83-Mile Day

Make America Bike Again – Day 10

Before leaving the campsite at Umatilla in the morning, we stopped by Judi’s RV in the morning to say goodbye. Her friend and traveling companion stood inside the entryway and peered out, unwilling to leave its comfort and security, but still very curious. She asked, “Are you afraid of the wild creatures at night?”

There were some laughs in response and finally someone replied, “We are the wild ones.” But, she had raised an important question,”Is it really safe?”

In our earliest departure yet, we wished them well and said goodbye. On the way out of town we stopped at the grocery store for a few last minute items. Sipping on a cup of black coffee, Robert walked out of the store with a small bunch of bananas in the other. The rest of the guys were already on their bikes crossing the parking lot and heading for the highway.

I could feel his hurried rush to stow the fruit, take a gulp of coffee, and throw the rest away. Without the usual, “Bless all travelers on this highway today,” Robert gripped the handlebars and lifted his leg over crossbar. He hurried into the street with a vague sense of the direction, but there were no bicycles in sight. In fact there was no traffic at all. “Shit,” he said, turned around and returned to the grocery store parking lot. He went back inside the store looking for his sunglasses. Came out a few minutes later and found them in their case. That’s when he took a deep breath and sighed.



A few miles later a trucker passed us on the highway, moving completely over into the other lane. That’s rare. Sure, sometimes they sound a couple of short beeps in greeting. Other times, it’s a long blast of get the hell out of my way. The memorable one from that morning didn’t sound the horn at all. He just moved completely over into the other lane and even slowed down minimizing the slipstream coming off the trailer. Bless all travelers on this highway today, was the message.

In an hour or so we caught up with the rest, having an early morning snack. Touring cyclists eat often and throughout the day, usually healthy stuff. In the dry heat of the west they drink a lot of water. Not the sweetened drinks or the heavily marketed “high energy” drinks. Mostly water, by day. Beer, after the sun goes down. By mid morning we crossed the Washington border. The lava formed cliffs had given way to farmland. Mature alfalfa and wheat grew on both sides of the highway. With an early start to the day and the wind out of the west, we would make 83 miles that day, a stand out record for us, finishing in Waitsburg, Washington.




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