The McKenzie River Trail

August 13, 2014
Hey guys, sorry for the slowness. I have all the excuses in the world, but no one really wants to hear them, right??
So for a post on happenings in America. I feel like writing about what a beautiful place the McKenzie River is. We put off/didn’t have time to do the McKenzie River Trail (MRT) in past trips to Oregon. It’s just a bit out of the way if staying in Bend, and being advertised as a 25 mile cross country ride- we were always kind of skeptical. In the scheme of Oregon, it’s here:

We stayed at the McKenzie River Mountain Resort (a “resort” it is not)… and I’m on the fence about whether I can recommend it to you or not…
We had a real stoney kid check us in. He neither told us where our room actually was, nor where to meet the shuttle in the morning. (“Oh, you want a shuttle? -pause- Ok. -pause-…. You’re on it.”) One would assume said shuttle left from the lodge since McStoney didn’t offer any other advice on locations. Once we found our room (“the one in the corner”. It was not in a corner.) we settled in and looked for somewhere to eat.
We assumed Stoney Steve would at least have an idea of where to eat (obviously) but no. He basically told us that he thought the townships in these parts were small, we would be unlikely to find anything to eat at this hour (7:30pm). We went back to our room a bit discouraged, but mostly confused, and flipped through the check-in book on the table. Whaddya know?! There’s restaurant recommendations in the book in his hotel.
So in the morning we were ready and waiting for the bike shuttle at 9:30am as “arranged” with the Stone Man. No shuttle. Still no shuttle. We rang and knocked at reception and woke him up, much to his surprise- because why weren’t we at the shuttle pick up?!?! 15 minutes up the road, past the rangers station?!
Seriously?
Anyways, we got there (it was not past the ranger’s station) and the other chap involved in the service didn’t seem that shocked about the mix up. Stoney Steve strikes again.
I’d like to note that the room was clean, quiet and comfortable, and sort of a bargain at $90. I was happy with it until I found out there was a nice little family owned hotel right near the shuttle pick up for $70.
So we saddled up and got on the trail.

The first hour was full of flat, flow-y pedaling and views like these. It wasn’t the least bit technical, so I think we were a bit skeptical about the difficulty rating of the trail. But it was stunning, and frankly I needed a rest day.

We had ridden 9 days straight up to this point. And not just little meandering bike rides. We had just done 25,000 feet of descending in Oakridge over the last 2 days, and the 4 days before that we rode non-stop in Ashland, including a race. I was happy to be going into a somewhat restful ride.

Scenic too.

Not long before this first waterfall (above) the terrain starting turning rocky. Like, lava rocky. And then it was all lava rock with no dirt at all!

For those of you who haven’t hiked/biked on lava rock, it’s like gently lurching over hurdles, each of which is an individual cheese grater just waiting for unsuspecting skin to touch it. Like riding over a pit of alligators, with razor teeth.

Ok, no pictures are going to do this lava any justice.

The lava must be like a obstacle (think Indiana Jones) guarding the majestic Blue Pool… and if you are daring or stupid enough to make it through, you are rewarded with this amazing view:

Absolutely no photoshop/enhancing, etc. here.

For perspective, in the top/middle of the picture are 3 people standing on the edge of the pool. It’s not tiny- we’re just very high above it and it is that crystal clear. Pretty amazing, eh?

By this point we were about 1/3 of the way through the ride but I had used up 98% of the combinations of all swear words I have stored in my head (the lava was getting to me). We sort of pushed through without many photo ops for another couple of hours, until reaching the more Oregon-esque portion of the trail:

I should sell this as a post card.

My mood lifted a bit when we reached this loamy, beautiful forested track- which carried on another 10 miles or so. In the end, my legs were numb, my butt number, and I was the hungriest I’ve ever been, ever. It took us just under 5 hours to do 25 miles, which I thought was slow but turns out we were the first of the group back to the parking lot. It was at this point in the trip that I realized how much tougher I had become as a cyclist.

And it was a mere 24 hours later that I did my 10th daily ride and I cracked.

This photo from before I knew I’d have to get back on the bike again tomorrow.

More on all that later, maybe. I highly recommend the McKenzie River Trail to all you bike folk out there!

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