“Are there any signs of civilization between here and Dayville?” I asked Lindy, one of the waitresses at the Sidewalk Cafe in Mitchell, OR.
“No,” was her to-the-point response.
“Okay, I gotta fill up on water here then.”
Coming over the Cascade Range dropped me right into the Oregon high desert. While “desert” sounds harsh and void of any signs of life, in Oregon even the desert is green. And, under normal circumstances, quite temperate. Not this year, however. Going into Mitchell, a hamlet of 130 people, the forecast predicted 99F by 4pm, on street level, I ended up recording 115F on the Mitchell Hwy climb over Keys Creek Summit (elev. 4,360 ft). Not your typical biking weather. But with the right precautions and lots and lots of water, I made it to my next stop alright and in sane conditions.
The area being hit by an usual heatwave meant that cyclist weather nemesis #1 (headwind) was replaced by #2, heat. So after having to get up at sunrise (or even before) to beat the headwinds along the coast, I now needed to employ the same tactics, only this time to escape the mid-day and afternoon 100F or more.
In terms of elevation, Oregon proved to be a setup for a rollercoaster as well. Climbing over the Cascades (McKenzie Pass, 5,325 feet), then the Ochoco Divide at 4,700 ft meant a lot of elevation change as well.
Roughly 20% of the journey are complete, a stark reminder how vast this country really is. I could have ridden through both Austria and Switzerland by now and well into France. Here, however, heading into Baker City towards the eastern part of Oregon provides me with a rest stop before crossing “only” into US state #3, Idaho.