Hello from Pendelton, Oregon.
Today was challenging, mentally and physically.
After my all-too-brief sojourn at Wine Country RV Park (a.k.a. Paradise-on-earth), I mounted my bike this morning and departed the Yakima Valley. Because valleys are, by definition, lower than the surrounding landscape, my morning mileage included some climbing on the menu.
I wish that I could wax poetic about a pastoral passage through the agricultural heart of Eastern Washington. Unfortunately, I’d be lying through my teeth. This morning’s ride was majorly monotonous, and hellaciously hot. I battled a headwind from the East, and my google maps app tried to send me down a gnarly dirt road, clearly unsuited for cycling.
By the time I reached the Columbia River I was well-ready to say goodbye and good riddance (for now) to the state of Washington.
Once I made it across the river, I was rewarded with…hotter temperatures.
I started feeling pretty dispirited and depleted so I pulled over for some lunch at a truly upscale establishment.
I reapplied some much needed S.P.F. while I waited for my food, and chatted up the waitress about the best route for my afternoon.
My sandwich was merely O.K.
The thirty five miles that followed lunch were hard. The landscape between Umatilla and Prosser offers minimal variety; the road winds gradually, yet relentlessly uphill; and the afternoon heat had me sweating like a whore in church.
I passed the time by counting mile markers, and making up rhymes each time I passed another number.
I must admit that some seriously negative thoughts started to bubble to the surface as I struggled along alone. I began to question my physical strength, mental fortitude, capabilities, and whether I could even make it around the next corner…let alone to Colorado.
Then I remembered a few key facts:
1) I LIKE doing hard things.
2) I’m insanely lucky that I have the priveledge and the wherewithal to take a crazy multi-day bike tour.
3) Being on a bike, even when it sucks a whole lot, STILL is FAR more fun than being at work.
4) I biked UP the cotton-pickin’ Cascade Mountains on Wednesday, I’ve run a marathon, and gotten a Ph.D…I can do anything if I work hard enough.
5) Most things seem overwhelming and awful until you’re actually doing them, and then they usually aren’t so bad.
6) Attitude is everything: if you tell yourself that you’re miserable you probably will be.
After giving myself a much-needed pep talk, I realized that my glycogen stores were running dangerously low. I brought a few creepy-magic gels and fuel-potions with me in case of emergency, so I busted out a sample pack of “Untapped:” an all natural athlete energy source, made from maple syrup.
In case you were wondering, hot maple syrup from a plastic pouch is exactly as appetizing as it sounds.
Mentally and physically rejuvenated, I limped my way into Pendelton. This seems like a cool town, but unfortunately I’m camping outside the city limits and I’m too exhausted to do any exploring. Luckily, however, my delightful campground has showers!
Time to wash off the road grime and hit the hay, another day of adventure awaits tomorrow!