My Route

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Day 76: Saturday, 15th September. Destination: Harbick’s Country Inn, McKenzie Bridge, Oregon

Well Sisters was lovely, with a holiday/outdoors feel about it. I had a great cooked breakfast in a tourist café wishing I'd managed to stay there last night. Still, it cheered my spirits up. The route from Redmond had afforded spectacular (and slightly scary) views of the Cascades ahead, but once again the scenery was changing with big pine woods leading the way out of town. I had some apprehension about today: the 2nd last of my last 4 passes, the McKenzie (my route through the Cascades), being not only the highest (at 5,324ft) but also host to the final day of Cycle Oregon's annual ride. I was to be joined by 2,000 other cyclists over the pass - going the wrong way! I had visions of a torrent of cyclists bearing down on me as I struggled upwards. As it turned out, it was a day of cheery waving and smiling, and at the top of the pass I joined 100's of other cyclists guzzling free drinks and food, and looking at the view.

And what a view. McKenzie pass is close to Mount Washington, and even closer to Belknap Crater. The whole mountaintop area is a sea of black, solidified magma. But what's astounding is that you don't really see it coming: one second you're cycling through dense pine forest, the next, nothing but lava. The descent was fabulous: 3,500ft of steep, winding hairpins through tall pines, sunlight making it's way though the branches to dapple the shaded road. So chilly I had to put my windproof jacket on. Plenty of moments when I had to think, very quickly, "I need to break NOW!" before hurtling towards another sudden bend. Ah, it's all good.

Down the valley a bit further and here I am at McKenzie Bridge, with 500ft yet to descent before arriving in Eugene tomorrow. Only two more days of cycling left... I really don't know if I'm glad to have made it so far, or totally distraught that it's about to be over.