Monthly Archives: August 2012

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Central Oregon Paradise Day 2 – Oakridge to Davis Lake

Waking up on Day 2, we were sore and tired, but we also knew we had a long day of climbing ahead of us.  Hwy 58 loomed large and in charge.  Our B & B hosts made us an awesome breakfast, we packed our bikes and away we toodled off up the mountain.

The first 15 miles were nice and easy, and all was well.  Then the day started heating up and the slopes became unceasing.  We took lots of breaks, trying to find a few moments of shade while we drank water.  Lots of water.  The whole reality of how to stay nourished and hydrated, while still expecting hours of exertion out of your body, without the convenience of a store anywhere around, was new to us.   We had packed well, however, and had our stockpile of food and water bottles.  I learned the hard way that I had to eat every hour or so, even when I didn’t feel any hunger pangs.   ‘Hitting the Wall’ with 1000 feet of elevation still to climb is not a fun feeling.

Even though Hwy 58 is a heavily trafficked stretch, and the road was constantly in the upright position, we found beauty in where we were.  The views become quite amazing towards the top.  Ironically, the area we were most worried about that day was when we had to go through the tunnel near Salt Springs, and it ended up being a piece of cake.  The tunnel was under construction and so traffic had to take turns, one lane at a time, under the guidance of a pace car to get through.  We had to go last because we were bikes, but basically we had the whole tunnel to ourselves and all the construction workers waved and smiled and several asked us where we were from and where we were going as we pedalled past.  Go figure!

Reaching the summit was such a great feeling of accomplishment!  And the next several miles were a sweet little coast past long Odell Lake.  I don’t think I ever really appreciated just how long that lake is before.  Riding by it on a bike gives you a different perspective.  It seemed to go on forever!  We stopped to get some more food and drinks at the little store in Crescent, and to figure out our game plan for the evening.  It was getting to be 5:30, and we were still about 25 or 30 miles from our goal for the day.  We had originally planned on camping at Crane Prairie Reservoir, but it was clear we were not going to make it that far.  We looked at the store for a good map showing other camping possibilites, and settled on shooting for Davis Lake, which we had never visited before.  Once we were rested and restocked, we pedalled on, taking the Cascade Lakes Highway towards our hoped-for happy ending for the day.

Sure enough, we found our turn-off, a long stretch of loose gravel which would have been easy if we had been a pickup truck, but made the last mile of travel very slow on our fully loaded bikes.  We found a perfect camping spot, right on the bank of the lake just as the sun was lowering itself in the sky.  Two other cyclists also rolled in, introduced themselves and found a site.  Joe and I quickly set up camp and changed to go swimming.  That water was so refreshing and sweet, sweet, sweet!  What a great reward at the end of an arduous day.  We couldn’t stop grinning and were amazed at how gorgeous the area was, how quiet the tiny campground was, how stunning the sunset was, and how our day had ended on such an unexpectedly serene note.  Goodnight trees.  Goodnight lake.  Goodnight moon.

Day 1: McKenzie Bridge to Oakridge OR (65 miles, 4190 ft climbing)

Day 2: Oakridge to Davis Lake OR (49 miles, 4,960 ft climbing)

Day 3: Davis Lake to Bend OR (62 miles, 2,700 ft climbing)

Day 4: Bend to Sisters OR (29 miles, 950 ft climbing)

Day 5: Sisters to McKenzie Bridge OR (45 miles, 2,500 ft climbing)

Read our final thoughts on the Cascade Classic cycling tour.

Central Oregon Paradise Day 1 – McKenzie Bridge to Oakridge

I think we both were looking most forward to this first day of riding, partly because it meant our journey was officially underway, but also because it was a brand-new road for us.  We had heard so many people talk about the beauty of this drive, and we were curious to see it for ourselves.  Let us just say this about Aufderheide Drive:  “Wow!”

The road  slowly meandered in and out of the forest and much of it followed either a reservoir or a river.  Hello!  We darn near spent the whole day smiling -  balm to the soul and eye candy for the spirit.  Darling little wild strawberries and raspberries dotted the roadsides, along with myriads of sweet, colorful wildflowers.  And nary a vehicle in sight – we had the road to ourselves the majority of our time.  The river was that crystal-clear blue color you only see in the mountains; it tries to lure you to come in for a nice cold swim or drop your pole in for a bit.  Often, the only sounds we heard were the water gurgling, and the wind rushing in the treetops.   My sole regret was that we didn’t have any extra time built into our schedule and so we couldn’t really linger no matter how much we wanted to.  This was a lament I felt over and over all week. Boo Hoo!

Yes, there was some climbing to do, and in places the grade got into the double digits, but only for short stretches.  Grinding fully loaded bikes uphill like that was a wake-up call to our thighs, but even we newbies pulled it off.  Here was our first tour glitch:  about 28 miles into the ride, as we were checking the elevation guide from the book we were using for our route, major confusion set in.  It appeared that we still had a couple thousand feet to climb, but we had already been climbing for a long time.  We knew there had to be an error somewhere, but we didn’t know where.  So, we dutifully got back on our bikes and mentally steeled ourselves for more hard work.  Lo and behold, only a 1/2 mile later, the road sloped downward, and we spent the next few hours coasting for the most part.  Apparently the elevation guide was wrong, and we were already super close to the summit when we checked.  Hallelujah!

Aufderheide Drive ends at a little town called Westfir, and at this point we had to make a choice about how to get to Oakridge, where we would spend the night.  Apparently, unbeknownst to us at the time, there is an easy way and a hard way.  The easy way is to join up with Hwy. 58 and make a short shallow climb into town.  That seemed so boring to us though, after spending so many hours in lush beauty.  So we went the scenic route and took the backroad.  Big mistake.  The totally steep grade, narrow shoulders and a couple  of indignant drivers made us wish we had a do-over.  Oh well.  Highly recommend taking Hwy. 58 in the future.

That night we treated ourselves well, and stayed at the Oakridge Hostel, which is really more of a B & B.  Such a gorgeous place, with amazing gardens, several modern bathrooms upstairs, and large comfy rooms so that we had all the privacy we could want.  We checked in kind of late and were starving.  We had been fantasizing all afternoon of the pizza and dollar fries we would eat when we landed for the evening, but we didn’t realize how far away the pizza place was from the hostel.  Our lovely hosts actually offered to drive us and pick us up afterwards so we could eat where we wanted to!  How about that!  So sweet of them, and we were tired enough to take them up on their offer.  In the morning, our hostess made a huge, healthy, gourmet breakfast for everyone, and then we were off on the next leg of our journey.

Day 1: McKenzie Bridge to Oakridge OR (65 miles, 4190 ft climbing)

Day 2: Oakridge to Davis Lake OR (49 miles, 4,960 ft climbing)

Day 3: Davis Lake to Bend OR (62 miles, 2,700 ft climbing)

Day 4: Bend to Sisters OR (29 miles, 950 ft climbing)

Day 5: Sisters to McKenzie Bridge OR (45 miles, 2,500 ft climbing)

Read our final thoughts on the Cascade Classic cycling tour.


Cascade Classic

We have been itching to hit the road for a week-long bicycle tour. Doing research at our local bookstore, we picked up a copy of “The Bicycle Sojourner,” a fun, compact guide for exploring Oregon by bicycle. Chapter 4 details a route through the Cascades,  a 260-mile tour that starts and finishes just up the river from our home in Eugene. Perfect!

Getting ready for our first bicycle tour, we sit in the living room with all of our gear spread out on the floor.  What do you take?  Sleeping bag? absolutely. Bike lock? okay, sure. Portable camping chair? uhh, no. Do I really need 70 lbs of gear? no way. Excitement gets the better of us and we decide to take a few extras pounds of gear, just to be safe. We’ll worry about weight on the next trip – let’s get on with this!

Trip Planning – overview, preparations and tips

Day 1: McKenzie Bridge to Oakridge OR (65 miles, 4190 ft climbing)

Day 2: Oakridge to Davis Lake OR (49 miles, 4,300 ft climbing)

Day 3: Davis Lake to Bend OR (66 miles, 2,400 ft climbing)

Day 4: Bend to Sisters OR (31 miles, 450 ft climbing)

Day 5: Sisters to McKenzie Bridge OR (45 miles, 1,800 ft climbing)

Trip Summary and Parting Thoughts