**Day 1: Climbing**
Starting at dawn, the air chilled as ice. I packed up and kissed my sweetie goodbye. I knew I had hours of climbing ahead of me but I had not anticipated it taking so long. Shortly after starting and only a few miles into the route I realized that I may be in for a full day of pedaling to my destination. I covered only a few measily miles in 1 hour. The day wore on, the air grew warm and dry which rapidly depleated my water bottles. Not even halfway up the route I had to stop for water at a camp ground. By the time I made it to mile 20, the air was thick with dust kicked up by passing vehicles. One passerby was kind enough to hand me a beer to drink in celebration at the summit.
**Day 2** Waking just before dawn, I quickly packed up to start my day.
The descent was quick, loose, and bumpy. So many times I had to come to a complete stop to give my braking hands a rest and let the blood flow back into my white knuckles. Met a few cyclists on the descent. They were doing the same route as I but in the opposite direction. Refilled water at a campground. Pulled into Fields after 4pm, so it was closed when I arrived. Boooooooo. But someone staying at the motel was sitting outside and gave me a can of Coors Lite. It was so good after such a hot day of riding. Ended up sleeping right behind the store. **Day 3** Awake well before dawn, I quickly packed up and headed back to the highway to get a good view of sunrise:
The air was thick with the smell of burning wood. The state-wide wildfires that plagued the summer have blown in. I didn’t want to ride for another 2 days with such suffocating air, so Audrey and I made arrangements to meet in Fields to end our Steens and Malheaur adventure. Back in Portland, the Eagle Creek wild fire had started and ash was falling from the sky all over the metropolitan area. We’ll be back in the spring!