The vivid blue water of Crater Lake holds your attention, erasing for the moment the memory of the last hill you just climbed. The payoff, this expansive view, makes the work worthwhile.
Riding a bike around Crater Lake is not easy. The elevation gains around Rim Drive and thin air - you're at 6,000 feet above sea level - challenge your lungs and your legs. The multitude of cars, trucks and RVs competing for that narrow lane of traffic makes it even harder.
There are two days each year, however, when you and other cyclists can have Rim Drive to yourselves. No motorized vehicles allowed. Ride the Rim, a free event staged twice each September, sets aside 25 miles of roadway for you to conquer. You still must face 3,500 feet of climbing but those breathtaking vistas will make it all worthwhile. Ride the Rim, taking place on Sept. 8 and 15, 2018, is among several great cycling events scheduled across Southern Oregon each year. Here are some to consider.
The Art of Survival Century - May 26-27
This annual event south of Klamath Falls, traditionally a one-day event for road cyclists, adds a second day this year for gravel grinders to get in on the fun. Five Art of Survival road routes start in Tulelake, Calif., and stretch north to Klamath Falls, Ore. Most routes are relatively flat with at least one big bump along the way. Riders cross Lava Beds National Monument and the region's many wildlife refuges.
Tour de Fronds - June 16
This is an opportunity to escape into the Southern Oregon forest. Tour de Fronds features five asphalt routes and two more that mix in some gravel along the way. Distances range from 30 to 103 miles. Rides begin in the community of Powers and extend south into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest before returning to town. Be sure to check the event website for important information about the remote rides including tire size recommendations.
Up and Down - July 21
The name of this event says it all. The two routes start with visually intimidating climbs up Highway 66 and end with exhilarating runs down Dead Indian Memorial Road. The 50-mile route follows the Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway while a new 96-miler adds a loop east before returning and rejoining the scenic bikeway.
Tour de Outback - Aug. 4
This ride, marking its second year in 2018, celebrates the Oregon Outback Scenic Bikeway. Five fully supported routes, including a free kids' ride, provide a variety of distances that top out with a 90-miles century circuit that follows scenic bikeway. Rides start and end in Lakeview.
Ride the Rim - Sept. 8 and 15
The Crater Lake ride offers some options. You can ride 25 miles and take advantage of a free shuttle or ride out and back from your vehicle parked at either North Junction or the Steel Visitor Center/park headquarters. Another option would be to complete a full lap around the lake with 33 miles and 3,800 feet in elevation gain. The extra eight miles on Rim Drive will include vehicle traffic. East Rim Drive is closed to vehicular traffic from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Organizers ask that riders register in advance even though the event is free. An admission fee into Crater Lake National Park still applies.