Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | June 17, 2016

Day 5: Grinding. Just grinding.

Day 5 destination: Sisters, Ore.
Today’s mileage: 60. Total: 264

I was all smiles at the beginning of the ride. That didn’t last long.

I knew today’s ride would chew me up a bit. I was climbing from around 1,000 feet to 4,700 feet. … That might not sound like much, but trust me, it was much. Add to that a steady downpour, a balky shifter, a chain that locked up once, and traffic. So much traffic. It was a hard day.

I was on Hwy. 126. It’s a well-traveled road. Lots of trucks. And if you remember my post from Day 2, they do a bit of logging here in Oregon. My route went around Mount Washington and instead of taking McKinley Pass, my route-maker sent me along 126 and Hwy 20. It was a 60-mile trip and it included 40 miles of climbing. I guess it was a more gentle ascent than the 5,300-plus summit on McKinley Pass, so that must have been the reason for the route plan.

There wasn’t much shoulder on this road, but I didn’t care at this point. I had made it to the top.

In any event, I survived. I had a close call from some sort of truck hauling a trailer and I felt some hard breezes from some of the big rigs whizzing by. But mostly I felt the pain of the climb. It was probably the hardest biking day I’ve ever had (save for one seven-hour ride in 100-degree heat in Bulgaria a few years ago). But it’s in the books.

When I arrived in Sisters, I tracked down a bike shop to give my bike a once-over. I lucked into the Blazin’ Saddles bike shop, a great name!, and Erik took care of me. He said my shifter cable was stretched out. My chain was starting to go and the bike needed a good, thorough cleaning from the past four days of rain and road muck. I opted for a new chain and Erik did the rest. Good as new. Tomorrow, the journey continues.

Erik at Blazin’ Saddles got my bike cleaned up and fixed up in no time. Great indy bike shop if you’re coming through Sisters!




  1. More trucks… ICK! I love that you’re finding independent bike shops for your bike issues!

  2. We call days like this character-builders. Think of how strong these extended uphills will leave you when you hit the Great Plains.

  3. Climbing 3,700 feet *does* sound like much — very, very much. And with a balky shifter, no less! Talk about adding insult to injury. 🙂 But I’m very glad there was a friendly bike shop at the top of the mountain so you’ll have one less thing to worry about as you head out today.

  4. Any days you feel like bailing out, just picture yourself sitting in a cubicle instead…hang tough Mark!

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