Biologist on a Bike

Day 5: Corvallis, OR to Blue River, OR

Distance: 85.58
Average Speed: 12.2 mph; Max Speed:  mph 25.2 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,222
Average Temp: 61.4 F; Temp Range: 50-75.2F


The day got off to a wonderful start, with a hot breakfast provided by my host (thank you again, CJ!), and then I was out the door. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to complete my planned 70 miles.

Where I woke up, Day 05

A wild turkey greeted me and my host on my way out the door.

If Day 1 caused me problems because I made it too much about the destination and not enough about the journey, today was a demonstration of the reverse.

Before I went to sleep last night, I got a call confirming the place I wish to stay on the other side of McKenzie Pass tomorrow, but I had not yet gotten a call about tonight. Mid-morning I called, again. And got a voicemail, again. I pulled up the Warmshowers app and contacted two potential hosts, but over the course of the day I found out that both of them had moved. There was a B&B listed on the maps as allowing some camping, only when they called me back mid-afternoon, I found out that their policy has changed. I used my phone to search for other lodging in the area and the next place I called also said no camping allowed, but gave me the name of a place further down the road that just might. Thankfully they did, although it’s not a regular thing. So I’m set up in my tent in a back corner of the property, out of sight of the regular guests. And I’m thoroughly grateful for it, since the next potential campground was at least 20 miles further and potentially full due to the holiday weekend. I don’t want to stealth camp, not least because I doubt I’d be able to sleep very well for wondering if I would be woken up by an angry landowner, a cop, or a wild animal looking for my food (or to make me into food), but I will admit I was considering it for a while today.

The repeated housing fallouts led to just a bit extra being added to my 70 mile day. 15 miles is ‘just a bit’ right? The road wound its way upward slowly all day, but in the kind of way that you barely noticed, so at least that wasn’t a big issue.

The big event of the ride, putting Map Section 1 into my panniers and pulling out Map Section 2. One down, 11 to go!

Most of the route was on rural highways. It was beautiful but with few service locations. But I stopped early and often to top off my water, so I was never in water crisis mode. I know this is likely to get worse over the next days (or weeks), and I’m feeling increasingly glad that I bought my Camelbak bladder as a backup.

Of more concern than finding water was the narrow shoulder in many places. I’m guessing this usually isn’t an issue, as it doesn’t strike me as a high-traffic road. But I saw a fair amount of traffic. It wasn’t ever harrowing or even scary, but it was an annoyance.

Today was a day for vultures, apparently.

Two vultures perched atop a dead tree

I feel like this photo is too stereotypical

A vulture perched on a dead branch.

I could smell the rotting thing this one had been feeding on, but I didn’t have the stomach to search for it.

And I don’t know about you, but I want to know the story behind this tree!

A tree decorated with dozens of pairs of shoes

New meaning to the term “shoe tree”

I had my first confirmed Osprey sighting of the trip! Fledglings, based on how insistently they were calling out.

Two osprey perched atop their aerie

To distract myself from the long hours and, more importantly, the uncertainty surrounding where I would sleep tonight (I only secured a place to set up camp about 79 miles into my 70 mile day) I started playing memory games based on the alphabet. The ones where one person starts and says something like “I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing an apple” and then the next person has to say that and add a picnic item starting with a b, and so on until somebody can’t remember them all. For the picnic foods, I got all the way through the alphabet with the exception of X and Z where I couldn’t think of food items. Then I did “I’m going to the doctor to learn about” and this time got all the way through a list of diseases, drugs, and procedures.

Once I passed Coburg and the end of Map Section 1, there was a theme to the day. McKenzie Highway, McKenzie Nurseries, McKenzie School System, McKenzie River, McKenzie this, McKenzie that. All the McKenzies reminding me that tomorrow I face my first mountain pass. I’m at around 1000 feet elevation right now. Over 35 miles tomorrow, I will climb to 5,324 ft. Most of that, however, takes place over 21 miles. So 21 miles for about 4,000 feet of climbing.

Hills have, thus far, not been kind to me on this tour, but I am determined to make it over this pass if I have to crawl over it with the bike on my back! I pray it won’t come to that, though.

Roadkill Count: Today 7 birds, 10 mammals (1 cat, 4 possums, 1 rabbit, 2 racoons, 2 unknown mammals), 2 snakes, 1 lizards

Map Day 05

16 thoughts on “Day 5: Corvallis, OR to Blue River, OR

  1. Connie Joki

    I’m so glad the day went well. Really looking forward to your next few posts on handling the pass. Love the determination, you CAN do it!

    PS – your pictures are so worth the 5lb camera. 🙂

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      I’m working on the pass post right now. I also took some video, but that’ll have to wait for better internet.
      And I have yet to regret the camera 🙂

  2. Bill

    The weather looks good along your route until Thursday. Then there will be a 20% chance of showers. Highs in the mid-50s and lows in the low 30s.

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Brr. Thanks for the heads up. It’s in the 80s where I am right now (low in the 40s) and I wouldn’t want to get too used to this only to have it ripped away. By Thursday I should be in Idaho, I hope.

  3. Andrew Roth

    Hi, sounds like things going fairly well. When I started out, knees were my problem. Prevailing winds should favor you. As you continue east, it gets pretty empty of people. Carrying enough water was an issue. I carried a couple 2L soda bottles (just dumped out the Sprite) which are light and watertight. In the desert, I would wet my shoes (and feet and socks) down whenever I had access to a water tap. Don’t do this if blisters are an issue. Last two hints: in the morning I would put rice or dry lentils or beans to pre-soak in a 500 mL Nalgene jar. Saves on fuel in the evening. Tabasco and butter were worship-worthy. Keep weight as low as possible in the front panniers. Bungee cord your towel or other laundry on top of the rack so it dries during the day. I always liked having a paperback book with me. Can’t ride every daylight minute. OK 5. Keep it up! You are definitely a better writer than me!

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Oh, my knees are definitely talking to me. They really apprecaited the short day I had to Corvallis and they did not appreciate the mountain pass. They were sore today, but the soreness lessened as they warmed up. I’m trying to remain mindful of gears to minimize stress. Just because I’m strong enough to push a bigger gear doesn’t mean I should.
      I have 3 water bottles that together carry just over 2L of water. Then I have a 3L Camelbak with a water filter spliced into the line. I haven’t ridden with that full yet, but I will when the towns start getting further apart. That, combined with stopping at every town to top off, has been helpful.
      A lot of the advice I’ve been seeing says that the weight should be a 60/40 split with more in front, since the back wheel is carrying the bulk of me. It took me a while to get the balance down, but the front wheel wobble has all but stopped.
      The fuel saving tips are great. Thanks.

      1. Andrew Roth

        What I meant about the front panniers weight was not the front/back balance, but what weight you have in the front, put the heavier stuff lower in the panniers. Sorry I wrote ambiguously. When I went across, I didn’t even have low riders in the front. Wobble city! Sounds like you have it straight anyway.

        Oh one last hint – baby wipes are da bomb!

        1. Spin Doctor Post author

          Oh! Yes, that was one of the things I became more careful about to control wobble. I do it on the back too.
          And yes, yes they are.

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      I love the scenery too, but experience has taught me that landscape photos never really capture the wonder that real life inspires. I rarely post them even though I enjoy the sights.

  4. Chad D Ellis

    Can’t wait to see what you will post tomorrow – on May 30th – (and not just because that is my birthday ;o) .. have fun!!

  5. Rhoda

    I finally got a chance to catch up on your journal and, like everyone else, am truly enjoying it. Your postcard arrived today – can’t believe you’re taking time to do that! THANK YOU! It’s really fun reading your adventures and as Lou Grant once said to Mary Tyler Moore – “You’ve got spunk!” Continue to cover you in our prayers. Be safe! Sending love.

  6. EDW

    I love the pictures! I am always excited to see wild the turkeys at CJ’s. We don’t have them in my area. So glad you made it to CJ’s.

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Each count is for the day. My rules are that it needs to be on the road or close enough that it could reasonably have been struck by a car. And if it was killed long enough ago that it’s been skeletonized, I don’t count it.

  7. Leslie Diamond

    The roadkill count cracks me up. I hope the climb went well! I’ll have to read one more tonight before I go to bed. Stay safe!

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