So for the past 5 years or so, I've drooled over pictures of Crater Lake in southern Oregon. When we first decided to move out this way a few years ago, one of the first ideas that popped into my head was "oh yay! We can ride the Crater Lake Century!". The first year we were here, we were just moving into our house on the farm. We had just purchased a goat and we desparately needed to build a fence and shelter...and of course, milk her. Travelling 6+ hours away for a bike ride was impossible.
The second summer we were here, we actually signed up for the ride. We still had a goat in milk, chickens laying eggs and a garden that was difficult to manage. In addition, we were out of shape and overweight and both of us were working too many hours at our day jobs. We had to cancel.
THIS year, I was determined that we would go. I was so excited that I signed up right away (as evidenced by our bib numbers - 35 and 36!) and began making plans to do the ride. I stalled on breeding our first Nigerian Dwarf goat so that she wouldn't give birth until AFTER the ride. I was already training for triathlons, so I felt that I'd be in shape if we could manage a couple of longer rides. I found a girl to watch our farm (and with no goats currently in milk, it worked out) through a web site I frequent. We were really going to do it this time!
And we did. And boy, what a great ride it was! It was well supported, well organized and worth the 6+ hour drive. The weather was gorgeous (if a tad windy) and the route was challenging but satisfiying. And of course, the lake was spectacular.
We started as late as we dared (start time was 6:30 to 8:30 am at our leisure) so that the air could warm up a bit. We headed out of the parking lot in Fort Klamath at about 8 am. We were registered for the century ride, but we had no intention of actually riding 100 miles just to say we rode 100 miles. We wanted to ride to the lake! So we skipped the 18+ mile tour of the valley floor and headed strait up the road that went to the lake. We climbed in the forest and while it didn't look all that steep, it was a pretty good incline. In addition, Ft Klamath was at 4200ft so to us flat-landers, it was a challenge.
We made it up to the rim and then turned left on to Rim Drive West (while the metric century riders turned right). This is where the climbing got difficult. It was steep. I was in my 'granny gear' and working hard to keep the pedals turning. It was also pretty hot as this part of the climb was in the sun and sheltered from the wind. But we plodded along and finally made it up the rim and FINALLY got the views. Spectacular!
The ride continued in a clock-wise direction around the lake with plenty more climbing to be had. Spectacular views dotted the route both towards the lake and out towards the south as well.
Everytime I started thinking 'hmmm, I'm hungry' a rest stop came along. They were remarkably well placed and very well stocked. A handlful of grapes, a homemade cookie, a small subway sandwich, some water and we were on our way again.
There were a couple of spots where I felt pretty discouraged. It was hard to look down at my computer, realize we still had 40 miles to go and then figure that since we were only going 6 mph, that we'd be out there FOREVER. Luckily, there were a few downhills as well. By the time the last descent came our way (about mile 60), I was ready for it. My legs were done, my rear was killing me from the saddle and my shoulders hurt from riding in the drops so much to fight the wind. We FLEW down the mountain and back into Fort Klamath not a moment too soon as far as my rear end was concerned. Total distance: 78+ miles. Total climbing: 7500+ miles Average speed: ~13 mph (better than I expected!).
See the way the water is blowing in the wind? It was worse up on the rim - we almost bit it a few times due to super strong cross-winds.
We enjoyed the provided pulled pork sandwiches and baked beans and then headed back to the hotel for a nice hot shower and a nap. I'm so glad we finally got to do this ride.