Lakeview, OR to Summer Lake, OR – 146.9 miles
The first hours of our morning were spent nailing down plans for the return home in just under a week. We decided it would be cheapest to have a company ship the bikes and we’ll hop on a red eye back to the Atlantic coast. Naomi bought plane tickets and made arrangements for the bike pickup in Portland. The end is near.
We readied ourselves for today’s ride with overcast skies, cold temps, and a mixture of rain and snow falling outside the hotel window. I had expected Oregon to be our coldest state, but I don’t think either of us were fully prepared. Packing turned out to be very easy because nearly every piece of clothing I brought on the trip was stretched onto my body…four shirts, two pants, a neck gaiter, a balaclava, all of my usual armor, and my rain gear on top. We both had a hard time getting on our bikes and I nearly split my pants doing a showgirl high kick over the seat.
The sky cleared before we pulled out of town and headed into the Fremont National Forest. We were happy to be on maintained gravel forest roads again today and sped along the path flanked by tall pine trees. Much of the forest had recently been thinned and huge piles of left over branches laid by the road. The smell of fresh pine invaded my nose and helped the first miles of the day fly by.
After the first 40 miles, the sky turned dark and the wind picked up as the temps dropped. We could see the clouds dumping on the earth ahead of us and our winding route was headed that way. A few minutes later we were hit by our first raindrops, then by a mixture of hail and snow. Thankfully the precipitation didn’t last long, but it was enough to soak our gloves and chill us to the bone.
We stopped for a snack and to warm up alongside the road. A fallen tree made a great perch for us to munch on jerky and gather our strength for the last 50 miles. Naomi banged out some squats to raise her heat a few degrees and then hit the road again.
The ride continued through areas of the forest that had burned over the past few years and had the scars to prove it. Scorched stumps dotted the landscape as we made the final push to Silver Lake in the rain. We arrived with frozen fingers at the only hotel/gas station/store for 25 miles. A group of 11 motorcyclists who pulled in about five minutes before us grabbed the last two rooms. I think I might have shed a single tear at the thought of having to ride to the next town in dropping temps and a misty rain. We grabbed a cup of coffee and thawed a tiny bit as we mentally prepped to head back out into the arctic. Before we left one of the 11 bikers offered to share their rooms with us. The thought of sharing a tiny hotel bathroom with six strangers on high protein and fiber diets was tempting, but a hot shower and dinner in Summer Lake was calling my name.
Today’s lesson: The biting cold will snap at you quick and take a chunk before you know it.