21st June, Day 3: Welches, OR to Kah-Nee-Ta, OR, 75 miles, 3150 ft ascent

At one level we all know that the US is just shed loads bigger than the UK. The population is 4 times bigger and the landmass is more comparable to the whole of Europe than it is to the UK.

But there’s something about cycling through the landscape that really brings this home, even though we have only completed 5% of the crossing.

Today’s ride started with a 13 mile climb of around 2,800 ft. There are many, many more challenging climbs than this in the US, including lots we will face over the next 7 weeks. This was just acclimatisation. In contrast the longest climb in the UK is generally regarded to be Cragg Vale hill, with an ascent of 968 ft over 5.5 miles while the notoriously steep Bealach-Na-Ba still only climbs 2054 ft over 5.5 miles. 

Climbing a mountain pass near mount Hood
Climbing hard with Mount Hood in the background

Today we have had amazing views of Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and The Three sisters. These are all separate peaks and not part of a ridge.

Even though they are all over 10,000 ft they don’t even figure in the USA 200 highest peaks list and our climb this morning, larger than anything in the UK, does not make the top 100 climbs in the USA.

After climbing to 4,000 ft we had around 50 miles of descent, punctuated by the occasional 15 minute climb to top up the potential energy levels ready for another swoop downhill.

During the course of the day we transitioned surprisingly quickly from a densely wooded, steep sided valley into our first experience of the high desert, including some mini canyons, wild horses and an abandoned small town.

Views of distant mountains over arid scrub
Cycling through arid scrub with views of the Cascade range

Tonight’s hotel, which is 16 miles from the nearest small town appears to have fallen through a tear in the fabric of number space. Arriving here somewhat tired and under a blistering sun we wandered around aimlessly for several minutes before eventually realizing that the floor numbers used in the lifts are different from the actual floor numbers, which are again unrelated to the first digit of the room numbers. This is compounded by the route from reception on floor 2 to the restaurant, also on floor 2, necessarily being via floor 3. Although we have built an algorithm for locating rooms beginning with a 3 or a 5, rooms beginning with a 4 appear to be located somewhere in an entirely parallel universe.