Thursday, 18 August 2011

Day 77: One last big push

Day 77
Sisters to Eugene 94miles

It's good to see that I've still got it when required!

An extremely pleasing, and enjoyable day of riding today. Set off from Sisters at about 7.45. I knew that I was hoping to make it to Eugene today, although it was a long day of riding.

The first part of the day was the climb up to McKenzie Pass. My last ever high mountain pass of the entire trip! The majority of the ride was very pleasant, climbing up through a vast forest. None of it was too steep, but it was quite long.

The weird bit came as I approached the top. The forest suddenly stopped, and in it's place was something almost other-worldly. The whole area was a vast field of ancient lava flows. No trees, very sparse and with lots of strange rock formations. It felt like I was cycling on the moon or something!
Mount Washington

Belknap Crater: Directly under the Earth's moon...  now!

But with no trees to block the view, the vistas were amazing. Once I reached the top, I took a photo of my last summit, and then had a look around. There was a viewing point which gave a full 360degree view of the area. A great chance to break out the panoramic feature on the camera again!
Wont be seeing anymore of these!

The Sisters mountains

The strange lava fields at the summit

View from the observatory

The full 360degree view from the top

So how did it feel to know that I wont really have another climb of substance to do on the whole trip? Despite sometimes seeming to not enjoy them, there is always a huge amount of satisfaction when you see that sign at the top. Knowing you have achieved another small part of the ride. I think recently I have just found the sheer volume of climbs, almost on a daily basis, to be quite tiring. But having now done them all, I probably feel better about them. If doing this trip was easy, then it wouldn't be a challenge!

And of course, after most climbs, there is the descent. And this one promised to be the motherlode of descents. Around 3,000ft of downhill. Although initially it didnt live up to expectations. Sure there was some downill bits, but around a lot of corners there was a little up-slope to slow my progress. As well as having a negative effect on my enjoyment, there was also the fact that getting to Eugene was a big ask. I didnt need slowing down!

But the true downhill soon revealed itself. There were signs on the road showing when you reached 5,000ft, 4,000ft etc. of elevation. The 5,000ft to 4,000ft bit seemed to take far too long, but after that the fun really began.

It was an superbly twisty road. Loads of hairpin turns and almost constantly downhill. All the time surrounded by huge trees on both sides. The drop from 4,000ft to 3,000ft and then to 2,000ft seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. It was great throwing the bike into each tight turn. The road was very narrow, which was actually a plus point. No vehicles over 35ft in length were allowed on the entire road (including the climb) to there were no RVs or trucks to worry about.

All too soon I was at the bottom and joining highway 126 to Eugene. Thankfully the road followed the McKenzie river pretty much the entire way, so was on a nice gentle downhill grade for pretty much the entire time. Which meant I was able to keep up a good pace (usually above 15mph) to the last 50odd miles didnt take too long.

Before I reached Eugene, I had to go through the city of Springfield. It's pretty much joined to Eugene, but seemed to be like a slightly seedy version of it. Even riding along the main street I went past 3 different strip clubs! One of which had the fantastic slogan of “You wont find these rides at the fairground”!

Soon I was in Eugene and found a place to stay. I was pretty tired by the time I arrived so didnt want to hunt around too much for somewhere to stay. I have decided to have a couple of days off in town, so tomorrow I'm going to transfer over to a hostel. They are a pretty good place to meet people. Ive had a couple of beers, and Im now feeling pretty tired!

But overall it was a great day today. Its nice to know I can still do the big days when required. Im just a tiny little bit annoyed I didnt manage one last ton! But Im now looking forward to a couple of days off. Looks like there is quite a lot to see in town, so will be nice to relax for a couple of days.

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