Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 10th, 2014 at 10:15 pm
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
While the leading roles in this year’s Cycle Oregon are filled by the “Magnificent Seven” Cascade peaks, it was a little-known upstart that stole the show. The ride up Pelton Dam Road — 14% grade for 1.7 miles (at mile 72 on the day) — was the hardest climb in the 27-year history of the event.
But a historically brutal climb won’t be the only memory from today’s ride. We were also treated to the broad expanses and ranches outside of Tygh Valley, our first views of Mt. Jefferson, the amazing geology of the Warm Springs Reservation near Kahneeta, and several miles riding alongside the wild and scenic Deschutes River.
I got an early start again this morning, rolling out into Tygh Valley while the moon was still out and our shadows followed us on golden hills:
As we continued south toward Kahneeta, the earth opened up to reveal expansive, red-earth canyons and ancient volcanic geology. The descents were so fun and fast that it was hard to convince myself to even stop and take photos.
A few miles later we had crossed Highway 26 and headed south alongside the Deschutes River. We got special permission to ride across a dam managed by Warm Springs Power & Water Enterprises. Then it was onto Pelton Dam before the big climb of the day.
Then the climb began. An absolutely leg-breaking ascent of Pelton Dam Road. Many people walked, some cried, others seemed to spin up it with relative ease. At the top, one of the members of the Cycle Oregon water crew was there to spray us off. The Climb was all the buzz at camp tonight. Everyone had a story to tell and a memory of “That insane hill we climbed on Cycle Oregon 2014!” will last for a very long time.
“I brought my walking shoes! But I didn’t need them!”
The epic day was followed by a Cycle Oregon tradition: the Bike Gallery Bike Rodeo. The Bike Gallery has dozens of staffers here at the event. They work non-stop fixing bikes and helping people with whatever it takes to keep them rolling. The Rodeo is there chance to have some fun and let off some steam. Complete with a ring-leader, a referee, and a rodeo clown, they competed in events like foot-down, jousting, and limbo.
We stay two nights here in Madras. Tomorrow is a layover day, which means that we have the option to ride or not. There are a ton of activities to choose from. I haven’t decided what I’ll do yet, but it might involve a ride on the Madras Mountain Views State Scenic Bikeway and maybe a loop down to Smith Rock. But then again, my body’s tired! And I’ve got plenty of work I could do here at camp. We’ll see.
Stay tuned and thanks for all the great feedback about my photos. If you’ve missed any of the previous day’s stories, you can read them all here.