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Ride report: Oregon Wheat Country

It was a quick 24-hour overnight trip to my Dad’s in Hermiston, so instead of getting there in 3 hours via I-84, I spent 6 hours riding there via a very circuitious route that looked more like a sine wave than a travel itinerary.

When I left Sandy Saturday morning it was sprinkling lightly but was already 60 degrees outside so the ride was pleasant despite the precipitation. There were very few cars on the road and I made it up and over Government Camp without too much frustration.

My route took me on forest service road 48 from White River past Rock Creek Reservoir and into Wamic. By this point the sun was shining amidst occasional puffy clouds. Just east of Tygh Valley, OregonFrom Tygh Valley I headed east on 216, and pulled into the White River Falls State Park on the suggestion of a buddy. I’m glad I did. The falls are incredible and worth a visit. There’s a trail down to the river but I stayed up top.Just east of Tygh Valley, Oregon

It was getting warm enough that I stripped off my cold-weather pants and put on my cooler warm-weather riding pants. From this point on, I was riding unfamiliar roads. I crossed the Deschutes River at Sherars Bridge and climbed up some tasty curves to the plains on top. Heading north I got into Grass Valley. My breakfast had worn off and I was feeling a bit peckish so I stopped at a small convenience store for a snack. There was an older gentleman there with a steel-blue ’06 V-Strom, and we chatted for a few minutes. I also chatted with the guy working there for a few minutes before heading north to Wasco.

Once I got to Wasco, I turned southeast and headed past the giant windmills to Condon. By the time I got there it was lunch time so I pulled into the Twist and Shake drive-in and enjoyed a bacon swiss mushroom burger and a Pepsi. There was a Fourth of July celebration going on in the park a block away and I could hear music on their loudspeaker. I got gas at a local station and continued east on 206 toward Heppner.

Once at Heppner, I turned north on 74 into Lexington, then into Hermiston. I arrived at 2PM to warm and windy weather. I had a great visit with my Dad, including a wonderful meal of ribs and fried shrimp at Hale’s downtown Hermiston. The wind blew all night.

We awoke to sunny skies and a warm west wind. After breakfast, I mounted back up and began backtracing my steps to Heppner and Condon. I gassed up again at the same station in Condon, but chose a different eatery for lunch, a small cafe on the main drag. They were still serving breakfast so of course I had to partake of their biscuits and ‘ugliest gravy in Oregon’ with a side of bacon and a fried egg on top. Two cups of coffee washed it down.

This time, I headed south to Fossil, then westward over some of the tastiest curves in the state back to Antelope and Shaniko. I followed Bakeoven road, the middle half of which is gravel and tar, down into Maupin, then back up the other side of the Deschutes River canyon toward Tygh Valley and Wamic. The rest of the route home was identical to the reverse journey the day before. Traffic coming down off the mountain was typically thick for the Sunday of a holiday weekend.

The trip was 529 miles in 24 hours and covered some absolutely gorgeous wheat country between Heppner and Condon, and arguably the finest curves in the state between Fossil and Shaniko.

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