Day 7, Oregon
From camp to Baker City
After a good night's rest I packed my bag and set off, climbing Tipton Pass. The morning was cold and I pedaled wearing some extra clothes. Then when I reached the summit I went from 5 mph on the uphill to 30 on the downhill, but not before I had put on everything I owned, for the freezing descent.
The whole morning was a string of ups and downs, meaning lots of work. But the country was gorgeous, with pine trees most of the way, and even some fir above 5,000 feet.
From yesterday's Prairie City to here, there had been no store, so I spent the day hungry. (Such occurrences were somewhat according to plan. I don't carry much extra food, and eat whenever food is available. When it's not, I don't worry about it.)
While climbing Sumpter Pass, my bike started making noises. I could not tell if the trouble was with a bearing in a pedal, or the bottom bracket. Fortunately, the next big town was not too far away, but the problem could be serious, so I had to have it fixed before leaving there. But first I had to get to town.
The final 10 miles were not easy, and seemed to take a long while. The headwinds were so strong that at times the best that I could do was only 8 mph, even on the flats.
Reaching Baker City, I spent 4 hours on the bicycle problem. First I called in at a bicycle shop in town, and no, they couldn't do the work. Then I found Dick Bicycle Shop, and he didn't have a new bottom bracket to fit my bike. Then back in town, the first shop did have one. So I bought that, and took it back to Dick's.
Installing a new bottom bracket at Dick's Bicycle Shop in Baker City.
Spending time with Dick made my day. He has a heart of gold and will do anything for cross-country cyclists who find their bikes in need of repairs. Though he seemed a little burned-out on local types who demanded his time, as one fellow did while I was there. In fact he was thinking of retiring from the business and selling the shop, mainly for health reasons. And that's the thing about health problems - they might make a person, or break them. Make them glad to be alive, and fill them with gratitude for each day, and make them glad to spend time with nice people they meet. Of course, I've met people with broken spirits, but Dick wasn't one of them.
I helped Dick with the repairs, kneeling on the floor on one side of the bike stand, while he keeled on the other side. As we removed the old parts and put the new ones back in, I asked about his heath problems. Things like, what was it like to have a quadruple heart bypass, and a hip that had to replaced three times?
When it came time for me to pay my bill, we had a slight argument. He wanted to charge me $20, and that included the parts, (which knew were more than $40). And he said the labor was free. I thought that amount was flat outrageous, and I wanted to pay at least $60. I asked if he had change for $100, but he said he didn't, as he pulled out his wallet. "Oh yah," I said, "let me have a look," as I made a mock gesture to grab it. We went round and round - it was sort of like bartering in reverse. I made little ground, but he finally acquiesced to $30.
joking aside, I think Dick enjoyed having me around, and liked my work. For in the end he hinted about me taking over his shop. No thanks. I enjoy these places I visit on my travels, but my enjoyment is mainly from a perspective of "just passing through." Things are more dynamic that way, and avoid getting into ruts. I enjoy the lure of the far horizon, and look forward to the fresh new day, when at dawn I can get on my bike and see what lies over the next high pass.
Then I spent 1.5 hours getting a motel, going from one to the other. Today was not my day, it seemed. That is, I expended the second half of the day going nowhere. But at least I got the bike back in reliable order, again.
Miles pedaled today: 58