Day 7 Saturday, July 16 Austin Junction to Unity, OR 25 miles
Did I say in my post yesterday that I was now making my slide down toward the Oregon-Idaho border? I lied. Well, I was at least wrong (lying usually needs an intention to mislead). I really did want this to be the downhill slide to the border. The problem was that at Austin Junction I left the official Transamerica Bike Route and moved from my Adventure Cycling maps that show altitude graphs to a regular road map of the Western U.S.
Actually today was not a rough day, but before I even had a chance to warm up the legs and let my Austin Cafe French Toast breakfast settle I was faced with another 2500 foot climb over a ten mile stretch. I remembered Eastern Oregon as being dry and flat! I think I really am east enough to have hit the flats. I am staying in the quaint and wonderfully friendly town of Unity. The locals (I love saying that word; otherwise I’d have to call them Unitarians) confirm that the ride to the border (90 miles) is just a long gentle descent. My legs were happy to hear that!
My original plan was to ride six days and rest one. Today was sort of that rest day. With the exception of the surprise climb to 5109 feet I kept the day short and easy. Unity was just 25 miles from my starting point. I could have gone farther, but the next town, Brogan, was another 40 miles out and there was no word that it had anything more than a convenience store. I didn’t want to risk it. My original plan for six days on, one day off was pretty well on the mark. I could tell that my body was getting diminishing returns by not having a day to let the muscles heal up. Plus I am noticing that having to psyche myself up day after day for climbs and rain and the uncertainty of finding provisions and a place to sleep takes a psychic toll. The six days on and one day off was wise. Now I just need to follow my own guidance!
The most frustrating part of the trip so far has been that I could really use four to five hours every night just to write about the experiences and to explore further the thoughts that are literally flooding my head. I just hope that I am writing enough now to prompt some later expanded thought and writing about the pilgrimage.
For instance, I just started reading Harvey Cox’s book The Future of Faith. His treatise confirms my reasons for embarking on this pilgrimage and the reasons for this move away from institutional religion to personal spirituality we see in our culture. There is so much more to say here, but he thinks we are evolving out of the 1500 year “Age of Belief” into a whole new era that he hesitantly names the “Age of Spirit”. Then I met Steve and Par, the owners of the store/gas station/motel where I am staying. Par asked me about this bike trip I am on and when I told her that much of it was to listen for the unfolding story that is taking place between religion and spirituality, she said, “Wel,l I have a story to tell you!” Just not enough time now, but her story comes in three acts: Mormon childhood, Catholic adulthood, and now embracing a devoted and disciplined life of personal piety and study outside of religious institutions. Then, of course, I can’t wait to tell you about the apple pie I had tonight. Talk about discovering the sacred!
Tomorrow I plan to ride as far as Vale (65 miles) for sure or maybe Ontario (85 miles) as long as I have recovered as well as I am hoping. This will be a good test too to see how much recovery I get out of a limited short day of riding.
It is also an important day in another vein. In the donate section you will see that tomorrow is dedicated “In Memory of Kathryn Austin”. Her memorial service is tomorrow. I would be at the service if I could. Instead, in Kathy’s honor I will live fully, I will ride hard, I will look for goodness in all, and I will not let adversity get in the way of Life. It’s your day, Kathy!