Century rides (100 miles) are to bicyclists what marathons are to runners. If you catch the bicycling bug and begin to crave higher mileage rides, you'll soon be training to ride a century.

There are numerous ways to design a century route in the Rogue Valley, but many of these will offer the same redundant scenery you have been viewing on all your other rides, not to mention the valley heat, and the interruptions of stop-and-go riding in traffic.

Today, I offer an epic century ride that takes you out of the valley onto roads with minimal traffic, through beautiful forest landscapes and the mountain towns of Butte Falls and Prospect. On this route you can ride for many miles without stopping for traffic lights or stop signs. During the long stretches of quiet through the forest, you can become one with your bike.

If you aren't ready to complete 100 miles in one day, you can break this ride into two days by staying overnight in Prospect or camping under the stars in Stewart State Park.

Today's ride starts at the corner of Crater Lake Avenue and Delta Waters Road, in north Medford. Head north on Crater Lake Avenue, which turns into the frontage road paralleling Crater Lake Highway 62, en route to White City. Follow the frontage road northward, and then turn right on Corey Road (mile 3.7).

Continue east on Corey Road and then turn left on Kershaw Road (mile 6.2). Cross Highway 140 (mile 6.8) and turn right on Antelope Road (mile 7.0), then left on Bigham Brown Road (mile 7.3). Turn left on Alta Vista Road (mile 9.24) and right on South Shasta (mile 10.1). You should be headed into the town of Eagle Point. Turn left on Main Street (mile11.5), crossing over Little Butte Creek, then turn right on North Royal (which turns into the Brownsboro Highway) and continue on past the Butte Creek Flour Mill. Turn left on Reese Creek Road (mile 12.1) following it until you arrive at the Butte Falls Highway (mile 16.2).

At this junction, turn right, and start a 14-mile climb (average 3-percent grade and 1,114 feet of elevation gain) to the town of Butte Falls. Near the mid-point of the climb, watch for the Halfway Market. They have cold liquids and porta-potties.

The town of Butte Falls (mile 31) is a great place to take a rest and refuel the body. Relax in Ernest Smith Memorial Park (on your right as you approach the center of Butte Falls). With large shade trees, water and restrooms, it's a nice place to cool down on a hot day. Across the street from the park are eating establishments and a grocery store.

Continue east through Butte Falls on the Butte Falls-Fish Lake Road, dropping down a hill after leaving town. Turn left on the Prospect-Butte Falls Highway (mile 32), cross the bridge over South Fork of Big Butte Creek, and begin a scenic, forested ride to Prospect.

A five-mile climb of three-percent grade gets your legs warmed up as you cycle under the forest canopy. At about mile 40, you will start a gradual descent as you pass Medco Pond (mile 44.7).

Arriving in the town of Prospect at mile 56, you'll find opportunities for another rest stop with restrooms and refreshments available at several locations. Turn left on Mill Creek Drive and follow it to Highway 62 (mile 62).

Just after crossing over Lost Creek Lake (mile 64), Stewart State Park will be on your right at mile 65. This is a great place to camp out or just rest a while before heading down to the warmer valley. Check your brakes before starting the steep downhill stretch from here (three miles at five-percent grade).

As you enjoy your swift descent, be alert for Crowfoot Road on your left (mile 70), just before you cross the Rogue River. Turn left on Crowfoot Road. If you need a restroom or want to cool your feet off, continue on to Casey State Park just across the bridge, then retrace your route back to Crowfoot Road.

Follow Crowfoot Road back to the Butte Falls Highway (mile 77.6). Turn right onto the Butte Falls Highway, then left on Reese Creek Road (mile 84.3). Retrace your route back through Eagle Point and then to the starting point in Medford.

You'll be tired at the end of this ride, but you won't find many centuries this nice in southern Oregon. Have a great ride.

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.