January 01, 2002 11:00 pm
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Kent Coe, left, and Mark Karl of La Grande begin a New Year's Day bicycle ride to Pendleton. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Kent Coe, left, and Mark Karl of La Grande begin a New Year's Day bicycle ride to Pendleton. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Poet Carl Sandburg once wrote that ...fog comes in on little cat feet.

On Tuesday three La Grande cyclists rolled into a fog bank that had far more authority than the little cat feet Sandburg wrote of in his poem.

The cyclists, Kent Coe, Paul Fothergill and Mark Karl, were participating in the annual New Years bicycle ride from La Grande to Pendleton.

Conditions were good until the riders hit a wall of fog at Dead Mans Pass west of Meacham. The fog made a quick impact.

The temperature dropped about 10 degrees in a matter of feet, Karl said.

The veil of fog, which reduced visibility to 50-to-100 feet, extended for several miles.

In spite of the fog, Coe said the ride was one of the best since he started making the New Years Day trek five years ago.

It was incredible, Coe said.

It was sunny and relatively warm during much of the ride, with temperatures getting as high as 43 degrees.

The cyclists were also aided by a tail wind in the early part of the ride.

Fothergill started around 8 a.m. and rode west on Interstate 84 until reaching Meacham, where he turned off on Highway 30 and traveled to Wildhorse Casino Resort east of Pendleton.

Coe and Karl left around 8:15 a.m. They first rode 12 miles on Interstate 84 to the Spring Creek exit where they turned onto Highway 30.

Fothergill made it to Wildhorse at 11:45 a.m. Coe and Karl reached Pendleton at 12:30 p.m.

The cyclists encountered packed snow but no snow or rain.

Tuesdays trek was organized by Coe, who has been making the New Years Day ride to Pendleton each year since 1998. He rode alone the first two years and invited other interested cyclists to join him in 2000.

This year the last five miles into Pendleton proved particularly challenging. The flat stretch was difficult to enter because the cyclists had been rolling downhill for miles in the chill.

Your muscles tightened because they were cold and you had not been working, Karl said.

Karl recovered quickly from Tuesdays ride.

This was evident later in the evening when he participated in an Irish set dancing program at

La Grandes Olde Meeting House on M Avenue.

He plans to go on the New Years ride again in 2003.

It was fantastic. ... Its a kick, he said.

Fothergill, who has participated in long treks such as Cycle Oregon, hopes Tuesdays ride helps launch him into a consistent bicycling regime in 2002.

I hope that I can keep it up the rest of the year, Fothergill said.

Coe had a similar thought.

I keep thinking that if I can bicycle on New Years I can ride any day of the year, he said.