Or as I call it, Mecca. Oh sure, I know what you’re all saying right now, the hoi polloi chiming in as they will. “But Miss Tasha, there’s supposed to be only ONE Mecca – that’s kind of the point – but here you are with all these Meccas: Cedarburg, Superdawg, Farm & Fleet, The Manor, and now Burns.”
To which I say, yes yes yes, I hear you, and I acknowledge that you’ve said something.
So, moving on. I set out knowing full well that I may meet the icy cold Specter of Death on today’s ride, given that there’s apparently one water tower in all of eastern Oregon, and it’s about 591 miles from Burns. So be it. These are the kinds of sacrifices I bravely make, dear friends, if only to serve as a lesson to others. The day starts off on a good note though, as I’m trying to get onto the main road (“Main St.”) so that I can head north on my route.
I’m coming off a side street, so I wait for a pickup truck to pass. The driver stops. He looks at me. I look at him. He looks at me. I look at him. Stalemate. I wave him on through. He looks at me, then waves me on through. We could be here all day at this point. Stubborn though I am, I decide to graciously let him have the win, and forge on.
Soon enough, I find my road – 395, aka “Tarpman” Highway. Yes, this is the road where that dumbass Lavoy Finicum got himself shot and killed during the criminal takeover of Malheur Refuge. If you read between the lines, you can probably tell that I don’t give a shit that he met his demise; if you’re (like him) yelling at law enforcement things like “shoot me! Go ahead and shoot me now, you’ll never bring me in!” and then reach for a gun, well, you’ve pretty much decided your own fate right there. So it’s a bit of Snacktivist history that I feel compelled to check out.
Plus there’s wind from the north, so coming back I should have a tailwind. Win-win!
As I’m biking along, I notice a chill in the air, which makes me think I should have worn long sleeves. Clearly it’s going to be a cool day! I then notice a strange sign: “Scenic Devine Canyon.” Canyon? No one told me there would be canyons. But really, how hard can it be – that’s a bit of up and down, right?
5 miles in
Okay, so, I might have erred there, as “canyon” in this context means you’re going just uphill for miles and miles. Well, it can’t last TOO long – it’s not like this is a mountain pass in the Alps, haha – and hey, at least it’s scenic. I seem to be in Malheur Forest territory, so it’s lovely. Trees, and as our erstwhile pal Mitt Romney would say, they’re the right height! Whee, I love eastern Oregon!
10 miles in
Still climbing. How the hell did those FBI agents handle this? Oh right, they were in cars. Fucking
MENSA members slackers.
20 miles in
Still. Climbing. Really? REALLY?
63 miles in
249 miles in
Because yes, did I mention yet that it’s hot as hell, and I’m running low on water? Burns seems to fall into the typical Oregon bullshit, where it’s chilly enough in the morning that you pull on a hoodie, and 3 hours later when you go back outside, you look like a moron because it’s 98 degrees. How the hell did the FBI agents stand this? Oh yeah, they were here in winter. Fucking
totally hot smarter-than-me-guys
1,062 miles in
There’s a sign up ahead. Let’s see. Oh, of course, it’s telling me the altitude of the summit. This was a damn mountain after all. Argh, foiled again! I had wanted to go to the TroutLand camping ground, or whatever it’s called, but this calls to mind my fruitless gas station quest, and I decide to turn around while I can. It’ll be a straight shot back; I’ll zip on through, since now I’m really low on water.
Hey, what’s this? “Mountain Forest Road #31.” This sounds incoherent and yet intriguing. And best of all, it’s a beautifully paved road! Sure, I have to try to not break an ankle as I cross a cattle panel, but still, how can I not check this out?
I’m zipping along on this gorgeous road, shaded by forest, smooth as butter, and no cars. Nada. Zilch. It’s not hilly, a few gentle up and downs, and seems to go on for miles and miles. It feels like being the only person on all the rides at Disneyworld.
I am suspicious.
The road back is indeed ALL DOWNHILL THANK YOU SWEET JESUS. I have just one thought as I’m cruising back, and that is this: I will be royally pissed off if some asshat in their car plows into me, because I have earned every damn inch of this downhill. Luckily I remain unscathed, so no one has to feel my wrath.
But speaking of cars: while there haven’t been many, there have been some, mostly pickup trucks, large trucks, and campers. Without exception, every truck has given me a wide berth on the road, basically getting into the opposite lane. The three vehicles that didn’t give me any room? Two cars and some douchebag in a gold-colored SUV, who flies past me leaving around 3 inches of space. Lest we stereotype about drivers in trucks or pickups. Oh, and those pickups? I lose track as to how many of them are TOTING HUGE TUBS OF GAS. I kid you not. Talk about conspiracies.
I finally get back to town, having sucked down my last bit of water, and find myself wondering why Burns isn’t the cycling destination it deserves to be. The roads are incredible – by far better than Wisconsin or Illinois – and there’s little traffic and gorgeous scenery. Oh sure, it’s a desolate inhospitable wasteland environment, but you’re telling me that’s not the case in Wisconsin? And okay, there’s the occasional shootout, but where isn’t there?
Tomorrow, more riding of course, heading south this time. Apparently that way there’s “more of nothing,” according to my wonderful hosts. Godspeed.