Union to La Grande, OR

We wrapped up our short tour with a final flat loop through more farmland back to our start point in La Grande.

This was going to be a relatively short day, so we set the alarm for a luxurious 5 am. We needed to do our shopping in the morning, since we had no fridge in the hotel. The convience store attached to the gas station across the street was the first to open, so won our business. The hot breakfast sandwiches were particularly nice.

We pulled the bikes out of the hotel basement and finally got moving. Max decided he wanted me to pull him again today. Ruth was quite content to get more Mommy time. We rode north out of town, once again riding along farms. There seemed to be more tractor traffic today.

We came to the biggest climb of the day, maybe 200 feet at around 2% into Cove. Definitely enough to feel and be slowed by, but not too exciting.

We rolled through town, waving greetings to passerbys. As we got past the outskirts, we could see our eventual destination of La Grande before a nice coast back downhill.

We continued riding along the base of the steep bare hills. We passed the Lower Cove Cemetery (which didn’t appear to have road access, even a dirt road) and some gates for a Lower Cove School, which just led to a picnic table. Perhaps Lower Cove has seen better days.

After looping along the hills it was time to cut back across the valley. We came to the most trafficked road of the tour in the form of OR 82. With a few more feet of shoulder, it would have been great. As is, it was fine. It probably helped that we were on it for less than two miles, and it was slightly downhill, so we were feeling fast.

We discussed lunch, but between being just a few miles from the end, and the gas station sandwiches we had packed, we decided to power through and find something at the end.

The last few miles took us along a bit more farms (more basil!) before giving way to town. We passed some fire stations, but the kids managed not to be excited.

Then it was time to pack up. Off with the front fenders and rack (they don’t fit with the roof rack). Stuff everything back into the car, somehow. Find lunch at the neighboring McDonald’s and then dessert from Dairy Queen. Finally, drive off to Caldwell, ID, for a visit with some of Anne’s extended family.

This short tour was a lot of fun, but it’s hard to avoid measuring it against the West Coast tour. A lot of the ride was on the flatter than our preference. It’s pretty, but didn’t offer a lot of jaw dropping landscapes. Without the moderating influence of the ocean, it got quite hot.

Still, it was nice to be able to do this trip without the months of prep. We didn’t train (and did suffer for it – I know some of the climbs would have been a lot easier last year) and still accomplished everything.

At the end of our last Oregon-only tour, we started talking about the West Coast as a crazy possibility. It took three years before we actually did it. This time, we talked about tandems, Ruth riding her own bike, and a tour in Europe. I tried to suggest trans America, but Anne quickly shot that down as an empty nest trip. We’ll see.