Oregon Bicycle Ride
August 9 – 16, 2014
Rolling through Time
Saturday, August 9
Registration: Spray School
Spray, a quintessential, small Eastern Oregon town is our start and finish. This town is known as the "home of the best small town rodeo in the west!" Spray has a school, a rodeo ground and access to the John Day River. It is the John Day River and its tributaries that dominate the geography of this year's tour.
Sunday, August 10
Campsite: Spray School & Rodeo Grounds
Total Elevation Gain: 4,840'
We start the week with a layover loop to Twickenham, considered a must do ride for many local cyclists. Heading down the John Day Highway, we follow the river to Service Creek and the beginning of the first climb. The road follows Service Creek up to the top and then turns to follow Rowe Creek back down to the John Day River. Don't expect to see any vehicles on the road to Twickenham – this area of Oregon is as remote as it is picturesque. After crossing the John Day River, the route follows Girds Creek up through some fantastic volcanic basalt formations that dominate the landscape. Topping out after our third climb, we bomb back down to Service Creek and follow the river back to our campsite in Spray.
Elevation Profile Day 1
Monday, August 11
Campsite: Heppner City Parks
Total Elevation Gain: 4,390'
Let's get the climbing out of the way right from the start. Kahler Road is a quiet back road that will keep us off the highway for the first few miles, but then the word highway doesn't adequately describe this or any stretch of the route – there are very few vehicles out here. Once again we are following a waterway, Kahler Creek, as we make our way past high desert landscapes and up into the trees that line the road to Bull Prairie Lake. This year's tour has some beautiful spots for rest stops and this one is a gem. Bull Prairie Lake is nestled in the tall pines and firs of the Blue Mountains and will invite riders for a delightful, cool swim before returning to the road. The second rest stop is in the ghost town of Hardman, which has had many names in the past including Dairyville and Raw Dog. Today, its residents (there are about 30 people in the area) still ranch and live quiet lives. Descend out of the forest, with beautiful views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams, as you ride into Heppner, a small town with big hospitality.
Elevation Profile Day 2
Tuesday, August 12
Campsite: Meadowbrook RV Park
Total Elevation Gain: 5,080'
Settled in 1887 by Irish immigrants, Heppner is the Gateway to the Blue Mountains. Today we will ride out using the southern section of the Blue Mountain Scenic Bikeway, following Willow Creek up into the tall trees of the Umatilla National Forest. Besides the breathtaking views of the Blue Mountains, the well-maintained roads with barely any vehicular traffic make this bikeway a cycling paradise. Our first rest stop is at Cutsford Farm Park and a well-earned rest after the long 20 mile climb from Heppner. After reaching the summit, the road descends into an ancient lake basin that - according to Indian legend - was permanently emptied by a "great rumbling" that happened "many moons ago." Here we enter the town of Ukiah for the second rest stop. Leaving this small hamlet, we turn south and wind our way along Camas Creek before finishing the day with a climb to our campsite at Meadowbrook Summit. For more information of the entire Blue Mountain Scenic Bikeway, including pictures and a short video, go to: http://rideoregonride.com/road-routes/blue-mountain-century-scenic-bikeway/
Elevation Profile Day 3
Wednesday, August 13
Campsite: DeWitt Depot & RV Park
Total Elevation Gain: 2,620'
The route today takes us up one of the few roads Bicycle Rides Northwest has not used on any tour in its 28 year history. First, we drop down to the Middle Fork of the John Day River and then follow its winding road up through the northern section of the Old West Scenic Bikeway. The Old West Scenic Bikeway offers a rich combination of ponderosa-pine forests, scenic rivers, abundant wildlife, fossil geology and sunshine. Watch out for cow pies and cattle guards on this day's ride, this is open range cattle country. What else would it be when riding in the Old West? After our last rest stop at Bates State Park, we climb up to Dixie Summit and a fantastic descent into the small community of Prairie City. Be sure to stop at the viewpoint on the way down for an outstanding panorama of the Strawberry Mountains, the huge geographic feature we will be riding around the next day. For more information on the Old West Scenic Bikeway go to: http://rideoregonride.com/road-routes/old-west-scenic-bikeway/
Elevation Profile Day 4
Thursday, August 14
Campsite: Grant County Fairgrounds
Total Elevation Gain: 3,130'
The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is our constant companion today. Besides the Strawberry Mountains, other geographic features have such interesting names as Starvation Rocks, Sheep Rocks, Butterfly Springs, Grouse Springs, Slide Mountain and Logan's Valley. With scenery so outstanding we won't even notice the first climb leaving Prairie City. Stop to refill your bottles with cold water right from the spring at Trout Farms while you enjoy a welcome respite at the pond. Continue to the first rest stop, at today's summit. The road then descends into the Logan Valley with its stunning views of the Strawberry Mountains. After passing a small section of forest that recently burned, the trees turn full and green once again when we take a forest service road to our destination in John Day. If you have the time, a stop just before John Day in the picturesque little town of Canyon City is well worth the time.
Elevation Profile Day 5
Friday, August 15
Campsite: Grant County Fairgrounds
Total Elevation Gain: 3,710'
The layover ride in John Day follows what locals call the Murderer's Creek Loop. The name is said to be derived from an attack on a small group of miners by Indians in 1862. The area is now known for its herds of wild horses, big horn sheep, and as a prime elk-hunting area. Much of the route is so remote that traffic is often non-existent. It starts in Ponderosa forest, opens to high desert meadows, follows a stunning creek valley, climbs back into forest with unique rock outcroppings, and returns to John Day along the ranchland of the John Day River valley. This is open range country again so expect several cattle guards to cross, but this is another "must do ride" in Eastern Oregon, well worth the effort.
Elevation Profile Day 6
Saturday, August 16
Lunch: Spray School & Rodeo Grounds
Total Elevation Gain: 640'
The last day we will follow the Old West Scenic Bikeway once again. We pass through the quiet little towns of Mt. Vernon and Dayville before cutting through a fantastic basalt rock canyon named Picture Gorge and onto the John Day Fossil Beds. The fossil beds are a national monument so you may want to stop at the excellent visitors' center to learn more about the incredible geology. Constructed in 2003, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is the best place to see fossils at the monument. Here, fossils from all three units of the park, as well as those from other federal lands in the area, are on display for visitors to see up close. Another interesting stop along the way is the James Cant Ranch. The original 700 acre ranch was purchased in 1910 and the buildings and surroundings remain just as they were when the Cant's lived there. After these two optional stops, our ride continues its descent, following the John Day River through more incredible rock formations and western ranches. We pass the town of Kimberly, well known for its fruit orchards and return where the week began in Spray. Note the ride profile for today – an easy, fun descent the entire way!
Elevation Profile Day 7
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