Day 7. Baker City to Ontario Oregon. I'm continuing on the Lionel Richie theme from yesterday because of what we did today. Have any of you ever ridden a bike on an interstate highway before? I hadn't until today.
The reason we have to ride on the interstate is that in some places out here, there are no other roads that get us to where we need to go. That was the case today. This morning, we rode on I-84 not once, not twice, but three separate times. I was really anxious about the idea of riding on the freeway (they call the interstate a freeway out here, but it's the same as the 401 in our neck of the woods in terms of its classification as a highway). At the initial tour briefing last Saturday the ABB team gave us a thorough review of safety practices for doing this riding – very thorough, in fact. Nevertheless, I was very intimidated by this. Not only that, but I woke up with a bad stomach ache that dogged me all day. My riding mate Baltimore Mark (who by the way has an Art Hoffman-like drug store on the back of his bike – the Art Hoffman reference is for my Mom) gave me a couple of Tums to chew on and by the time we hit Ontario Oregon it was gone. Whew, just in time for a Blizzard at DQ.
The interstate section of today's ride turned out not to be that big a deal, and everyone (almost all of whom were as anxious as me) agreed. The traffic moved a bit faster than a state highway (only 5-10 MPH faster), but there was a really wide shoulder. Also, we left at 7AM this morning and let's just say there is pretty minimal Sunday morning traffic in the greater Baker City tri-city area (the "tri-city area" reference is entirely sarcastic by the way). There is a ton of debris roadside on a freeway though, and it can tear bike tires to pieces. We were very lucky today though – no flats.
Here's video of the I-84 trip:
On the way to I-84 I rode a large section of the way with Kay from Fayetteville Arkansas. What a great lady to talk to. She's CIO (Chief Information Officer) for JB Hunt Trucking (Jill – tell that to Dave) and she is "wicked smart" as they say in the movies (she's the blond next to the 2 Swiss cops Bruno and Daniel in the photo). She's here with her friend Jay (an unbelievable cyclist who is way out of everyone's league on this ride, he's so fast) to bid farewell to her 18 year old niece Alison who is going all the way across country by herself. Jay and Kay are with us until Wyoming. Nice person to pass the miles with.
Today was easier than yesterday because for the first time this trip, we went more down than up. It didn't help that my stomach was killing me most of the ride. However, the value of a team sure was proven today. First, a large group assembled at the I-84 entrance ramp (like 25 of us) and we rode the 6-7 miles together as a group to prove the "there's safety in numbers" theory, which we did. Second, after the second rest stop, a group of us formed a paceline to cover the last 25 miles. Now, 25 miles may not sound like a lot, but in 33C heat, after riding 500 miles in 6 days, I was looking forward to the finish today, especially feeling the way I did. But our group of "thoroughbreds" got it together and we really got moving. We even added a few new horses to the group (Bob from DC, Dan from Indiana, and Bill). We moved along nicely and before we knew it, we were here at the Holiday Inn in Ontario Oregon. Then, it was off to DQ, which was great because as soon as my stomach ache disappeared, it was replaced by ravenous hunger!
Also, today was a first in another way. At mile 52 of today's ride, we crossed into the Mountain time zone. Now I'm only 2 hours behind you guys. Only 2 more time zones to go!
I had a last minute entry into the bike naming contest – "wonderboy"
Now it's on to the mail:
Jordy from Toronto writes "I love your blog because it's so creative. Maybe you should consider a career in the field of advertising." No, I don't think I'd ever be any good at that Jordy. Maybe in another life.
Lauren and Samantha from Toronto write "We miss you terribly. We think you are the greatest Dad, not only in this world, but throughout our galaxy. We actually don't know how we get through every day without you. Our hearts feel like they are missing their most important
piece - Y-O-U. How about Thunder Seat for your bike name?". Thanks girls. I couldn't have said it better if I had typed that myself on my own laptop in room 146 in the Holiday Inn in Ontario Oregon.
Useful links for you:
Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk:
This link is data from Jeff's bike computer showing stats from today's ride – very cool:
This link is Baltimore Mark's blog:
And this is Katie's blog: