Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cherry of a Ride........

...and a pretty darn nice day too!

I had the bike fully outfitted with cameras, but alas......
I took a lot of video with the helmet cam including the ride along the River Front Trail, a run through the Mosier Twin Tunnels, and the screaming descent from the summit of 7 Mile Hill to Chenowith Creek, but somewhere during the last segment something happened and all the day's video files became corrupted. I did get some video from the handlebar cam, but only from the first quarter of the ride. I also got some stills with my digital camera, and Photobucket tech support finally found a work around to Blogger's problems so the photos are now posted at the end of this entry.

It was a great ride! The Dalles lived up to it's dry side of the state reputation. We started under mostly blue skies and the day continued that way. The forecast was for 27 degrees, a 25 mph wind, and 30% chance of showers. It was 30 when I left Forest Grove but warmed to 39 by the time I got to Hood River but dropped to 36 as I entered The Dalles. It was better than the predicted 27, the sky was almost cloudless, and the wind was barely noticeable as we began.

The ride began by heading east on Hwy 30 then began climbing away from the Columbia River on 8 Mile Road. We continued our climb through the rolling green wheat fields
(and a vineyard!) on Emerson Loop, about 600 ft vertical in 2.5 miles. Back on 8 Mile Road we continued our ride past wheat and cherry orchards for several miles until we arrived at the first rest stop at the intersection of 8 Mile Road and Hwy 197. At this elevation it was still freezing. The orchard fans were running and sprinklers spraying water to provide some protection for the cherry blooms. Climbing kept me reasonably warm, except for finger tips and toes, but descents were cold indeed!

After refueling at the well stocked rest stop we crossed Hwy 197 and did a 7 mile out and 7 mile back run on 8 Mile Road to where it turned to gravel. A quick stop at the same rest stop upon our return then a long run downhill following 8 Mile Creek to The Dalles.

From the handlebar cam:

Once back at The Dalles we worked our way out to the River Front Trail which we followed west to The Gorge Discovery Center. There was another well stocked rest stop along the path.

Once we got to The Gorge Discovery Center I was in familiar territory as I had ridden this section several times before. We headed west and made our way up the Rowena Loops. By now there was a noticeable wind, perhaps 20 mph blowing in our faces.

We rolled down from Rowena Crest to Mosier where there was another rest stop manned by the ever friendly volunteers. We continued west to the Mosier Twin Tunnel section of the Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway and followed it to the terminus of the hiker/biker only section at Hood River. We retraced our route back to Mosier.

Being unfamiliar with the route I did not know what awaited me otherwise I would have stopped at the Mosier rest stop again for some refueling and a bit of a rest. We immediately started up the locally infamous "7 Mile Hill". After more than 75 miles of riding we start a climb that would take us from Mosier (121 feet) to the summit of 7 Mile Hill (1800 ft) in.......7 miles.

There was another rest stop near the top of this climb where more friendly volunteers congratulated us and offered us gatorade and goodies!

From there we dropped down the steep descent to Chenowith Rd. I set a new speed record on my bike of 48 mph on this stretch, even though I was using brakes regularly.

The 100 mile route took leave of the 80 milers by following Chenowith Creek up to the Brown's Creek Rd intersection where we got one more chance to use some low gearing before finally making our final descent back to St Mary's Academy, our starting point.

Total ride today was just over 100 miles with 7900 ft of climbing.
Really much more enjoyable than it sounds.......
especially when the Willamette Valley was getting rain, snow, and hail!
The route was well marked, rest stops well stocked, friendly volunteers, good weather, and a good cause. I'll be back next year!

On my return drive I hit hail and snow just beyond Cascade Locks and by the time I got to Multnomah Falls the freeway was running at 30 mph because of the ice on the road. The hail continued until Troutdale.

Welcome back to NW Oregon!

One thing I noticed after returning home was that at 100 miles and 7900 ft of climbing this route was about 1/5 of our Race Across Oregon route both in distance and elevation gain. I only have to ride this 5 times in 48 hours and I'll be well prepared for the RAO! ;-)


...............Road Bike.....LifeCycle.....Total Miles
Jan total.......98.....+........402....=..........500
Feb total.....385.....+.......220....=...........605
Mar total.....659.....+........41.....=...........700


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