Distance: 29-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 3160 ft
5/17 note: My Oregon friends tell me that this route is not what it once was. It has undergone major logging activity and serious damage to the road surface from winter storms and other things, and as a result has lost a lot of its appeal. At the moment I can’t promise Bestrides-quality conditions. See Jackie’s comment below, and my response. JR.)
This ride comes from Oregonian FOB (Friend of Bestrides) Don—thanks, man.
This route has a specific sort of appeal. It’s as isolated a ride as you can find on a road bike. You’ll ride for 20 miles without seeing any sign of human presence other than two signs that say (I believe) “Rough road ahead”—no houses, no fences, no “No Trespassing” signs, no directional signs, no cars, no nothing. That 20 miles is through the most pristine, virginal forest I’ve ever seen. Twice in the 20 miles, you’ll be able to see further than 50 yards—it’s that thick.
It would be one of the greatest bike rides I’ve ever done, except for one thing: the road surface is a pretty nasty chipseal for almost the entire loop.
And there are dangers inherent in the isolation: you are out there on your own. If you have a mechanical you can’t fix on the road, no one is coming along to help you, so you may be looking at a 13-mile hike out of there, in cycling shoes. Take plenty of food and water (there is none on the route), let someone know where you’re going, and ride with a buddy if possible. And the complete lack of directional signage means you get no confirmation that you’re where you think you are—you have to trust to your route map and to my assurance that, with one exception, you just keep riding straight down the one and only road.
If none of that dissuades you, you’ll have the time of your life. But note the warning about logging activity in Jackie’s comment below, and my response.
(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)
Thanks to a Mapmyride glitch, this elevation profile is backwards to the described route.
Begin the ride in Dexter, a tiny town notorious for containing the bar where the roadhouse scene in “Animal House” was filmed. (You can start at the foot of Eagle’s Rest Rd, but you’ll be starting the ride with a leg-killing climb.) Ride south from Dexter on Lost Creek Rd (passing Lost Valley Rd—lots of getting lost around here) for about 4 miles, then turn L onto Eagle’s Rest Rd. Here begins the 20 miles of virgin woods I promised you.
The afore-mentioned climb begins immediately. It’s long, uninterrupted, and steep, and made more difficult by the chipseal surface. When it’s over, the hard work of the ride is done. You will roll up and down along the one and only road until the one tricky spot in the ride: at about 8 miles down Eagle’s Rest (about 12 miles from Dexter), you reach a fork, and you must go R, though L looks like the primary road (see photo below). Left fork goes down, right fork goes up—you did it right if you’re climbing after the split.
Once you make that R, you have no more decisions until the one and only road T’s back into Lost Creek Rd. Between the fork and the T, you descend slowly, always riding south, dropping down to a creek that is at first far below you (don’t miss the one vista, a momentary gap in the trees that gives you a grand view of the creek canyon you’re gradually descending and the solid forest covering its sides) until you finally reach the creek, swing west to cross it, and begin a big, meandering turn back north.
Once you’re heading north, the road surface dramatically improves (finally!) and you get a grand, fast, smooth, serpentine descent you don’t at all expect. Soon houses begin appearing (remember them?). Continue on the one and only road until you reach the completely unsigned but unmistakable T at Lost Creek Rd. (a T almost all maps refuse to admit is there, btw). Go L and you will soon close the loop. Continue on Lost Creek Rd back to your car.
Adding Miles: A few miles down Hwy 58 from Dexter is Oakridge, home of the Aufderheide ride and all the others mentioned in Aufderheide’s Adding Miles section. If you go northeast from Dexter and cross Dexter Reservoir, all the roads around Fall Creek Reservoir are gorgeous and mellow, especially Big Fall Creek Rd and Ruben Leigh Rd—perfect for a recovery day or social ride.