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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I took 3 days off last week leading into the weekend with my State Championship Road Race and took a bit of a cycling vacation in Bend (Oregon.) I really needed some time away from home and work and figured a few less intense days on the bike would probably do some good.

On Thursday, I headed northwest of Bend with intentions of riding McKenzie Pass. McKenzie is the only Cascade Pass in Oregon that isn't kept open year round. It usually doesn't open to auto traffic until memorial day or later. Wonderfully, the Oregon Department of Transportation allows cyclists to ride this spectacular stretch of road for a week or two every year after the snow has been cleared but before cars are permitted. About 20 miles of my ride were on open highway, but I didn't see a single car. The only vehicles I saw were ODOT maintainance trucks working to clean the west side.

This is the first time I've been able to ride McKenzie but I wasn't disappointed. After this ride, it ranks up there with the Crater Lake Rim Drive as one of my favorite rides in the state. I got a late start from a campground 12 miles from the east summit starting in the Ponderosa Forests that dominate the east side of the cascades.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I climbed over the short east side of the climb pretty quickly. I was over the summit in 45 minutes. There were actually a couple other cyclists at the summit taking in the view and eating lunch at the observatory.I just rolled over the summit. There were a few miles of false flat and rollers before the descent began in earnest. To my surprise after seeing no snow at higher elevations on the east side or the summit, there was 2-4 feet of plowed snow on the west side. The channel left by the plow was only 4-5 feet wide in places, it was a unique experience descending thru this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Once the descent of the west side begins in earnest, it's much too technical for on the fly photos. Here I've reached the turnaround have dropped from 5,325 feet at the summit to 1,600 feet. It's remarkable the change in climate zones. The east side starts in a high desert, climbs thru a lava field, cruises through a winter playland and drops into a rainforest. Notice the moss on the road - this is one of the wettest parts of Oregon. Everything is green here - if it isn't alive it has something growing on it.

The climb starts gradually, but eventually ramps up to a very consistent 5-6% grade. Views of the Three Sisters occasionally open up especially in the corners of the 18 switchbacks. Neither side of the pass is particularly difficult as a climb, but there are places where you look down and can see the road on three levels below you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
At about 4,300 feet the snow appears again - it's bizarre, the snow seems deepest at lower elevations. The lower elevations must be shaded for the majority of the day delaying the snow melt.

A few miles later, you emerge from the dense forest out onto a vast lava flow. Belknap Crater in the second photo is the source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And finally at the summit. It's obvious that the winter weather must be pretty extreme in this exposed location. The North & Middle Sister loom to the south, both a mile higher in elevation than the pass itself. The observatory at the summit is a CCC project built out of the surrounding rock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Not a bad day all told - I picked the perfect day to do this ride as it rained periodically the rest of the trip. 66 Miles with 5,700 feet climbing. I'm going to have to try and do this again while the pass is closed to traffic.
 

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You talking to me?
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What a fantastic place to ride

It's about a seven hour drive for me to get down that way, but looking at your photos makes me think about taking a three day weekend and doing just that. That's one part of the NW that's a truly incredible place to ride.

Bryan
 

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Dropout
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I rode this once

Those are wonderful pictures. As you probably know, this is on the Adventure Cycling Trans-Am route, which I rode east to west in August 1998. I thought it was one of the most enjoyable climbs of the entire route. Traffic was not bad at all. Your first shot made me feel like I was back there. Thanks for posting!

Mark
 

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nice

Love the pictures and your bike too! I'm way over here on the east coast, but if I ever have the chance to do some riding out there, I think you just showed me where I want to ride. Thanks for sharing.

PS: Is the Parlee an 04 or 05?
 

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Sounds cool

I live in N. Central Oregon and did 90 miles on Saturday to about the same elevation, didn't see a spot of snow anywhere. Weird. That must have been so fun riding with snow all around you.

There's some 200 mile ride in July in Bend that I think includes some of your ride. I thought about doing that.

Thanks for posting!
hrv
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
bill amc said:
Love the pictures and your bike too! I'm way over here on the east coast, but if I ever have the chance to do some riding out there, I think you just showed me where I want to ride. Thanks for sharing.

PS: Is the Parlee an 04 or 05?
The Parlee is a 3 week old custom z1x :) I love it too. I was SOO happy to get it in time for this trip.
 

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I live in the Rockies.. thanks for the pictures,,kinda reminds

me of some of my rides around Vail,Copper Mt, Breckinridge,but never around so much snow ,although these places are 8000. ft, plus the bike trails are through miles of similar forests..
thanks for the pics...
 

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my legs hurt
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impressive...

coming from the west there are some brutal climbs on the road (am i correct in remembering that this is the same road that has the proxy falls trails on it?) Maybe they just seemed brutal to me in my old car...

beautiful ride though, brought back great memories.
 

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Wow, nice ride. And thanks for the great pics. BTW, did you meet up with any traffic? If so, who pulled into the snow bank first? ;)
Cheers, Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Actually, the majority of the road was closed to cars. ODOT was doing maintenance on the west side but they keep it open to bikes only. Even on the low elevation sections where the road was open, I didn't seen any cars except for the parked cars of a couple bicycle groups.. I did see one guy skateboarding down the east side :)

wayneanneli said:
Wow, nice ride. And thanks for the great pics. BTW, did you meet up with any traffic? If so, who pulled into the snow bank first? ;)
Cheers, Wayne
 
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