MVBC Loop Tour 2014 - Oregon Cascades
Bend to Bend via the central Oregon Cascades. Highlights include Smith Rock, Sisters, Mckenzie Pass, and Auferhiede Forest road.
An epic ride through the central Cascades and high desert of Oregon. Starting in Bend and heading east to the Crooked River and Prineville, then back through Smith Rock to Cove Palisades State Park high above Lake Billy Chinook where the Deschutes, Metolius, and Crooked Rivers come together. From there the route heads back southwest to Sisters passing by amazing views of the Three Sisters Mountains. After a rest day we had back over the mountains on McKenzie Pass though the lava fields and on down to the McKenzie river. Then it's south on the Aufderheide Forest Road up the South Fork on the McKenzie, and down the Middle fork of the North fork or the Willamette River to the town of Oakridge. Then it's back over the mountains again on Willamette Pass to the high mountain Odell Lake. Back on the east side of the mountains we take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway north to La Pine state park on the Deschutes River, before the final day's ride back to our starting point in Bend.
The map to the right is approximate. In particular Google would not let me route across 242, McKenzie Highway from Sisters because the road is now closed for the winter as I am doing this. We did not ride on Hwy 20 and 126 as shown on this map.
All of the pictures from this years Loop Tours are posted on the MVBC Smug mug site.
Below is my log for each day of the tour. Use the navigation controls to scroll through the days .
Stage 1 of the Loop Tour. I camped at Tumalo park the night before so I got 7 extra miles. Hot day and a great ride.
Started out of Bend in a group and headed south a few blocks before getting out on the Alfalfa Market Road. This part of the ride was a repeat for me as I had come this way on my Northwest Passage tour in 2010. On that ride I camped up on the top just past the Prineville Reservoir, but on this ride we continued all the way down the Crooked River to Prineville for our first camp.
Stage 2 of the MVBC Loop Tour. Idyllic country roads for 20 miles to Smith Rock. Hiked down and up the river a bit with Dan and Eilene. Incredible place. Then a few more quiet miles to Terrabon before 5 miles on Hwy 97. Terrible road. Then back on the mellow roads to Culver and our destination. Had a surprise visit from Chris and Adinah who were on their way home from a trip to New Mexico.
Stage 3 of the Loop Tour. Hot day with a nice swimming hole mid way. Joined the Smith Rock - Sisters Scenic Bikeway for most of the ride..
Leaving the town of Culver, heading back the way we came in. Fortunately we found an alternate route which kept us off Highway 97. We paralleled 97 to the east and then crossed it one to a short bike path which led to the old bridge over the Crooked River Gorge. Having stopped here many years ago with my family it was great to be back on bike. We took the time for some portraits while on the bridge with the Three Sisters mountains in the background.
After the bridge and the small park we stopped at, we got spread out but then re-grouped at the swimming hole (no pictures). I left the swimming hole before the others and rode solo the rest of the way to Sisters. This was actually my favorite part of the ride. The country varied between farmland and woods and the mountains just kept getting closer. I passed a lovely organic farm called Rainshadow and talked to a few people who were stopped by the side of one of the fields. I didn't get any pictures of the farm. These next pictures were further up the road.
It was a hot day. As the route crossed the highway some people opted for the shorter straight shot into Sisters. I continued on the scenic route. I was getting low on water when I passed a fire station where the person on duty let me fill up. As I was approaching Sisters things started to become familiar to me as we visited my in-laws there many times.
Rest day in Sisters. Not a great pace to camp as there was little shade, and little shelter. Thunderstorms were threatening but I don't think we actually got any rain.
On the rest day I rode a 6 mile dirt trail to Indian Ford campground. It stated out sandy which was hard going, but got better after a couple of miles. Took Indian Ford road back to Camp Polk road, and then Wilt road to Junipine Acres to check on the Stauff's old place. It was empty. Lot's of memories here from when the kids were little Then back to Sisters.
Stage 4 of the Loop Tour. The big climb over McKenzie pass. Very nice, both up and down. Stopped at a campground on the down side and hung in my hammock for a while. Then on to McKenzie bridge and the RV park. Nice accommodations plus a catered meal.
Here I am on my way up the east slope of McKenzie Pass.
Stage 5 of the Loop Tour. The longest day and some really hard climbs, but absolutely gorgeous.
I had done Aufderheide Forest Road two years before, but not with a fully loaded bike, and not all the way to Oakridge. I didn't remember it as being too awful hard and it wasn't, until that last mile to the summit. That's where it gets really steep. I was crawling along at about 3-4 mph, but I made it. Of course our wonderful SAG drivers were waiting at the top with cool drinks. You really learn to appreciate the support on a ride like this.
Again stopped at a campground on the way down, splashed in the river and hung in the hammock. I guess we broke the rules this time as the support crew did not know where we were. It was hot and no one was in a hurry to get to camp, as it was another school field. I got there just in time to get a shower before they closed the locker room.
Stage 6 of the Loop Tour. Another day of hard climbing. It started in right away as soon as we left Oakridge. A short way out I pulled in at a rest stop and Lon was there. He twisted my arm and insisted I throw my panniers in the van to make the climb easier. Who was I to argue? I was glad I did as it was a long, long climb to the top of Willamette Pass. There were a couple of scenic stops along the way including Salt Creek Falls, but mostly it was just a grind.
Very nice camping on Odell Lake. We had reserved a number of sites and so we were pretty well spread out. I got a nice spot pretty close to the lake. A few of us tried to swim, but it was super shallow with a rocky bottom. I could not walk out and ended up doing some sort of crab crawl to get out where it was deep enough to swim. It was fun anyhow. There was also a lodge and come cabins at the resort. Some of us hung out at the lodge in the early evening.
Stage 7 of the Loop Tour. No more mountains to climb, just some nice quiet roads. Most of the ride was on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway. Not entirely scenic as much of it went through areas devastated by the pine bark beetle back in the 80's and 90's. Got much nicer as we approached the lava, and the lakes, to the north, Campground was on the Deshutes River.
Stage 8 and the end of the Loop Tour. Mostly flat return to the start. Some miles on 97 but through this area it is much wider than where we were on day 2, and much nicer riding.
Soon we were back where we started and it was time to say goodbye and hit the road.