In spite of steady climbing, I was keeping very good pace and made it to New Meadows for a quick lunch. At this time, I decided that I would only stop in Cambridge for dinner (my initially planned stopping point for the day) and keep riding over a 4,131 foot pass and back into Hell's Canyon. Luckily, the winds were weak enough for me to keep a good momentum and push through several challenging climbs.
I was extremely motivated to make it to Oregon, realizing that this was a very important benchmark. I couldn't wait to cross into my tenth and final state.... I kept repeating "Oregon, Oregon, Oregon," when I began to grow tired of cycling through narrow roads. In spite of it being a weekend, the traffic was very manageable and there were very few 18-wheelers on the road. Just adjacent to route 95 was the Weiser River Trail, an unpaved trail that use to be a railroad line. If I had thicker tires, I would have definitely taken advantage of this beautiful trail! Here's the trail's website: http://www.weiserrivertrail.org/.
I stopped in Council for a chocolate milk and a candy bar, then pushed on to Cambridge for dinner. I got into a conversation with the diner owner and she explained to me the details of the climb ahead. It sounded like it was going to be challenging, but I would be rewarded with the thrilling seven mile descent into Hell's Canyon (which would be my second ride back into the winding canyon). Excited to get into Oregon, I paid the bill and headed back into the afternoon heat.
After a slow crawl up to the pass, I was rewarded with a thrilling descent; however, I began to notice my front tire was losing air at a rapid pace. By the time I crossed the Brownlee Reservoir Dam and into Oregon, I noticed that not only my front wheel had a puncture, but my rear tire was bouncing. Expecting the worst, I found an air bubble between the tire and the tube. Having never seen this before, I was quite baffled. I removed the sharp rock that had caused the small puncture and the bubble dissipated. I pumped up both tires and rode another 20 miles up the canyon towards Oxbow. I found that the front tire's leak was far more serious, but my rear rim had become warped, or "not true." I was losing daylight, so I pumped up the front and made the final climb up to the Oxbow Dam camping area.
As I pulled in, I asked a drunk elderly couple where I could find water and they pointed me in the direction of the camping area. I rode to the nearest green patch and threw my bike against a tree, when a nice lady approached me with a drink. She then invited me over to meet her friends and then proceeded to feed me. These friendly families were from Portland, and were going to raft down the Snake River for the next week. We sat for a while and swapped some fun stories... it was a fantastic way to end a long grueling day. I thanked them for everything and proceeding to pitch my tent, take a shower, and fall asleep. I've decided to wait for tomorrow morning to deal with my tires. I'm only hoping that this is the most trouble Oregon throws my way... oh well, at least the people here are great!