Perhaps its not surprising some of the best skiing in America can be found beside a volcano stretching 12,276 into the sky. What might be surprising, though, is this underground mecca for ski training is used near exclusively in the summer months, and, even though one can see hundreds of acres of terrain on the upper reaches of Mt. Adams, all the skiing is done on paved logging roads put in years ago to haul out the resident Ponderosa, White Pine and Doug Firs. All it takes to put a smile on this skier’s face in the summer months is smooth pavement that meanders through the Cascade foothill. To have all this in a sleepy town that sparingly shares the road with fossil fueled BMW R75’s and mid-nineties Chevy Silverados makes it even better.
Archive for July, 2010
I’m all about tradition. And if there’s a singular custom that holds true for the endurance athlete – whether they be skiers, cyclists, paddlers, whatever – it’s the Sunday long workout. This week was no different. Only today, instead of heading out for a semi-epic crust cruise that circumnavigated either Moon Mountain and Broken Top, or hitting all the neighborhood streets from West Bend to Tumalo, today it was time to get out on the road bike.
The past couple seasons I worked with a coach who didn’t really believe in cycling. With mountain biking, he thought the chance of injury too high. With road biking, that it wasn’t sport specific enough. To mention the desire to get out and spin on the S-Works would invariably be met with a variation of the theme, “Skiers ski.” Anyways, today brought back how much I missed getting out on the roads and watching the miles click by while being powered solely on muscles, powerbars and the desire of a gluttonous feast consisting of cheese and bacon and guacamole topped hamburgers and greasy onion rings, all washed down with a chocolate-banana malted shake.
With my Bend days now down to single digits, I knew I needed to get in a least one decent ride in Bike Town USA. Sunday morning a group of seven professional athletes of either cycling, triathlon or skiing descent rolled out on the roads to the cowboy town of Sisters, Oregon. From here we made our way up McKenzie Pass. As the pace picked up and the gradient steepened, I was a tidbit nervous with my serious lack of cycling miles and with both the eastern and western climbs of McKenzie Pass looming. McKenzie is a fabled road here in Oregon, the original pass through the Cascades that connects the high desert of the East with the wetter West. Being so oldschool the postman used to have to traverse it on skis at the turn of the century, the road snakes and weaves its way along the mountainside, a two-lane path matching nature. It stands so much in contrast to modern road straightened through dynamite and man’s might. Certainly better for quicker driving from point A to B, but it’s like a friend of mine says, “Take the interstate if you want to go from one place to the next to get there absolutely as fast as possible and see absolutely nothing.” Both have their place. I just seem to overemphasize speed and miss out on taking in roads that roll along with lava fields and country estates.
Getting back into town, ravished, its time to slide into Sno-Cap for the aforementioned all-American culinary experience. But it’s a hot Sunday afternoon and the line stretches straight out the mom-and-pop burgershack to the street. We’re hungry, real hungry, so we head down the street to a café that specializes in all-natural vegan food. The wait was non-existent, but so was that malted milk shake.