Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crossing the Divide

Slept well after a long and happy ride yesterday.

Vic warned me about today's ride as well. If I liked the climb to Cottage Grove then I was REALLY gonna like Sharps Creek Road. I asked how long, how high? 3-ish miles and 3000 feet.

Hope he is wrong about that. Only one way to find out.

The road winds gradually along the creek. Rushing water, lush forests, filtered morning light. The earth feels alive, rejuvenated, kind. The air smells good, makes you want to breathe. Wildflowers by the side of the road. We are in a rainforest wonderland.

Vic said the real climb starts right after the turn onto the forest service road. And not to expect relief on the switchbacks. One thing about Vic, he is always telling the truth. The pavement is rough chipseal, providing maximum friction. As the road tilts up you can almost feel yourself slipping down, back toward the river. Panic makes us push upward. For slightly more than 3 miles and 9%, with one long pitch of around 15%.

At a point where a creek tumbles down the hillside mosquitos start landing on me for an early lunch. It turns out I can actually ride faster up this hill!

The reward at the top is a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers. Huckleberry Mountain, says the map. Calapooya Divide.

It's turning into another hot day as we descend down, down the other side of the ridge, dodging log trucks that are pedal to the metal up the hill. They have to shoot the moon! That's the reason these roads exist - timber companies need to get into the logging roads branching off either side. Rock Creek Road is falling down the hill in several places as well, so we dodge the work crews and patches of gravel.

At the end of the day riders will weigh in on Sharps Creek versus Westfir. Most of us found Sharps Creek to be easier. It's steeper but shorter - maybe 8 miles total with 3.5 of those steep climbing. But after lots of rolling hills in the afternoon most said today's ride was tough. Unexpectedly tough. When the Waterford's top tube feels warm, the air is more than 92 degrees. Someone's smartphone says 98. Humid, too.

We are hitting the drink coolers like there's no tomorrow. Or like tomorrow's ride is easier. Which it is!

Myrtle Creek is a tiny place with a split identity a la Route 66. The older part of town, where we're spending the night, has character and a covered bridge. The old sawmill site next to the bridge has been turned into a city park, a baseball field, and our RV park. On the main drag maybe a third of the businesses are closed. The newer part of town, near I-5, is ugly and busier.

Too hot to get in the tent, so we walk downtown in the dark and wrap up at the Town Tavern.

1 comment :

  1. "turning into a hot day" as you descended - you guys must have started early! The bit about the mosquitoes made me laugh.