Aroundegon Day Eight: Paradise to Bend

The Old McKenzie Highway. Easily the most beautiful road I've ever ridden. The sign says "Bicycles May Use Full Lane."

Distance: 65 miles (of 270 total)
Elevation Gain: 5,300 feet (of 10,400 total)
Horse-flies killed: 3

I started the day around sunrise at a campground on the McKenzie River. I was happy to find my tent dry and also not struck by lightening (I could see flashes as I was going to sleep). The first four hours of the day were spent climbing up and over the McKenzie Pass and then descending into Sisters. I'd read before that this was one of the most beautiful road rides in the world, and now I know they weren't exaggerating. The road twists up to McKenzie Pass through towering Douglas Firs on smooth, nearly traffic-free roads. In 20 miles I saw only 14 cars, about one every 20 minutes. Incredible.

One of the nice things about dragging a 70 pound bike over a 5,000 foot mountain pass at about four miles an hour is that it gives you plenty of time to make a mental list of all the crap you didn't need to bring so that you can send it home when you get to the next post office. Among the items I'll be returning: extra tent stakes, extra t-shirt, and deodorant (sorry in advance, future hosts). I figure saving two pounds is worth the trouble.

Thunderstorms and rain threatened once I was on the other side of the mountains, but I stayed dry.

Surprisingly, the more grueling part of the day came on the (mostly) flat leg from Sisters to Bend. I had a stiff headwind the entire way and had to ride part of the distance on Highway 20, which has a decent shoulder but is too busy for my tastes. Hopefully that's the last busy road I'm on for a while.

My final destination in Bend was the home of my dear friends Mike, Liz, and their daughter Piper. I took a shower to scrub the road off of me and then ate chicken burgers, corn, and pickles on their back porch. I've never been here before, but it felt like coming home.

This post is part of a series on my bicycle tour around Oregon. You can find my other posts here.