Oregon Bicycle Ride, 1998
Linda and I were hooked on supported bicycle camping tours by the end of The Oregon Bicycle Ride 1997 and immediately planned to join the tour again in 1998. As always, the tour was organized by Bicycle Rides Northwest, a company based in Bend, Oregon.
|August 14||Shaniko||Rock Creek Reservoir||59||2900|
|August 15||Rock Creek Reservoir||Cascade Locks||84||5000|
7 August (Saturday)
Linda and I pack up our pickup and camper and drive to the Cascade Locks Marine Park, in Cascade Locks, Oregon. We check in and let our bikes be bubble wrapped and loaded aboard a large tractor trailer for transportation to Frenchglen tomorrow.
We explore the park along the shores of the Columbia River. The Cascade Locks were built in 1896 to allow safe passage around the Cascade Rapids, since drowned by the construction of Bonneville Dam.
8 August 1998 (Saturday)
The riders load onto buses and ride from Cascade Locks to Frenchglen with a lunch stop in Bend. At Frenchglen we take over the Frenchglen School yards with tightly packed tents. The weather is warm and the skies clear, but there are forest fires to the south.
9 August (Sunday)
Linda and I resume our OBR method of getting up early to beat the heat and the breakfast line. Mary, Lando, Wayne and others join us ahead of the crowd. We get away in good time for the ride to Burns.
Today the standard route is 59 miles north on Highway 205, but we take the alternate route of 87 miles toward the Diamond Craters and then on through Princeton, Crane, and Lawen. The route is very flat and and the weather is sunny and hot. We stop at the Crane Store for shade and air conditioning for a few minutes.
We continue on through Lawen and into Burns to find camp at the Harney County Fairgrounds and pitch our tent on thick grass.
10 August (Monday)
We leave the fairgrounds with several of our Salem Bicycle Club friends, ride through Hines, and then start climbing on Highway 127 towards Izee. Wayne has a flat tire, but a support van soon pulls up and stops to help in usual OBR fashion.
We ride through the remains of the Pine Springs Basin Fire of August 1990. The roadside sign says the fires were started by lightening during a severe drought and fanned by high winds burned 73,700 acres. The fire threatened the communities of Burns, Hines, and Riley and was brought under control after 10 days using statewide municipal firefighting resources. Forest fires are burning elsewhere in the state as we ride.
We arrive at Izee, a tiny community consisting of a home,
an abandoned school house, and a small grange hall. It is very hot in
the afternoon. We hear by radio that it is 110 degrees in The Dalles.
We crowd into whatever shade we can find while our tents become ovens
in the sunshine. The iced softdrinks and beer in barrels along a support
truck are very popular.
11 August (Tuesday)
The temperature is much more pleasant when we leave about 6:30 AM. We retrace yesterday's route a short distance, then turn north and begin climbing towards Logdell on Highway 63.
At about 20 miles near Logdell we turn onto US National Forest Road 21, a single-lane, paved road that winds through the forest for about 12 miles and passes by the USNF guard station at Murderers Creek. This is one of the most pleasant rides we have ever experienced and a highlight of the entire tour. The road widens and we climb to a rest stop at a summit. Then we enjoy a steep descent to Highway 26 and turn west to enjoy a pleasant ride along the John Day River to Dayville.
We stay at the nice Dayville School yards on the top of a hill. It has been a fun day of cycling. After cleaning up we explore Dayville. We meet Bill Martin at a grocery store phone booth, who is trying to determine if nearby forest fires will force us to alter tomorrow's route. But he eventually decides that will not be necessary.
12 August (Wednesday)
After enjoying a well-organized breakfast at the Dayville School we enjoy a pleasant ride west on Highway 26 along the John Day River. We turn north on Highway 19 and follow the John Day River the rest of the morning through the scenic John Day Fossil Beds and the communities of Kimberley, Spray, and Service ("Sarvis") Creek. By now the weather is getting hot.
Shortly after leaving Service Creek the road leaves the John Day River and turns north to climb to Butte Creek Pass. It is a hard climb in the heat. But from the pass we enjoy a fun descent to Fossil.
We camp at Wheeler High School, located on a hill overlooking Fossil. Behind camp we see many people (and a few bicyclists) digging for fossils. Most bicyclists clean up and head for downtown to refresh themselves in air-conditioned cafes and taverns.
13 August (Thursday)
I notice when Linda and I pack up before breakfast that Linda's eyelids are swollen. Linda is sensitive to sulphur and I suspect there is sulphur in the local drinking water. Indeed, that is the case and Linda is able to talk the support crew into giving her some bottled water for today's ride.
Our early schedule pays off and we are able to get breakfast and an early start for the day. Many others wait in a long and slow breakfast line. We leave Fossil on Highway 218 and make our first climb as we head for Shaniko. The climb is pleasant.
We then drop steeply over 2000 feet to Clarno on the John Day River. Linda is very fast on this descent and I hang back a bit on the sharp turns. We refresh ourselves at the rest stop there (some make this their breakfast stop after skipping breakfast in Fossil).
From here we slowly, methodically, climb the notorious "Clarno Grade" 2500 feet toward Antelope. But the grade is moderate and not too difficult, especially in the cooler mid morning temperatures. We see a lot of recently burned grassland along this climb and evidence that local ranchers had successfully defended their homes and buildings against the fire.
From the top of the grade we drop down into Antelope, then climb a third time to reach Shaniko. We camp downtown across from the hotel and enjoy visiting the shops and cafes in the afternoon.
14 August (Friday)
The early schedule pays off, again, this morning as we are able to enjoy a nice breakfast and an early start in the cool morning.
We bicycle north on Highway 97 on a high plateau between the John Day and Deschutes Rivers. We enjoy the views of the Cascade Peaks rising to the west as we ride. North of Kent we turn west on county roads with some fun "rollers" to intersect Highway 216. From there we make a long, steep descent to Sherar Falls on the Deschutes River. We then climb west through Tygh Valley and Wamic into the Mount Hood National Forest to reach Camp Cody at Rock Creek Reservoir.
This is a pleasant, shady campground near the Reservoir. Unfortunately, our dinner caterer does not arrive and there are no nearby cafe alternatives. Eventually, Sandy orders many, many pizzas to be delivered. Finally, the caterer arrives after realizing they had misunderstood the camp destination and having truck troubles. Sandy cancels the pizzas that have not yet been prepared, but many arrive. With both the pizzas and a quick, but tasty dinner prepared by the caterer, we have a feast.
15 August (Saturday)
Today is the last day of the tour and reportedly the hardest. We climb west on Forest Road 48 through tall timber, morning shade, and intermittent views of Mount Hood ahead. At Highway 35 we turn north and climb to Bennett Pass.
We pass Mt Hood Meadows Ski Area on the left, then start an exciting and fast descent towards Hood River. Linda is going fast, but the road is familiar and in good shape and has no sharp curves so I keep up. We leave the highway at the Cooper Spur Road and continue descending down to Parkdale. We have made excellent time on the descent, it is a pretty day, and the view of Mount Hood from Parkdale is lovely so we stop for lattes at a coffee shop there to enjoy the view and celebrate nearing our destination.
But another challenge is to come. The route continues down to Hood River but then turns west Interstate 84. Near the entrance ramp SAG vehicles are available for those who don't want to fight the Columbia Gorge headwinds on the Interstate, but we ride on. Linda and I alternate pulling each other for 11 miles in the strong westerly wind. Fortunately, the shoulder is wide and clean for there is a lot of high-speed traffic passing us by.
Eventually we exit the Interstate and follow a spur road into Cascade Locks and arrive at Cascade Locks Marine Park. It has been an exciting day on the bike and we share our experiences with our friends at the campground.
We and most of the cyclists celebrate the tour over dinner on the sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" as it travels downriver to near Bonneville Dam and we enjoy the view on the observation deck as the sternwheeler returns upriver to the Park. It was another memorable and fun tour experiencing so much of Oregon's variety and beauty.