Thursday, August 10, 2017

Brilliant like me


I set out yesterday on the long trip to Burns, aka mecca, and got to the halfway point of Bend in about 12 hours or so, guesstimating. Whereupon an important question came to mind: WHY oh WHY does the phone GPS always send you on total bumblefuck routes instead of main roads that are a straight shot? The GPS did this when we were headed to Lansing, Iowa for RAGBRAI, to the extent that we were sure we were lost. It did it to send me around Bend, apparently, rerouting me on some convoluted loop until lo and behold, it spit me out on highway 20 going east. 20. Going. East. Where I drove maybe 50 feet and saw a sign: Millican 60 miles, Burns 1,289 (approximately).

Oh, no. No no no no no no no no nonononononononononono. Hells no. HELL no. Because I have literally been down this road before.  Where you think oh, I have a half a tank of gas, I can make it to Millican. And Millican is a lone boarded-up shop, and then you see the sign for Brothers. And you think, hmm, Brothers. Well Sisters is a pretty big town, so Brothers must be something at least. But no. Brothers is a slightly wider spot in the road with a burned-out shed, and then you see the sign for Riley. And by now you’ve lost all hope, and rightly so. And you wonder why you too are so stupid as to not be toting around a tub of gas in the back of your not-a-pickup.

Anyway. Point being, my mom didn’t raise an excess of stupid children, so I immediately turned around and drove INTO the traffic of Bend, ie exactly what the GPS was apparently trying to have me avoid. Oh well.

Properly fueled up, I set back out to tackle the rest of the 23 hour ride to Burns.  At some point I’m contemplating life and my shit luck in general and how things never work out for me, just my usual idle musing, when……I get pulled over by the po-po. Yep. I had decided at one point that there would never be any speed traps out here, because you’d have to have a cop sitting all day for the 2 cars that pass by, which would be silly. But in this case, there’s a cop coming towards me as I’m going around 78 in a 65 zone, and as I pass him wondering if they can gauge speed when coming from the opposite direction, I look in my rear-view mirror and sure enough, see him turning around. Sigh. My one thought on this is, #becauseofcourse. That’s the kind of luck I have.

So he pulls me over, and no I do NOT call him the po-po (learned that lesson on RAGBRAI), and instead stick with my usual je ne sais quoi (that means “Miss Tasha don’t give a shit” in French) style, which means that when he asks me The Question (“you were going 78 in a 65, was there a reason for that?”), I answer truthfully: (paraphrasing) “Well, this has been a long-ass drive and I’m tired and there isn’t a single radio station to be had and I really just need to be the fuck THERE already becauseI’mtired."

He does not give me a ticket.

This, in spite of me giving him an old insurance card and only being able to find my Illinois car registration and in general just full of dumbfuckery. It must have been my charm and winsome smile, no? Now I’m not sure if this is a harbinger of good things to come, aka a semblance of good luck, or if this was it, my one bit of good luck for the foreseeable future. Hmm.


I wasn’t planning on going riding today, because I figured I’d get in late the night before and would want a day to settle in first. Plus, this would give me a chance to put Plan Brilliant Me into action. You see, it’s been pointed out by smart friends of mine like Stacey that I probably shouldn’t be doing my crazy-ass rides alone. To which I say, well, none of my friends in Oregon ride bikes, so I either ride alone or I don’t ride at all, the latter not being an option.


It occurs to me while driving out here, as I’m thinking that I’ll head up north to the town of John Day on Thursday and that that’s part of my planned 102-mile route, that the turnoff to the “town” of Van is a mere 11 miles (supposedly) off the main road. I can prewater. Yes, prewater. Just like you’d preride a course before a race or pregame before going out, I can drive those extra 11 miles and put a jug of water on my route. Holy shit, how smart am I??? Rhetorical question. Besides, while I’m crazy and fearless and like to #doepicshit, I also don’t necessarily have a death wish. And if I’m going to go down, it had better be in some epic way, like being trampled by a Rage Cow, rather than an inglorious choking to death via cotton mouth.

So I set out today with my jug of water and start heading north. I finally get to the turnoff, and notice that the road starts to be not so great, though it’s still better than a lot of roads I’ve biked on. Then, hills. Lots. Of. Hills. Then I realize that I’ve gone more than 11 miles. Could I have missed the turnoff? The website claimed there was a t-intersection, and there has been nothing of the sort.

It certainly is scenic though, and as I drive along through this bucolic and serenely lovely road through the Malheur forest, I have one thought:

If I have a mechanical here, I’m fucked.

But I forge ahead, and am rewarded with…..something resembling a t-intersection, and a gravel road. Damn. This is apparently my road to the “town” of Van, though there’s no sign indicating any such thing, because of course not.

This is a shitty gravel washboard road, and I decide to take it to see how long it goes on. At least to the right I see ranch buildings! Wait, maybe not. Shacks? Outbuildings? Shacky abandoned outbuildings? Whatever, it’s some semblance of life, good enough. The shit road goes on for 2 miles, which might be doable on my road bike. Maybe. Questionable since I also put the race wheels on my bike before I left (#becausefuckit).

I figure I’ll leave the jug of water there anyway should I decide to take this route.

But then of course the questions start. What if I leave the water and assume it’ll be there and it’s not and then I’ve sucked down all my water and I’m screwed? Do Rage Cows like jugs of water? Do raccoons? Moose? What if someone comes by and decides they need the water? For the latter, given that I’ve been on this road for 15 miles and haven’t seen a single car in either direction, that’s probably a moot point.

There isn’t really a great place to put the water, since on either side at the t-stop are steep hills going down, and sparse underbrush. But I find a spot, and then as I’m looking on the opposite side of the road, I see that down at the bottom of the ravine is a huge culvert and a stream of rushing water. So, if the worst-case scenario happens and my jug of water disappears, I can tumble down the ravine and get water from the creek. Whew!

I feel this plan is sound.

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