Days 6 Plus ¾ of Bike Touring Southern Oregon or, Episode 4: The Rainbows & Unicorns Menace

Day 6 had us awake at 6am and out the door by 7:30am, since we knew there was a lot of climbing ahead of us and Ashland was supposed to be over 100 degrees by the end of the day. As a little surprise, I had toted a rainbows & unicorns onesie to wear on the last day, and my anticipation for surprising Trish was absolutely killing me by that last night. I walked around our room for quite some time in the morning before she even noticed them and when she did, her response was priceless: “Ha! Wait… you’re not actually going to wear that are you?”

I don’t see what the big deal is.

Unfortunately for her, I was most definitely going to wear it. A little heat in the afternoon wasn’t going to stop me. However, I will say that by the end of the ride, which totaled 74 miles and over 7,000 feet of elevation gain, the cheap polyester material was digging into my knee pits and definitely causing me to overheat. Oh well, I knew I had the next couple weeks to rest and recover, and I can now say with confidence that it was worth the slight discomfort.

The ride was a challenging one for sure. We climbed a number of passes this ride with some of the steepest grades we’d encountered, including one section that was 8%. Still, we both made it to Ashland unscathed.

What we thought was just another docile bovine on the side of the road…

 

Turned out to be a bike chasing sprinter cow! I’m not sure what its plans were if it caught us, but when Trish squealed and started sprinting on her bike, I turned around to see this. A bit unnerving, but fortunately for us, even at a dead sprint cows aren’t very fast or known for their long distance. We escaped unscathed but wary of the rest of our bovine encounters that day.

 

Post cow chase.

 

The familiar wilderness areas informed us that we had now come full circle.

The highlight of the ride, outside of the first twenty miles in the morning, which consistently is the most enjoyable part of any long tour, was seeing a bear while we filled up our water. I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, but it was definitely a black bear and was probably about 150-200 feet away from us. Trish would admit that she freaked out a bit, but recovered quickly, and after we passed the spot where it went into the bushes, she was able to relax and enjoy the close encounter rather than solemnly swear to never bike in the wilderness again. A good end result if you ask me.

We pulled into our original host’s house – Elizabeth – a little after 4pm, and after showering, getting the tent set up, and all that other routine stuff, we headed out for our much anticipated burger at a local restaurant called Ruby’s. Trish and I tried to eat mindfully, but after almost an entire week of food out of packages, we couldn’t help but eat at a slightly unhealthy pace.

Waiting for a burger is best done with a mason jar full of beer.

 

FINALLY!

After our meal, we walked around Ashland a bit before heading back and going to bed.

Final sunset of the trip.

The next morning we took our time getting up and eating breakfast, and then headed out to check out some of Ashland’s downtown shops. Of course, we got hung up in the bookstore, called Bloomsbury Books. Their book selection was awesome, and had a great selection of spirituality and philosophy books, not to mention a whole wall devoted to animal books, which Trish and I spent about an hour at together reading various feel good stories about how animals have helped their owners or developed friendships with other species of animals. It was a good time.

Breakfast.

We then headed out to see a play. Seeing as how Ashland is known for the Shakespeare Festival it puts on every year and I’m an English teacher who just so happens to love Shakespeare, we decided to go see “Much Ado About Nothing,” a favorite for both of us. It didn’t disappoint. Only after the play was it time for us to say goodbye to Ashland and the trip we had planned out for so long. While it’s always disappointing to reach the end of a trip like this, Trish and I both achieved a sense of fulfillment from the experience, and were already talking about the prospective Oregon bike tours we could do next summer.

 

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