Find Your Way
July 30, 2002
Baker City to Sumpter

Today's Miles = 33.7
Average Speed = 6.2 mph
Maximum Speed = 22.8 mph
Total Miles = 4115.2b

I left Baker City not feeling all that great. My sore throat from a couple of days ago has returned and although I'm not exactly miserable, I'd prefer to be feeling healthy. The ride out of Baker City leads to a slow climb that lasts for about thirty miles, and the headwind that I had fought yesterday afternoon was with me once again. With the combination of feeling ill, the climb, and the headwind, I was struggling to keep myself going almost from the moment I left town.

After fourteen miles of riding I came to a USFS campground where I seriously considered stopping for the day. I sat there for about an hour, enjoying a snack from what supplies I was carrying, and contemplated what to do next. As good as it felt to not be battling the wind, I just couldn't see stopping so soon so I pulled myself back onto my bike and returned to the road.

I had ridden on for about thirty minutes when a truck came around a curve behind me, honked its horn, barely swerved and passed me too closely, then pulled off onto the side of the road ahead of me. Now, I think a big part of my getting so far is that I've strived to always have a positive attitude. I've pretty much ignored all the times drivers have been rude to me, and have tried to not let anything get to me. But I was already having a miserable morning and I simply wasn't feeling positive about anything, let alone my close encounter with a Ford truck. As the driver stepped out of the cab, I rode toward him demanding to know what his problem was. I suppose I'm lucky that our ensuing conversation didn't come to blows, but I wasn't keeping my anger in a bottle today. The driver made it clear to me that he was sick of seeing bicyclists on "his" roads, and I made it clear to him that I really didn't care what he was sick of. He left me with some sort of veiled threat about enjoying my last ride and then drove on down the road.

At this point, as you can imagine, I wasn't exactly having the greatest day. As I continued to ride on down the road I started to question why I was even out here anymore, and for a short while the only thing that kept me going was a lack of any place to stop. On a day where everything felt like it was going wrong, I just wanted something to go right.

Suddenly I received exactly the random act of kindness that I needed. A passing car pulled into the opposite shoulder ahead of me and the driver reached out with a bottle in hand. Given my day so far, I halfway expected him to throw it at me, but instead it was simply an offer of ice-cold water. I was literally dumbstruck by the simpleness of this act coming exactly at the moment I needed it.

Even though I was now feeling a little better about humanity, the headwind I had been fighting remained. With my speed reduced I had to stop and reconsider my plans to make it to a distant campground. From where I was I had only two choices ahead. Nearby was the small town of Sumpter, and thirty-three miles beyond that was a USFS campground. With the headwind I doubted that I would make it to the campground before dark, and with my mood I knew it would be a miserable ride. Sumpter, and the chance to start a new day tomorrow, seemed to be a much better choice, so I finished my day with a three mile detour into town and a room for the night.


I've enjoyed your observations and writing style. A few weeks ago I, along with six friends, rode around Vermont's North East Kingdom. Annually we do something like that, pick a state and design our own route. I think I really can imagine riding across America on a loaded touring bicycle. But, I don't think I want to, or need to. Living and riding in Kentucky, with the option of a good tour somewhere else every now and then, seems to me to be the option best suited to my lifestyle. I'm glad for you and your adventure. Thank you

Posted by: David Runge on August 5, 2002 12:40 PM
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