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Oregon Bicycle Ride, 2002

Background

Our last Oregon Bicycle Ride had been Oregon Bicycle Ride 1999. Since then we had tried several other tours, including the Bicycle Idaho tours organized by the same company. This year we decided to return. It was particularly convenient for us since it began and ended in our home town. As always, the tour was organized by Bicycle Rides Northwest, a company based in Bend, Oregon.

Itinerary

Day Start Stop Mileage Elevation Gain
August 11 Bend Prineville 63 1350
August 12 Prineville Sisters 63 2300
August 13 Sisters McKenzie Bridge 46 2400
August 14 McKenzie Bridge Oakridge 64 3700
August 15 Layover at Oakridge varied  
August 16 Oakridge Crane Prairie Resv 66 5100
August 17 Crane Prairie Resv Bend 51 2100
Totals
353+ 16950+

Diary

10 August 2002 (Saturday)
Linda and I arrive at the High Lakes Grammar School, register for the ride, and set up our tent. The camp is rather subdued -- perhaps many riders from the local area are spending the evening at home. I notice my tent rain fly pole repair has failed and the broken pole has ripped through the fly sleeve. I had hoped that duct tape around the cracked part would suffice, but it obviously did not. I repair the pole again, this time using a short metal repair sleeve. I sew the torn fly sleeve and notice how brittle the tent fabric is -- it is time to replace the tent after many years of use. We settle in for the evening. Then I smell smoke and see smoke rising from my duffle bag beside me. I pull out a smoking stuff sack and throw it outside. I crawl out of the tent and open the stuff sack and find that a spare headlamp battery in a repair kit has been shorted out by a small allen wrench and some repair wire. The battery has gotten so hot it has melted through the repair sack and the stuff sack containing it. I'm glad this has never happened to me before. I vow to cover stored batteries in the future to keep them from contacting metal. My hand is burned by melted perlon cord. I rinse it off with water. Looks like second degree burns. The rest of the evening and night is uneventful.

Crooked River

11 August (Sunday)
Today has clear skies. It is warm but not too hot. We wind our way out of Bend, avoiding most traffic, and eventually join Alfalfa Market road heading east. We climb up, then drop down to Prineville Reservoir and follow the Crooked River to Prineville. We are familiar with the scenic route since it is one we have ridden several times before. We camp at the Prineville Fairgrounds, where we find a shady spot, then ride downtown for some ice cream. Linda's mother visits us to see what a bicycle tour camp is like and goes away impressed with the organization. The evening is uneventful -- no more tent damage or accidents.

Deschutes River and the Three Sisters
Smith Rock State Park
The Three Sisters

12 August (Monday)
We follow Main Street out of Prineville to the north, then turn west on Gerke Road. This area is familiar to us from the "No Frills Century" event ride held early each June. We notice today's route turns on Puckett Road and thereby avoids some of Highway 26 -- next year we make take this variation if we ride the No Frills Century. Unavoidably, we must ride about five miles on Highway 26 to the northwest before turning to the west on Lone Pine Road. The traffic on Highway 26 is very heavy and the shoulder in spots has no asphalt -- only soft cinder. Most trucks are careful and courteous, but one blows his horn and attempts to intimidate the bicyclists. Once off the highway we enjoy an easy and pleasant ride to Smith Rock State Park and a snack stop across the Crooked River from the Park's Red Wall. We continue west, crossing Highway 97 and following the Lower Bridge Road. We stop for several photos. It is hot when we arrive in Sisters, but the camp at Three Sisters Park has a lot of shade and it is a pleasant place to spend the rest of the day.

Mount Washington from Windy Point
Linda and Paul
North and Middle Sister from McKenzie Pass

13 August (Tuesday)
It is a cold morning as we leave camp so Linda and I stop at the Sisters Bakery to read a paper over lattes while the air warms up. We leave town west on Highway 242 and enjoy a pleasant climb in thick Ponderosa Pine forest to Windy Point and then on to the summit at McKenzie Pass. I am inspired by my "Ride the Rockies" jersey and climb strongly. Dave joins us for the descent. It is a fast and riveting descent on good asphalt down tight turns through thick fir forest. It gets hot as we bottom out and reach Highway 126. Dave reports that the campsite has no shade, so rather than hurry on to camp we turn the other direction to Belknap Hot Springs and spend an hour soaking in the pool. We head towards camp, but stop at the Log Cabin Restaurant and have a nice lunch before reaching camp at the McKenzie Bridge Convention Center. We spend the afternoon along the edge of our campsite hydrating in the narrow shade and 101 degree heat. Today's was a fun and scenic ride.

The Aufderheide Highway

14 August (Wednesday)
We pack up the tent wet with heavy dew and are able to get an early start on today's climb on the Aufderheide Forest Road. We pass Cougar Dam -- a huge earthen dam holding back a nearly empty Cougar Reservoir. The road has two lanes and very little shoulder but also almost no traffic today. The forest is dense and we climb in the cool shade with a few patches of sunshine showing on the road. The road grade steepens the last four miles to Box Canyon Summit. We enjoy a well-stocked snack stop, then continue down -- Linda wants to get a good tent site for our next two evenings at Oakridge. The descent is steep, but then levels off considerably. The road is in good shape and we enjoy moving at a good pace through the dense forest. I pick up my pace to keep up with a bicyclist who passes me and continue on when he stops for his companion who has fallen behind. I stop for a photo on a bridge over the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and nearly drop my GPS unit off the bridge when I return my camera to my bike bag. At Westfir our route turns east to avoid the traffic on Highway 58 and I climb up a steep hill in the hot sun -- I'm glad I'm not a few hours later. I find our camp at the Greenwaters Rest and Recreation Area and spot a nice tent site between picnic tables overlooking the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Linda arrives only 14 minutes behind me. We enjoy swimming in the cold river and several bicyclists join us. It is a pleasant evening amonst the tall fir and cedar along the river.

15 August (Thursday)
Today is a layover day. Linda and I sleep in until about 6 AM, then hike to breakfast at the Oakridge High School, pick up a newspaper and lattes, and read the paper at our picnic table. Later, we explore some local trails and eventually find the Larison Rock Trailhead, after mistakenly taking a steep 4WD track along a power line for some distance. The Larison Rock Trail climbs through a thick, north-facing fir and cedar forest. We climb a short distance before returning to camp for a swim in the river before an excellent dinner.

Linda arrives at Willamette Pass
Odell Lake near Willamette Pass

16 August (Friday)
It is cool in the morning shadows as we begin our climb east from Oakridge on Highway 58. There is a lot of truck traffic but the shoulder is adequate. We reach our first snack stop just short of the tunnel and are escorted in groups of 10 bicyclists by a pilot car through the tunnel with a flagger stopping uphill traffic in the process. The pilot car driver blows his siren as we pass through the tunnel to warn approaching traffic. We top out at the Willamette Pass Ski Area, then ride past Odell Lake and Crescent Lake Junction, before turning onto the Crescent Lake Cutoff Road and FS Road 46. It is getting hot and we are getting hungry -- the rollers are wearing us down after the big climb to the Pass. But after one more snack stop we feel stronger and ride on with good speed through the Ponderosa Pine. Paul passes me and I notice we are being chased by a three-rider pace line. I push harder and am eventually able to catch up to Paul and in the process hold off all but the strongest member of the pace line. We find our camp at the Crane Prairie Campground and set up our tents amongst the mixed pine trees. We have an excellent Salmon dinner and a fun trip wrap up followed by music. It should be a cooler night and we should sleep well.

Elk Lake and South Sister
Fall Creek and Broken Top

17 August (Saturday)
The morning is cool at the campground, but even colder once we are on the bikes riding along the shaded forest roads as the sun tries to clear surrounding hills. We eventually regain the Cascades Lakes Highway (FSR 46) and ride north. The day gradually warms up and we shed clothes. We pass several campgrounds and lakes, then pass by the large meadow that includes Sparks Lake and climb the steep rise to the Dutchman Flat Sno Park near Mount Bachelor for our last snack stop of the ride. From there it is mostly downhill on smooth asphalt to Bend and the end of our ride.

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