|McKenzie Highway, AKA Highway 242|
But between the snow melt and the official re-opening for cars, a magical thing happens:
|Still no cars...|
The early part of the ride is actually not closed to cars, but traffic is minimal. After a short 11 mile jaunt you reach the gate, which is where the real magic begins.
|Beyond this gate, the lane is yours.|
As you approach the top of the climb, the landscape changes dramatically, with open views of The Three Sisters, along with a bunch of other mountains I don't know the names of.
There's an observatory of sorts as well, built into the rock
|View from inside the observatory|
It's a nice steady grade, never exceeding 6%, so nothing to write home about. But of course a 3500 foot climb means a 3500 foot descent.
A funny thing happened on the way back. I was hammering along a long flat section at about 24MPH, feeling pretty good. Nobody's going to pass me here! And then a guy passes me. On a mountain bike. On knobby tires. Pulling a few fit young road-racers behind him. Once the road turned downward, I retook the lead.
Now I'm not going to brag about my descending, but it's generally pretty good. (wait, did I just brag?) However after the ~10 minute winding 2000 foot drop back down to the gate, mountain-bike-man was only about 45 seconds back, still pulling his posse. Remarkable. I don't know my pro-mountain-bikers from my pro-lacrosse-players, but given the close proximity to Bend I'm willing to bet that this guy was a pro.
|Back to the gate|