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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.