Day 60 - Wednesday, August 7, 2002
Total to date: 3958.44 miles (6370.5 km)
Moving time: 5 hr 0 min.
Average Speed: 12.1 mph (19.5 km/hr)
Total ascent: 3096 ft. (934.7 m)
Minimum elevation: 1338 ft. (407.8 m)
Maximum elevation: 5309
Ending elevation: 1343 ft. (409.3 m)
Wind: Light, variable winds - not a factor.
Today saw the last major mountain pass of the trip. The 2200 foot climb from Redmond to the top of McKenzie pass went pretty smoothly. The traffic was light, the scenery was amazing, and I had good reception for a morning of NPR music and commentary. I heard Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and figured that it would make a great tune for the end of the video that I'm planning to make about the trip.
The town of Sisters is a great litte tourist community. The area seems to be growing much like the Pocono Mountain area of Pennsylvania that I'm familiar with. Main street is packed with gift shops and restaurants. Two shops in particular caught my eye. One sells furniture and decorations made from elk, moose, and deer antlers. The other sells furniture made from redwood and cedar trees. I saw quite a few kids on bikes in town. One interesting thing about Oregon is that bike riders under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets at all times.
Thousands of butterflies filled the air during the last five miles of the ascent to the top of McKenzie Pass. I got some pretty good video of them fluttering around in front of me as I rode.
The lava flows on top of McKenzie pass are suspected to be the most recent flows in the continental United States. In geological terms these flows happened extremely recently - 1700 to 1800 years ago for the Belknap flow and 400 years ago for the Collier Cone flow. The volcanic rock that covers the landscape for miles in either direction is black in color and quite porous. The first picture is of me and my bike at the top of the pass. The structure in the upper right hand corner is an observatory that was built in the 1930s out of volcanic rock.
The ride down off McKenzie Pass was a real thrill. This 4000 foot drop over 22 miles consisted of gradual descents and rapid switchbacks through a thickening forest of huge conifers. I took about 45 minutes of thrilling video of the run which I'll be able to watch this winter from the comfort of my living room couch while the snow flies outside. Here's a picture of one of the more gradual sections.
The campground lies right on the McKenzie River, a clear mountain stream that is very, very cold. The river bed is littered with round rocks of all sizes and colors. Some people were cruising down the river in inflatable kayaks when I arrived in town.
Joe and I met some other bikers on the road and a dude named Ricky at the campsite. Three eastbound TransAm riders were making their way up McKenzie pass when I happened upon them. One is a recent business school graduate who is riding because of the poor job market. He is riding a mountain bike with panniers and a Yakima trailer, the first I've seen on the trip. The other two are a couple on a tandem with panniers. They are doing a pretty good job getting up the hill considering it is very steep and quite high. They are on their fourth day and plan to take three months to complete the trip, putting them in Virginia in early October. They were shocked to learn that we both did the route in two months flat but I think they should be able to do it in that time as well.
Just before reaching McKenzie Bridge we met a rider from British Columbia who I think is a "bike bum." He told this story about how his tent was cut and his money and gear were stolen four days ago. He kept mentioning how little money he had and how his equipment is shot. He certainly was looking for a handout and some sypathy from us and tried to make us feel like we should help a fellow cyclists. In fact, he was freeloading off other cyclists - taking advantage of them. Considering how nice (and gullible) other cyclists are he probably can support himself indefinitely this way. I don't know how anyone would do a tour without an ATM or credit card to be able to get money. Shortly thereafter we ran into a guy who is "credit card touring" his way around the country.
Ricky stopped by our campsite shortly after we made camp. He's living here at the campground and is a very friendly guy but down on his luck. While we were visiting two other riders pulled in. Kim is from Belgium and ? is from Connecticut. They are on the fourth day of their eastbound TransAmerica adventure and seem to be having a good time so far as they work out the bugs of touring. After a few weeks of not seeing many bikers we have suddenly run across quite a few.