Days 4-5 of Bike Touring Southern Oregon or, Episode 3: Return of the Mileage
Up to this point in our tour, Trish and my biggest day had been a not-too-shabby 78 miles, but day 4 would be the biggest day of the entire trip that both of us would ride together: 81 miles with a little over 2,300 feet of elevation gain, which over the course of 81 miles, is almost nothing. The day started with me waking up early to make coffee and finding a very friendly furry friend outside ready to greet me. He then proceeded to nonchalantly stroll through our open door and make himself at home on our bed. Trish of course loved this morning greeting, as it reminded her of our own little animal family back home; what a great way to start the morning. We took off from Silver lake around 8:15am.
The day’s ride is best described in four sections: the first section consisted of rolling hills with open ranch land and relatively desolate forests.
The second section was perhaps my favorite section of the entire ride. It was a beautiful wildlife refuge with lots of marshy grasslands, birds galore, and of course the ever-present cattle.
The third section was horrible. I didn’t take any pictures because the whole time I thought I was going to get struck by a semi-truck if I took my hands off the handlebars. Trish and I both rode white-knuckled for 20 miles on highway 97 towards Fort Klamath until we were able to exit the highway onto a nice, quiet secondary road with no semi-trucks to speak of, which was our fourth and final section.
We once again wrongly assumed that Fort Klamath would be a bustling metropolis with at least one restaurant, and once again were forced to keep smiles on our faces as we learned we would be eating the equivalent of gas station food, something we’d grown accustomed to at this point. The only real business in town is the Crater Lake Resort, a beautiful camping spot about a ½ mile before getting to Fort Klamath. It only cost us $21 and it was perhaps the most beautiful organized campsite we have ever stayed at. There was lots of shade, lush green grass, and a beautiful little river running through it. Trish and I dried our clothes, took showers, and played games the rest of the night.
The next morning we got up at 6:30am and quickly got organized. We knew it was going to be a tough climb up to Crater Lake and didn’t know what to expect on the backside heading down into Prospect.The ride was a pretty gradual climb for the first 10 miles or so, but once we got into the park, the climbing became much more intense, and the later it got, the more cars were on the road. The ride to the top of Crater Lake and Rim Village ends with a 3 mile pass which was probably around a 5% grade most of the way. But Trish and I both were feeling pretty strong and made it to the top without too much trouble.
After lunch at the top, Trish settled into our nice shady lunch spot while I rode the 33 mile rim drive around Crater Lake. I’ve ridden this before, but wanted to experience it solo where I could push it a bit harder than I have in the past. Unfortunately, construction slowed me down quite a bit, and on one particularly fast descent, where I was tucked so low that my nose was almost touching the stem of my bike, I hit a hidden pothole and nailed my nose into my stem. Of course, the blood started flowing almost immediately, and so the rest of the ride I was sniffling up and spitting out blood and no longer concerned about setting any Strava records this time around.
Because I was taking it a bit slower, I was able to see some pretty impressive forest fires happening around the lake, which was definitely a sobering sight.
After completing the rim drive, Trish and I got back on the bikes and headed out of Crater Lake towards Prospect. The ride on highway 230 towards Prospect was the best downhill of the trip. It was over 20 miles of straight downhill. Trish and I averaged well over 20 miles an hour without even pedaling. We rolled into Prospect and once again had no luck finding a campsite. After talking with some locals who gave us some advice on possible campsites, none of which panned out, we ended up once again staying in a motel. Fortunately, our room had a kitchenette so we went to the convenience store and bought the needed ingredient for spaghetti. We even got some great microbrews!
Overall, the ride was 93 miles for me with over 7,800 feet of elevation gain, and 60 miles for Trish. I think we earned the motel.
Categories: Pedals and Packs