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Day 1: Opening Day
It was WAY colder the previous night than any of us had expected. It of course was cool in the evening and when the sun went down it was cold enough to always want to stand by the fire. But, nobody expected the thick layer of frost in the morning or the 27 degree low temp. It was especially surprising to those who chose to sleep outside on the ground in makeshift straw beds. At least the tents we all shared held some warmth in. Benji couldn't get warm in any way during the night and turned the posh outhouse into a cheap motel. We were slow getting going in the morning, but it was the first day of a weeks' riding, so that excitement balanced our cold bones. We watched the sun crawl towards the camp while drinking coffee and eating cereal. Packed up the van and we were on our way.
No one had really anticipated the size of the Cycle Oregon crowds -- the camps, the amenities, or the number of riders. As we left the town of Elgin to shouts of encouragement from the locals on their porches, we came into view of a road ahead with riders nestled on the right side for as far as we could see. We passed a few guys from Portland who Carey knew just as the road began to rise upward, and when Hahn and Sam accelerated quickly, I followed. The first of many jumps and roll-aways in a long week of riding with friends.
We regathered not long after this and spent time riding and talking with strangers pedaling the Cycle Oregon route. The rest stops were very well organized and once we came to the second one of the day we decided to have some espresso and take in the scene. I found a mother and daughter who I had met at the PDX airport upon on my arrival from Chicago. The steep climb out of Elgin had taken many by surprise so there were along of people taking in the food and drink. The road since then had wound up and then down through a canyon with huge vistas of a river far below. The weather was sunny and beautiful, and the roads were worn and smooth.
We rolled into Enterprise, OR after 50 miles and regrouped under the shade of some grain elevators. There was an "optional" 20 mile loop and since the day was still young, we kept riding. The route took us out into farmland which sat in a valley that was hugged by a range of 8 and 9K mountains. There was rumor of a swimming hole on this route but all we found was the small town of Joseph, where we stopped and had a Coke. The first full day in the sun, and the skin was beginning to feel it, but Enterprise and beer where in site.
Grumblings about Terminal Gravity brewing pushed the pace for the last 10 miles and with satisfied legs and bronzed skin we rolled into Terminal Gravity and relaxed by their ideallic creek and drank IPA's until our cheeks were rosy and our legs were lose for the ride to our camping spot.
It was widely reported that the temperature wouldn't drop anywhere close to the night before. So after taking much needed showers and setting up camp, we headed down to the Cycle Oregon tent city. And a city it was. There was an enormous tent with thousands of people eating dinner and dessert, a giant tent for massages, a stage with guest speakers and a band warming up, and then lots of smaller booths with specialty food, drinks, or riding equipment and supplies. We hung out for awhile and listened to Congressman Peter DeFazio -- introduced as the only member of congress who has worked as a bike mechanic -- had a couple more beers with Matt Cardinal of Signal Cycles and then made our way in the dark back to the camp to rest up for day 2 in the saddle.