Day One: Canyon City to Kimberly - Racpat Old West Scenic Bikeway 2018 - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2018

Day One: Canyon City to Kimberly

John Day Fossil Beds

"How far are you going?" the man asks at a rest stop near Dayville. After two and half years of answering this question, now it's time to answer that we are seeing our own backyard. 

"Doing a loop ride out of John Day," Patrick answers. We are riding the Old West Scenic Bikeway, with our friend Jerry.

It is a different kind of rhythm, cycling with another person. After cycling together, alone, in four different long tours over the years there's an adjustment to how to get on the road. We just returned in October 2017 from our last tour cycling through 44 countries and 25,500 miles before returning to our same jobs in Boise Idaho. 

After work on Thursday, we loaded up the car to drive 4 hours to John Day, Oregon. We are delayed a half hour getting on the road by a contrary cat, Tashi, who knew something was going on and refused to come back inside. Finally on the road, we stop for dinner in Vale, Oregon at Chevalita Mexican Restaurant just off Main Street and arriving a few hours later at Jerry's in Canyon City. Canyon City is a couple miles from John Day.

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Friday morning, we organize gear and bikes leaving our car at Jerry's and walk down the street from his house for breakfast before finally setting off. Jerry is riding a tricycle and in his fourth quarter of years. Not 6 miles out, Rachel's back tire has a blow out. This is still the tire from our RTW trip, so it is very worn and has a gash. Patrick had the foresight to carry a spare tire, so once again at the side of the road, Patrick changes the tire, already yet so soon. The wind is not against us this morning as we make our way through Mount Vernon and Dayville before turning onto Highway 19 to the John Day Fossil Beds.

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We stop at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center that doubles as the
Park Visitors Center before continuing onto Kimberly. The park is open daily year-round, in winter closes on federal holidays. There are trails and picnic facilities, and drinking water. There's a well done video explaining the history of the area first recognized as an important paleontological region in the 1860s by a young frontier minister, Thomas Condon. He had no problem reconciling his faith with science and fossils. 

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From the Visitors brochure, "within the hills and valleys of eastern Oregon is one of the richest fossil beds on Earth, an ancient record spanning most of the Age of Mammals. Named for the nearby river, the John Day Fossil Beds expose extraordinarily well preserved specimens...a great number and variety of fossils...entire communities have been uncovered. There are remnants of past soils, rivers, ponds, mudslides, ashfalls, trackways, middens, prairies, and forests. This record occurs in an ordered sequence well interspersed with datable rock layers. Science is ongoing here...."

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At the Kimberly junction to highway 402, there is a well stocked store and we stop for ice cream and beer for when we reach the campground. There are two BLM campgrounds along the river and we stay at the first one, Lone Pine, 2 miles on from Kimberly. We share snacks and enjoy the beer before fixing dinner of macaroni and vegetables with an alfredo sauce with bacon bits. We fall to sleep with the sound of the river.

It's good to be back on the bikes, if only for a little while.

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Today's ride: 60 miles (97 km)
Total: 60 miles (97 km)

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