Cycle Oregon XXVI
2013: “Ridin’ the Range”
Day 0 – September 7: John Day
You may have noticed that the dates for Cycle Oregon are September 7-14, but the Day 1 route is for September 8. That’s because of the often-overlooked Day 0. This is Saturday, the day that riders converge on the first overnight site in John Day. It’s the day to pick up your packets, re-acquaint with riders and Cycle O folks, get your tent routine down and maybe even go for a spin to loosen your legs. Dinner is served in the big tent, and there will be live entertainment on the stage along with ride announcements.
Day 1 – September 8: John Day Loop (76 miles)
“Strawberries and Prairies”
Start from John Day for a loop that delivers a cornucopia of Oregon delights. Roll out in the shadows of the Strawberry Mountains… and then start climbing into them. After a stout 12-mile climb to nearly 6,000 feet elevation, glide on down – first to Summit Prairie and then to Logan Valley, two broad expanses rife with flora and fauna. After earning all this altitude, enjoy the reward of sinuous descents alongside streambeds, through historic Canyon City and back to camp.
Day 2 – September 9: John Day to Burns (71 miles)
You’re moving up in the world today. After an easy 10-mile warmup, head skyward on a classic alpine ascent, complete with panoramic views. Then drop down into Bear Valley, home of both Seneca and the coldest temperature ever recorded in Oregon (-56° F!). Soon after comes long, narrow and flat Silvies Valley. After a bit more gradual climbing, enjoy a spinnable descent through forest and then rimrock, on through to the highlands of Burns.
Day 3 – September 10: Burns to Diamond (63 miles)
“Birds in Paradise”
Today is a big-sky day. Head out of Burns and turn right to experience some straight-line riding, punctuated by the quick climb up the rock reef of Wright’s Point. Lunch is at Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters, a shady green oasis with fascinating wildlife exhibits. Back on the highway, split two lakes on a causeway through The Narrows. After one more short, sharp shock of a climb, roll through rocky canyons before turning off into the Diamond Valley for tonight’s camp.
Day 4 – September 11: Frenchglen Option (80 miles)
“In the Shadow of Steens”
After a pleasant backtrack to the main highway, turn south toward tiny, bucolic Frenchglen, meandering pleasantly along the base of Jackass Mountain on your way into town. Take on a wicked little climb just behind Frenchglen and then cruise out to remote Roaring Springs Ranch. For most of the day you’ll see the majestic slopes of Steens Mountain (it’s just one long mountain) to the east, rising to nearly 10,000 feet on the horizon.
Day 5 – September 12: Diamond to Crane (40 or 85 miles)
“Into the Great Wide Open”
Leaving the ranches of the Diamond Valley, head north and roll through the stark upheaval of the Diamond Craters; this is the main elevation change of the day. Enjoy the simple complexity of the Pete French Round Barn, and then get your Zen on for a peaceful afternoon of open-country riding as you tune in to the sights and sounds of the nature that teems around you. After lunch at a hot springs, opt for the shorter or longer road to Crane.
Day 6 – September 13: Crane to Seneca (74 miles)
“Turn it Up Again”
Start your day by bee-lining through the Harney Valley, before a quick jog on Highway 20 that involves a bit of climb. Then it’s back north for a tremendous glide down to Pine Creek; now you’re on the western edge of the Great Basin. Turn left at Wolf Creek for a long stretch of bike pushups: up, down, up, down, up, and finally a satisfying long down, to the Silvies Valley. The return to Seneca is mostly flat and nicely familiar, including the winding Silvies River canyon.
Day 7 – September 14: Seneca to John Day (56 miles)
After a prelude heading out of Seneca, turn onto an unknown gem: FS 21. Negotiate an easy climb, and then wallow in a sublime 7-mile drop through shady ponderosa groves, alongside cool streams, down to Murderers Creek. A bit later, start the serious climb of the day: about 5 miles, with a false summit to boot. When you reach Milepost 10, enjoy the long swoop down from the forest to the high desert and a flat 20 miles back to John Day.