As I rode up towards McKenzie pass, I was motivated by other cyclists riding up with their carbon fiber bikes. I kept pace with these riders and found myself at the summit before I knew it. I stopped and spoke with a few cyclists and they told me interesting information about the area. The summit featured several volcanic magma flows and a beautiful 360 degree view of the "Three Sisters" and Mount Washington. I also met a few riders who were riding from Astoria, Oregon to Missoula, Montana. They informed me that I had a thrilling 20 mile descent, equipped with sharp switchbacks and freshly paved segments. Excited to experience this ride down from the pass, I rode on around the many bends on the pass and finally began my descent. Without hyperbole... I must say that this was the most enjoyable cycling experience I've ever had. Without a doubt, I will let any of my cyclist friends know that the descent of McKenzie pass is thoroughly enjoyable and equally thrilling. And that they need to ride this before they can't pedal anymore in their old age. It's just a damn shame that this road is closed 9 months out of the year!
The ride down from the pass also introduced me to the wet, fruitful climate of the Pacific Northwest. The astonishing tree canopy consisting of Western red cedar and Pacific silver fir provided for shade from the blistering sun. The sights and smells of the forest almost felt like a baptism from the dry and brutal climate of the Columbia Plateau. The drop in elevation was also very drastic. Within twenty miles, I dropped from over 5,000 feet down to 1,500 feet above sea level. All in all, I'm very glad I didn't have to take the alternative, less scenic route through the Santiam Pass.