Day ¾ Plus Day 1 of Bike Touring Southern Oregon or, Episode 1: A New Hope

Take whichever title you like, but what now seems like ages ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Trish used to have problems with her saddle. If we rode beyond 70 miles, her sit bones would develop some pretty nasty saddle sores, and coming into this tour, we wanted to alleviate any possibilities for discomfort. Enter the Brooks B17 Women’s Imperial saddle. Two separate warm-showers’ guests we hosted this summer used this saddle and swore by it, and with the start of the tour just days away, Trish googled the nearest bike dealer that sold the saddle and we made a pit stop there on our way down to Ashland, the starting point of this year’s tour.

Once in Ashland, we dropped our gear off at our host’s house – Elizabeth – a warm showers host who farms on her own little commune while also working in Ashland’s school district. Elizabeth showed us around the place, we pitched our tent in a shady spot under an oak tree, and then headed out for a night on the town, exploring some of Ashland’s downtown appeal. We actually started with a tour of Paschal Vineyard just outside of Ashland, tasting some fine wines and enjoying the beautiful ambiance of the winery’s back patio. Then, after dropping off our things at Elizabeth’s house as previously mentioned, we made our way to Swing Tree, a little brewery in an industrial district on the outskirts of Ashland. It was a funky little brewery with some great beers. Trish got their signature pale ale and I enjoyed a thick, hoppy red ale called Lonely Trike Red. The beers were excellent and primed us for a great meal at our next stop: Caldera Brewery.

All our gear ready to be packed.

 

Do not take selfies in the car – it’s dangerous!

 

Paschal Winery & Vineyard. A pit stop just before arriving in Ashland.

 

Paschal had these really cool wine trees for their tasting flight.

 

After quickly unpacking at our host’s house, it was on to a brewery, the first one being Swing Tree. This place was great and had a cool, low-key vibe. Plus there were lots of dogs, a real plus for both Trish and me.

 

Here’s one that we made friends with.

 

And the beers we drank while people-watching and dog-playing and pre-trip conversing.

Here Trish got to sample a host of beers while I settled on a good IPA. Trish was coerced by our waiter into letting him choose her beers, and his choices were… interesting. All the beers were infusions minus the IPA he gave her upon personal request. I don’t want to make the guy sound sexist or something, but did he just give her a bunch of fruity beers because of her gender? Not sure. But lesson learned. Trish will choose her own beers next time.

Then we moved on to Caldera’s Taphouse; our last stop for the night.

 

So many options…

 

When in doubt, pick the seasonal IPA.

 

Dinner.

After sleeping under the stars that night, Trish and I woke up around 6:30am, got packed up, and headed out around 8am. The agenda for our first day was daunting. After a few mile warm-up, we rode up Dead Indian Memorial Highway’s 15 mile pass, which gains 3,500 feet of elevation. Trish bonked about halfway into the pass and felt like she had almost no energy. But there was really nothing to do but keep riding, so we carried on as best we could, taking numerous breaks and trying not to look at our low mileage as the day wore on.

Eager faces. We had no idea what was waiting for us in a couple miles.

 

This is what awaited us: 15 miles of uphill.

 

At least there were some pretty views along the way.

 

A famous person once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Seems fitting at about this point in the climb.

 

This is about how we felt by the time we reached the top.

 

And then things finally flattened out for a while.

 

And the highway’s claims of an open range became evident.

 

And we remembered that biking is fun.

To make matters worse, we ended up missing a turn that would have brought us into Klamath Falls on a nice, quiet secondary road. Instead, we popped out on highway 140, the main highway into Klamath Falls that just so happens to be loaded with semi-trucks and have about a 6 inch shoulder. We had no choice but to carry on until we were about 10 miles from our next warm showers’ host. It was here that the road followed the Upper Klamath Lake and had no shoulder, many turns, and dangerous shadows throughout, which bikers often get lost in for unsuspecting motorists. Having been somewhat traumatized by the tour already, and failing to successfully hitch a ride after ten minutes of effort, Trish and I decided to call our hosts and see if they’d be willing to pick us up. Patrick agreed that yes, that section of 140 should not be ridden, and that yes, he’d be happy to pick us up. Why didn’t we just do that in the first place?

Riding towards Upper Klamath Lake. The last time we’d see a decent shoulder for the duration of the day.

After setting up our tent in their yard and getting our things arranged, Trish and I headed out to eat at a local Thai restaurant, and then zonked out in the tent. On our first day we covered a little over 58 miles and gained over 6,200 feet of elevation. Not bad, all things considered. Oh, and Trish’s back end did not embrace the power of the dark side. Day 1 = zero saddle sores.

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