Day 6 - John Day to Baker City OR
Mileage: 81 miles
Weather: Cool all day. Again. Low 50s to start. Low 70s to end. Cloudless to start. Big fluffy ones to end. Wind was all over the place.
Highlights of the day:
Today was our last “real” climbing day of this section. We will have hills and we will be climbing the next two days but not the kind of climbs that go on for miles. Today, the riders definitely felt the residual effect of yesterday’s long effort. Trying to warm up the legs and just spin on climbs after the 116 miles into John Day was a challenge. A challenge that was accepted and met by everyone.
It was cool this morning but the riders warmed up as they began climbing just out of the hotel. An unofficial stop at the Conestoga Wagon View Point provided a beautiful view of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area and the John Day River Valley. We missed most of the Cascades because of cloud cover, I think today made up for it with the crystal clear views. One note about the wagon - it was an un-covered wagon today. Not sure why, it varies from year to year. Just might have to research that one… The route continued up to the top of our first climb, Dixie Mountain Summit @ 5277’.
Near the bottom of our first descent, we had our first SAG stop at the Austin House Restaurant. Time for some really good blackberry cobbler ala mode. Why? Austin House is known for good cobbler and we’re cyclist. Cycling is all about eating – especially at local establishments with homemade goodies. Besides it was the appropriate thing to do so we could use their facilities. See? We had no choice. 😀
Clothing choices were tough today with internal combustion providing lots of heat on the climbs, countered with the invigorating cooler temps on the descents. Vest on? Vest off? The first climb was to Tipton Mountain Summit @ 5124’, followed by a descent and a climb up to Snall Summit @ ~4900’. This last climb was a little more generous than the first two, it just kept giving more elevation around every corner.
A few pictures of the Elkhorn Mountains and it was downhill to the second SAG at the Wallowa-Whitman picnic area. It was a very nice location for the riders to enjoy their sack lunches before finishing the last 20 miles into the hotel. Winds began to pickup around the 2nd SAG. It was mostly of the headwind variety. Out of the SAG and along the Powder River, the winds were all over the place. Perhaps it’s due to the winds reflecting off the surround hillsides? It went from head to cross to tail and back again more times than I can count. It felt a little more headwind than anything. These headwinds slowed us down but, think of it this way, it slowed them down to enjoy more views of the Powder River. Yes, that is what we call spin.
Quick note that I almost forgot. We arrived in Baker City the weekend of the Baker City Cycling Classic. The criterium was running when we cycled through town. It was either detour around it or walk through downtown to watch cyclists race through town at above threshold speed. We came in time to see the young riders hammer it out. Inspiring!