I won't go on at length ad nauseum about every little detail of this ride. I would love to say it was horrible, and no one should ever ride it; but only to keep it to myself. This 100 miler was one of the best times I have had on a bike. The organizer is to be credited with putting on a fine show. The course support and volunteers were top notch, great food, beautiful (if warm) weather, awesome small-crowd vibe (only 300 riders allowed by the park), and scenery that has to be experienced from a bike to appreciate. I have never cycled the Lake Rim Road, and after driving it and hiking around several trips, cycling was by far the best way to see the park.
In short; the 30 mile warm-up is a great spin through cow contry in the flat farmland below the climb to the rim. Slightly chilly but as soon as the sun was up the arm and knee warmers came off. Just as it started to get warm we hit the trees and blessed shade, and the climbing fun began. It's about 3500 vert ft to the rim road, but this is spread over around 20 miles or so, and no sections are steep enough to require any ridiculous effort. Think long and slugging it out instead of anearobic hell. Once you hit the rim the view, for those who haven't seen it before, is heart-stoppingly awesome.
The Rim Road winds 33 miles around the 7500 ft high lake and includes approx 3500 ft of total climbing in that time. Again, nothing that is seriously lung busting, but a hard and challenging climbing workout to be sure. We hit clouds of butterflies flitting across the road in great waves, which was a surprising but very special element of the ride. I think I ate a few and collected some with my bike frame, but most of them made it OK. The course support stops were every 20 miles, perfectly spaced on the hot cloudless day to provide badly needed liquids and foodage. The volunteers were beyond nice; like PBJ and banana laden angels they ministered to the weary and sun-drenched riders. I thanked as many as I could find, but send them all my hearty thanks for their wonderful attitudes and smiling support. Support included water, Gatorade, PBJs, fruit, Fritos, trail mix, and awesome baked goods. Everything you needed for this ride. Oh, and one not; without the course support this ride is quite difficult. There is only one place to get water on the Rim Road, so without doing the Century you just about have to do the Camelback Shuffle.
The descent down the mtn was sweet; think hitting 40+ mph for about 25 minutes before stopping to catch your breath in rare shady spots. A short loop up a small incline and then back to the main road found us finished in the 100 degree heat, but the completion tasted almost as good as the stellar BBQ from Wubba's at the end.
My heartfelt kudos to the organizers, volunteers, and fellow riders. I know I had a great time, and would recommend this century to anyone wanting to see some of Oregon's best scenery, especially if you are somewhat jaded by riding in huge crowds of cyclists with disparate experience levels. The 300 rider limit, the distance for most of us to the start, and the amount of climbing involved self-limit this ride to people with a commonality of fitness and experience.
Do it next year. You'll love it. Seriously.
My bike at the top:
On the 30 mile spin-up to the climb:
Me, still smiling at 50 miles in: