August 4, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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August 4, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Oregon

Baker City to Austin Junction, Oregon. (53 mi.) Mile 3885

Thunderstorms over the Blue Mountains

Today's goal was to get as far through the Blue Mountains as possible, including climbing 3 mountain passes. However, we felt really lazy this morning, and thinking we didn't have to worry much about the weather (according to the Weather Channel), we didn't get on the road until 10 am.

We were surprised to find the Powder River above Powder Valley much bigger and cleaner than it was below, where the river had been reduced by irrigation and muddied by cattle. We weren't climbing long into the mountains before we found ourselves directly under an ominous thunderstorm. We just had time to find the only shelter around, a 3 foot of overhang at the entrance to Union Creek Campground, before the rain came. The campground hosts kindly invited us into the campground garage and office where we sat out the rain with some hot coffee.

We duck under the Union Creek campground sign as it starts to pour.

When the sun came out, we hit the road again and only made it 10 more miles before we rode under another thunderstorm. This time we set up a hasty shelter with our tent fly and sat out the rain and lightening comfortably snacking on cookies and juice. We've been getting much better at making quick bivouacs. Earlier in the trip, we would huddle miserably in the rain not knowing what to do.

Rain shelter #2 - excuse to rest and eat

Under the tent fly again: another thunderstorm with a dwindling snack supply.

Between thunderstorms in the Blue Mountains.

Then the process repeated itself. The sun came out, we pedaled and puffed up the mountain, and rode right into another dark, ugly thunderstorm again. This second bivouac was not as fun. The wind was chilly, no one offered us hot coffee, and we were running out of food and time. It took an hour for the system to blow over and allow us back on the road.

While trying to make our destination before the sun set any lower, I threw my chain off the chain ring while shifting, stalled the bike before I could get out of my toe clips, and fell over, gashing and bruising my knee and ripping my wind pants. I had opted for toe clips rather than clipless pedals like the majority of other riders, because I preferred not having cleats on my only shoes for this trip, but the toe clips have definitely been hazardous at times.

The cut on my knee probably could have used some stitches, but I taped it closed the best I could. This made the final climb a definite drag. We arrived at Austin Junction hungry and late, to discover the cafe closed for remodeling. The new owners of the Austin House were very hospitable though. Christy Keffer baked us a frozen pizza and made hot cocoa for us. We set up our tent on Forest Service land behind the building and fell asleep listening to two coyote packs trying to out sing each other.

Austin House, the only thing at Austin Junction

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