Cycle Oregon 2009 – part 1

This year’s route was:

Medford, OR to Yreka, CA 66 miles 5,450′
Yreka to Happy Camp 74 miles 2,600′
Happy Camp to Lake Selmac, OR 54 miles 5,200′
Lake Selmac to Glendale 71 miles 4,192′
Glendale to Grants Pass 77 miles 3,900′
Grants Pass loop 43 miles 2,900′
Grants Pass to Medford 42 miles 2,900′

Day 1 – Medford, OR to Yreka, CA:


  • The ascent up the Siskiyous.  I have come to enjoy these slow, steady grinds uphill:

Siskiyou summit


  • Taking the shoulder of I-5 to the Agricultural Inspection Station.  Gusty winds, cars whizzing by, lane divots, and differently-skilled cyclists made it very unpleasant.

One of the rare places where I could slow down, pull over and look sideways.

  • Stimulus Package Road.  It was bad enough with 28C tires, I can’t imagine how people with 10-spoke wheels wrapped around skinny, 700x19C tires didn’t incur damage to male parts.


  • Omnidirectional headwinds the remainder of the day.   At least it seemed  that way.  It was a pretty route, though.  Hasta be Shasta:
  • Mt. Shasta view

  • Being unable to hydrate.<tmi>
    Usually the first sign of dehydration is yellowish pee.  “No problem,” I thought, “Cycle Oregon has plenty of Gleukos and water.”  At each stop, I topped  off the 100-ounce  bladder of my Camelbak.   I figure I consumed about half the container.  However, symptoms of further dehydration continued – darker pee, not being able to go at all, and headaches.  My body wasn’t processing anything!I should have sagged it when the leg cramps started, first in my right calf, then in the big kahuna of muscles on my left side.   Perhaps not thinking clearly, I’d stop, massage the cramp out, drink some more, and continue on.  Stubborn, I am.

    Yreka looked like a nice place, but I was so wiped, I just wanted to get to bed.  After putting my bike away, my body went “neener neener” and all that liquid I’d consumed during the afternoon was being processed.  All.

Yreka mural

Day 2 – Yreka, CA to Happy Camp, CA – A much better day!


  • Non-daylight riding can be very peaceful! I started just before sunrise, taking it slow and easy.

Sunrise in Yreka

  • I was feeling good enough to stop and pick up the geocaches along the way.  At the big rest stop, I took a side trip up a big hill to take a photo of the activity.   This gives you a sense of the scale of the “moving city” that’s Cycle  Oregon.
  • Finding an alternate route.
    View of the rest stop
    The size and logistics today left only one practical road to take.  Getting passed by hundreds of cyclists and support vehicles was distracting from my enjoyment of the scenery.  With some fiddling around with my GPS maps, I discovered the road on the other side of the river would, eventually, get me to the same place.   I crossed the Klamath river…

    Klamath river

    Enjoyed exploring rickety bridges:

    Horse Creek bridge

    And appreciated being in the shade once  the sun came out in full force:

    Road less traveled

  • Bigfoot.  The main attraction in downtown Happy Camp is the ginormous, camera-loving man-beast.
  • A safe distance from bigfoot.
    Starry Nights.  Oh.  My.  God.   With no light pollution for miles, and lacking tree cover, we were treated to an outstanding view of the  night sky.


  • Disappointment that Happy Camp didn’t offer post cards – give me Bigfoot or Steelhead or Bigfoot feasting on Steelhead or, more interesting, Steelhead feasting on Bigfoot.

(St)Eelhead Capital of the world!

Day 3: Happy Camp, CA to Lake Selmac, OR – Though Day 2 went well, I was  still a little leery of The Hill ahead.


  • Getting a photo of His Bigfootedness trying to find a good cup of coffee so early in the morning.
  • Sasquatch hasn't had his morning coffee yet

  • Awesome climb – we took a narrow, unplowed-in-the-winter forest road.  I feel a little sorry for the logistics folks, as they had to drive the big rigs around back to Yreka then Medford then over to Lake Selmac.  While climbing, I was totally in the zone, actually passing other cyclists on the uphill.  Oh, my!
  • Drums at the top of the climb.  Don’t know whose idea this was, but it was awesome.  You can hear a small snippet of them at the end of this video clip.   Having my legs following the tempo helped on that last part.
  • Lunch stop at the Bridgeview Winery – I’m not a wine person, but I enjoyed the location.
  • Bridgeview Winery

  • Walking up that 22% grade. I admit it, I saw this labeled as “@#!” on the map and just hiked up the short segment… as did a lot of other people who “rode up it.”  I felt fine on the subsequent 8-12% grades.

    OMG steep hill

  • Lake Selmac – this was my favorite overnight of the whole trip because the community seemed to work so well.  They had delicious fund-raiser consumables like a Polish sausage with sauerkraut and gourmet pastries.  (In case I needed an excuse to undo the inadvertent health benefits of cycling!) Additionally, there were a lot of artists and displays.


    As with other places, the local sports team teen male daredevils shuttled luggage for tips.  When luggage was shuttled, they impressed  female daredevils with buggy-handling skills.  Ah, youth.  Shotgun!
    A typical scene


  • I was  a little bummed, though not surprised, the summit and CA/OR border were unmarked.  Someone painted  a neon line, though you can certainly tell by the change in pavement.  On the far right, there’s the “End of Josephine County maintenance [Suck it, California!]” sign.
  • CA/OR border

  • Racer X. Downhills were marred by a mix of over-confident riders going balls-out down serpentine, forest-lined roads  screaming “on your left,” as if everyone else was In Their Way.  I felt schadenfreude when one guy received a ticket for crossing over the double-yellow line.  (As Officer Bishop says, We’re not in a bubble.)

    Image by: Scott Bernard Nelson/The Oregonian
    Image by: Scott Bernard Nelson/The Oregonian


  1. @Mike – overall, yes. I enjoyed last year’s route more, though. (Always been a big fan of the Blue Mountains – adding Hells Canyon was a bonus. Lake Wallowa was whipped cream on top.) Curious what they’ll have for next year’s. I <3 Oregon cycling.

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