Days 85 – 90 Bike Across America (Aug 16 – Aug 21): Baker City, OR to Sisters, OR

Enjoying the Painted Hills in Mitchell, OR

After spending a zero day in Baker City and getting to recover from our trip through Hells Canyon, the 66-mile ride to Prairie City was a lot easier than we anticipated. We had three passes to go over, each one at least 1,000 feet of climbing, but the temps cooperated, there was not much wind…just enough to cool us down when the heat did eventually kick in, and the scenery was quite beautiful. We were back in the evergreen forests. We never get tired of that smell! We were also smart about how we prepared for the day. Both Camelbaks were full of ice and water. We froze two Powerades as well as two of our water bottles. I kept both the Powerades and my Camelbak in the trailer and only got them out when we were going to drink them. At the top of the last climb, Kristi and I finished off my Camelbak which was still ice-cold. Once we got to Prairie City, Kristi and I promptly went to the local Mexican Restaurant and celebrated our 13th Wedding Anniversary with two large margaritas and some great food!

Love seeing these signs!

Love seeing these signs!

Wednesday’s ride into Dayville was a 44-mile ride, most of which was downhill. Knowing we would be able to ride that in a few hours, we decided to leave a little later than usual and took time to have a leisurely breakfast in Prairie City. The ride followed a river/stream down a valley the entire way. The scenery was a mix of shrub/grass and evergreen with a lot of farmland in the valley. The temps have been climbing steadily all week, and by the time we got to Dayville, it was in the mid-90’s. Our first stop was the local bike shop at Dayville Mercantile. The owner of the Mercantile and the bike mechanic, Simon, knew his way around a bike better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Kristi’s bike had a shifting issue. We’d taken it to a few other places along the way, but they never quite fixed it. He had the bike up on a stand and figured out what the issue was right away, but he didn’t stop there. He oiled the chain and the cables as well as checked everything else and made sure the bike was in tip-top shape before he pulled it off the bike stand…all that for $10!

We ended up staying in a local church that allows bikers to stay for free (donations accepted which we always do). A bunch of locals came up to the church to chat with us one at a time during the evening. Then just as it was getting dark, a homeless gentleman, Wesley, showed up. I could tell he hadn’t showered for quite some time, but within 30 minutes of arriving, he was clean and had his clothes in the wash. We chatted awhile and we found out he’d been homeless since 2003 and was heading for Southern California on a bike he’d bought from Walmart. Kristi and I always thought if we were ever homeless, we’d want to be homeless in San Diego because the weather is so nice. And yes, I guess you could say we’re homeless now, but that doesn’t count. We’re homeless because we want to travel.

Our next day was a 38-mile ride from Dayville into Mitchell. We got started early because we’d heard the temps were going to go over 100 degrees. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had such a short day. It started off on a 7-mile ride on a road that had just been gravelled. It wasn’t the best road of conditions, but the slight downhill helped us keep our speed up. We ended up going by a number of fossil beds that were discovered by John Day. Then we started a 2,000-foot, 23-mile climb. We managed to climb it fairly quickly and were in Mitchell by 11:00 in the morning, so we stopped at the local cafe and had a big lunch before heading to the local biker’s hostel/church called Spoke’n (love the play on words). This place opened to bikers for the first time a few months ago, and it’s simply amazing! The person who started it is Jalet, along with her husband and a number of volunteers. Mitchell is a very small town, and it seemed unlikely that there would be a place this nice to host bikers. Cost? Free but again accepts donations. The upstairs is lined with bunk beds with curtains around each bed for privacy, a power strip secured to the side of each bunk bed to charge your phones, etc., a private light over each bed, a fully stocked kitchen downstairs, ceiling fans to keep it cool, etc., etc. They’re still working on the hostel. Although it has two bathrooms, there are no showers, but later this week, a plumber is going start working on that.  For now, they offer solar showers or will drive you up to their home to take a shower.  This place…and especially the people…truly amazing!

Hanging out with Jalet and the Spoke'n Hostel volunteers

Hanging out with Jalet and the Spoke’n Hostel volunteers

Relaxing at the Spoke'n Hostel

Relaxing at the Spoke’n Hostel

Jalet even took the time to drive us out to the Painted Hills.  She offers to drive the cyclists out to the Painted Hills (about six miles from the Hostel) since it’s not on our route, and these amazing geological formations are well worth seeing!

Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon

Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon

Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon

Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon

We left Mitchell early in the morning heading to Prineville, 47 miles away. It was difficult for us to leave the hostel, but it turned out to be an interesting and scenic ride. A few miles into the ride, we passed through Picture Gorge with rock walls climbing up thousands of feet on either side of the road.

Riding into Picture Gorge, Oregon

Riding into Picture Gorge, Oregon

We passed up John Day Fossil Beds, and then we had to climb over Ochoco Pass at over 4,700 feet. Although it was a long climb and fairly steep, Kristi and I made good time and enjoyed it as we, once again, climbed into alpine forests. The ride down the other side was fast for a good portion of the way.

Climbing Ochoco Pass, Oregon

Climbing Ochoco Pass, Oregon

We pulled into Prineville at about 1:00 in the afternoon and got a room at the local Best Western. We called three hotels before we found one that had a room available. We found out that both Facebook and Google have data centers in Prineville due to the low humidity and abundant water which is why the hotels were so busy. As soon as we got settled in, we discovered that our good friend and former neighbor, Sheri, had texted us to find out when we were going to be in Prineville because she was in Bend and would like to see us. So we managed to get together with Sheri, her brother and his wife and headed to a Bend to eat at a delicious Mexican restaurant! We didn’t get back until late which caused us to have a later start than normal the following day for our ride into Sisters, 52 miles out, but it was well worth it to spend an evening with Sheri and her family!

We were fortunate on the ride to Sisters because it was mostly flat with a little climbing. Kristi wasn’t feeling really well the next day, but with the easy riding, she did great. Even with the late start and stopping frequently to take pictures of the beautiful scenery and the huge alpaca farm we came across, we managed to pull into Sisters by 12:30 and stopped for a cold brew at the Hop and Brew Bar and Grill.

Young Alpacas

Young Alpacas

Riding toward Sisters, OR

Riding toward Sisters, OR

We were hosted in Sisters by Kathryn Godsiff and her husband, Allan. Kathryn and Allan were the same people who hosted me when I came through Sisters on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. It was wonderful to see them again and catch up on how they’re doing! We spent the next day (Sunday) with them since it was a zero day, and they took us to Sisters as well as Bend to get some last-minute preparations done for the last push to the coast. It was a great way to spend our last zero day before we finish the official TransAmerica Trail this coming Saturday!

With our friends in Sisters, OR

With our friends in Sisters, OR

As we rode into Sisters, we met another major milestone…4000 miles of riding!  It’s bittersweet to see how far we’ve come and knowing how close we are to finishing.  We’re starting to wonder what life will be like once we finish this ride… (Week 13 mileage: 248.89; total trip miles to date: 4,000.05)

4000 Miles!

4000 Miles!