With many miles between towns, the ride continues

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 17, 2013

Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun

Sunday was a day of ups and downs. I continue to have a hard time getting going in the mornings. Not that I am not out early, it just seems that my muscles have a hard time revving up. I wanted to make it to Mitchell today, a town that is a story in itself. I will get back to that later. I rode through Prineville this morning. Prineville started as a gold boom town but is now famous because it has the only city-owned and operated rail line in the U.S. I rode past beautiful ranches in the area early today.
The hard part of the day came later as I ventured to get over Ochoco Pass. This one wasn’t as steep as some of the others, but I rode for more than 20 miles on a continuous upgrade. The temperature was hot, and according to one cyclist, made it above 90. For more than 30 miles, I rode through a national forest that had little to see except more trees. There were no landmarks except a few roads. I honestly was parched, and nearly out of water when I found a surveyor working as I neared the summit. He gave me two much needed bottles of water.
Once I crossed the summit, there was 7 miles of coasting through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. I saw what is referred to as the “Painted Hills,” and kept stopping on my way down to take photos. That scenery was the best of the trip so far.
As I mentioned, my goal was to make it to Mitchell, Ore. It had the first water and food for 40 miles. The problem is that the town store closes at 6, the cafe didn’t open today, and there is no other source within miles for anything. I found out that the next two days will be full of more of the same. There is no cell coverage, but both the hotel and motel do have Wifi. I met another cyclist who is heading east out of Glendale, Calif.
Mitchell, besides being the only town around for miles, has quite a past. It began in 1867 as a station on the stagecoach route. The town presently has a little over 100 residents. Twice, the town has survived major fires, and once, most of the buildings were washed away in a flash flood. Only two residents drowned as everyone else heard the roar of the coming water.
Bottom line, I made 70 miles today but did not feel strong like yesterday. There is immediately another long climb tomorrow morning. I am sitting here looking at it now. Keye’s Creek Pass is the object this time. There is no food and water for about 40 more miles, so I will be up early and attacking that pass.
This was a good day for meeting people, and a tough 70 miles is behind me.