With all due respect to fans of cycling routes here in Washington state, some of the best cycling in the Pacific Northwest is in Lane County, OR. With varied terrain along the Pacific Coast and the Cascades, Lane County offers an amazing diversity of cycling routes on roads with little automobile traffic.
One of my favorites is the Old McKenzie Pass Hwy (aka Hwy 242), which is typically done as an ~80-mile out and back from the McKenzie Bridge Ranger Station to Sisters. The “standard” mid-way refueling stop is Angeline’s Bakery, whose menu includes tasty coffee drinks and even gluten-free baked goods.
The route goes along Hwy 126 for a mile or so, then turns onto the forested Old McKenzie Hwy. The climbing starts in earnest after another mile or so, and the steepest section is about mid-way to McKenzie Pass. As you approach the pass, the terrain becomes increasingly volcanic and passes through barren lava fields. McKenzie Pass is typically a re-group spot, and those waiting can enjoy the view of the Three Sisters (“Faith”, “Hope”, and “Charity”) to the South and Mt. Washington to the North.
It is usually windy at the summit, and a windbreaker is recommended even when it’s warm in the lowlands.
As you roll over the top, the scenery makes a dramatic change from dense forest on the west side of the Cascade Crest to dry open forest on the East side.
Given the climbing, the descents are fantastic, especially on the west side, with numerous thrilling hairpins.
The total mileage round trip to Sisters is about 79 miles with about 6,200′ of climbing, but many folks just ride up to the summit and back, which makes it about 32 miles round trip. There is no water along the way that I know of, so bring enough fluids to make the distance to Sisters. During this year’s expedition I drank 1.5 bottles from the Sisters lunch stop to the summit–a distance of only about 15 miles–and was sucking the last drops out of my bottles as we returned to the ranger station.