Day 2 – Fossil OR – Prairie City, OR 140 miles , climbing 9181 feet
As my 2nd day started in the early hours of June 28th, I was pushing towards Mitchell, OR & Spoke’n Hostel , about 60 miles away. Normally, this would take 4 hours so my expected arrival will be around lunch time. In my pre race planning I anticipated to sleep there on my first night. Obviously, this was my second day of racing and the expectations were to arrive much earlier during the day than bed time. Way behind schedule so perhaps a perfect lunch stop. Well, that was going to change quickly as well.
My morning started with going up and down Sutton Mountain on US 218 Shaniko – Fossil Hwy. The temperature during the day peaked at 109F, not sure if I should be happy about this or not . As I was getting excited to get closer to Mitchell, the race organizer Nathan appeared and took some pictures. A much needed boost to see familiar face in the middle of nowhere and few words of encouragement.
Some 25 miles from town I hit another nasty section of gravel with large rocks, no shade and ATV cars blowing up dust in my face. To make matters worse, I was getting low on water. Bridge Creek was running along the road but there was a fence separating us. The land was privately owned with signs not to trespass, kind of typical around there. I had my filter ready, water running next to me, but yet I couldn’t even touch it. Complete blow in the face. I was moving like snail, inhaling clouds of dust, cursing the bad pavement and imagining that I could find one tree around here and enjoy the shade just for a few minutes.
Here I was, stopping each hour under the only tree around to cool down , lower my heart rate and take a small sip of water. I was just few miles away from Mitchell, completely destroyed and out of liquids. All kinds of crazy thoughts are going through you head in such moments and quite honestly I was not sure how much longer I can keep going, especially without water.
To my surprise, I looked to my left and noticed a gentleman in a makeshift house building shelters on the side of the road. He had a dog and sign welcoming cyclists. I stopped to ask for water and we quickly exchanged stories. He told me about his backpacking experiences around the world while I was simply trying to calm down and drink as much cold drinks as he would allow me 🙂 He came down with a bucket of water and said:
-” Here , dip your head in it, my dog might have used it too but he is a clean dog “
At this point, I didn’t care, he was probably correct in assuming that I was filthier than his dog. I dipped my head in the bucket , downed some cold water and a can of V8 and then took off.
Soon thereafter I turned left onto Ochoco Highway and surprise, surprise – decent headwind patiently waiting for me there. The hostel was a little over 2 miles up the road. I could see the employees in the middle of the road, cheering me up ½ a mile up the hill. The headwind was so strong that it took forever to make it there. As soon as I arrived under the sound of cowbells, I removed my shoes & helmet and started drinking a large glass of water they handed to me then gulped a big stick of ice popsicle. Eventually, after chatting for a few minutes , I was able and ready to get my butt off the ground and walk inside.
There is no words to describe the hospitality of Spoke’n Hostel & the owner Jalet. We were offered unlimited amount of food, choice of bed & shower. It felt like oasis after what I just went through. Some young guests were in the dining room area following our movement live on a big screen. They were also traveling cyclists and hoped to one day do similar race or just a bikepacking trip and asked for some tips and my experiences so far.
I was able to charge all devices, take a shower, wash my dusty clothes and sleep for 4h. Sadly, total lost time was close to 7h and Barry was gone before I even got there. He magically handled the heat and took a commanding lead. As I was leaving before sundown Mike asked me to wait for him( its a race but I decided to be nice & wait).
As soon as we left, we hit another serious climb but night was coming soon and the temperature was tolerable so I couldn’t complain. At least I don’t have to worry about directions as we were going to stay on the same road for over 200 miles until we reach Ontario, OR. Interestingly enough, after just few minutes of climbing Mike took off. This would be the last time I seen him during the race.
I hit a flat section of about 65 miles , great pavement and lower temperatures and was moving along at a good speed. Sadly , it was night time and most services were already closed so I had to settle for some drinks from a vending machine next to a grocery store in John Day & push on.
My 2nd day ended near Prairie city, OR