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We started the day with a shuttle to breakfast at the Rustic Skillet restaurant, with its dinosaur theme at several of the tables. There was only one server on duty, but she was very engaging and capable. She challenged my order of two English muffins and peanut butter, saying “That’s not enough if you are climbing McKenzie Pass.” I stuck to my order, preferring to eat constantly on the ride over too much on the stomach. After eating, we arrived back at the Belknap Springs Lodge where we brought luggage to the van and loaded our pockets with food for the morning, before heading out.
From the Lodge we rode a mile and a half to the road leading up the pass – with the summit 22 miles up from the intersection where we turned. The landscape was temperate rain forest at the bottom of the climb. For our last time in Oregon we cycled past ferns and moss-covered trees. Right on schedule, between 40 and 50 minutes out, faster riders began to pass us, but when we stopped for a break after the first hour, we counted 8 riders still behind us. The terrain turned more to a forest of Douglas Fir by the time Steve and Wayne (among the Texans) pulled along side and rode with us for three or four miles. A little over half way to the top, they left us and Tom joined us for much of the remainder of the climb. We stopped a couple of more times to eat and drink without the concentration or effort of the climbs which was at a steady 6% grade. The road was full of switch backs and “S” curves as we wound our way, ever upward.
Emily, our guide, had told us we would come upon a lava field, but when we did, we were not prepared for the startling change in scenery. We went from green forests to a wasteland of volcanic rock in just a short distance. Among the rocks the only life visible life consisted of the rare volunteer evergreens that had found a toehold of soil from which to sprout. Many of the trees were dead, looking like tall gray fingers pointing out of the rocks. We dropped briefly back into the tree line, then out again into an extension of the lava field. Off to our right, almost lost in the glare were two beautiful snow-peaked mountains. It was an amazing sight.
A couple more miles and we caught a glimpse of the van, ahead and above us, parked at the summit. As we approached Emily starting ringing the cowbell, as if we were racing for King of the Mountain points in the Tour de France. She made the summit experience fun.
After spending some time at the summit, taking in the view, we began the 18 mile descent into Sisters, Oregon. The first five miles included sharp turns, but with 12 miles to go, the road turned straight as an arrow and the grade decreased to about 3%, allowing for fun, fast riding toward the Sandwich Depot, were we ate and ate prior to the shuttle back to Portland.
Friday was my favorite day on the tour. The changes in scenery along with the continuous climb and fast descent provided much variety and fun.
Thursday was our most challenging, and my least favorite day. The challenge was not the length or the grade. It was traffic and route. Again, this was a day where we were forced to detour because of the fires. After shuttling back to Dexter Reservoir (except Ed Watters and Tony, who rode from Oak Ridge) we started off on some nice back roads that included a beautiful covered bridge.
After pedaling briefly on some good roads, we turned onto highway 126. With the exception of short periods were parallel roads allowed us off the highway, this was our route for the rest of the day. It was a steady, shallow uphill grade, often in the sun, with a narrow shoulder.
Before the break I picked up my second flat of the trip. Again, John was nearby and because we were near the morning break stop, he threw my bike in the car and we drove the short distance to where the others had stopped. After snacking while John repaired the tire, we set off again on highway 126. It was more of the same. Drivers were mostly courteous, but it was unnerving sharing the lane with semi’s and logging trucks. After lunch I packed it in for the day and rode in the van to our destination at Belknap Springs.
The lodge at Belknap was the wonderful. The pool outside the lobby was fed by natural, hot springs. How good it was to relax in the pool after 6 days of riding.
The day did not offer much opportunity pictures or sight seeing. We all wish we could have seen the original route which was closed due to the fire.
Today is Saturday and the trip is all over, except for the flight home. We’ve been without usable internet service since we departed Tuesday morning; thus, I am backtracking to catch up on each days.
These two days were effected by the fires around Oak Ridge. Wednesday morning started with a breif wake-up climb and then settled down into many long flats, winding through Oregon farm land.
As a group, we had an abnormal number of flat tires. I had my first just before lunch. John Humphries was driving the support vehicle and showed up within 2 minutes after I pulled over.
The rest of the day was spent detouring to the Dexter Reservoir and then riding an “out and back” along the lake. The scenery was pretty, but this was our longest day and I was glad to be finished. We gathered by the reservoir and waited for each rider to come in before shuttling 23 miles to Oak Ridge where we stayed at the Cascade Motel. From the picture at the top of the post, yo can see they were waiting for us. John always picks first class places to stay wherever he can. Some legs of the ride, however, put the group in a small town with limited accommodations. Such was the case with the Cascade Motel: simple and clean – gracious owners, and limited amenities. We slept great and that is all that matters.
Above: Jeff and Tamara walk through the Douglas Fir of Silver Falls State Park
Every day we fall in love with Oregon for new reasons. Today was no different. This was our “bike and hike” day and the hike did not disappoint.
We started out of Silverton and immediately started the 18 mile climb to Silver Falls State Park. The first tenth of a mile was 11%, but then settled in to a steady 3-6% grade. Ed and I spent two and a half hours getting to the park. The last 5 miles tour owner, John Humphries, rode with us and we enjoyed John’s infectious love of life and cycling. John has become a good friend and I was humbled to find that he often watches our worship services on the internet.
Once we arrived at the state park we set off on our hike, viewing waterfalls and incredible plant life.
Following 3 hours of hiking, we put our cycling shoes back on and rode back to Silverton, making a big loop for the day.
The views, the fields, the landscape, both on the way up and on the way down were spectacular. The ride was just challenging enough and the hike put a whole new perspective on our experience.
Things are a bit up in the air for tomorrow. We know where we will end up, but not where we start. The fires I mentioned in the post of Crater Lake are playing havoc with our route. Our guide, Steve, has spent the day scouting alternatives. We eat at 6:30 Am and then shuttle to wherever he has found for us to begin. The adventure continues.
Joe and Cheryl Burch arrive at today’s lunch stop.
In the grocery store I’ve seen Oregon Blueberry’s. In the hardware store I’ve seen Oregon grass seed. Until today I never realized the diversity of Oregon’s agriculture industry.
Ed, Norris Broyles, and I started a few minutes early today, as slower riders are encouraged to do. As soon as we passed out of McMinnville, we began to ride through a fertile countryside – every square in of which – appeared to be under cultivation. The entire 48 miles today passed through fields of corn, fescue, and rye grass being grown for seed. Or acres of onions, orchards of apples and pears, or interesting trellises of hops. Several people stopped to pick blackberries on the side of the road. And, of course, there were many, many vineyards.
After arriving in Silverton, several of us tried to recount all the crops we had seen. Each one was able to remember an additional plants that others had forgotten.
On paper, today’s distance did not seem long, but at the end of the day, with a headwind picking up, it was enough. The only climb of the day started with a testy little grade and turned into four miles of grinding out the pedal strokes.
Today’s ride was one of my favorite days on a Lizardhead trip. The landscape was interesting, the weather was wonderful, and the view at lunch amazing. Now we look forward to tomorrow’s “bike and hike.”
Above: Ed Hine cycles through crop dust after lunch on Sunday
Because we arrived at the hotel so late on Saturday night, we started the day greeting old friends from previous Lizardhead trips. Of the 19 participants on the tour, 15 of us have ridden together on at least one, similar tour.
After breakfast and the pre-tour orientation from John Humphries, the owner of Lizardhead, we shuttled to the town of Banks where we offloaded the bikes and began our ride. The landscape was gently rolling with a few small hills. We passed through some rural residential areas and lots of farmland.
We were told that Oregon is bike friendly and motorists know how to share the road. Evidently a few out of state drivers were driving the same roads we were on today. We had our share of wheelie-popping motorcyclists and F-250’s passing two feet to the left and honking their horn.
Ironically it was hotter in Oregon today than in Rome.
We arrived in McMinnville about 4:00.
Since we left home at 6:00 AM Friday, we have spent 4 1/2 hours on an airplane and 13 hours in a van. We’ve cycled just over 80 miles: 42 on Friday around Crater Lake, and 40 today, riding from Banks to McMinnville – all towns are in Oregon. Tonight – Sunday night is the first time we’ve showered an put on anything besides something to sleep in or something to ride in. It is a great pause.
A little review of the Crater Lake ride. CL is in a very remote location. We did not have cell service for over 24 hours. But it is one of the wonders of the world and well worth the effort. The weather at CL can be inclement – and often is. Many people visit and can’t see the lake for the rain, fog, or clouds. Our day was weather perfect. No clouds, and less wind than normal.
The altitude was a factor in our day. We maxed out around 7700 feet at multiple times around the rim. Not being aclimated to the altitude made it more difficult for some of us – at least for me.
We had a few climbs of 3 and 4 miles at an average grade of 6%. Occasionally we would see 8-10%, but fortuantely those were rare moments. The steady 5-6% grade for miles was enough challenge.
The corresponding descents were taxing as well. The road surface was uneven and the traffic required constant attention. There were times where my hands wanted to cramp from gripping the brakes for such a long time.
We started the day at 6:30, adjusting our bikes at Union Creek Resort and we pulled in to our hotel in Portland at midnight exactly. A long but good day.
Thanks to Dan Greason for insisting we make the effort to add this day to the tour.
All of us from Rome, plus Norris Broyles from Atlanta, added a day on the front end of the tour – to ride the rim around Crater Lake. The map and elevation profiles are above. After long drive from Portland on Thursday night, we had a good night’s sleep at Union Creek Resort (circa 1950). In the morning we adjusted seats and pedals on our rental bikes before we ate breakfast. Ed Watters and Norris ate early and took off to ride to the park entrance from our lodging. The ride to the entrance was about 13 miles in the midst of huge Douglas fir trees – at an average 3% grade the entire way.
The ride around the rim was difficult, either a hard climb or a rapid descent that required all your attention. The standard measurement of a ride’s difficulty is 1000 feet of elevation change per 10 miles. Yesterday was about 1100 feet per ten miles.
But the beauty of the setting, a stellar day, plus good friends outweighted the difficulty of the ride, which in the end was a fun challenge accomplished.
On the ride home we spent much of our time in post-game traffic coming out of Eugene, following the Ducks defeat of Michigan State. Arriving back at the hotel at midnight, we were all ready for a good nights sleep.