Bend: Bikes and Bruises

So after riding out of Salem, we were confronted with our first real-deal mountain range, the Cascades. We reached the bottom toward nightfall, and as we ascended the first leg my blood sugar dropped pretty low, where the corners of my vision black in and out and I feel really detached. We found a place to camp on the side of the road and Haylee cooked me up two batches of them delicious Idahoan instant mashed potatoes to bring me back to life before bed… and a little Battlestar Galactica.

The next morning we set out to conquer that hill and we did just that, then cooly coasted down to Sisters for some refreshments before biking the rest of the way to Bend. I have a cousin who has lived there for a few years, plus my aunt, uncle and grandfather had literally just moved into a house there. When we were about ten miles out, we were biking on a pretty decent shoulder with some soft gravel off the side of the road. Suddenly, a ferocious blast from a semi-truck horn about thirty feet behind us sent us shooting in to the gravel to take cover.  The tires went a little wild as we changed terrain and Haylee’s bike tipped over on top of her, dragging her shin through the gravel.

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It was bleeding slightly at the top but there was a bunch of that gravel ground into her skin. We serendipitously stumbled upon an RV park just up the road with a general store that had some basic supplies and running water, so she cleaned up her wound with some hydrogen peroxide which looked/sounded/most-definitely-was pretty painful and apparently doesn’t help all that much. We biked the rest of the way to Bend, then called my cousin Wade when we were close for directions. Rather than try to guide us how to get to the other side of town, he came by to pick us up.

It was awesome to see my cousin again, since we usually only see each other every few holidays. We had heard tales of a Shell station in Bend that also has thirty craft beers on tap, so we confirmed this with him and we dropped by to see it for ourselves. We tried about ten different beers before settling on one with a splash of coffee and filled up his empty growler (which happened to have an inexplicably labeled ‘homo’ sticker on top calling out to us). He brought us to my aunt Marcia’s place and we all chatted for a bit before he had to go. I had a nice long talk with my grandpa about the trip and we took some desperately needed showers before heading to bed.

The next day we had two main items on the agenda, stop by an urgent care for Haylee and pick up a brand new, non-back-breaking bike for me. My uncle Mark took us to the urgent care first. Haylee was going to get a increasingly large cyst checked out (and I was going to film them draining it), but apparently us first world country folk deal with them through antibiotics. What they were more concerned about was her road rash. The nurse told her if they didn’t scrub it out she will have a haphazardly designed new tattoo on her leg, so Haylee consented to a good scrubbing. But scrubbing a fresh wound hurts real bad! It looked even worse when she came out but I suppose is better in the long run.

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Then we were off to the bike shop to pick up my new baby. I walked in, stated my business and they rolled her out: Shirley, the Surly Long Haul Trucker. She is beautiful, and an absolutely massive bike. After my failed bike fitting in Salem – they told me that any fix they tried to make to my old bike was putting a band-aid on an amputated limb – I found out I needed not only a 64cm seat tube but also a 64cm top tube. The top tube runs from the saddle to the handlebars, and since I have a really long torso, the 58cm I had was crunching me together in a really painful way. The bike calculators online only told me about the seat tube length I needed for my height and inseam, and my old Nishiki fit that bill, but the seat tube length is an extremely important detail to consider when fitting yourself to a bike.

I rolled her around the parking lot for a bit and she floated along the road like a dream. They had some temporarily installed pink pedals that I was tempted to keep, but I wanted to get some clipless pedals to work with my shoes. Confusingly enough and against all reason or sense, pedals with places to clip your bike shoes in are called clipless pedals. They really help in building up speed or climbing a hill, as you are able to pull upward on the pedals to get some extra momentum. They take some getting used to, but after a couple of failures to click out of them and slowly teetering to the ground along with my weighted down vehicle, it feels very comfortable and natural to be attached to the bike.

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We stayed in Bend for a little while longer. That story continues in a few days!

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