Sunday, April 22, 2018

Welcome to the Suckfest

You might be wondering how it is that I’m back in eastern Oregon, when I just made my way out of Malheur forest. Well, through the magic of this thing called “the blog that hasn’t been updated for 8 months or so,” I’m skipping forward at lightning speed, basically so that I can write about my epic achievement of 2018 (thus far). Of course this is the grueling .5K race that I did…..but more on that later.

Oh, but I can hear you all now, sounding for all the world like Cindy Lou Who: “But Miss Tasha, why? WHY do you keep going to eastern Oregon to ride your bike in the middle of nowhere?”

A fine question, but a number of reasons come to mind:

   1)   the quest for Hot Cowboy
   2)   There are few people
   3)   Turkey vultures
   4)   Really, very few people
   5)   Meetcute potential (albeit slim) with Hot Cowboy
   6)   Practically no people

Plus, my trip out there in October was on a whole other level of stupid. You see, I decided, in some epic leap into ridiculousness and folly, that 2018 (as my year of #DoingEpicShit) would be when I would bike all the Oregon Scenic Bikeway routes. There are 17 of them in different parts of the state, with varying degrees of difficulty, and it seemed like a good way to mark my 10-year Cancerversary year. Plus this gave me a good excuse to head back out to Burns last October, to get a jump on things. And of course, as a secondary motto to go along with Doing the Stupid Things So You Don’t Have To, I also have Always An Adventure. Namely, when things are going south quickly before my very eyes, I tend to find myself saying “Well, at least it’s always an adventure.” Which is true.

So. My brilliant and well-thought-out-plan was thus: I’d head out to Burns, do some of my local rides, and then do the 184-mile John Day Scenic Bikeway route, the one that has about 6 billion feet of climb, give or take. I studied the weather incessantly, parsing out the likelihood of snow (nah), doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations on wind speed (not too bad), extrapolating temps based on previous years (balmy-ish). I was ready.

My plan for Saturday is to head out on my usual ride to the Crane Café, using the theory that I once saw a Hot Cowboy there, so maybe someday I’ll see him again. This is basically what my beloved Kone would do – if something positive happened once, that meant it was immediately solidified in his mind as a given, rather than an anomaly. There’s one problem though. We all know the issue I have with wind, and I fret as I study the wind speeds for today.

15. 20. 23. 17. 25! (!) I start googling “how windy is too windy to ride.” There’s no consensus on this, as one person’s 15mph gusty is another person’s “ech that’s fine.” Most people agree that wind in the 20s sucks and is to be avoided. What to do?

On the one hand, I hate wind. On the other, this is my Crane Café day. On the third hand, how bad can it be, really. (This is known as “foreshadowing.”)

Plus, according to and weatherunderground, the wind is supposed to be from the north on my way out, and then it’ll switch to coming from the south on my way back, so that’ll work out. Could it be worse than the Windburn 100 ride that Deanna and I did once where we were pedaling hard to go down hills at a blistering speed of 5 mph? Or my last ride in Morocco, where the wind was pushing me UPHILL with no pedaling? Surely not.

Hahahahahahahaha! Hahaha. Ha. Ha…..

The ride starts out as usual  - I’m zipping along, looking for Rage Cows and jackrabbits, appreciating the desolate beauty of the high desert and the complete dearth of people. Then at one point I realize something. I’m really zipping along. As in, I tried to calculate things so that I’d be at the Café somewhat before lunchtime, but at this rate…..I’ll be there around 10AM. Hmm. This……this does not bode well for the return trip.

Luckily, when I get to the Crane Café at the crack of dawn thanks to the high wind, I find delightful company, Brandy and Shilo, who are from southern Oregon and road tripped to the eastern part of the state on a hot springs tour. Even though I hate people as a general rule, I find myself talking to them by butting into their conversation as they’re talking about how incredible the full moon was the night before (it was), and then we talk bikes and we exchange names and friend each other on FB. In other words, typical stuff.

Of course, as we’re sitting there chatting merrily, the wind is picking up, to the point that people walking in are looking disheveled and windblown.

This does not bode well.

Indeed, as I’m leaving the Café, I pass a couple walking in, looking…..windswept and disheveled. They see me with my bike.

Them: You’re not riding in this, are you?
Me: Unfortunately, yes.
Them: Hopefully going with the wind at your back?
Me: Sadly, no. Against the wind the whole way back to Burns.
Them: Get someone to pick you up!
Me: I’m out here by myself. Me and my bike. Alone.
Them: Umm….good luck?

So there’s that.  I set off, and honestly, this is so ridiculous, I almost start laughing. I’m hurpling along at around 6.8 mph, and I get an insta-headache from the wind blowing into my ears. It’s either a full-on headwind (bad) or a strong crosswind, which is almost worse because it’s blowing me into the road. Of course, since there are more cattle than people in this part of the country, that greatly reduces my chances of getting plowed down by a passing vehicle.

Yet again, I find myself gazing at the houses and ranches I’m passing on occasion, thinking of grifting a ride into town. Yet again, I stubbornly press on. It’s just me, out here on the tundra, with nowhere to escape the wind. I soldier on, because really, what else is there? That might be my metaphor for life: just keep pedaling. No matter how sucky it is. Until you decide you’ve had enough, and are weary. But I digress.

And sure enough, around 12 hours later, I wind up back in Burns, back at the hotel, shell-shocked and disheveled.  Once I thaw out, I get online, and see a message from Brandy from the Café. “We stopped to pee, saw how windy it was, thought of you!” Well, at least someone was in tune with my suffering stupidity aggressive athleticism stubborn delusional self.

Then, to add insult to injury, I decide to check and see just how windy it was. 25? 32?

38 miles per hour. Squarely from the north, ie a headwind. So much for the wind switching directions, huh, weather underground?

I shall have to write an angry letter.

Next up: We're goin' bear hunting!


pete said...

Your blog posts always bring a smile to my face. Makes me laugh. There is so much dry humor here that I notice. And laughing, is so awesome.

jennifer said...

Too bad I've left new mexico...if you visited me there, you might have enjoyed the wind...often 45-60 mph...lots of brown-outs...lots of windstorms...few bike lanes...Tucson is much less lanes everywhere...perfect! Stay safe, crazy cyclist!