Cycle Oregon XIV
Sept. 8-15, 2001—Prairie City to Prairie City
Day One: Prairie City to Seneca, 49.3 or 67.9 miles
Elevation start: 3,538
We saddle up in Prairie city, the rip-snortin’ cowboy town that guards the gate to the stunning Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Following streams that meander from forest glade to mountain meadow, we ride 51 miles to the sylvan oasis of Seneca, on the banks of the scenic Silvies River. There’s even a spectacular 20-mile, hill-climbing option for those who want to stretch their legs before settling into camp.
Day Two: Seneca to Crane, 73.9 miles
Elevation start: 4,666
From our campsite, on the golf course where the rough includes cows and coyotes, we ride 65 miles, first along the winding valley floor then climbing into the rolling hill country of the Malheur National Forest. After lunch at the brink of the postcard-perfect Drewsey Valley, we turn south toward Crane and our first glimpse of the vast, seamless beauty of the southeast Oregon desert.
Day Three: Crane to Diamond, 35.7 or 85.1 miles
Elevation start: 4,131
We bid farewell to our new friends at the Crane Boarding School, home to ranch kids from a 6,000-square-mile school district, and begin our approach to the magic and mystery of Steens Mountain. On our 55-mile ride to the signature outpost of Frenchglen, we visit the legendary round barn of the 19th-century cattle baron Pete French and the geological wonder of the Diamond Craters.
Day Four: Frenchglen Options, 0 or 78.3 miles
Elevation start: 4,163
From our base camp at the foot of the mountain, adventurers have the chance to ride shuttle vans to 9,000 feet and spend the day hiking the pristine trails around Fish Lake, Whorehouse Meadow and the breathtaking lookout over the immense Kiger Gorge. The stout-hearted will walk to the summit of the mountain for a view unmatched in the American West. Not much of a mountaineer? No problem. Linger in camp, birdwatch in the valley, or ride your bike out the deserted highway to the renowned Roaring Springs Ranch.
Day Five: Diamond to Burns, 64.9 miles
Elevation start: 4,163
Time again to mount up. Turning back north, we ride 30 miles to a lakeside lunch at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, the world renowned Pacific Flyway home for vast flocks of migratory and nesting birds. Then we cross the balance beam narrows between Harney and Malheur lakes and ride 30 more miles into Burns, the warm heart of Oregon’s wide open range.
Day Six: Burns to Izee, 52.3 or 72.2 miles
Elevation start: 4,157
Bidding farewell to the desert and its views with no end, we climb into the verdant glory of the Ochoco National Forest, a glorious landscape of juniper buttes and pine towers, of stately elk and soaring eagle, of thrusting rimrock and tumbling creeks. It’s 65 bucolic backwoods miles to Izee and a glorious Wild West welcome under a star-spangled sky.
Day Seven: Izee to Prairie City, 61.5 miles
Elevation start: 4,280
Get ready for the big 60-mile finish. We leave shaded forest for the open splendor of the Bear Valley, then enjoy a glorious descent to the banks of the John Day River. With one long, last look at the Strawberry Mountains, we close the loop by being welcomed back to our starting line in Prairie City.
Compiled & contributed by: www.CyclingSite.com