A great ride awaits whether you climb to Crater Lake or pick a valley route
You’ve been pedaling uphill for a while now, keeping your cadence up. You want to look at your watch to see how long you’ve been at it but you dare not. Don’t change your rhythm.
Your legs are getting tired. You get out of the saddle to change muscle groups even though you know this, too, will take its toll.
Yet despite the fatigue you keep going. You’re riding the Rim Drive around Crater Lake and even those tired muscles can’t dampen your spirit.
“The Rim Drive is a heck of a challenge in and of itself,” says Alex Hayes, co-owner of Cycle Sport in Medford and a longtime Southern Oregon cyclist. “ Just riding the The Rim Drive is 33 miles with 3,300 feet of elevation gain. That’s a tough ride but it’s gorgeous. The viewpoints are second to none.”
Crater Lake National Park is a popular destination for many Southern Oregon visitors and it’s especially enticing for dedicated road cyclists looking for a challenge. It’s so appealing that organizers of the annual Cycle Oregon event insisted on incorporating an excursion to the lake into the 25th annual week-long ride this September.
“The focus on this year’s ride was to get people to Crater Lake,” says Ken Chichester, Cycle Oregon’s longtime route planner. “Any time you can ride a bike around Crater Lake, it can’t get much better than that.”
Riding up to Crater Lake National Park is not for the faint of heart, but there are many more roads throughout Southern Oregon that will please cyclists of all skill levels. The back roads here provide riders two cherished commodities – low-traffic back roads and beautiful scenary.
“Each place has its benefits. The Ashland area is much hillier than, say, Central Point,” Hayes says. “I like having so many options for making loops. Central Point is centrally located so you can make any kind of loop from there.
“And I like the low-volume roads. There are plenty to choose from and you can custom tailor your ride for your distance and level of climbing,” he says.
Zach Gilmour enjoys riding in Klamath County, in part because so few cars and trucks are on the roads.
“It’s so open, there’s almost nobody on the road here,” says Gilmour, who manages the Hutch’s Bicycles store in Klamath Falls. “We have a huge variety of roads, long climbs and long flats, and no matter where you go there’s very little traffic.”
Gilmour agrees that views from a bicycle are breathtaking. “We have gorgeous scenery. It’s so dramatic and you can see it wherever you are.
“I moved here in 2004 and I was surprised by how easy it was to find all the good routes. I just opened a map. Even today it’s been a constant joy to discover new routes. I’m still finding roads I haven’t ridden before and I ride several thousand miles a year.”
Chichester, who did his research in planning the 2012 Cycle Oregon routes, points out there are sufficient variations in geography to interest all road riders. “The Looking Glass area near Roseburg is a good ride. So is the Applegate Valley,” he says. “You have varying scenery throughout Southern Oregon to go along with the varying types of roads. You can find flat and you can find hilly. You can find it all.”
Cycle Oregon, celebrating its 25th tour this September, is called “the best bike ride in America” by those who ride it. Organizers of the weeklong event select a different region of the state to explore each year and then send approximately 2,200 riders from town to town for a week in September.
This year’s ride, scheduled for Sept. 8-15, connects the communities of Bly, Silver Lake, Fort Klamath, Prospect, Ashland and Klamath Falls.
The event sold out weeks ago. But remember that Cycle Oregon chose Southern Oregon for its 25th anniversary ride. Perhaps you should make the same choice.
For more information about Cycle Oregon, visit www.cycleoregon.com.
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