Sumpter to Mount Vernon
Another early start today. And actually a little bit of a chilly one. It didnt last for too long, but whilst the sun was still to rise over the tall trees, the early riding was a bit cold. Especially on any downhill sections where a cold breeze would cut through me a bit.
This morning I had to do these three climbs. Sumpter, Tipton and Dixie passes. I budgeted on each one taking me around 90mintues to get up and down. And it pretty much was a case of when the downhill stopped, the next climb began almost immediately.
I guess as I get more experienced, I'm getting a bit better at getting a feel for different climbs. When I was in Virginia and Kentucky, every climb seemed the same – steep and never ending. I would be in my lowest couple of gears the whole time and everything would be a struggle.
Now I'm a bit fitter, it means I have more gears available to me to use. The first climb, Sumpter started off quite easy, but got a lot steeper towards the end. Tipton was the opposite – it had a steep section initially but then became more gradual. Despite being the highest, Dixie was actually the easiest. It had a couple of extra miles to the top compared to the other two, which made it less steep. In fact I was able to do most of it using the middle gear on the front cog. Only the last half mile or so had any real steepness to it.
I was hoping to take a photo of the sign at the top of each one, but sadly Sumpter didnt have any kind of marking to tell you that you were at the top.
But I had a nice view on the way down!
Just after taking the picture at the top of Dixie, a woman in a car pulled up and started chatting to me. She was riding support for her husband and his friend. And then when she gets to wherever they are stopping, she gets on her bike (on the roof of the car) and rides back to find them and do the last bit of the day together. Had a very nice long chat with her, and got a cookie too! Shortly after starting my descent, I met the two riders and had another long chat. My timing estimate was about right. It was 11.30 by now, so it had taken me about 3.5hours to get to the top of the last climb. Since everything else was downhill from here for the rest of the day, I wasnt in too much of a hurry.
Some absolutely fantastic views on the way down the last descent. I even tried playing with the panoramic feature on my camera – you hold the shutter button down and more the camera slowly around and it stitches all the photos together – seems to work quite well so might use it a bit more often!
After that I was riding downhill or on flat (although into a headwind) for the rest of the day. The cyclists I had met in Baker told me about a great little place in Mount Vernon. A woman has converted a small building on her land into the “Bike Inn”. Fantastic little place. Has a shower, kitchen, wifi and a TV with lots of videos to watch. So I'm staying here tonight. Mount Vernon itself is very small, so not a huge amount to see. But I'll pop out for dinner later. Maybe some more bikers will turn up later.
But another good day's work. Ive only really got 3 big climbs left now, each of which is about 2,000ft. Then after that its just the odd little section to get over some headlands on the coast. Im about 240miles from Eugene now, which means less than 500 left in total. I hope to get to Eugene in 4 or 5 days, and then I can see how long I'll have to do the final leg to the coast!