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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 6 - John Day to Baker City - the power of the sun








Morning starts with a bright chilly sun.







Bundled in layers...











.... long shadows as we bike out into the hills.





I think about how all energy comes from that sun...




through our food via the plants....






for our cars via fuels...






the sun warms us...







...and sometimes burns...



We need to respect the sun's power in our lives.



I think about these things as I spin along on these long bike rides.










Today I follow Al's steady strong pedaling into the sun...




...like Icarus flying high...


confident...









Two red-tailed hawks soar above our heads.

That's now a total of four hawks for our Flight, Barry!

And speaking of hills....








....look at today's outline!




That's two category one climbs and one hors categorie - that's "beyond category"!




And my legs feel like rubber.

The rippling muscles don't ripple...



...they kinda wobble.





With the Strawberry mountains behind us we climb to the Conestoga wagon.







A panting break at the wagon...




....and a chance to talk with Dereka -

... this is one gutsy lady taking on this trip with more than 60 years on her.

You go girl!



Trudging up the mountain I begin to doubt why I ever wanted to do this.

I could be sunbathing on a beach somewhere.

Instead, my chill is turning to sweat and my thighs are shaking with the effort.

I don't even remember the last half of this mountain...

I think my brain went on vacation.



Somehow I make it.

Jim is waiting at the top as I gasp -

- tell me that is the hardest of the three mountains...

...even if it isn't true!

Oh, it's true says Jim - by 30%.


Thank you, Jim.









Now we get to soar down between shadows and sun

 - over all too soon.

Then back up another huge climb - maybe not so long, but my legs have no action left.

Yesterday drained me.





I pause to rest...

..and enjoy the flowers...

while I steel myself for another mile...





Once more, I reach a summit.

Al is waiting for me looking fresh and strong.

When did she get so strong?






Around the curve - a cafe.

And our friend Gale treats us to blackberry cobblers.

Gale struggles like I do with the hills.

He's my buddy.





Another screaming downhill before the last agonizing climb.

Al zooms out of sight...

I crawl along...

...counting every half mile

...begging for this day to be over.



I see a mirage ahead of me...





...an odd kind of biker slogging up this steep slope...

with nubby tires and loaded to the max...

...




flying a pirates flag off his stern...


This is Mike.

I ask to take his picture...




He says that Alex says to say hi.

This is one fascinating guy.

He started biking in Sacramento...

Five years ago...

and he's been biking ever since...






no maps...

off the grid...

bikes on whatever road appeals

and sleeps wherever.







His dashboard is well-worn.













his solar panel captures energy...

His life - an adventure.


Boy, do we feel like pikers watching him pedal this pack up the mountain.






Inspired by Mike, I take off again.

Stopping every mile or so to catch my breath...

Surrounded by Ponderosa pines, the shade is sharp and far between.

The sun glares at us between the needles.



For the longest time I see no one....

I'm alone on the road on a huge mountain in the middle of the forest.


Is life great or what?




Finally, no power left anywhere in my body, I crest that final summit to find the SAG waiting for me with fresh water and snacks.



Chex mix never tasted so good!




In a few minutes Gale joins us at the top.

We made it!

Three major climbs in one morning!





Time for a sweet downhill to the river...







I glimpse hidden in the trees...




...a jabberwocky?

or a sandhill crane -

- do they live here?





The trees open up into a sunlit green bog...








...feeding the cows




...and on I go down the winding road....





... a beautiful lake shimmering in the sunlight...









...and I spot another red-tailed hawk!

Number 5!



Next SAG - a picnic with our friends...





...even Mike joins us...




To write his email address he sharpens his pencil with his dagger....

I need to send him pictures...




Off for the last leg of the day...

twenty more miles to go...

Al takes off ahead...

and I lag..



The sun starts to burn...




but I can feel a cool breeze spill from the cold river...




This guy bellows when he leaps in the water... This river is so cold!

I want to join him.




I'm starting to melt...

I'm out of water...

parched lips and still 12 miles to go...




Yes! I see the SAG wagon waiting with fresh water.

Thank you, Deb!






Now I can bike on refreshed...

There's a bit of a headwind, but I need the breeze...

no sign of other bikers....

all have hurried to the hotel to avoid the heat....




Finally I see Baker City ahead...

Golden arches gleaming in the hot sun...






Best Western at last....





Shower...

Dinner...

Walk to the grocery for diet cokes...







and the evening cools as we drift off to sleep...




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