Baker City, Oregon to Halfway, Oregon - Cycle Oregon 2018 - CycleBlaze

September 9, 2018

Baker City, Oregon to Halfway, Oregon

C'Mon! Let's Ride

Everyone was rarin' to go Sunday morning, especially those of us who had arrived at the tent city Friday night. We'd had our share of walking around and socializing and wanted to roll! It was awesome just hanging out Friday and much of Saturday, but the masses really started to pour into camp in the early afternoon on Sept. 7th. Lots of cars, and a handful of charter busses filled with people from far flung locations who had opted to fly to Portland and pay for one of CO's busses to haul them to Baker City. There was also an option to have your bike shipped to the shop that provided mechanical support for the ride. They would reassemble it, make sure it was ship-shape, and have it ready and waiting for you when you arrived on the bus. Again, CO has every last detail dialed in.

Five Miles Down the Road from Baker City.
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Typical of the day.
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The first day's ride was not intended to beat us to death, but rather to help ease us in to the event, so a mellow 55 miles were in store. We've not spent any time in Eastern Oregon, and wow the landscape is amazing. It's arid, not green and lush like on the west coast, though it's also not desert-like. This is wheat and cattle country, and we were amazed.

Lunch Stop.
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The Mrs.
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Today's ride took us to the small town of Halfway, Oregon. Halfway to what we were not sure, but there is a story there somewhere. Two claims to fame we know of for Halfway ... Back in the 1999, a subsidiary of eBay,, convinced the town of Halfway to change its name to, Oregon for a year. In return the town received $100,000 and 20 new computers. That sounds just like the boom days at its finest, doesn't it? Claim to fame #2, and more impressive to we bikers, is that Halfway is the current home of Inga Thompson, one of the trailblazing women in US professional cycling. In short: Inga rode in two Olympic Games, was a multiple national champion in the road and time trial, winner of the Coors Classic, podium finisher of the women's Tour de France feminine, and so on. Her international career spanned from 1984 - 1993. Google her! For a couple decades she has been operating her own cattle ranch around Halfway and she came to speak to the cyclists the night before the first day's ride. Inspiring. In a small world coincidence, when we got home from the ride a biking magazine we subscribe to, "Peleton" arrived in the mail. There was an article and interview with Inga! I learned that she walked away from her cycling career because she refused to submit to a doping program being pressed on the US women's team by the coaches. She is a Philosopher Queen and sounds pretty kick-ass as well.

The route was jaw-dropping. Multiple times during the day (and throughout the ride!) Margaret kept saying, "pinch me," because the views were unreal. Even though there were 2,000 riders it never felt crowded or claustrophobic. We had no idea at the time that the best stuff was still to come. There was some climbing, but not so bad other than one hill that was several miles long with many sections of 7 to 8 percent. Then as a payoff there was a multiple mile descent into Halfway that one could absolutely go "Bombs Away" because it was pristinely fresh tarmac. There was a Strava segment there and my average speed for the 4.3 descent miles was 31 mph. And I was holding back because I'm getting the Yips now that I'm older. Scary fun.

Up, Up, Up!!!
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Halfway is a town of about 350 people, so CO was like having the World's Fair rolling into town. We swelled their population significantly and filled main street. There was a guy (not sure if he was a rider or just a generic guy hanging around) who was wearing a Packers Jersey (we're from Wisconsin) talking on his cell phone. We asked him where he was from. "Racine," he replied. "The Packers game is on in the bar. I'm calling my friend to get over here." Respect is due to Cheesehead Nation.

There were some girls from the local middle school who were volleyball players, strolling around the tent city selling baked goods and we bought a bunch! Great young ladies. Calm, articulate and looked you right in the eye when they spoke. They told us that many of their volleyball matches involved a round trip bus ride of three hours. At first I was shocked but then realized that we'd ridden 55 miles today and only passed through one tiny village beside Halfway. Wide Open Spaces.

The tent city in Halfway was ready and waiting for us for the most part. They did have to work out some kinks in their logistic system. There was a slow motion train wreck developing with the port-a-potties that was the talk of the tent city grapevine most of the day and night. Not sure what the snafu was but there simply wasn't enough "potty space." By the next morning the condition of many of the potties looked as if they should have been banned by the Geneva Convention. One was even roped off with some yellow "crime scene" tape which gave everyone a laugh. One guy who was tired of waiting in line said "Ah, it can't be that bad," jumped out of line, and opened the door. He immediately reeled backward with a grimace saying, "Oh, yep, very bad" and reclaimed his place in the queue. To CO's credit, the next day there were MANY more toilets available. They didn't make excuses, they took care of business and listened to rider concerns.

Out in the Middle of Nowhere, a guy playing the bagpipes for us. Chapeau!
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Waiting for the Dinner Bell to Ring.
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Though I'll talk more about this later, the workings of the tent city were a wonder of organization. The shower trucks worked like a charm, the coffee tent was pumping out caffeinated beverages: lattes, espressos, you name it, they could make it. The beer tent was a VERY popular spot (us included). It was a very mellow scene, and biking culture was everywhere. Love, love, love it.

Foreshadowing: But the item on everyone's mind was the next day's ride. Oh my. The profile was nightmare inducing. TBC .....

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Today's ride: 55 miles (89 km)
Total: 55 miles (89 km)

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