Had an unplanned day off from work mid-week, weather was beautiful, so I climbed on the bike to ride. This marks nearly two months since my unsuccessful attempt at RAAM, and it’s great to report happiness in the saddle again.
From my front door an 1800’ climb puts you on top of the plateau above the Tri-Cities: to the West, about 200 miles out Mt. Ranier and Mt. Adams rise above the Cascade foothills. On a really clear day you can see Mt. Hood a little to the south. Which is where George Thomas and Terri Gooch start their races.
Directly south from the plateau, about 120 miles out you can just make out where the little town of Heppner in Oregon sits. If you were out on George’s little playground called Race Across Oregon you would be rolling through dinnertime, Time Station Two, and a double for the day. And be looking forward to a nice night of riding. But you’d be wrong – you would be in for a long night of trying to figure out George’s sense of humour as you pushed through tens of thousands of feet of climbing!
East of my viewpoint the thunderclouds are building high and mighty over the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla, WA and Pendleton, OR. And north of me is a slightly misleading sight. It looks flat. But I know from experience that 150 miles north is Spokane, 2500’ higher than my doorstep. 2500’ isn’t much of a climb, unless it’s 150 miles long.
The landscape nearby is mostly wheat farms, harvested already. The section lines here are immense. They are drawn out to accommodate tractors with GPS: you can ride through a full fuel bottle before making a turn or seeing a crossroad. If you had a dog you might have to consider Onstarring him just in case he wandered. All of this suddenly reminded me of RAAM.
Ross riding RAAM
I was riding a road called St. Mary’s, and being absolutely annoyed at all the turns. Right, left, left, right, right, left. It went on and on until suddenly the parish of St. Mary’s showed itself. Church, cemetery, couple of outbuildings. And suddenly it rushed at me how this little road had held two towns and one church together. The twists and turns were driveways and section lines from long ago – they came so rapidly because they were section lines drawn out to accommodate not tractors with GPS, but horses. We were following an ancient road whilst we ourselves tried to connect the west coast to the east. Ok. So maybe I’m not completely over RAAM yet.