Day 2 - St Helens to Welches OR
Mileage: 65 miles
Weather: Dry and a bit foggy to start. Low 50s. It was still in the 50s at the top of Government Camp but much clearer. Temperatures came up into the uppers 70s to end the day in the high desert.
Highlights of the day:
Day three started the first big climb of the tour, 13 miles up to the base of Mount Hood at Government Camp. It was a long climb but relatively moderate in terms of grades. For those non-cyclists out there, 4-8 percent is decidedly work but keeping to single digits makes for a climb that requires moderately low gearing, a spin cadence and a good ear worm to complete. On the way up, Mount Hood continued to be elusive and hide behind clouds and fog for about half of the riders. Seems those that relaxed a bit and enjoyed the climb got a better view this morning.
On the way down, Mt Hood appeared to everyone in all its glory. The fog lifted to a backdrop of bright blue sky, making it pop. It peered over our shoulder as we made our way down from Government Camp and continued to dog us all the way to our second SAG stop. On the final stretch into the hotel, other big names in the Cascade Range made their presence known - Mt Washington, Three Finger Jack, Three Sisters, Mt Bachelor and Mt Jefferson. If the clouds behave themselves tomorrow, Mt Jefferson will be with us most of the way into Prineville. The snow capped peaks of the Cascades were showing off and photographed by most of the riders.
We had quite the change ecosystems today. Or is it biomes? Apologies to all you environmental scientists out there. But I digress… As we rode east from the base lodge our surroundings rapidly changed from cool, wet evergreen forest to high desert, with a scattering of trees and shrubs over grassy hills. Big vistas opened up, with grand views of snow capped mountains to the west and Mt Hood to the north. The route ended with a beautiful winding decent down to the Warm Springs River followed by a short but steep climb up to the resort. The riders seemed at a loss to come up with enough superlatives for todays views.
I write this from a room in a Native American owned resort, with a balcony overlooking a beautiful valley, nearly devoid of human signs. Spoiled for one more night.