Day 3 - Welches to Madras OR
Mileage: 78 miles
Weather: Cloudy and low 50s to start. Mostly cloudy with pop-up thunderstorms and low 60s to end.
Highlights of the day:
New route! Well, really it’s a combination of sections from 2 routes. We rode up & over Government Camp, like we’ve always done. However, we continued through Warm Springs and kept on going into Madras for the night. It’s a new location for us as the Kah-Nee-Ta resort is permanently closed. We were sad to see that go but are happy to say we’ve found a solution that allows us to stay in this part of Oregon.
Day 3 started with 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 came out for a lucky few. It was mostly hidden with only its base visible. Around one corner, however, it seemed to magically appear for only some of us with clouds clinging to the top of its peak.
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. Few trees meant the vistas became much bigger. With the lower cloud cover, we had an idea of the distant Cascade Range. Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson showed a bit of their bases. I think I spied Mt Washington. I heard rumor that someone sighted the Three Sisters and Three Fingered Jack. While the mountains were not as present as they have been, the views were still beautiful. The wide open spaces are very different for many of us accustomed to the tree-covered and/or more densely populated regions of this country.
Weather. We had some today. There were dark, dramatic storm clouds to either side of our route after the 2nd SAG. There were a few lightning flashes but those were miles and miles away. We did get a bit wet but it didn’t last long and it was mostly of the light variety. Someone jokingly thanked us for parting the clouds. We do try! 😉 The real show started after everyone arrived safely at the hotel. It poured. It blew. It crashed and boomed. And we all watched it all from the pleasantly dry rooms of our hotel.
We’re staying at a Quality Inn in Madras tonight. It’s our first time here and evidently we own the place! Our group has just about every room in the house. The staff could not be any friendlier or more accommodating. Right now, I’m listening to strong thunderstorms blow through the area. All the riders are off the road. Timing is everything! Now if I can just figure out a way to get to dinner without getting soaked. 🤔