My intention was to do the loop around Crater Lake. I was with my son-in-law Andrew Flanagan and a long-standing friend from church in Portland, Aaron Hughes.
Andrew is enjoying a cup of tea, and Aaron showing off his fine selection of Odwalla bars.
Later, Aaron helped me make our favorite camping food, sauerkraut (Weinkraut aus Deutschland) with Polska Kielbasa. It’s easy to make and tastes great when out camping. So, on to the bicycle ride. At first, we were all going to drive up to the crater rim, and then cycle the 33 odd miles around the lake, thinking that it would be fairly flat, even ride that we could complete by noon. I met several touring cyclists, a man, and wife who appeared in their late 50’s, and informed me that the ride from Diamond Lake where we were camped up to the crater rim was about 18 miles, but fairly easy to do. So, Andrew and I started out first, expecting Aaron to follow 1.5 hours later by car, cleaning up the stragglers. I made it to the rim, 19 miles and 2500 ft elevation gain just when Aaron arrived with Andrew. We then parked our car and headed off counter-clockwise around the mountain.
We soon realized that most people did the trek, either by car or bicycle (and there were many bicyclists that we encountered), in a clockwise fashion. About 8 miles in, Andrew was slowing down a little, so he encouraged Aaron and me to keep going, and then to pick him up in the car later once we finished. Later, Aaron was beginning to feel the hills and decided on a slower pace. I was to also pick him up after reaching the car.
I wish that I could say that everything went well afterward, but not quite. When I pulled away from Aaron, I noticed a large slash and bulge in my back tire. I knew that my tire was in serious trouble and that I had about 12 more miles to go. I made it about 6 more miles and then heard the tire blow out. There was a large rent in the tire so I knew that it was completely unfixable. Unfortunately, I was going in the opposite direction of most of the traffic. So, I started walking with the bike. I was a bit horrible in my bike shoes, and I completely destroyed the cleats, but I made it about 2-3 miles, where I was able to get a pick-up to haul me the last 3-4 miles back to the car. I was then able to load my bicycle and go retrieve Aaron and Andrew, both of who continued to make significant progress. So, it was bittersweet. The weather was beautiful, and I was feeling great, in spite of the 5000 ft + elevation gain. But, I didn’t formally complete the loop. That means that I must return someday to formally do the whole loop. It also taught me to consider carrying a complete tire with me of such trips like these, since you can fold the actual tire up into a small space to carry it.