Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 58: Redmond, OR to McKenzie River, OR (67 Miles)

When you find an incredibly cheap motel, you usually have an "ah-hah!" moment that explains why you paid so little for lodging. I had thought I found a gem of a motel last night, with new sheets, a clean bathroom, and functioning appliances. I went to bed last night, fully pleased with not having such a moment. However, I woke up at 2:30AM to (surprise, surprise) have such a moment, indeed. A road work crew outside the motel was hard at work, drilling furiously into the ground. They were kicking the crap out that cement! If the heavy drilling sound was constant, it could have lulled me into a deep, fulfilling sleep. But no, it was sporadic and changed enough to bring enough attention to it's unnecessary loudness. Don't city laws restrict such loud activities near residential areas? But is a motel to be considered a residential building or commercial? In any case, the moral of the story is: I didn't get enough sleep last night.

I reset my alarm to 8:00AM and reluctantly began packing my stuff up and left the room within the hour. It was already warm and I was upset to miss out on the cooler early morning temperatures. Sweating more than I'd prefer to, I pushed uphill to Sisters and stopped for an early lunch at Subway. Sisters seemed like a cute little town, but I had a mountain pass to conquer! I was feeling very motivated to get this last mountain range behind me and cross over into "Western" Oregon. The dissimilar climates separated by the Cascades are worlds apart and I'm not too fond of the dry, arid climate I've been riding through for the last few weeks.

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.

I had the ambitious idea that I would reach Eugene by the end of the day, but my late start made me second guess this plan. The presence of powerful headwinds at the base of McKenzie sealed the deal in calling it a shorter day. I continued down Route 126 and found a gas station to stop in. I asked about places to stay for the night and the teller recommended the motel 3 miles down the road. I rode by a camp site and debated stopping there, but the temptation of a hot shower and a cool bed was too tempting. In terms of finances, I've done pretty well. I've spent more than I should have on this trip, but I still have a good portion of the money I saved... hence my weakness for motels. However, I must say that I will definitely be more frugal on my next journey and will hopefully not depend on currency as much as I have on this trip.

My plan for tomorrow consists of getting up early and riding 60-something miles to Eugene in time for lunch and attempt to ship back a good portion of my gear. I'd like to mail most of my heavy stuff back to Quincy and have a very light load for the ride to the coast. A fully loaded bike compared to just carrying field repair gear, water bottles and a few snacks makes a world of a difference! With that plausible scenario in mind, I'll have no trouble with the last 70-something miles to Florence. We'll see how that goes! I also found out that my parents purchased a flight for September 3rd, but I could attempt to change for an earlier flight so that I can attend the service for George on the 2nd. I also spoke with Kelsey, my boss, and she told me that I can get back to work on the 7th, which will be wonderful for getting back into my "regular" life and have time for catching up with friends. I'm positive that I'm going to miss this cyclical renewal of new adventures, faces, smells, sights, and sounds... but I'm strongly looking forward to getting back home!


may said...

I can't believe you're almost to Eugene! Do you ride through there at all? You're so damn close now!

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