The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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Willamette Cycling – Friday

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.

Volcanic rocks in Deschutes National Forest

Volcanic rocks in Deschutes National Forest

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.

Mountains to our right.

Mountains to our right.

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.

Tamara approaches the summit of McKenzie Pass. Ed Watters is in the UGA jersey.

Tamara approaches the summit of McKenzie Pass. Ed Watters is in the UGA jersey.

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.

 

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