Coast to Coast 2022 Adventure Day 5: Burns, OR to Ontario, OR

Alan Gilbert
4 min readJun 29, 2022

This post is part of a series detailing my 2022 coast to coast cycling adventure.

Day 5 was very challenging by design — the second of two consecutive 130+ mile days. But it was marred and made doubly challenging by a trip through a construction zone, splattering our bikes and us with wet tar.

Day 5 Highlights:

Song of the day: Fee by Phish
Start: Burns, OR
End: Ontario, OR
Distance: 133.0 miles
Elevation: 3,291 ft
Breakfast: Breakfast burrito ordered the night before from the Apple Peddler
Lunch: Leftovers under a tree in Harper, OR
Dinner: Whatever was easiest. Pizza for Alan and burgers for Dave and Dee.

We again started early to manage the heat (another 100 degree day) and were rolling by 5:15. Amazing sunrise.

Sunrise over Burns, OR

We are now only about a mile from the Oregon-Idaho border. Here is what we have done so far:

It’s astounding how the Oregon landscape has changed every day. We went from rain forest along the blue ocean, to the beautiful Cascades, including a lava field, to flat scrub brush. And now today to gently rolling mountains.

Rolling mountains in eastern Oregon
Do as the sign says!
We decided not to stay here. The TravelAdvisor review said “watch out for the showers.”

From our drive into Oregon a week ago, we knew that there was construction on US 20. But we had no idea what was about to happen to us. As we neared the construction zone it became clear that things were more active than they were a week ago. The crew was closing half of the road at a time (with traffic only in one direction) and we felt fortunate when we hit the tail end of a moving eastbound group. There was heavy equipment and different layers of tar and asphalt being laid down. I had an inkling that it was probably not great for the bikes to be riding on the freshly-laid surface. But we were on a 2% downgrade and flying along at 25 MPH so there was not much time to think. In one area the surface appeared to be very wet and it was not clear if it was hot tar, or water, or both. But as far as we could tell we were riding in the areas that the workers were intending for traffic.

I knew things were not good when my brake levers started to get sticky and my legs were splattered with tar. We later pulled over and assessed the damage. Tar everywhere… shoes, legs, wheels, frames, chains, jerseys, water bottles, camelbaks. The bottom of my frame looked as if it had been spray-painted a glossy black. By some miracle, the bikes seemed to continue to function well so it turned out to be mostly a cosmetic issue, albeit a huge one.

Quite the tarry mess from riding through US 20 paving zone

After nearly two hours of cleanup work, we were able to get rid of almost all of the tar, however my brand new McKenzie Pass jersey will never be the same.

Massive cleanup effort. Products used: Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover, and WD-40

“Easy” 60 mile ride tomorrow. We could use it!