The John Day River, eastern Oregon
“More than once the Weather Channel has seemed a day off in its predictions.”
I had written these words in our journal August 5, 2001, as we were pedaling across eastern Oregon near the end of our east to west TransAm bicycle journey (www.biketrip2001.com) . We had been caught earlier in the day by unpredicted thunderstorms, and had arrived at Austin Junction late, tired, and hungry. Now, 11 years later, it was all coming back to us. My husband and I had just set out on another, much shorter, bicycle tour over eastern Oregon's “Old West Scenic Bikeway” noting optimistically that The Weather Channel had predicted "0% chance of rain" for the day. But there we were, only a few miles from our start, taking refuge from a sudden pounding thunderstorm. And it felt great!
Set in the spectacular western scenery of eastern Oregon, the recently designated "Old West Scenic Bikeway", not only shares some of the same route as the TransAm Bike Trail, but also offers a shorter 176 mile loop as a scenic sampler of what we loved best about our 2001 bike trip.
Old Western history still alive in the American heartland
open rangeland, wild rivers -
long county roads where you see more wildlife than traffic
the drama of weather -
the hospitality of small towns -
quirky country stores with their welcomed cold drinks, homemade ice cream after long, hot miles
the generosity, openness, and trust extended by strangers toward cycle tourists
the camaraderie of other cyclists sharing the same adventure
No other bicycle tour has recaptured the rhythm and spirit of our TransAm adventure for us in the same way as Oregon's "Old West Scenic Bikeway". We loved it for doing this and allowing us to revisit the best of bicycle touring across America.
Marilyn Hedges and Mike Sorensen
DAY 1, July 9, 2012: Kimberly to Dayville
Early morning start from Big Bend BLM Campground north of Kimberly
Refuge from a brief thunderstorm at the Kimberly junction
Along the John Day River -
Blue Basin interpretive trailhead and rest stop
Historic Cant Homestead
Arriving at the Dayville Merc, a welcome sight with temperatures climbing above 100 degrees
Dayville Merc 2012
Dayville Merc 2001 -
When we pedaled through eastern Oregon in 2001, we had also stopped at the Dayville Merc, and chatted with owner, Steve Cookinham, a bicycle tourist himself. He offered suggestions for returning and touring the John Day Fossil country, an appealing idea to us at the time. It took eleven years, but we made it back.
Many businesses along the route displayed signs, like this one at the Merc, claiming to be "Certified Bike Friendly -
Recovering from the heat outside the Merc, we chatted with a local old timer who found our bicycles to be very interesting and us to be willing listeners. Here he regaled us with the story of how he ran away from home at the age of 16 using a single speed bicycle, standing up to pump "over Mount Rainier" from Port Angeles WA to eastern Oregon to find a job. Bicycle touring always offers interesting interaction with people along the way.
Dayville's only cafe was closed the day we were there, so it was dinner from the mini-