Canyon Creek - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 14, 2020

Canyon Creek

Lucky this time

I take off with the car to run a few errands: stop by the pharmacy to replenish my stock of tape and nonstick pads, and swing by the gas station to fill up the tank and schedule an oil change.  Everything is within easy walking distance of our cottage, but I’m taking the car because - well, you see why.

You might be surprised that I’m taking the car in for an oil change so soon, since we just had it serviced at a Firestone shop before leaving Portland three weeks ago.  Well, it’s like this - when I got back from picking up the Jetta (and also Rocky and the Straggler along the way, where they were waiting at the site where they were knocked sideways by a giant UPS truck), I looked at the invoice.  Everything else looked as expected, but I didn’t see anything about an oil change.  I later called them up about this, and they confirmed that they forgot to do the first thing I’d asked them to do.

Our good friend Bruce will find poetic justice in this, I’m sure.  He still hasn’t forgiven me for going to Firestone rather than giving the business to his favorite car guy, Jim.  Next time, Bruce.  Promise.

Anyway - at the gas station, the attendant pointed out that my right front tire was very low.  She’s right - it looks nearly flat.  Lucky that the attendant still pumps the gas here, because who knows how soon I would have noticed this on my own and how far out of town we might be then.

And also lucky that straight across the street is a Les Schwab dealership.  I roll across the street, they wave me into one of the bins, and less than five minutes later their guy is rolling the tire along the ground looking for embedded foreign objects.  He can’t see anything, so he dismounts the tire for a more thorough search, and then presents me with this inch-long ring-shank nail:

This looks like the culprit.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesThere have been lots of Apple conspiracy theories, but Apple is unlikely to be the culprit here, despite the rather guilty looking head down stance!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesOh, of course. I should have clarified that I meant the figure in the right. I was just looking for something with a neutral background, and thought the Apple would provide scale.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekI wouldn't rule Apple out....
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1 month ago

I leave the car at the shop for the tire repair and an oil change, planning to return after today’s ride.  I feel so lucky as I walk back to the house thinkingof all the places we’ve been lately where dealing with a flat would have been much worse.

After picking up the car later in the afternoon, I review the invoice.  Oil change: $55.  Good, they remembered to change the oil!  Tire repair - $20.  Tire repair credit: -$20, for a net cost of zero.  We bought these tires at a Les Schwab in Portland, and they’re still under warranty so the repair is free.  Triple lucky!!!  Join us in celebrating our good fortune by listening to Joy Luck Club.  We heard this artist and number in Portland years ago, at the late Jimmy Mack’s.

Today’s Ride

 Today we take the last remaining ride that starts right from home - starting south on Highway 395, up Canyon Creek.  We follow the highway through Canyon City and then beyond for another eight miles, before leaving it just before the steep twisting climb to Starr Ridge.  We could go up that way - after all, it’s only a 6% four mile climb up a precarious, narrow road with a gravel-strewn shoulder that sees the occasional large truck.

Or, we could veer off and continue following Canyon Creek on a paved, empty National Forest road.  I’ve already decided to call this entry the Canyon Creek Ride, so I guess we’ll continue creek side for the consistency.

These first 10 miles along 395 are actually very nice.  There is a truck or two, but in general the traffic is very light and the shoulder along here is fine.  We keep a careful eye in our mirror though, because we can’t easily hear the traffic due to the roar of raging Canyon Creek cascading downstream just to the right of our road.  Spring runoff is well underway, and the creek must be at least double the volume it was when we first walked along it two weeks ago.

The hillside behind Canyon City celebrates the town’s founding in the gold rush of 1862.
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Southbound on Route 395, a bit south of Canyon City. It’s a very pleasant ride, climbing at a very steady 100’ per mile for the next ten miles. It doesn’t hurt that we have a mild tailwind lifting us up the road.
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The canyon really narrows as we move south. The creek is just to our right, a few meters from the road. Ahead is the westernmost edge of the Strawberry Mountains. This canyon marks the separation of them and the Aldrich Mountains to the west.
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Canyon Creek is really rushing. It’s exhilarating to bike alongside it, its roar the only sound we hear most of the time.
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Mess call! This tractor has been rolling across the pasture, a bale in its jaws and a hundred hungry cattle running to keep up. Finally he stops, drops his load, and they all gather around.
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We’ve mapped out a 35 mile out and back ride for the day - 10 miles on 395, 7-1/2 more on NF-15, and then home again.  This is seven miles short of ideal, but we plan on turning around at the point that the pavement appears to end.  We have thoughts in mind for adding a few miles when we get back to town, but we’ll wait and see.

NF-15 is a great cycling road.  No shoulder, but no traffic either.  It continues the same steady 100 ft/mi climb for the next seven miles, passing through small pastures alternating with Ponderosa forest.  Nothing dramatic - the canyon is quite narrow here, and you can’t see the mountains that are just a few miles away.  But very pleasant.

Eastbound on NF-15, continuing upstream along Canyon Creek. We’re skirting the southern flank of the Strawberry range, only a few miles away but never in sight.
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At 7-1/2 miles, as expected, the striped pavement ends and we cross a cattle guard.  From the map it looks like the pavement ends here, but not so.  It’s still a good surface so we happily continue on, and continue climbing.  We follow the creek for another mile and then the road bends south and starts climbing more seriously - a steady 7% for the next two miles.  It finally tops out at around 5,100’, with snow lining the right side of the road.  We turn back when we reach the summit, which coincidentally and serendipitously is 21.1 miles from home.  The perfect distance!

Still climbing on NF-15, we’re delighted to find that the road is still sealed.
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Finally leaving Canyon Creek, we face a two mile, 7% climb to the summit.
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White at the top.
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At our end point, enjoying a snack under the Ponderosas. Or, Rocky’s enjoying a snack. I forgot to pack my apple and will go hungry. Good thing it’s all downhill from here.
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Turning west and coasting back toward the creek, we’re quickly reminded of one of the reasons this has been such an enjoyable ride - we’ve had a good tailwind For the last ten miles.  It’s gotten stronger than we realized, and now we bike into a strong, cold headwind that forces us to pedal downhill.  It’s still a great ride though - by the time we approach Route 395 again, we see the first car in the last 20 miles.  Utter solitude.

The ride back along 395 is uneventful but very pretty.  The traffic isn’t bad, the wind is considerably lessened - and soon enough we’re back in Canyon City.  I pull off to admire the lineup of tractors, implements and wagons in front of the antique store, while Rachael continues on alone for the last two miles to home.

So a pretty great ride, one we should repeat before we leave John Day.  Maybe not the most dramatic road around, but any road where you can bike twenty miles without seeing a car or getting bitten by a dog ranks pretty high on my scale.

Todays video is from the ride north along 35, biking back toward Canyon City.  As you might have noticed, all of the videos are shorter than normal.  This is the best we can do here for the moment, because it’s all the WiFi will support.  It’s gotten steadily worse in our stay here, presumably due to traffic overload from all the shut-ins.

Video sound track: Rhythm Divine, by Enrique Iglesias.

Dropping from the summit.
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Back on 395, south of Canyon Creek.
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At the Canyon City antique store.
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At the Canyon City antique store.
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At the Canyon City antique store.
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A closer look at our McCormick-Deering tractor.
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Jen GrumbyA luck-infused Adversity-free Day!

Glad that Les Schwab took care of you without any pesky up-selling.

I had an oil change at a Les Schwab once on my 2000 Subaru and they insisted a car that "old" (probably 10 yrs at the time) should only run on Very Special Oil ($75 maybe?). And the car, they said, also needed a complete flush of some sort. I think when I left the bill was over $200. Later we found a mechanic at Superior Import Repair that said it was a bunch of hogwash.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThey were very reasonable: $55 for the oil change, zip for the flat repair. They know their cars too - the guy looked out the window at mine, asked if it was a 2000 model.

Still though, if you need your car serviced in the future you might check out Bruce’s friend Jim.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanEver since I reprimanded you, Scott, I've felt bad. Even earlier today I was again feeling bad about and decided I'd buy you coffee next time we met. Now, however, the deals off! That Firestone place on SE Powell in Portland is the worst. I can't even remember what they did or didn't do to my car because it was so long ago but I do remember how mad I was. I'm glad your gas attendant noticed your tire and glad it was fixed for free.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanYou should feel guilty! And I think a cup of coffee on you is definitely in order - and probably a bagel too, if Spielman Bagels hasn’t gone under by the time we return. Don’t think I’m apt to forget either. My memory is very spotty, but quite good on certain things.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonA bagel too?!! Now you're really pushing your luck.
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1 month ago