more. I listened to more riders pulling in for the next few hours and then finally fell asleep to the sounds of loud partying people in RV’s, “campers”.
All photos taken on a Olympus SP35 with Kodak Gold 200