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).

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.

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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