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  1. #1
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    Planning Club tour from Bend, OR. Looking for local knowledge.

    I'm part of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club in the wine country just north of San Francisco. We do a couple of club tours each year and I'm thinking of leading one out of Bend in May/June '15. We hope to leave from Bend and do a counter-clockwise loop through Sisters, McKenzie Pass to Oakridge and along Hwy 58 to work our way back to Bend.

    The anticipated route is at Central Oregon Tour (click on "Show All on Map" button to show the entire route). It's a 5 day tour, fully supported, camping, road bikes.

    Part of the plan is to catch McKenzie Pass during the Bikes only period which ODOT says is ending June 1 in 2015 which pushes us into the last week in May.

    I'm hoping that someone with a local knowledge of roads in the area can comment on the feasability of this route. I'm particularly worried about Hwy 58, are there any alternatives to it, FS 21 perhaps? Is May/June too early in the season? Should we go clockwise instead?

  2. #2
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    Hwy 58 is a non-starter for me and many others. Also, don't count on a June 1st ride over McKenzie pass unless you're willing to ride over some deep snow. I don't think the plow typically gets all the way over until a bit after that date. The bike-only period is kind of short, usually around ten days IIRC, so it's kind of hard to plan a group ride banking on the pass being plowed by any given date. (One lane is plowed, then the road is opened to motorists after enough of the snow has melted to be deemed safe.)

    If you want to do some climbing in late spring, why not take on the Lost Coast? If you're up for some unpaved, the 24 miles of Usul plus the ten or so of Chemise Mountain Rd to Shelter Cove is a nice start from Ft. Bragg. Then head over Wilder Ridge the next day and then turn out and over to the Avenue of the Giants. Cruise back over through Honeydew and then do the Wall and drop down into Ferndale and on back to the Avenue. Day five could be a return to Ft. Bragg via the Leggett Hill. It's all steeper than what we have here, but it's also lower elevation, much lower traffic and closer to your home to boot. If this would interest you and you want it mapped out, let me know and I'll do it for you.

  3. #3
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    Late May/June and the snow "might" be melted enough.
    As CarFree said Mckenzie pass "might" be plowed and melted.
    The Aufdeheide from Hway 126 to Oakridge "might" be melted ( it's not plowed ).
    And Hwy 58 is a major truck freight route. Going east you WILL be riding uphill, on the shoulder, single file, next to slow moving trucks. ( Taking the lane would be suicidal ). Going west ( clockwise ) would be better, not good, but better.
    FS Road 21 turns to gravel, and the connection between it and 58 via Summit lake is a rough/non-maintained dirt/pumice road, with snow drifts as late as July.
    Last edited by choteau; 11-01-14 at 09:50 AM.

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    Hi @archdrake - Quick note to say welcome to BF!
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    I took a bus over Rte. 58 to get to the start of Cycle Oregon a few years ago. I would not want to bike it, especially east as noted.

    Aufderheide and McKenzie Passes are great rides. I would wait to make sure you can do them.

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    Thank you all so much for your input. Not what I wanted the hear, but..

    While the time or year and the portion on the route on Hwy 58 make this problematic, I'm not quite ready to give up on the concept. If we were to shift the schedule to early August we'd take care of the snow issues.

    That leaves us with Hwy 58. Choteau indicated that FS 21 is not paved around Summit Lake. OK, but is it rideable on road bikes? It looks as if about 13 miles of it is unpaved and that we climb about 2200 ft in the first 6 miles of the unpaved section. Not ideal, but would it be an "adventure" or a long walk? We like adventures!

    Of course if this does not work out we may have to take Carfree up on the Lost Coast plan!

  7. #7
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    Here's the historical closing and opening dates for McKenzie Pass. I believe ODOT made a decision last year to never open the gates before the 3rd Monday in June so bicyclists could at least count on the gates staying closed until then. I'ts not supposed to be much of a snow year this year. If you could wait until February or early March to set a date, you should have a better idea of when it will be open.

    I concur that riding Hwy 58 from east to west would much more pleasant. I'd also suggest you ride the around Mt Batchelor. That climb up to Bachelor is a doozy, but the scenery is magnificent. (The route you have marked between the Inn at Seventh Mountain and Sunriver is gravel BTW).

    I wouldn't recommend FS 21 to Summit Lake on road bikes. Cross bikes with wide tires maybe.(Read paragraph no. 3 on the link)
    Last edited by mtnbud; 11-01-14 at 10:35 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by archdrake View Post
    Thank you all so much for your input. Not what I wanted the hear, but..

    While the time or year and the portion on the route on Hwy 58 make this problematic, I'm not quite ready to give up on the concept. If we were to shift the schedule to early August we'd take care of the snow issues.

    That leaves us with Hwy 58. Choteau indicated that FS 21 is not paved around Summit Lake. OK, but is it rideable on road bikes? It looks as if about 13 miles of it is unpaved and that we climb about 2200 ft in the first 6 miles of the unpaved section. Not ideal, but would it be an "adventure" or a long walk? We like adventures!

    Of course if this does not work out we may have to take Carfree up on the Lost Coast plan!
    Or I could give you some fun loops in the coast range west of Eugene, particularly if you don't mind a bit of camping (services can be somewhat sparse where there aren't any people). It won't have as much climbing as the Cascades and will be near sea-level, but you get to climb out of various watersheds and enjoy some very low-traffic roads along nice rivers and a bit of actual coast line (not that you can't do all of the above back home, except for the many miles of very low traffic). As always around here, there'll be a tiny bit of gravel, but it's imminently rideable on a road bike, even with 23's. I can put together a five-day loop starting and ending in Cottage Grove that has comparable miles and efforts to what you have plotted out.

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    mtnbud - thanks, great info. It looks as if the McKenzie pass situation is in flux. I contacted the ODOT information office and got the reply "We’re instituting a policy to open the pass to vehicles no later than the first Monday in June….but I don’t know when it will be open to cyclists before that. Check back next spring.".

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    Carfree - thanks for the generous offer, very tempting. Let me check with my cohorts and I'll get back to you.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Or I could give you some fun loops in the coast range west of Eugene, particularly if you don't mind a bit of camping (services can be somewhat sparse where there aren't any people). It won't have as much climbing as the Cascades and will be near sea-level, but you get to climb out of various watersheds and enjoy some very low-traffic roads along nice rivers and a bit of actual coast line (not that you can't do all of the above back home, except for the many miles of very low traffic). As always around here, there'll be a tiny bit of gravel, but it's imminently rideable on a road bike, even with 23's. I can put together a five-day loop starting and ending in Cottage Grove that has comparable miles and efforts to what you have plotted out.
    You offered to put together a Eugene based trip for us and I'd like to take you up on the offer.


    A little about our tours. We'd plan to leave Santa Rosa earlyish on a Saturday morning and drive to Eugene for a motel for the night. There will be 40 people (max) on the tour.


    We'll have four tour vehicles, two rental trucks, one with baggage and the other with food and cooking equipment, and two 12 passenger vans with bike racks to carry riders to and from the start/finish. The overflow passengers will be in private cars, the cars get left at the hotel.


    On Sunday morning we'd take off on stage 1 of the tour and head for the first campground. The vans will operate as SAG vehicles and the trucks will go straight to the first campground. We carry all our own food, do all our own cooking. We'd prefer campgrounds with water and showers but often use dry camps where we carry our own water and portable showers. We follow this routine for the rest of the tour and (preferably) return to where we started. That would put us back in Eugene Friday night with a drive home on Saturday. We could also drive home on Sunday which would give us a 6 day tour which is fine if the route calls for it.


    It would be great if you could suggest a general route for us. I can then locate campgrounds and apply it all to the RideWithGPS mapping tool. I can then share the results with you and make sure I got it right and then fiddle with the details and finalize it.


    Does this work for you?


    I'm new to Bike Forums and am not familiar with the protocol. Should this sort of discussion be held on the Forum or are we better off doing it off line? Either way is fine with me, just don't want to bore others with the details !

  12. #12
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I've ridden highway 58, it's not that bad and has a generous shoulder and a wild hot spring along the way. Like so many roads, timing your ride is the key here. Over night in Oakridge and get an early start and it's not that bad. You guys are from California, should be use to a bit of traffic. There is a nice public campground in Oakridge, then you can start from there. It get's a fair amount of truck traffic, but they go pretty slow as they get toward the top. I wouldn't discourage you from riding that section of your route, just time it right, it's light early in the morning those dates. You guys are good riders, complete your loop and enjoy beautiful Oregon.

    As far as McKenzie Pass, it's foolish to give an opening date of June 1 in November. It all depends on the depth of the snow pack in APRIL. If the snow pack is light like last year, they will have bikes only riding in early May. Last year was a light snow year and car gates did not open until June 16. *** Even if car gates are open it's a great ride with low traffic***, and during week days it's as good as when gates are closed. Trucks are always prohibited from this road, so really no traffic problems here.
    Last edited by Shifty; 11-03-14 at 05:12 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by archdrake View Post
    It would be great if you could suggest a general route for us. I can then locate campgrounds and apply it all to the RideWithGPS mapping tool. I can then share the results with you and make sure I got it right and then fiddle with the details and finalize it.


    Does this work for you?


    I'm new to Bike Forums and am not familiar with the protocol. Should this sort of discussion be held on the Forum or are we better off doing it off line? Either way is fine with me, just don't want to bore others with the details !
    For the route I'm going to give you, it will probably be best for me to just create it with RidewithGPS and post the links here. You, and others, can then comment on it and make whatever adjustments seem best.

    If others are bored by the details, they can just skip over this thread. I suspect there are a few folks who have been looking to explore some of these roads but wondered about the conditions; not all of the roads shown on Google actually exist, not all that exist are shown and it's nice to know which ones are paved.

  14. #14
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    With the fleet of vehicles that you are planning, your original plan is much better.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  15. #15
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    Okay, here's a first go at a five day loop. The first day is a bit longer and has much more climbing than the original plan up in the Cascades, but you'll be at sea level (more oxygen) and I didn't want you to miss out on Upper Smith River Rd as it's one of the best roads to cycle on that I know of. (This day can get a bit shorter by starting in Cottage Grove if that's better for you.) I'll note any issues with a given day below the link.

    One thing to bear in mind is that cell phones don't work once you leave Lorane (and I'm not sure about there) until you get to Mapleton. They stop working again on the way home from just a wee ways up Smith River Rd until you get to near Crow Rd. If intra-group communication is desired, either get ham radios or sat. phones.

    Day 1: Eugene to Clay Creek
    SRDay1AEugenetoClayCr - A bike ride in Eugene, OR

    I'm assuming you're staying at the Hyatt. That's not an endorsement (I don't know anything about the hotels in Eugene). It is simply a large centrally located hotel. There's lots of different routes out to Lorane Hwy and most of them are great on a Sunday morning. Do start early so that you can finish that five mile stretch on Territorial before traffic picks up. If people are feeling weary after driving in the previous day, riders can skip the best part (from Buck Creek down Upper Smith River Rd) by not turning at Buck Creek Rd and just picking up the route eight miles later at the junction of Oxbow Rd and Siuslaw River Rd. That short-cut substitutes one smaller climb for two larger and is about forty miles shorter.

    Clay Creek Campground doesn't have showers, but it does have both a river and a creek to swim in. There are pit toilets and potable water. Here's the BLM brochure: http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recr...Clay_Creek.pdf

    One thing to bear in mind throughout the days along the Smith and Siuslaw Rivers is the presence of bears and cougars. If you find a bear on the road as you ride along, yell at him/her. The hunters have trained them to fear humans and it seems like they aren't sure what you are until you speak. They aren't dangerous, but are just an inconvenience at times. You aren't likely to see the cougars, but don't leave small children or pets unattended.

    Day 2: Clay Creek to Clay Creek
    SRDay2AClayCrtoClayCr - A bike ride in Lane County, OR
    or, for the animals, a trip over Roman Nose: SRDay2BClayCrtoClayCr - A bike ride in

    Two choices of loops here. The first one is about spot on with your average days on the Cascades trip you had planned both in terms of length and elevation gains. Since it's a loop that both starts and finishes at the same campground, anyone who feels a need for a rest day can do so without hitching along with the sags. The only road issue here is a rather large and deep hole in the pavement as you start down West Fork Smith River Rd. Of course it's located exactly where one would be riding right after one starts to get some speed, so be wary over the top of that climb. The overhanging trees make the hole difficult to see which is why I mention it.

    For those who desire a bit more climbing, the second choice goes over Roman Nose (cell phones actually work near the top). About two-thirds of the way down there's a couple hundred meter long stretch of large gravel (I often walk it since it's a long way home for me if I slash both tires). Fortunately, the gravel is on a flat stretch so no one will hit it at speed. This loop joins the other loop at the top of Esmonds Creek/West Fork Smith River Rd.

    If Roman Nose was enough (or too much), one can take the short way home by reversing the route taken by the other riders. In other words, one can make a short but hilly day of it by turning back towards Siuslaw River Rd at the bottom of Esmonds Roman Tie Rd (a left turn). Six miles later, one encounters Siuslaw River Rd; simply turn right and go upstream for six miles to the camp.

    Of course, being loops, any of these can be ridden in reverse.

    Day 3: Clay Creek to Winchester Bay

    SRDay3ClayCrtoWinchesterBay - A bike ride in Lane County, OR

    Here's another long day, but it has a lot less climbing than day one and you should have tailwinds the whole way down the coast. If we get a late-spring storm event, which will bring headwinds as you go down the coast, you may consider taking two days here and stretch the ride into the following Saturday. There's a campground just south of Florence with free showers (Honeyman) and the Umpqua lighthouse campground where I end the day also has free showers. Some of these campgrounds also have Yurts, but they must be reserved and are quite popular. The lighthouse campground also has cabins.

    Early in the day there is a bit of gravel. After you ride over the Wildcat covered bridge at the end of Siuslaw River Rd (sixteen miles from Clay Creek) there's about three miles of gravel. Once on Stage Coach Rd, there's about seven miles of gravel that ends a mile or so before hwy 36. It's all very rideable on a road bike. The gate between the covered bridge and Stage Coach Rd may be closed. If it is, the sags can just go back out to hwy 126 and turn onto Stage Coach from there.

    If we do get a storm event, you could change this day and ride down Smith River Rd to hwy 101 and then go north to Honeyman. then day four would be the reverse of what is plotted or just reverse what you just did. Clear as mud, right?

    Day 4: Winchester Bay to Clay Creek

    SRDay4WinchestertoClayCr - A bike ride in Douglas County, OR

    By now Clay Creek must feel like home. Just follow your nose back north on hwy 101 to Smith River Rd, then to W. Fork Smith River Rd (not North Fork, that goes somewhere else), climb over to Esmonds Creek and back to Siuslaw River Rd.

    Day 5: Clay Creek to Eugene

    SRDay5ClayCrtoEugene - A bike ride in Lane County, OR

    Since this will be Friday, unless you stretched things out a day, try to get a reasonably early start. Ideally, you will get to Crow Rd between 9:00 and 10:00 AM for the lightest traffic. There's loads of ways back to town. I just picked one I like. You can continue in on Crow Rd, but be advised that the shoulder after Pine Grove Rd has lots of wheel-eating cracks that necessitate taking the lane (hence my desire to ride it at low-traffic times). You can also ride Lorane Hwy on in instead of going up McBeth Rd. It has no shoulder and a bit of winding, but many people make this a regular part of their rides. McBeth also has no shoulder and a bit of winding uphill, but very little traffic, especially early in the day.

    If people are into covered bridges, there's one just a mile or so down Coyote Creek Rd (at the bottom of Wolf Creek Rd, just before Territorial).

    While I put you at Clay Creek several times, you can camp just about anywhere along the Siuslaw River. There is another campground about two miles from hwy 126 (Whiteaker Creek), but BLM closed it last year and I'm not sure what its status is. Of course, you could make day two a ride to Honeyman and then make the short ride to Umpqua Lighthouse on day three in order to minimize the days without formal showers.

    When all's said and done for the day/week, cruise on down to the Whiteaker area and give one or more of the breweries a go (if you're into that sort of thing). Just don't bring a nice bike anywhere in town unless you're sure you can see it; we have a larger than normal theft problem.

    Let me know what you find bad about the route and I'll see what I can come up with. Maybe Shifty or some other Eugene local will chime in as well. He knows the coast north of Reedsport much better than I do and may have some input about that.

  16. #16
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    All I would say is that Archdrake would be well advised to come up and drive this Coast Range route before committing to bringing his group. This may or may not be what they are interested in, it's mostly very remote.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    Thank you all for your extraordinarily generous comments and suggestions.

    And a special word of thanks to Carfree for all the effort you put into the Coastal Range trip. There is a lot to chew on here, it will take a few days to work through it.

    Mtnbud - thanks for your message, I'd like to respond directly but I don't have enough posts on the Forum to earn the private message privilege.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    All I would say is that Archdrake would be well advised to come up and drive this Coast Range route before committing to bringing his group. This may or may not be what they are interested in, it's mostly very remote.
    You say remote like it's a bad thing.

    Actually, a big chunk of the route is my old commute from Stage Coach Rd into Eugene that I did by bike when I lived there. It seems odd to think of my bike commute as too far away from services for people to ride with a full sag.

    In recent years, the Oregon Gran Fondo and CycleOregon have used large portions of this route, so it's not exactly untested. Also, people in the bike touring world have finally begun to recognize that the Smith River route to the coast is vastly superior to the one recommended by ACA. I regularly see tourists heading up Oxbow as I return to town. In fact, we met a dozen people on a commercial tour, fully sagged, at Oxbow summit last fall while riding the Duncan Ride.

    So yes, the O&C lands in our coast hills can be considered remote in the sense that there aren't any services. However, it's a great place to ride that is only now being discovered and appreciated. I've ridden self-supported double centuries there and not had a car overtake me for the first 150 miles (although I did see a couple going the other way). Personally, I much prefer that level of traffic to what others will tolerate in more popular places. To each his own.

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