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David Freeze: On Day 7, a long and hilly ride ends at Columbia River

What could be better than this? A long ride is done, and I am looking at the state of Washington, just across the Columbia River.

My 94 miles was hard-earned Monday, with lots of steep hills and at least one never-ending mountain pass. It was a day of false summits — what I thought was the top of the hill and it wasn’t.

I started Monday morning in Madras and had little traffic as most of the trucks took U.S. 26 as I continued on U.S. 97. My goal all day was to make to it to the river and into my motel room to see the NBA finals, at 6 p.m. out here. I made it by half an hour.

The day began with a steady climb and got real serious when I passed through Willowdale with nothing happening just before arriving at a huge paving project. This was a seriously steep Rocky Mountain-style climb that went on forever. I was still climbing when I finally passed a rest area. and the view seemed the highest around.

Still pedaling up and down, I rode into Shaniko, a town that loves its Wild West history. It is billed as “Where the West Still Lives.” Some original buildings including the old hotel join with others that were hauled in from elsewhere.

Founded in 1901, the town was once considered the “Wool Capital of the World.” I rode through town and a woman at the antiques shop hollered at me, but I didn’t understand what she wanted and kept riding. I did go in a general store, and the woman there was quite grumpy. Maybe because I only bought a cosmic brownie and a cinnamon roll. I am wary of going in stores where no one else is inside.

Next was Kent, with nothing happening and no real store. But mega grain production started about here and continued north for at least 25 miles. There were huge fields, but none of them were flat. In fact, nothing was flat about Monday.

On through two more towns dominated by Kansas-style grain elevators. Not sure if any stores were open in Green Valley and Moro. Then came about 12 miles of downhill into the predicted wind until I arrived at the river.

Biggs Junction is complete with about a dozen eating places, a big truck stop and about half that many motels. I stayed in Dinty’s Motel, where Nikkie Spaniola and Joe Griese checked me in.

Right afterward, a couple in the next room asked about the bike. After telling them I was on the way to Alaska, we got to know each other. I met Ben and Denise Taylor of LeClaire, Iowa. They are from the same town that the “American Pickers” of TV fame work out of.

More and more of the trucks have these big bumpers made to keep them from being damaged by moose and bear in the road. It is supposed to be in the 90s here for the next couple of days.

I planned start Tuesday very early climbing out of what is called the Columbia River Gorge. I have been told that it will take 10 to 12 miles of steep climbing to get out so it will be a low mileage day, nearly all of it in Washington.

The river has lots of the big wind generators on both sides, and they were turning well.

Father and Son Produce, with Tim and Linda Hoffner, have been a longtime sponsor of my trips and longtime friends. I love their produce and especially the new store train and ice cream depot.

Join me tomorrow to hear about a lot of 4- to 5-mph climbing and hopefully better mileage production afterward.

We are getting closer to Canada and the real challenges of riding in the remote parts of it.

I planned to go for my second ice cream of the evening Monday night.

David Freeze is a Salisbury Post contributor who is biking from Nevada to Alaska. He can be reached at David.freeze@ctc.net while on his journey.

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