The goal was to visit family in Hermiston. I left work at noon and crossed the Columbia River into Washington via the I-205 bridge, then headed east on SR14. I had a moderate tail wind and traffic was light, except for some misguided people that felt it was appropriate to drive 10+ mph under the speed limit.
I gassed up in North Bonneville and continued eastbound. By the time I got to White Salmon I was hungry and the tailwind changed directions and became a headwind. I stopped at a restaurant and had a lunch of popcorn shrimp and salad.
The wind gradually blew harder from the east, the direction I was heading. The stretch from Goldendale to the junction with 395 is long, fairly boring, and has no services of any kind. It’s tough to even find a place to pull over and take a leak. When I crossed back over the Columbia into Oregon, it was after 4:30 pm and the skies were already starting to darken. I ate a chicken salad at a Burger King, then rode the short remaining distance to my intended destination.
When I left the next morning to head home, there were clear blue skies and sunshine but there was a very cold north wind blowing. This was at my back as I rode south toward Heppner. I gassed up there, which took a very long time because two bubba-looking gentlemen in blue coveralls were ordering some very complex sub sandwiches (based on how difficult it was for the one clerk to assemble them). Fueled up I turned west toward Condon.
That chilly north wind was now hitting me hard and gusty from the right side, and would remain my unwelcome riding companion for the remainder of my trip home. By the time I reached Condon I was chilled, tired, and hungry. I stopped at the Twist and Shake Drive-In and consumed a large bacon cheeseburger and coffee. Sitting somewhere behind me was a young lady singing along to the country music playing on the overhead speakers, doing a fantastic job imitating Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney, reminding me how thankful I was not to have a dead dog, an unfaithful wife, or a 4×4 in disrepair.
I added another layer of clothes inside my Aerostich and an insulated helmet liner. I also put in some earphones and turned on my iPod. I mounted up and headed south to Fossil before turning east again toward Antelope.
The road between Fossil and Antelope is one of my favorite in the state of Oregon. The turns are varied, well banked, and free of potholes or bumps. I’ve never seen a cop through there, either, although I very rarely exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph. My rhythm wasn’t quite up to snuff at the beginning of the run, but I loosened up and got into the groove within minutes. I began practicing leaning into the turn, with my knee inches above the pavement, like the pro racers do. I found I can add at least 5 mph to my turn speed that way. It’s also a lot of fun and helps relieve tension and fatigue in my back and shoulders.
The wind was increasing when I turned north from Antelope to Shaniko. By the time I reached the top of the plains it was howling and fighting me with every mile. I went south to the junction with 197, then north toward Maupin. I had to stop in Maupin and take a break because the cold wind had begun to give me a sharp headache-like pain in my forehead. The valley town was protected by the wind and was warmer because of its lower elevation, so the respite was welcome.
I climbed back up away from the Deschutes River and caught 216 westbound, where I caught up with hwy 26 toward home. There was the usual line of slow traffic coming down from Government Camp.
By the time I got home my head was buzzing from the constant cold wind and I was very tired.