Thursday, August 20, 2015

Crater Lake splendor, and a slide-show look back

Thursday, August 13  Day 12   Diamond Lake to Ashland, OR    123 miles with 6000' of climbing 

This was the scenic highlight of our final day! We rode along the rim for 6 miles and were rewarded with several slightly different perspectives of Crater Lake. What a gem!
Our day began in the dark with a 5:00 breakfast in the parking lot. The staff served its usual hearty fare, as we all scurried to get underway by 5:45. But I didn't get going until 6:00, almost the last one. For only the fourth day of this tour, I needed extra clothing for early-morning warmth. This was the only morning that I needed leg warmers and a t-shirt, in addition to the vest, arm warmers, and full-fingered knitted gloves under my regular gloves.
 The initial 8.5 miles retraced our final 8.5 miles from the afternoon before. This time, we turned south into Crater Lake National Park and rode 9 more miles uphill to the rim of the crater.
 They got this shot of me as we entered the National Park.
Here are Jon from Alexandria, VA and and Nerius from Solana Beach, CA.
The shadows know. Matt, from Bellevue, WA and I rode together all the way from the motel to the rim, and when we reached the rim, we had caught the leaders who departed 15 minutes before we did. Matt and I were screaming along that morning, both good climbers.
Our 18-mile rest stop was just below the crater rim. A few of us walked up the final hill to see the lake. That's Louise, from Atascadero, CA, savoring the view at 7:30 am,  before any tourists had yet arrived.
A view back down to our van and the bikes at our rest stop, with the smoke from the fires out beyond. We were lucky the winds weren't blowing that smoke toward us, because the next day they were, and the views of the lake were hazy (so I heard the next day).
We continued southward along the Rim Road to several viewpoints. This spot was at 7480 feet, and we had climbed almost 3000 feet from our motel in 20 miles. 
If I looked southward, I could see Mt Shasta! I used my telephoto to get this shot. Its peak is almost twice my elevation when I took this - 14,182.

After six miles from our original rest stop, I arrived at the lodge and realized that my phone was  missing. I assumed I left it in the motel room, but I also thought it might be in my briefcase on one of the trailers. When I inquired about checking the briefcase, Susan suggested I ride back the six miles to the van and ask George to drive me to the motel. I quickly rode off to try to catch George before he packed up and left. I passed several of our group who asked that evening why I was riding the wrong way.

I did get back to the van while George was still there. He put my bike up on the rack and we drove the 18 miles back to the motel, where I got  my phone and we then returned the 24-miles to the Crater Lake Lodge where I had reached 1.5 hours earlier. I didn't want to miss any of the route, so I resumed my riding from the lodge even though I knew I would not have van support until I caught up to the back of the group. I filled up both bottles with water and took on several snacks, knowing I would miss the 42-mile rest stop (48 miles for me since I had ridden those extra six miles back to the van), but thinking I would make it in time for the 66-mile lunch (72 miles for me).

Regardless, I was completely focused on fast bike riding for the next several hours. I did not stop for photos, nor for anything else. My adrenaline levels from being upset about my cell phone and catching up remained high and despite my sore butt, I truly was riding strong, without stopping, right up to about Mile 70 (Mile 76 for me). I had "raced" for 46 miles, but when I realized I had missed the 66-mile lunch stop, I had to slow down to conserve my dwindling water supply. (In fact, I had been mistaken that it was the lunch stop. It had been only a rest stop.) I then assumed I would be on my own all the way to Ashland, another 46 miles, and would need to seek out water and food on my own.

But there was no civilization in sight. I climbed a long hill and reached the final turn before reaching our destination -- the route would follow Dead Indian Memorial Hwy for 41 miles to Ashland. I just prayed I would come across a source of water. Water and food would be ideal, but I needed water. By then, it was extremely hot and windy, so I was needing lots of water but could take only sips since I did not know when I would get more.

I pedaled easily along the road, trying to minimize my need for water. It was all forested with no civilization nor sources of water. After about five miles, in a worried state of mind and with only a few sips of water left, I rounded a bend and there was our van! Praise be! Water! Food! Thank you God!

It turned out that this was the lunch stop, which always means they are there for a much longer time than when it's only a rest stop (to merely replenish water and snacks). There were two riders still there, the tandem team of Tom and Sharon from Fresno, CA. I drank tons of cold water. I got to have a veggie burger with salad, cold Coke, and I got to sit in a soft chair to give my sore butt some relief. I kept thanking God!!

I was thankful that I had ridden so fast for those 46 miles (until I eased up 11 miles earlier). Even the staff commented how fast I must have ridden to catch up to them when I did. Tom and Sharon eventually went on, and I stayed to savor my lunch and my first rest off the bike for 57 miles.

Before getting back on my bike, I phoned Uncle Harry and Aunt Bev to suggest an earlier visit than I had previously estimated.

Off I went, with the satisfaction of a full tummy and topped-off water bottles, now knowing I could enjoy the scenery over the remaining 35 miles. It turned out to be a life-saver to have ample water because there were numerous long climbs in 90-degree temps. I had heard how Dead Indian Road had a long descent, but that didn't begin until Mile 100 (Mile 106 for me). Thus, there were 19 miles of up and down before the big descent began. Even then, I needed ample water because there was a very strong head/side wind in temperatures that kept increasing as I dropped into Ashland where it was over 100 degrees.
During the descent into Ashland, I finally stopped to take my first photo since six hours earlier at the Crater Lake rim.

It was so hot in Ashland, and I was beyond relieved to be finished. The all-day focus on catching up, and then worrying I would suffer dehydration, had colored my final tour day in a way I had not expected. The usual joy of completion was instead only a relief of completion. Even as I rolled up to the van at the motel and dismounted, no one said anything, such as a cheer or a "way to go" the way we usually do at the conclusion of a tour. I realized later that no one knew I had returned to get my cell phone and was chasing all day.

But Aunt Bev and Uncle Harry were coming soon! I hurried to get my bags and shower, although some who had asked previously to buy an autographed copy of my book were now asking for it and handing me money, and so on. So, I was scurrying about with books and money and getting things off my bike, and still trying to rehydrate.

Once Bev and Harry arrived, we drove to where the final pizza party was going to be. But we couldn't find it. After many turns and u-turns, we got back to the motel and I inquired at the desk. It turned out the map on our slate was showing the opposite direction, so I informed a staff member and went on with Bev and Harry to the correct location.
We had a nice one-hour visit at the pizza restaurant, before all the cyclists started showing up. So great to see them healthy, active, and happy after 27 years of retirement there in Medford.
After all-u-can-eat pizza and salad (and a couple Ninkasi IPAs), Lon Haldeman auctioned off the map, which we all autographed, for his charities. The winner, at $800, was Bill Phillippi, the rider who had crossed the country with me in 2007. As a final commemoration of our achievement, Lon and Susan showed a 30-minute slide show, complete with music, of our tour. I think there were about 400 photos they or other staff took over the 12 days, and everyone enjoyed it.

Once the slide show ended, we walked back to the motel and Bob and I were ready for bed. Not only were we dead tired, but Bob's van back to Seattle was departing at 5:00. I was in the Lincoln Continental departing at 6:00, but breakfast was being served at 5:00.

The reason we had a Lincoln sedan was because of Susan's 96-yr-old father, Tony, who accompanied our tour. Lon's and Susan's daughter, Rebecca, and Susan's niece, Eliza, were in charge of Tony during the tour, although both of them also helped as regular staff members, and they also rode their bikes sometimes. For the drive to Seattle, I would be with Rebecca, Tony, and Veronica (from Anchorage).

It didn't take Bob and me long to be sound asleep. The bike riding was over, but the early next-morning schedule was continuing.

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