We packed up our bikes and headed out of John Day on a beautiful Sunday morning. We agreed to take a different route back to Portland, so instead of Highway 26 all the way back, we took 26 to Highway 19 towards Kimberly, then 206 west out of Condon, then I-84. The plan was to cut across the river at Biggs and take 14 on the Washington State side back to Portland instead of I-84. It is a small pretty road compared to the fast moving I-84. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men.
The first part of the drive was Highway 26 through the scenic farm land we had ridden a few times already. Very pleasant. At the Highway 19 turn off, we headed north towards Kimberly. This is another beautiful ride, past the John Day Fossil Beds and Paleontology Center and follows the John Day River.
The road is just two lanes, not much traffic, and very scenic. We cruised passed people enjoying a Sunday on the river both kayaking and tubing. We made a few pit stops and kept gaining altitude along 19.
We stopped along 19 beside the John Day River somewhere a little after the small town of Spray for a stretch.
The scenery started to change as we gained elevation and crossed a few passes.
In the wooded area at higher elevation between Spray and Fossil, we saw a herd of deer cross the road. Luckily, we saw them well in advance. Friends Lance and Chuck caught up with us just prior to Fossil. We continued on to Condon for a lunch stop where we had three K Bikes, affectionately known as The Flying Brick, parked in a row. Where it took us about 6 hours to complete the ride over from Portland to John Day, Lance did it in 4:09. They had lunch with us, then pulled out ahead. I make frequent photo and stretch stops which slows the pack down, and not everyone likes that slow pace.
As soon as we left Condon and headed west on 206, the wind hit us and stayed with us for the next 2 1/2 hours. At times it was brutal. No wonder the area is covered with wind turbines. We didn’t get a break from the wind until we were west of Cascade Locks on I-84.
Where the first few hours were fun and easy, the last few hours were fighting very strong winds. We had to slow at times to 50 mph to keep on the road. A decision was made at Biggs to stay on I-84 instead of crossing the river. Not my favorite thing to do, but we were tired and getting beat up by the wind. So the ride home was longer than the ride out on 26 over Mt. Hood.
There were some very scenic areas descending from the higher elevations down to the Columbia, but the wind was so strong I didn’t dare take my hand off the bike to take a photo. We passed the Cottonwood Canyon State Park on the descent.
We did about 700 miles total in the four days. It was a good ride and no one got hurt!