Saturday, July 16, 2011

Back to Bend

Although it was early, I couldn’t resist a bit of wine-tasting at the well-named Pheasant Valley Winery just out of Hood River. There was even a (aptly) skinny little road named after me in the vicinity. Apparently eleven in the morning is too early for Valerie – wine-tasting by yourself just isn’t quite that interesting, but I had to do it. After looking around the Hood River valley, I’m beginning to see the merit in wine-tasting by bike (especially if you have a big trailer to stash the haul in).
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Fifty miles up the road was another really good ride that I wanted to do (Gunsight – about a 25 km loop), but for some reason Valerie wanted to see if there was a laundromat in the small ski village of Government Camp. There wasn’t, but there were still people wandering with snowboards – I still can’t believe the ski season lives on in to July this year! There wasn’t a laundry & in going back up to the trailhead the temperature gauge shot up quickly. Oh no! Thankfully I caught it straight away & after letting it cool for quite a while (it was actually quite chilly up there) & then topping it up & idling for a while it was worth trying to drive to Bend. I had to cancel my ride, but we made it to Bend with the engine running at its normal temperature.

With Valerie driving I got in contact with Allen (Miles’ brother - I’d met him on Sunday finally) to see if he wanted to ride that afternoon. It turned out he did & in amongst all the texts we ended up with an offer of a room at their house. To all those who were so good to Allen when he bike-toured NZ twenty-odd years ago – thanks! It’s been so nice to have a home to stay in with home sort of things happening – Lisa is playing the piano downstairs as I type, that never happens in the motels we stay in, it’s lovely.

Allen & I headed out of town to the Swampy Lake ski area (I think) & put in a good two-hour loop (24 km, 500m of climbing). The climbing was mostly at the start & the singletrack was easy enough to climb on & we did a little on fireroad. Seeing Allen get over a log feature, I followed. I should have seen danger in the way his rear tire lifted as it apexed. But thinking it was fine I got over nicely until my front wheel hit a bit of the exit ramp that had dislodged – my wheel stopped & I didn’t. Straight over the bars & with my bike lying on top of me I was quite sore. I must have cracked my left knee on the top of the steerer tube on the way over, as it swelled up something brilliant & is still sore & stiff. The ride continued a little more slowly & we saw patches of snow at 1800m & some big puddles caused by all the snow melt higher. The downhill was exhilarating all the way down to the river we had parked by.
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Yes, snow is still melting somewhere around this puddle that swallowed me up.

Lisa had cooked up a storm & I was pleased to have great food that I didn’t have to choose from a menu – off the grill too. As dinner progressed I turned greener & greener hearing of all the things to do around Bend - MTB all year round, XC skiing, back-country skiing, resort skiing, snow-kiting, kite-surfing, snowmobiling & motocross.  It's fair to say Allen & Lisa are very active & the kids will be soon too once they can keep up.  Yesterday was very quiet as the car was in the shop all day – took it in to get the radiator checked out & it turned out the water pump needed replacing. Nice to have a day off just lying on the couch reading, dozing & a short walk in to town (really so that the whole day wasn't spent lounging around).

We went to leave town today so I could ride McKenzie River Trail & then we would head north.  We only got eight miles out of town & the car overheated again.  Frustration only begins to describe that & having another day lost because Midas Bend didn't check the radiator properly as I asked them the day before.  Allen very kindly came out & towed us back in to town (I've never been driving a towed vehicle before - it's hard work on a short strop).  After getting the car back & it overheating again they finally decided that I needed a new radiator - really disappointing & annoying that that wasn't diagnosed yesterday.  So I'm now broke as far as US dollars go, but the car is working & I sure hope it continues to for the rest of the trip.  Just to top things off, I went for a ride (on Mrazek, which I rode last week) to ease the temper a bit & the sunny afternoon suddenly turned in to two big thunderstorms - I got a little wet.  One of those days I suppose - probably the first of the trip (2.5 months in) that I wished I had have stayed in my nice comfortable job & rode local trails to my heart's content.  But then what would I write about for pages & pages?

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