Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 6: John Day, OR, to Baker City, OR

Today's Mileage: 81
Average Speed: 11.9 mph
Max Speed: 37.9 mph
Average BPM: 133
Max BPM: 165
Calories Burned: 2616
Actual Time in Saddle: 6:43

"The fantasy of cycling across America and the reality of it are two totally different things."
- Mike Munk

If you want to challenge yourself ... and I mean, really challenge yourself, this is the tour for you. If you just thought to yourself one day that cycling across America sounded like a good idea (kind of like I did), this is probably not the tour for you.

Today we climbed roughly 2000 feet to summits at over 5000 feet ...

Mike told me about some of the other inexperienced riders on previous tours (like me), who thought that cycling across America "just sounded like fun" (also like me). He also told me that I've surprised him in this first week since he's seen my type before - the types that don't make it through the first week (not like me).

The difference between me and other novice cyclists, who didn't come as prepared for this journey as we should have, is that I become fanatically persistent, borderline-maniacal once I become passionate about something. Neurotic, even. I truly believe that if I had found a sport that I obsessively loved, I could have joined an Olympic team. Fortunately, for the other countries who would have had to compete against me, I didn't.

This tour is tough. I didn't doubt Mike when he told me on the first day we met that I would have a hard time [Side note: I can't believe that I only met Mike a week ago]. But in preparing (or perhaps "under-preparing") for this trip, I also didn't allow myself to romanticize the 50 days of this tour. I didn't envision birds singing as I coasted along on a gentle tailwind, smelling flowers and smiling up into soft rays of sunshine all the way across America. I arrived ready to step out of my comfort zone, to push myself to the extreme, to get dirty.

When you're climbing 30 miles to a mountain summit under a blazing hot sun on Day 5, you have to be able to sincerely remind yourself why you're here. And you have to believe what you tell yourself. Know it. Own it. Because on Day 15, you're going to have a 60-mile ascent to Jackson, Wyoming.

And this tour comes with more issues than just a few flat tires. The smell of road kill can nearly knock you off your bicycle. You'll pee in the woods while watching out for rattle snakes. You'll balance on narrow shoulders as semi trucks pass within mere feet.

Your body is going to ache at the end of the day, and it's still going to ache in the morning when you wake up. You're going to have to get on your bike when the sun is barely above the horizon and start pedaling in 40-degree temperatures that have you shivering in your saddle for the first 20 miles. And you'll still be pedaling when the sun is directly overhead, roasting you in 80-90 degree waves that cause heat rash through your 50-SPF sunblock. And on days like yesterday, you might still be pedaling as it begins to drop in the sky toward the opposite horizon. And the entire way, your body is still aching.

Backs and necks become stiff. Saddle sores can burn. Achilles tendons can get strained. Inflammation can develop within your knees. I'm icing both knees and my left Achilles tendon as I type.

And it's barely been one week. But if you know the difference between a hard time and a bad time, you'll have the time of your life on a tour like this.

More images from John Day to Baker City:

Click here to see my entire photo album of Day 6.

The Ride Leader's Official Report:
Baker City, Day 6
Across America North:
Baker City Photos


Katie said...

Katie! I'm loving getting to join you via your blog on this adventure! You are one tough cookie! Thanks for blogging!

Maddy said...


I was ::this close:: to texting you today about how hellishly torturous my office commute is from the Upper East Side to Chelsea. I was ABOUT to bitch about the 90 degree temperatures at 8 am, how I had to walk from 8th Ave to 11th Ave, and how I ALMOST didn't get a seat on the air conditioned freezer-like subway.

Luckily, I read this and was reminded that I DID NOT ride a bike for 6 hours... in 90 degree heat... up a mountain... 3 times... while sitting on a seat that most closely resembles a banana made of cement.

You're a ROCK STAR and I have NO IDEA how you are surviving this.

ccocochris said...

All I can say is WOW!!! You are an inspiration to us all. Keep going.....cheering for u all the way!!!

Allison Mikkalo said...

Go, Katie, go! I am enjoying your blog from Starrett-Lehigh. (PS -I was born in Oregon so it's doubly fun to see your pics!)

Sara Komo said...

AMAZING KATIE! Keep kicking ass and taking names. The pics are wonderful and I'm super jealous of you being completely immersed in something you'll never forget! Enjoy!

Monique D. said...

holy crap. I never thought about all that other stuff like the roadkill smells & peeing in bushes... you're gonna look back at this time & smile. Just keep cycling, just keep cycling ;)