Freeze Day 5: Crossing the Cascade Mountain Range
Editor’s note: David Freeze is biking coast to coast. His trek started June 10 in Oregon. He’s sending dispatches from the road to be published in the newspaper, at www.salisburypost.com, and on his blog, “Gotta Run” at blog.salisburypost.com/gottarun
I will admit to being a little worried when I went to bed in Junction City, Ore. last night. It was going to be cold this morning, I had a long way to ride, and there is the daunting task of having to cross the Cascade Mountain range. Plus, I was more than a little confused as to how I would get through Eugene, Ore. The weather forecast held true with a morning temperature of 40 degrees and a heavy fog. I ate McDonald’s pancakes and decided to head on out since there was a good bike lane all the way to Eugene. One of my tires was a little slack on air and I had to figure out how to pump it back up with a new to me device that I got at the local bike shop in Astoria. With the tire pumped up, I headed out and made good time to Eugene, but then got really confused as to how to find and get on Hwy. 126. Eventually with the help of two car salesman (All the way back to North Carolina?), I got on the right track. Almost 50 miles of today’s ride was along the McKenzie River. I was very glad to see that the rise in elevations was very gradual and that the weather turned out to be fantastic. Low 70s and sunny, plus I had a mild tailwind.
Highlights for the day included seeing the beautiful downtown of Eugene, the Willamette River, eating huckleberry yogurt, and meeting the manager of the motel that I am in tonight. It is a great place and Kent Roberts was a wealth of information. He also has ties to the Charlotte area. I am at McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, getting ready for the big climb up to the summit of McKenzie pass tomorrow morning, then I have to keep going pretty quickly because there is no food or water available for at least 30 miles. The summit is at 5,234 feet.
Early settlers found the Cascades to be an imposing barricade that halted their progress toward the Willamette Valley and Pacific Ocean. After gold was discovered in eastern Oregon, prospectors found a way across the Cascades. West of the Cascades were settled by trappers and farmers, while east of the Cascades was settled by those looking for Gold and other precious minerals.
Total mileage for today was 69.4 miles. I don’t expect anything like that tomorrow with all the climbing. It will be cold again, but my new sweatpants from Eugene’s Goodwill store will come in handy.