Sat, 06 Jun 2009
First breakfast was the apple pie that Mike carried up from Oregon City in his trailer. We then headed out into the misty rain, still on the upslope of Mt Hood. Our start was at 2500 feet. We rode up about a 5% grade to Government Camp, OR, a small, ski villago sort of place, where we had second breakfast. Elevation 3800 feet. We hung our soaked clothes on the booth post pegs and puddles of water formed on the floor. Then, reluctantly, out into the rain again for more climbing. The summit of Mt Hood was still obscured by mist.
At 4800 feet, we reached the top of the pass. As soon as we began the descent, the weather changed. The sun came out, the roads were dry, and we were treated to views of the magnificent Mt Hood.
We then screamed down 1000 feet into the White Creek valley, only to climb up again. Then back down again where we encountered -- a bike race. The Mt Hood Challenge. A peleton of about 50 riders, complete with pace car passed us as we were grinding up the hill. They were going about 20 mph compared to our 6 mph. One of the race organizers suggested a good road to get to the Dales.
Now we were in high desert.
Eventually, we dropped off the mountain in an incredible 3000 foot descent into Dumore, OR, where staggered, exhausted, into a local store to get lunch. After lunch, we figured out where this "good road" was, and headed toward it.
Now, our next challenge appeared. There was a 40 MPH NW wind blowing through the Columbia Gorge, and our route to the gorge was North. I have never, ever, encountered winds like this and the front bags made the bike nearly impossible to control. Several times I was close to getting off the bike, but somehow we all managed.
Once we found the "good road" it was somewhat protected and we made better progress, but crossing the Columbia river at The Dales over to Washington, a 4 mile ride, took an hour.
Mercifully, we turned right and the gale became the mother of all tailwinds. We zoomed along due east, at over 20 mph even without pedalling.
But the wind had the last laugh. To reach the park where we were to camp, the road turned west down a steep hill. Maybe a 8% grade. We had to pedal, hard, down that hill. I was stunned.
|© 2009 C.T. Nadovich|