Well, “Bike Tattoo Day” got cancelled, and the hernia irritations were being mitigated by ibuprofen. So I managed to get my ‘cross bike somewhat prepped and out to The Dalles in time for the 9:00 start. The only thing I neglected was swapping the 32mm slicks for some cyclocross tires.
The Dalles Mountain 60 was put on by VeloDirt, apparently a loosely organized trio of Portlanders who like to ride their bicycles on dirt roads throughout the rural Northwest. What I mean by loosely is that there was no sign-in sheet and no registration at the local coffee shop in The Dalles from whence the ride started. However, there was a riders’ meeting to describe various aspects of the route, and there was a stack of cue sheets pre-stuffed into plastic baggies!
In addition to Ed, some other people I knew at the start were his friend Steph (who didn’t ride this event), Theo (a randonneuring fleche teammate last year along with Ed), Rob A. (another friend of Ed’s who I’ve rando-ed with), and Nathan (the trainer with Brian’s House of Pain, where I work out). ‘Twas looking like quite a diverse group of riders, most of whom I didn't know.
After crossing the Columbia and heading East on Washington State Hwy 14, the route turned up Dalles Mountain Road, which was the first big gravel road climb of the day. I had fallen behind most of the riders a few miles up when my rear tire flatted. Local Portland bike builder Rob Tsunehiro and a friend stopped to make sure I was okay. Sure wish I’d taken a picture of his bicycle with a really nice front rack and headlight mount. Farther up the rode, a rider on a Salsa ‘cross bike had broken his rear derailleur, and was fixin’ to coast/limp back to The Dalles.
Things flattened out on the back side of the mountain, and after a combination of some more gravel and pavement, I turned onto Hwy 97. A few riders (including Rob T.) were doing a return chug back up Mary Hill Loop Road, having found the road closed further down because of an un-forecasted car event. I joined these riders on the descent down Hwy 97 to the Shell station near Hwy 14. At this refueling break, I bought batteries for my camera and was able to take my first pictures since the start in The Dalles.
In anticipation to the possibility that Mary Hill Loop might be closed, there were alternate directions from Hwy 97 on the cue sheet that directed riders East out to Stonehenge Dr. But none of the riders that I left with from the Shell station went that way. Instead, they flew down Gore Rd. for a shorter trip to the bridge crossing into Biggs.
I, on the other hand, visited Washington’s version of Stonehenge for the first time. It’s a miniature version of prehistoric monument found in England, and built as a memorial to World War I casualties. The road from there is also a nice descent to Maryhill, then Biggs Junction.
At 4:00 PM I arrived at the coffee shop from where the ride started. There were no other cyclists, nor cyclists’ cars, nor evidence of any cyclists having been there … except for one passerby who asked me, “Was there some bicycling event going on here earlier today?”
On the drive home, I stopped half way in Stevenson, WA at the Walking Man Brewing, where I was serenaded by bagpipers during a well-lubricated dinner.
More photos are here on Flickr.