Location: Baker City, Oregon (Oregon West Trails Park)
We didn’t get hassled last night, though a few times I thought a truck was slowing at the road. The thought of animal or person encountering us kept me awake last night, which is strange considering the number of nights I’ve slept in the open. I left the rain fly off my tent last night so I could see the many stars of Oregon’s night sky. A few falling stars streaked across the purple sky, and I felt lucky to have stayed awake long enough to see them.
Brian and I filled up our water bottles and Camelbacks at a spring on the side of the road and set out on a fifty-one mile day to Baker City, the town at the eastern edge of map two. We had a few climbs in store, but we bested those obstacles in a hurry. Up and over two 1000 foot climbs and then we stopped for lunch at a historic steam engine railroad museum. We hadn’t planned on stopping there, but the sign on the road enticed me. I thought I might get to poke around on an old fire tube steam engine, getting to know a little bit more about boilers while I’m out here. I didn’t get that chance, but I did have a picture taken of me in my Joe Moore & Company t-shirt alongside a running steam locomotive.
We ate lunch at a picnic table at the depot and watched several dozen visitors board the train for a couple hours trip into the mountains. We left around one o’clock or so, ready for the last twenty-seven miles to Baker City.
The miles were going smoothly across the typical ups and downs of Oregon. Though, I do have complaints about the texture of the road surface today. The pavement was exceptionally rocky, and the rough surface makes cycling more painful and more tedious because my arms, butt, and head are constantly vibrating. Anyway, the miles were going smoothly until I hit a pothole and busted my front tube. The tube didn’t blow out, but it leaked slowly over the next few miles. I noticed something wrong with my bike. I couldn’t quite place the problem until I looked down and saw that I was nearly riding on the rim. For once my tire was actually flat. Often, late in the afternoons, I have thought that my tires have gone flat because the bike is hard to pedal. My mind plays tricks on me as my body gets fatigued.
Though now I know that I had popped a tube this afternoon, I wasn’t sure at first. I couldn’t find a leak in the tube and it seemed to still be holding pressure. I decided to inflate the tube and see if it would at least last me to town. Just as I had mounted the tire over the tube, a car pulled onto the shoulder. A young man in a white sedan asked if we needed help. We said no and that we just had a flat tire, and then he said he had a floor pump. I quickly jumped at the opportunity to use the pump because my small pump takes two hundred or so pumps to fully inflate the tube inside the tire. The young man jumped out of his car and grabbed his pump from the trunk. He said he had been mountain biking in Idaho and that’s why he had it with him. He pumped up my tire in a flash and then he was gone. Brian and I started east again on Highway 7. We faced an unforgiving headwind the last nine miles to Baker. We switched off the point every couple of miles so the other could draft and relax a bit. Pedaling into the wind is hard, so it’s great to have a partner.
The tube held up for the nine miles but I replaced it as soon as I got to Baker because I could see that it had lost some pressure. I tried to get a new tube this evening in town but Baker shuts down on the weekends. Only a few coffee shops and restaurants were open. Everything else on Main Street was closed in the town of ten thousand. After some hesitation, we decided to stay in Baker City tonight. I didn’t feel like biking anymore and I also didn’t want to risk being on the road without a spare tube. Tomorrow I’ll get the tube and get a chance to check my email and help Brian update the website, so we probably won’t get out of town until noon or so.
I’m going to bed early tonight in hopes that I can get up early tomorrow. The wind is blowing hard, and I can hear Interstate 84. It’s not the most peaceful place to sleep, but at least I don’t have to worry tonight about getting evicted.