Day 5. Prineville to John Day Oregon. Thank you Kevin Raposo! Kevin is my trainer at The Cambridge Club who tortured me over the past 6 months with lunges and squats, squats and lunges. I hated every minute of it. Well, it all paid off today, let me tell you. Also, thanks go to Kimchan Ramrattan (one of the guys I've cycled with who helped me train for this, and who definitely should book this trip next year). Do it today. You won't regret it (do it with your son!)
We rode 117 miles today. We climbed 2 mountain passes with total climbing of over 5,000 vertical feet (Lipsons/Roses – that's one and a half Apsen Mountains!). Without a doubt, and by a mile, this was the hardest day of cycling in my life. The most I'd ever ridden before was 100 miles, but there was virtually no climbing the times I rode that distance. We climbed over 5,000 feet each of the past few days, but not combined with 117 miles of distance. The day started at 4:45AM. We loaded luggage into the truck at 5:15AM. Breakfast was at 5:30AM and we were on the road at 6:15AM. We started with a 30 mile climb over 2,500 vertical feet to Ochoco Pass (see picture). During the climb a bunch of us formed a paceline where somebody takes turns leading into the wind which makes it easier for everyone to "draft" and save energy (like NASCAR drivers do). One segment was led by 18 year old Alison. Check out Allison's picture wearing the Super Grover cycling shirt (the same one the Duchess owns!).
Then we had a 10 mile descent through the most magnificent High Alpine valley I've ever seen. Beyond breathtaking! When the settlers crossed through this part of Oregon, I can't imagine why anyone would have kept going after seeing this valley. Wide open, lush meadows. Stark peaks. Unreal.
Here's video from the top of the summit:
As I'm sitting here writing this, the whole day is becoming a blur. I'm trying to remember everything that happened. We were in the saddle for over 9 hours. After our cruise down the river valley, we had another 3,000 vertical foot climb over 6 miles (much steeper than the first). This one was tough, but we made it. When we went down the back side, we were treated to a 25 mile (that is almost from Toronto to Oakville) screaming descent at 50-60km/h through a river canyon out of the old West. I thought Butch and Sundance were going to jump out of the sagebrush and hold us up (or buy us a beer) at some point!
Then it was on to John Day over the last 40 miles. We caught a nice tailwind and even though Jeff had a blowout en route, we made it to the hotel in plenty of time.
The other riders are calling me, Jeff (Canadian Jeff from Connecticut), Joe (Atlanta Joe who, by the way told me today he was at Game 5 of the 1992 Braves/Jays World Series – the same game I was at that the Braves won on Lonnie Smith's HR), Dave, and Baltimore Mark "the Thoroughbreds".
I guess that's because we zip along together at a nice pace.
When you are on your bike a long time, like this, you do have time to think about stuff. I guess today I was thinking about what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it. I'm not talking about being something completely unrealistic like a major league baseball player when you don't have natural talent. But anyone who can ride a bike and has the fortitude to do it can accomplish this ride. Some take longer than others, but it's possible. I mean who would have thought that you could get an amazing summer internship or full-time job at a prestigious management consulting firm at the age of 21, or be a walk-on on an NCAA softball team. Or for that matter, crush your college aptitude test, be a professional musician, train to be a fighter pilot, open your own newspaper, or build a uniform business. How about opening a clothing business in the height of a recession, running a marathon, holding fundraising events for a lost brother, or holding down the fort when one's boss goes on a 2 month-long bike ride? All these were done by people I know, and they were done simply because they willed themselves to do it. I never thought I could do this ride, no matter how hard I trained. But, here I am, doing it. It's far from over, but I am surprising myself everyday. If I can surprise myself, why can't everybody else?
On to today's mail:
Esther from Toronto writes "how about The Prince of Rides or Queasy Rider as your bike name?" I love the Barbra Streisand (for my Duchess) and Dennis Hopper references!
Eric from Toronto writes "I think you'll be under 7 and a half pounds lost during your ride". Not after what I ate today, even with all the riding. I ate like a teenage boy after hockey practice today.
Useful links for you:
Trip journal and photos by our tour leader Mike Munk: