Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seattle to Crater Lake 100K Pre*2 Ride`

This is an awesome ride. Not an epic bust your gut to get it done ride, but a visual stunner, with lots of pleasant roads and simply fantastic scenery. Don't get me wrong, no 1,000 K ride is easy, especially not with 30,000 feet of climbing, but it isn't a killer. Of course any ride can be with the wrong weather, but we had almost perfect weather.

Vincent & I rode this as a preliminary pre-ride for SIR's fall 1,000K at the end of September. We'll pre-ride it again the week before to identify any last minute road issues and to test out the route changes we're going to make ... not a lot, but there were a few.

The top three things that I'd be sure and do again on the ride were:

1. Start as early as possible each day (we started at 10 PM, 3 AM, & 3 AM). We ended each day in daylight, felt rested, and were in the right places during daylight hours. We also had about 3 hours per day more daylight than there will be during the brevet.
2. Have breakfast in Depoe Bay at Joyce's Sunrise Cafe. It was nice to have a solid breakfast ... and with some 60K out of the way already. They open at 5 AM.
3. Take time for pictures. There are so many wonderful sights on this ride ... and as it is not a killer ride, there is enough time to stop occasionally and snap a picture or two - within reason of course.

The top three things I'd do differently:

1. Avoid US-97 into Klamath Falls (boring, busy, & construction issues) ... we're rerouting to go on the west side of the lake instead.
2. Cut out the last two US-101 by-passes at the south end of Lincoln City ... too confusing (I got off course twice), too many turns, too many steep hills, and too slow. Since we'll be riding through here in the early morning, traffic on US-101 isn't an issue, so we're going to reroute back onto US-101 here.
3. Skip the Crater Lake Rim Village Cafe - take the extra time to eat at the Crater Lake Lodge. There was a 30 minute wait, so we skipped the Lodge and went to the Rim Village Cafe instead. As time really wasn't an issue, this was a mistake. How often do you get here? Enjoy it!
4, Okay, so I can't count ... but I'd carry more water leaving Reedsport on day 2 and Dry Creek on day 3. I had two large water bottles.

So how did the ride go?


Start time: 10:10 PM on Thursday, July 15th
End time: 5:10 PM on Friday, July 16th
Elapsed Time: 19:00
Distance: 401K
Climbing: 9,500 feet

The ride from Bremerton was uneventful ... roads were pretty quiet. Fortunately we didn't have that much of a problem staying awake during the first part. There wasn't anyplace open to stop along the way until the Chevron station in Montesano, but we kept going anyway. Our first stop was Raymond. Unfortunately only the gas stations were open we arrived shortly after 5 AM. The McDonalds didn't open until 6 AM. We were a bit tired, so it was tempting to stick around, but RFM (Relentless Forward Momentum) was the plan.

We found a Cafe open in Nasalle, some 70K later, and stopped for breakfast. It was a needed stop - and yet it was the first opportunity we had ... nothing else was along the way. Not even closed options. From here we made it to the Columbia River and the bridge at Astoria. It wasn't as bad as I had feared ... there was a whole 2 feet worth of shoulder! Still, it was worth making sure the tires were in good shape before starting across - it is a long bridge and I wouldn't want to get a flat on it.

In Astoria we took Business 101 from a big traffic circle in order to connect to a nice back route to Seaside. We stopped in Seaside, as it was a control (changing that, as it isn't really needed), and had some soup. Then off on US-101 again to Cannon Beach. Lots of tourists in Cannon Beach on a sunny July Friday ... who would of guessed that? After a stretch on 101 with some climbing and then wonderful views from Oswald Park down to the South, we went inland for another 101 by-pass - this time on Miami-Foley Road - but first with a stop for ice cream and fluids at the Mohler store.

North of Tillamook we got back on US-101, then stopped at Safeway in Tillamook. Got a 6 pack of Ensure Plus so stopping tomorrow isn't as pressing. We arrived in Pacific City early enough that there were several dinner choices - we ate at Fat Freddy's - nothing to write home about, but it was fine. Shake was good. The Shell station/convenience store closes at 10 PM - besides the Pub right next to it (which was packed) everything else is likely closed by then.


Start time: 3:00 AM on Saturday, July 17th
End time: 8:20 PM on Saturday, July 17th
Elapsed Time: 18:20
Distance: 330K
Climbing: ~10,000 feet

We rolled out of Pacific City right about 3 AM and headed south on 101. Very peaceful at that time of the morning. We found the turn off to Slab Creek, our next 101 by-pass, and started the slow, gentle climb up the quiet road. We actually found a spot with a street light for an information control - since most riders will be going through here in the dark, that will make it easier to both find and then record the answer. After hitting the summit at around 700 feet, we head back down to rejoin 101 briefly before another by-pass around US-101, this time missing the bulk of Lincoln City by going along the east side of Devils Lake. The end of this bypass is the start of another one, this time along the west side of 101 through a residential area - it was very hilly, with lots of turns and climbs. Picturesque enough - in a different way, but I was anxious to make progress, so we're going to cut out this by-pass.

We made it to Depoe Bay shortly after 6 AM and had a nice breakfast at Joyce's Sunset Cafe (right 1/2 block at the traffic light). It hit the spot. The next 140K to Reedsport were a nice blend of quiet by-passes, gorgeous ocean views, lakes, rivers, and Oregon forests. And a few rollers along the way ... and then a few more. Not a lot of places for food & water, but enough as long as you plan ahead. We got separated in this stretch - Vincent stopped & waited for me at the Florence Safeway, but I had kept on going. Fortunately with the aid of technology - cell phones - we reconnected at Reedsport. While we topped off with water here, two bottles wasn't enough for me on the next stretch. Although it was only in the mid-60's in Reedsport, it was in the low 80's inland. Not unbearably hot by any means, but hot enough to drive up my water consumption.

The stretch between Reedsport and Roseburg was fantastic, especially Camp Creek and Tyee Access Roads. This is 30 miles in the back woods, though the mountains, on a quiet, narrow road. Absolutely no services along the way. We saw only 3-4 cars along the way. It was wonderful. A good place to "buddy up", as you are definitely on your own in this stretch. This also includes the steepest stretch on the whole ride - a 10-12 % climb up to about 2,100 feet. The decent, at the start of Tyee Access Road, is on a rough section of road, so you definitely want to do this during daylight if at all possible ... and watch your speed.

Out of water, I found a water pump at a roadside county park along the Tyee Road (now noted on the route sheet).

We made it to Roseburg a bit after 8 PM. Dinner was at Denny's - unfortunately they don't serve beer.


Start time: 3:05 AM on Sunday, July 18th
End time: 6:45 PM on Sunday, July 18th
Distance: 270K
Climbing: 9,500 feet

The first stretch out of Roseburg was slow, averaging maybe 15-16K. Not due to road conditions - road was fine. No traffic, wide shoulders, relatively flat. Just hard to get started. Advil hadn't kicked in I guess. After 30-45 minutes we got into gear and picked up the pace a bit, perhaps 20-22K. We arrived at Dry Creek - some 75K later, about 7:10 AM. There hadn't been much climbing yet ... we'd gone from about 500 to 1,500 feet. Another 6,100 feet to the top!

From Dry Creek the grade increased ... although not dramatically. While it had taken close to 80K to climb 1,000 feet, the next 1,000 feet took only about 20K ... and then the next 1,000 feet less than half of that distance. The river and forest views were a nice distraction from the climbing ... although I did obsess on what the upcoming grades might be like. They weren't too bad though. It did get warm before Diamond Lake, and running out of water became a concern. There was water at Diamond Lake Resort - about 1/2 mile off the route to the right, but I didn't want any bonus miles and was hoping there would be some along the way (there wasn't). I did make the water last long enough, but having some more would have been nice.

We turned off of OR-138 to head up into the Park. There was a line of cars. Thinking there might have been an accident, I rode off to the side, passing the cars & motorcycles. I then realized this was just the line to get into the park - it costs $5 - and we were cutting the line. Oops. Well, at least we'd made it to 6,000 feet - only another 1,600 to go. The road through the park, while in good condition, did not have shoulders, so required a bit more attention to traffic.

The climb from here was more intense ... but probably because I knew we were nearing the top and I was anxious to get there. The views along the way were worth the periodic stops - I'm sure I was stopping for the view, not to rest :). The only disappointment at the top - the lake was fantastic - was that it wasn't the top ... there was more climbing to go around the lake to get to Crater Lake Lodge. Granted it wasn't a whole lot, but I had been hoping ...

Rim Village and the Lodge area were packed with people. I had wanted to eat at the Lodge, but with a 30 minute wait, we decided to go back to the Rim Village Cafe. In retrospect that was a mistake. For us daylight wasn't an issue and we had lots of time, so a relaxed lunch and more time soaking up the views would have been the better move.

While arriving at Crater Lake felt sort of like "we'd made it" - we still had over 100K to go! Granted there was a lot of downhill, but ... Anyway, the descent from the rim wasn't particularly fast - the roads were fine, but except for a bit at the top, it felt like we could go faster. And the descent was too short ... while we had climbed up over 7,000 feet (500 to 7,600), we only descended 3,600 feet (7,600 to 4,000). The stretch to Fort Klamath was nice - both the descent and then the high plains portion. From here to the end I could have done without - the expansion bumps on the road were annoying and then US-97 was busy and undergoing construction - so a questionable shoulder. We're going to reroute around the other side of the lake instead - a bit longer, but at least it will add a 1,000 feet of climbing! :)

We finished the ride in 68 hours and change - Vincent was 25 minutes ahead of me - I was in no hurry to get done and was enjoying the ride.


We rode the train back to Seattle (Vincent got off in Tacoma). All in all it was a restful experience - I hadn't done it before and would definitely do it again. There is one train a day from Klamath Falls to Seattle - it left at 8:25 AM and arrived in Seattle at 8:45 PM ... a little over 12 hours. The station opens at 7:30 AM - you need to get there early in order to get a bike box, partially disassemble it (remove pedals, turn handlebars), put your bike in the box, label it, and then turn it in (cost $15 for the box + $5 shipping). They keep about 15 boxes on hand - we'll give them a count when registration closes 2 weeks prior to the ride so they can have a few more boxes if need be. The ticket to Seattle cost just under $80.

Seats are roomy & comfortable. There is food on the train - a snack bar (the basics ... including beer) and then a dining car (I didn't try that out). It is worth bringing some of your own snacks & beverages if you have the time and arm space to do so.

The seats are assigned by a conductor outside the train cars - so if you want a window seat, ask for it. I lucked out and got a window seat - but there is an observation car that you can go to if you didn't get a window and want to stare out.

Most of the cars have electric outlets if you want to charge your phone or mp3 player - if you brought it and a cord that is.

All in all a wonderful ride ... both to and from Klamath Falls!

Here's the link to the complete set of pictures ...

Seattle to Crater Lake