Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bike Ride

Stuffing the mountain bike
into the back of the truck
required twisting and grunt
ing, not to mention choosing
several appropriate verbal ex
pressions when I mashed my
thumb between the handle
bars and the tailgate.
The bike, however, slipped
out smooth as silk at Andies
Prairie Snow Park.
I dribbled it on the ground
and leaned it against a tire.
I fetched the daypack with
the water bag from the pass
enger seat and slung it on. I
draped the camera bag's strap
over my neck so the bag hung
against my left side.
I strapped it tight around
my ribs with a belt, to keep it
from flopping as I pedaled.
With gloves on my hands
and helmet on my head, I
swung onto the saddle and
rode to the south-side toilet.
After that I drifted to the
north end of the snow park,
crossed the highway and
pedaled onto the Horseshoe
Prairie Nordic Ski Area road.
Bumpity-bump! Rocks and
steepness made the first 200
yards a workout. Then the
road became smoother. I
turned left at each `Y' in the
road.
By the time I reached a
``Road Closed'' barrier (I as
sumed bicycles were
exempted), the camera bag
required adjustment.
The belt cramped my ribs.
My left knee bumped the bag
with every pedal.
``I'm not taking photos from
the bike,'' I reflected. ``If I see
something to shoot, I'll stop.''
So, with that logic I stuffed
the camera bag into the pack.
It barely fit.
I turned on the GPS unit
and punched in a waypoint
(N-45 42.275/W-118 02.662 at
5,110 feet), which I forgot to
do at the snow park.
Perhaps I'd use it to tell
someone how to find that
Road Closed barrier someday.
Then I mounted again and
headed east or south (more or
less). Rocks bounced my
highly inflated road tires like
a tennis ball. I clinched my
jaws to keep from biting my
tongue or cracking a filling.
I visualized the softer,
wider Farmer John tires lean
ing in a basement corner,
gathering dust.
Oh, well.
On Summit Road I pedaled
uphill for awhile. Then I hit
32.5 mph on a long downhill
only to slump to between 5
and 7 mph on the next incline.
At the sign to Umatilla Rim
Trail 3080, I turned right, rode
past the pond and two large
RV campers, one with a ham
mock in the shade.
At Ninemile Ridge
Trailhead, the trail narrowed
to a one-track. Twice, in the
first 50 yards, rocky patches
nearly jarred me loose from
the bike.
Once I lost traction and
pushed the bike up a steep
rise.
Then the trail flattened, and
I zipped along at 14-15 mph,
with the North Fork Umatilla
Wilderness spread off to my
left and a breeze in my face.
I stopped twice to take pic
tures. I set a waypoint at a
wilderness-boundary sign
(N-45 42.480/W-118 05.523 at
5,162 feet).
I saw the tower on High
Ridge. It looked tinker-toy
sized. So, I turned around and
headed for it.
I sped back to Summit
Road without stopping,
swooping down breathtaking
dips and around sharp turns.
I passed the pond again and
tore downhill to the turnoff
for the lookout. A sign said
two miles. My bike computer
said I'd ridden 7.7 miles from
Andies Prairie.
I passed a campsite and two
yapping dogs charged after
me, followed by a man drying
his face with a towel and
yelling at the dogs to shut up.
Yapping dogs seldom bite,
so I kept going. For awhile.
The road slanted so steep,
and baseball-sized rocks
spread across the path in such
abundance, that I ground to a
halt.
I pushed the bike for 150
yards. Then the road turned
right and became less rocky
and steep. I rode again and
stopped to push for another
20 yards before riding to the
tower.
I removed the pack, sat on
the steps and sipped water
and scenery. Then I climbed
the steps to the platform be
low the final locked level.
I sat on some plywood, felt
the breeze on my face and
sipped more scenery in all
directions. Smoke plumed
near Cove, or tractor dust
rose.
A red-and-yellow helicopter
flew by at eye level. I heard it
and saw its shadow before I
saw it.
Before leaving, I set a
waypoint at the tower (N-45
40.956/W-118 06.118 at 5,310
feet).
The bike's computer said
9.0 miles or 1.3 miles from
Summit Road. It seemed far
ther, like five miles.
I rode swiftly down from
the tower. My elbow joints
and hands ached from the
jolting. I climbed the long hill
back to the pond on Summit
Road.
I left there to ride the
Umatilla Rim Trail again.
More kicks. I zipped along
too fast, but enjoyed the ride.
I stopped once to look across
an undulating sea of cone
head flowers toward a hazy
Hermiston.
When the trail passed a
spur road, I turned back
toward Summit Road. I
stopped once to photograph a
vivid crimson paintbrush.
Then, on Summit Road, I
scooted all the way to High
way 204 and the snow park.
At Andies Prairie I set the
final waypoint of the day
(N--45 42.279/W-118 02.024 at
5,040 feet).
The bike's computer said
18.7 miles; 32.5 maximum
mph; a 7.4 mph average;
2:29:42 time.
I had started riding at 11:33
a.m., and finished at 3:12 p.m.
Give or take.
Oh, well. Twisting and
grunting, and careful, I
stuffed the bike into the truck
and headed home for dinner.