After a discouraging few months with lots of back problems and then getting sick on the Death Ride, I was ready for a good century. I'd done Crater Lake last year, and some friends were heading up to go camping there, so Lori and I decided to tag along. Other than mosquitoes (the Klamath basin is basically a giant marsh), the camping was fine, and we woke up cold and ready to ride.
At the start we saw JoBob and LeeBob. Jo's recovering nicely from her nasty spill back in the spring - it was really good to see her and her bike back out there. She was intending to ride up to the rim, which is a pretty remarkable recovery in a short time! We also saw Glen (gw 12), but figured we wouldn't see much of him once the ride started!
The start of the ride is 30 or so junk miles through empty farmland. Lots of cows, a few farms and not much else. Lori and I were warming up slowly (our friends decided to start a bit later) when Glen came by at 20+ mph. He slowed down (all the way down to 20) so we could hang on his wheel for a while, but neither Lori nor I felt up to that pace so we let him go.
The last couple of miles before you get into the trees and the obvious start of the climb are a subtle false flat. You are climbing a very gentle grade (my computer showed 1%), but it looks completely flat. Our speed started creeping down, and it gets kind of discouraging. Finally, into the trees and a sign for the park:
This is where the climbing gets more obvious. Still not steep - maybe a 3% grade overall, with a few sections getting up to 5%. Just grind it out for mile after mile. The road doesn't help as it's mostly just straight, and with a nice fresh layer of chip seal to boot. The chip seal looked really fresh, but there really wasn't much loose gravel around and not much fresh oil either. They did a great job of cleaning the road after laying down the fresh stuff! Here's Lori working her way up to the park entrance:
At the actual park entrance, a ranger is there making sure we all come to a complete stop at the stop sign (a point that was emphasized all day), and then an easy couple of miles before the final climb up to the rim. The climbing does get steeper through here, but it never gets stupid steep. My computer had the steepest climb at 7%, but it got that steep for some fairly long stretches. The climbs around the rim are actually the steepest parts - and a couple of those go on for a few miles. Once you are up on the rim, you lose any semblence to a shoulder or bike lane, and it was free national park weekend (no entry fees? who knew? a lot of folks apparently). Lots of traffic - much more than last year. Most were pretty good drivers though, and I only got one schmuck yelling at me to get off the road (he was a little surprised because we crested a hill just after that, and I promptly caught him on the descent).
The climb to the rim is worth it, because the views are spectacular:
The ride around the rim is all climbing and descending - nothing flat. As I said before, the steepest parts of the ride are around the rim, but it is never stupid steep. More than half of the climbing is in the part around the rim, and the rest is the climb up, so you get pretty much all 6,500 feet of climbing crammed into a 45 mile stretch - that's the only thing that makes this ride challenging. The altitude isn't bad - you start at about 4,000 feet and get up close to 8,000 at the hightest point. Even silly old cars were able to deal with it - we saw a group (herd? gaggle?) of Nash Metropolitans cruising around the rim amongst the muscle cars, RV's and motorcycles:
And the views were spectacular all around the lake:
After the rim ride, you get to descend that long gradual climb back to the Klamath basin. Even with the fresh chip seal, it was effortless to cruise along at 35 + mph. I'd taken some air out of my front tire to deal with the chip seal, but others did complain about the buzz coming up through their handlebars. Then onto that false flat (it's great to effortlessly ride at 22 - 23 mph on a section of road that looks flat!) and the final flat miles to the museum. There was a post-ride BBQ that was really excellent (especially the homemade BBQ sauce and homemade icecream - strawberry and peach!). Here's JoBob, Melissa, Amy and Glen (and a few others I just met and can't remember their names):
Overall, it was a nice relaxing bike ride with just enough climbing. My stats: 105 miles, 8 hours 6 minutes riding time, 9 hours 22 minutes total time, 6,426 feet of climbing.