Day 13: Denio Junction, NV to Lakeview, OR

Wednesday 9/21

I didn’t notice Denio Junction’s helpful mileage sign until the morning. There was an important value missing that I added for them.

The sun was fully on our camp as we packed up, with the heat brutalizing us well ahead of schedule.

We started with several miles of pavement before turning off into burro country. Burritos — Spanish for “little donkey” — were originally made from burro meat when horse meat wasn’t available.*

We passed through the standard open landscape that featured our constant companion, the sage brush. This particular section differed a bit as the remnant of two giant conch shells was a reminder of how northwestern Nevada was a landlocked sea and home to the largest mollusk fossil ever found.**

We came across our Nemesis of the Day rather early. It was another long climb with loose rocks of varying sizes. I went first, bouncing around and occasionally planting a foot to keep from falling over. When I got to a level spot, I stopped the bike, took a photo, and waited for Wayne.

When he didn’t show up I knew something was up. It was too hot to keep my gear on so I removed my helmet and jacket, threw on my hiking hat, and walked to a point where I could see down the hill.

Wayne was stopped but standing, so that was a good sign. I could see him gesturing but I couldn’t hear anything so I made my way down the hill. When I got there he explained he was ricocheting around and needed to remove the backpack so Simon wouldn’t get hurt if the bike went down. I took Simon and let him out of the bag. As Wayne rode on, Simon and I made our way behind him. (There’d be photos here if I hadn’t left my camera back with the bike.)

We reconvened at the top of the hill. It was only mid morning, it was hot as hell, and the route was likely to get worse before it got better. Based on our maps, we were on a stretch of road that appeared as a solid line. Somewhere in the offing that line turned into a dotted line and based on our experience with dotted lines on maps, it could get ugly.

Simon was panting so hard his face had a slight snarl to it. If he entered the heat exhaustion phase we’d have few resources to cool him down. I played the conservative card: Let’s take the pavement to Lakeview.

For most of the 2,000 miles we’d done, Wayne was a hero — possibly a saint — for carrying Simon and never complaining. I was relieved he didn’t argue with me about the proposed route change. I’ve taken Simon on easier dirt stretches so I knew the weight was a game changer — it was the difference between feeling like a competent vs incompetent rider. The day would’ve been brutal for Wayne and Simon; I was the one who had it easy.

So back we went past the many burros.

Before hitting the pavement we stopped to air up the tires. Simon availed himself to the only shade for miles around.

There wasn’t much to report about Highway 140 except that it had a stretch of the most awesome curves I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding. The flow was incredible.

Snack break and more hiding from the sun. If panting correlated to effort, Simon was running a marathon today.

The scenery transitioned as we made our way into Oregon. More trees were dotting the hillsides and the animal signs changed from burros to a bighorn sheep.

When we got to Lakeview we grabbed a sandwich and then scoped out our camping options. Juniper RV park was a few miles out of town and it got rave online reviews so we camped there (the reviews were right; the place was five stars). All it took to make me smile was a shower.

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* This is a lie I thought I’d see if I could perpetuate through people who don’t read footnotes.

** See above footnote.

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Day 13 overview: 160 miles

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