Loop Tour 2017 - Southern Oregon
Strip trip plus
This year's MVBC Loop Tour was not a loop, but rather a Strip Trip, as they called it. It started in Klamath Falls and went to Corvallis. Most people took the train to KF. We had to rent this huge truck to haul all of the bikes.
Not wanting to hassle with the train and the truck, and ready for a longer ride, I opted to ride to KF and make it a true loop. I followed the ACA TransAm from Corvallis over McKenzie Pass, and then roughly followed the Sierra/Cascades route around the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, and then following hwy. 97 down to Klamath Falls.
We had perfect weather on this trip. There was a big heat wave and it got up to 100 degrees in Corvalls, but we were in the mountains where it was much cooler. By the time we got out of the mountains the heat wave broke, and we had cool cloudy mornings the last 2 days.
Wonderful trip and got to meet some great new people that came this year, from far flung places like Holland and So. California.
Below is my log for each day of the tour. Use the navigation controls to scroll through the days .
Day 1. It got hot today. Familiar route though Peoria, Harrisburg, and Coburg. Then McKenzie View which led to 126 completely bypassing Eugene and Springfield.
Met a cyclist from Boulder, CO riding with his daughter. The started in Bend and came over the pass.
I would have stopped sooner had there been a campground. I really got lucky finding a Lane County park across the river and away from the highway. There were lots of people at the park but I saw a nice trail so I just rode right through. The trail followed the river and a little way in I saw a picnic table so I stopped. They hadn't been maintaining it and there were nettles and blackberries growing up all around it. But it was in the shade so I cleard a path and made myself at home. I was thinking maybe I'd sleep on the picnic table if no one kicked me out. I assumed there was no camping in this park. I had some food and then decided to take a walk and see the river. Not more then 30' from the picnic table I found a narrow trail leading to the river, and a perfect tent spot under some huge old cedars. So I moved my bike and set up camp. No one came. I don't even think anyone knew I was there. It was perfect. Right on the river.
In the morning I looked and didn't really see any "no camping" signs, so maybe I wasn't even stealth camping. I was feeling really good and ready for day 2.
Day 2 - Stopped at Limberlost CG to escape the heat. Did the last 10 miles after 6:00 PM.
The day started riding through familiar places like Vida, and Blue River. Stopped at the Goodpasture Bridge remembering when I bought my tractor from Bill Goodpasture back in 1976. The bridge hasn't changed much, but I guess I have. I never could have imagined then that I'd be passing this way on a bicycle some day.
The route took the side road to McKenzie Bridge, by the old Belknap Bridge and the place we camped on Loop Tour 2014. It was a nice break from 126 which had a lot of traffic and not always a good shoulder. The McKenzie Bridge store is the last store before Sisters so I stopped and stocked up. I stopped again at the ranger station to fill my water bottles. Then it was on to the old highway. Today was the first day it was opened to cars so I expected some traffic. I only saw a car every 15 minutes or so.
It was still early in the day when I pulled in to Limberlost Campground. I found another beautiful spot right on the river and setup my hammock. I had already decided I would stay here until evening and then ride on to Alder Creek CG, which was another 11 miles. It was hot and there would be some hard climbing. This being just 2 days shy of the summer solstice I knew daylight would not be an issue. So I relaxed by the river all afternoon. There was no one else around. I tried to get in the river but it was too icy cold, so I just rinsed off. I ate, layed in my hammock. played my flute, and enjoyed a glorious summer day.
By late afternoon I was getting antsy to ride. I had planned on waiting until 7, but instead left at 6. This was a good thing. The road was totally in the shade now and the air was cooling. The climbing started right away and had me in my lowest gear, so I realized it would probably take me close to 3 hours to go the 11 miles to the next campground. The grade was dead steady at about 7% or 8% and my lowest gear was just adequate to keep me moving along. I arrived at Alder Creek CG and got the last spot, right next to a couple on touring bikes. They were from California and were riding to Bend. We had some good conversation and turned in. At this elevation it was nice and cool and sleeping would be good.
Day 3 - Over McKenzie Pass. Hung out in Sisters for a bit.
Up early to finish the climb in the morning coolness. There was actually just 4 more miles of the climb until it leveled out and then a few ups and downs before the top. Traffic was picking up, mostly from the Sisters side. At the top I ran into a number of cyclists riding from Bend. They started even earlier than I did, and rode a lot faster. It was clear and beautiful at the top, with lots of snow still on the mountains.
Took lots of pictures on the way down. The view is mostly to the north, so I could see Jefferson as well as the closer peaks. This descent has got to be one of the best in the state. The really fast part is over pretty quick but then it goes on and on at a grade where you can be pedaling at 30 mph. I rode around Sisters a few times before finding a nice quiet cafe on a side street. This town has long ago become a bug tourist destination, but there still are a few local places here and there. I also got a few groceries at their nice, but way over priced, natural food store.
Leaving Sisters I expected to find a side road that would get me off of the highway, but it never really materialized. The one road that looked promising was very nice but looped back to the highway after a couple of miles. The views were great though. In my mind I though highway 20 to Bend would be mostly east and the mountains would be at my back. It's actually mostly south and the mountains were in clear view to my right. I stopped at a view point and met a young cyclist who was touring on a lightly loaded road bike, even doing gravel roads. We started out together but he was out of sight in no time. I guess you can cover a lot more ground when you can ride fast, but I was quite content to continue my snails pace across the state.
Some businesses have started to spring up along the highway at the exit to Tumalo SP. I stopped at a convenience store and had an ice cream and made note of a pizza parlor that I would return to for dinner. The wind was picking up as a rode the last couple of miles to the park. The hiker/biker site was empty except for me and there was some good shade. This is probably the least attractive hiker/biker site in all the state parks I've stayed in, but it was perfectly adequate for the night. Shade, some privacy, toilets close, and excellent showers not too far away. Plus it is a short walk down to the Deschutes River. In the evening I rode back to the Pizza place, into the wind now, which had really good pizza and okay beer. Then back to camp and a walk down to the river to play my flute.
Day 4. Navigate Bend then 97, then Sunriver. Finally getting somewhere when I got to the fork in the road. One way to La Pine, the other to Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway. I took the fork. So delightfully cook up in the mountain lakes.
Day 5 - Nice cold morning. Got a good start but got a flat in the most perfect place to change a flat. Wide paved pull off with a very scenic view.
Highway 58 to Chemult then all 97. Much farther than I had intended. Mostly flat or downhill.
Day 8 - Day 2 ST1 - From Lake of the Woods we rode down 140 to Rocky Point and then the familiar route to Fort Klamath. Then the climbing started as we worked our way up 62 into Crater Lake National Park. After a quick stop at the top it was a fast downhill to Union Creek.
Day 12 - Day 6 ST1 - Layover day in Roseburg. Nice ride out to the confluence of the North and South Umpqua.
Day 13 - Day 7 ST1 - Out of Roseburg via Garden Valley. Then over some big hills and gravel roads, and finnaly London Hill before dropping down to London Springs and then on to Cottage Grove Lake.