Cycle Oregon Day 3 – Starkey to Sumpter

cycle oregon Day 3 ride Starkey to Sumpter

[Leaving Starkey]

Ride Details: 53 miles, 4,400 feet elevation gain

This morning we left Starkey and rode along the Grande Ronde River valley. It was a frigid but unbelievably gorgeous start to the day. I couldn’t resist joining the many other riders that stopped on a bridge for a cheesy photo of me and the river.

Today’s ride was a roller-coaster with more tough climbing and unrelenting heat. We pedaled over three separate peaks on our way into Sumpter.

After a morning in the mountains, our route opened up into a vast meadow. Cows and serpentine creeks left their mark on my memory and on the wide-open landscape.

cycle oregon Day 3 ride Starkey to Sumpter

[Can you hold it?]

Making our way to the first rest stop of the day, I saw the longest line yet for the “blue rooms,” which is what porta-potties are called here on Cycle Oregon.

Then, as we pedaled away from the rest stop I met a lady with a most unusually placed chain ring tattoo.

Today I got a chance to catch up with Ats and Taeko, my new friends from Tokyo who are rolling on a tricked out tandem Bike Friday. I met them on the first day’s ride and ride with them a bit each day since. They run a website called Cycle Tokyo! which is a great resource for tourists who want to experience Tokyo by bike.

We had a nice lunch stop in Granite and the locals laid out some hay bales and blankets to sit on.

cycle oregon Day 3 ride Starkey to Sumpter

I’m still feeling great, but my enthusiasm for my performance thus far is tempered by the fact that most people on this ride are nearly twice my age.

cycle oregon Day 3 ride Starkey to Sumpter

[67 years old
and still going strong.]

Take Joe McCann for example. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw his jersey from the very first Cycle Oregon (this is the 19th year). I stopped and chatted with him for a while. He’s 67 and he was working hard up the long, hot climb, but still maintaining his composure and cadence.

He said he’s done “10 or so” Cycle Oregon’s but told me this is definitely his last. “I’ve got other things I want to do with my life,” he said. I told him I hope to be as strong as he his when I’m 67.

Finally into the historic town of Sumpter, I’ve now got three days of riding in my legs. I’m definitely feeling the Cycle Oregon vibe. I can feel the mental and physical rhythm of camping, riding, eating, and so on.

cycle Oregon-Scenes from Sumpter

The little towns we stop in are a big part of that vibe. Sumpter (like Heppner and Starkey) is a great place, full of old storefronts, ranches, and warm, friendly folks like Mark at the Java Net café. Mark is typical of the nice people we run into in these communities. If you’re ever in Sumpter and need a warm place to log on and warm up, check out his place.

Our campsite here is the most beautiful yet. We’re in a big open meadow with thigh-high grass over looking a gorgeous valley thick with trees as far as the eye can see.

cycle Oregon-Scenes from Sumpter

Tomorrow we have a big day of climbing so I better get some sleep.

Check out beautiful Sumpter and the rest of my Day 3 photos.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Ats (@nak)
17 years ago

Hi Jonathan ! It was nice meeting you at Cycle Oregon, and talking to you on the rides. It was interesting how our pace would pick up when you would come along everyday and we would start talking on our bikes. Thanks for the pull.:-) It’s 2 wks returing to Japan, and just about settled back to normal life. Thank you for introducing Cycle Tokyo! in your article. Though not as open as Oregon, Tokyo is a very exciting city to ride in.
BTW, great pictures, we were impressed at how good you handle your SLR while riding !
We’ll keep in touch.