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ACCOMPLISHMENTS A quick glance at the profile of the entire 363-mile route deludes you from the ridiculous amount of climbing packed into the last quarter of the route, most of which is delivered in the form of mile after mile of gravel rollers accompanied by 10-20 mile per hour headwinds. At the top of each small roller I would gain momentum, get into my highest gear, and engage my concentration and effort to carry me as far as I could up the next hill. But the combination of gravel surfaces, a loaded bike, steep pitches, and headwinds sucked away most of my energy and morale, leaving me in my granny gear only half way up the next hill. We were in the never-ending final stretch of the route and our group had spread out across the wide-open landscape. I slogged ahead for quite some time with Jake, Amy, and Jessica, another Seattle rider who we’d met up with that afternoon. Eventually, Jessica ducked off route in search of water. I looked ahead at Amy, getting smaller in the distance, then at Jake, who seemed unaffected by the day’s events and kept muttering about how beautiful it was out here. I realized that I needed to change my attitude, so I looked up and took in the view. It was early evening and the sun was on its seemingly endless summer trajectory toward the horizon. The horizontal light accentuated the folds of the hills that rolled down toward the Deschutes River in the west. To the east, shadowy fields of corn and grass were swaying psychedelically as gusts of winds blew across them, and us. I felt fortunate to be there in that moment, and I tried to make peace with my surroundings. But peace gradually slipped into all-out war with each soul-sucking hill. I had no choice but to concede to the nonsensical cyclic phasing of my mood, and pedal along. And along. We rolled up to the radio towers atop Gordon Ridge Road—the muchanticipated final climb of the route—just as the sun dipped below the horizon. We descended into the canyon in the dark, flying toward the Columbia River and into the Deschutes River State Park, marking the completion of the Oregon Outback. Though the campground was full, we managed to locate a small settlement of Outback riders who’d been waiting for our arrival. Their welcoming faces were a cheerful sight and they promptly handed us the perfect Pacific Northwest victory beer. Time passed quickly until Lucas, Martina, Jason, and Jessica rolled in together to join us, finalizing our celebration. Our little community continued to grow throughout the night as fellow riders rolled in and shared stories of the journey around the campfire. Everyone who rode the Oregon Outback came to it with different backgrounds and varied goals. The Thursday before the start of the race, I received a text from my buddy Ian saying, “He who has the most fun wins the race.” Ian’s words made me smile as we sat by the fire with our celebratory beers and new friends, thinking about all that we had accomplished. BV

Bunyan Velo 145

Profile for Lucas Winzenburg

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

Bunyan Velo: Travels on Two Wheels, Issue No. 05  

Bunyan Velo is a collection of photographs, essays, and stories celebrating the simple pleasures of traveling by bicycle.

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