Thursday, August 20, 2015

Over McKenzie Pass into Bend

Tuesday, August 11  Day 10   Detroit to Bend, OR   119 miles with 7600 feet of climbing

Lava rock everywhere at McKenzie Pass, after a beautiful scenic ride up there on yet another of Oregon's Scenic Byways. Lava fields were in all directions for miles. The Byway boasts the highest concentration of volcanoes in the lower 48 states (Broken Top Mountain, Mount Washington and The Three Sisters, among other peaks, contributed to all that lava flow).
 The day began with our route continuing along the Santium River. Another perfect day for our weather.
Just one more pretty scene as we enjoyed our morning bike ride southward along a quiet highway.
After 54 miles, we turned eastward onto this Scenic Byway toward McKenzie Pass. The Byway yesterday and today are incredible biking roads due to minimal traffic and spectacular scenery. Much of it was steeply hilly, but that's where I usually catch up to others and did today too.
This is a typical view along the Byway before the climbing got steeper. This road is not kept open during the winter.
Another "typical" view as we gained altitude on the Byway. My saddle sore felt better after the 50-mile rest stop because I removed a shirt I was using to provide extra padding. The extra layers were actually making my butt more sore rather than less.
I rounded a bend and suddenly the landscape was filled with lava rock. But when I stopped to take this photo of Belknap Crater, the pile of lava was so high at the roadside that you couldn't see beyond it at how it covered everything as far as you could see (northward). But those photos would come later.
As we went higher, we got this view of the Upper and Middle Sister peaks. The lava rock is across the horizon here too (southward).
As I approached the summit, the lava landscape got more pronounced, with only a scattering of trees left.
At the McKenzie Pass summit was this observatory made from lava rock in 1935 as a CCC project.
The stairway up the Dee Wright Observatory.
Below the top was a room with window views of various peaks, and this dedication plaque. Each view had the name of the peak you were seeing and how far away it was, but they were carved into the rock and mostly had eroded making it difficult to read them.
View out the northwest window looking at Mt Washington. NOW you can see how the complete landscape was lava rock. Bleak in one sense, but spectacular in another. I don't think too many of our group took the time to visit this observatory. While I was up there, I watched every cyclist behind me ride on past it.
This is at the very top of the observatory, showing geographical highlights in all directions. That's Black's Butte back there.

I finally got back on my bike after Bill Phillippi took the picture of my in front of the McKenzie Pass sign at the top of this posting. We then descended to the lunch stop at Mile 84, and they cooked bratwurst for us! It really hit the spot, but my beer would have to wait til later in Bend.
The descent took us into the town of Sisters, but I didn't stop. Just outside of town on Hwy 20 was this artwork that had a realism to it. This two-dimensional photo makes it seem even more real.
The only reason I took this picture was to illustrate the less picturesque high desert landscape we had during our final 30 miles into Bend. It was mighty hot by this time, too.

I kept an eye on my watch because I had set a 5 pm meeting time with Jeff Eorio to go taste some fine Bend beers. I had estimated for Jeff a 4 pm finish time, and I'd be ready by 5 pm. Well, I was pretty close; I rolled into the motel at 4:10, and Jeff was already there. He had decided to arrive early, with his dog Annie, to cheer my finish, and then he planned to do some errands while I took my shower and changed. It was great to see him again since a month earlier when we said goodbye in Cincinnati after Tour #2 on Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As it turned out, I was ready by 4:45 and Jeff drove me to Crux Fermentation Project, one of 16 local breweries Bend has to offer. One reason he chose Crux was there were outside tables where Annie could be with us, as you see in the photo. Jeff treated me to two of their IPAs and we shared some chips and dip.
Just HAD to get my photo with their brewmaster! By the way, that t-shirt I'm wearing, a gift from Paul Amuchastegui, is for Polygamy Porter Beer, a Utah favorite!

Jeff then drove me on a brief tour of Bend. We went past the huge new Deschutes Brewery, as well as its original location, still operating, in downtown Bend.
This is Mirror Pond, which is the name of Deschutes' original and most popular beer nationwide.
Jeff also suggested I see one of his favorite stores that combines three prime life experiences in one: Coffee, Beer, and Cycling. It's called Crow's Feet Commons. Jeff then dropped me off downtown at Noi Thai Restaurant for my second visit of the evening, with my high school buddy Dan Jones.
I completely forgot to get a picture of Dan even though I had my camera sitting right there, so I took this one from Facebook. Dan was a water polo/swimmer at HHS, and just retired from a 40-year teaching career, almost all of it in Bend. We had a wonderful visit; we hadn't seen each other in about 25 years. When he dropped me off at the hotel, he bought a copy of Head Over Wheels, which I of course signed.

Roommate Bob was still awake, but wondered where I had been all evening. I was in such a rush earlier, I didn't even leave a note (Bob finished his ride after I had departed with Jeff). We went right to sleep, however, since the next day would be a tough 124-miler with 6300 feet of climbing.

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