August 3, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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August 3, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Oregon

Oxbow to Baker City, Oregon. (74 mi.) Mile 3832

Westward Ho!

I was unable to sleep last night as predicted, until we got up at 1:00 am and moved the tent from the hard asphalt to the soft, forbidden grass. Ah, much better! That helped motivate us to get up extra early in order to have the tent back on the asphalt and be able to give a friendly wave to the Campground Nazi when he came patrolling past in his motor cart at 5:30 am.

By 5:40 am we were pedaling westward again, setting a personal best record for The Early Start. We knew we had to do over 70 miles and climb over 4,000 feet, so it was essential we beat the heat and wind. The author of "Bicycling Coast to Coast" called today's ride, "a tough one, to say the least", and she proved right.

Climbing out of Hell's Canyon, early morning heading west

Looking north to the distant mountains of the Eaglecap Wilderness

We were lucky, though, because the wind was moderate and the sun was tempered by occasional high clouds. Our route followed the hot, monotonous Powder River drainage for many miles, paralleling the Oregon Trail used by hundreds of thousands of overland emigrants between 1840-1860. The only service was a pop machine on the porch of a private home in the middle of nowhere, though that was more than the Pioneers had.

Powder River

We discovered a pop machine on the porch of a ranch house. We each drank 2 cans of pop.

The clouds prove more interesting than the landscape.

Seven miles outside of Baker City, we took a steep climb to the top of Flagstaff Hill and the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Flagstaff Hill was a landmark on the Oregon Trail. The Pioneers' wagon ruts are still visible on the landscape below. We shared a hint of the relief they must have felt when reaching this point and looking down on the fertile Powder Valley below.

View toward Baker City from the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
This fertile valley was a welcome sight for the overland pioneers. Their wagon ruts are still visible below and parallel to the highway coming in from the left.

When we emerged from the Interpretive Center, a fierce headwind had kicked up, and we had to struggle the remaining downhill miles to Baker City. We would have been in serious trouble if we had been an hour or more later in our start this morning. We were tired enough when we rolled into Baker City, just in time to make Bike Shop Visit #19 to buy chain lube. Mike is off getting groceries while I catch up on the journal. Tomorrow we have another day of similar challenges.

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