Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I met Elizabeth Renner "on-line". We shared a coach, Bart Bowen, out of Bend, OR. Elizabeth lives in Sisters, OR, I in Chicago. She off-season trains in Bart's computrainer lab. In 2007-8 I trained in my family room uploading my PowerTap data daily to Bart in Bend. Since Elizabeth rides a Lightning P38, as do I (and they are both green), Bart hoped we could meet someday.
Our son, Bryan, lives in Eugene about 200k from Sisters, perfect for flying out to ride with Elizabeth and her friends, Carol, Sue, and Mae for a few days before my husband would fly to Eugene for a family week together. Never have I felt in the majority, but here we had 3 Lightning P38's and 2 uprights.
Elizabeth, Sue, and me
Loading The Bents
We loaded the bents on the back of Elizabeth's Explorer and headed just east of Prineville to ride the Big Summit Prairie, home to free range cattle, sheep herded by guard dogs assisted by mounted cowboys, and fields of wild flowers that attract aficionados from world-wide. What I noticed equally to the beauty was riding at 3,900-5,400' of altitude the morning after arrival, a big leap up from my steady state 600' called home in tortilla-flat Chicagoland.
After 3 days in Sisters, I set off solo to summit the McKenzie Pass on Rt 242 and then to drop down into Eugene. Packing is always an art of creative fun to anticipate all my rando-style bike needs (both mechanical and personal, including fuel for my idiosyncratic body), AND riding clothes and off-the-bike clothes for 4 days before my husband would arrive by plane with replenishments. I did well getting all of the above in my Rans seat pouch with my 2 folding tires (one for each sized wheel) stuffed in my Crocs which were zip tied under the cinching cord atop the bag.
Two years ago when I made a similar trip to Sisters, the McKenzie Pass was closed for road construction so I took the lesser road, the Santiam Pass. But this year, this year the McKenzie Pass was open and how glorious it was. Other than the 50 motor cycles that passed me on the ascent the only sound was of silence; 48 of the 50 cycles had motors as quiet as mine. One of the two screamers finished his ride as squid along side of a switchback having caught his wheel in displaced gravel. The sound of silence was broken by the sound of sirens.
I wasn't expecting to find black lava fields atop the pass. Other than the difference in the temp and the color of the lava, the view, in places, reminded me of the desolation of Death Valley. Of course, a few peddle strokes further and the snow-covered Sisters would, once again be watching over me.
Dee Wright Observatory at the 5,300' summit of the McKenzie Pass
The descent was glorious, probably a 3-4% slope most of the time, gentle enough that I could wander my eyes to the walls of verdancy all around. Found myself on the wheel of a 6 CFG's (Carbon Fiber Gladiators) and hooked on for the last few miles before I turned west on Route 126 for the final 57 miles into Eugene following the McKenzie River.
I gave Bryan a call when I hit Springfield, OR and we rendezvoused on the Eugene bike path. We rode together to Starbucks at 13th and Alder where we hooked up with his kids (our grandkids), Elijah, age 9, and Ayva, age 7. After a Starbucks refresher we all rode home together, Ayva's longest ride--2 1/2 miles.