Monday, August 11, 2008

Oregon Randonneurs RUSA 10 Anniversary Brevet Workers' Ride

Or, the Bridge of the Gods Ride Backwards, with some extra bits.

Went over to Cecil's house early on Sunday morning, knowing I'd have to be across the Hawthorne Bridge before it was closed for the Bridge Pedal. She was waiting for me outside. Pre-ride faffing (warm enough, no extra layers), and off to Wilshire Park.

We got there in good order (no traffic this early), with my light flicking on in the early morning dim.

Noted the time and started off. The ride does the "Bridge of the Gods Washougal River Road Option" backwards, with an out and back to the Stabler Store thrown in for distance.

We headed north to Marine Drive, then east, enjoying the early morning sunrise over the Columbia River. We hopped on the bike path whenever it was on the river side of the levee, better views!

Then under I-84, brief stop at McDonalds, up 257th and left through Troutdale and right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway. Worked our way on up to the top, then down to Crown Point, searching for a suitable info control question.

Then a fun descent ("Lynne, I'll see you at the bottom"- ZOOM) to Latourell Falls, where Cecil was indeed waiting and continuing on eastward. No traffic at all this early, and Multnomah Falls looked almost deserted. East, east, east, bearing right on the frontage rd (cleverly signed "Frontage Rd") through Dodson, past Yeon State Park and...onto the I-84 shoulder. Plenty wide, except for the two narrow bridges. You may want to check and see what is coming up behind you before you commit. A semi came up behind me ("oh f......") but it signaled and moved left. I waved.

Then off at Bonneville (you want to do this!), up to the campground and a left just before the road onto the bike path. Surprising uphill here. I've always done it the OTHER way, and didn't consider it much of a downhill.

Then down the stairs and off again. At the Hatchery (fish pens to the right), go left, past the motorized vehicle barriers to get on the path again. You'll eventually pop out in Cascade Locks. We stopped and ate our sandwiches (well, Cecil had a beat-up hard boiled egg and tofu); I bought a Yakima peach from the salmon and produce vendors.

Over Bridge of the Gods, NO TOLL FOR BICYCLES ANYMORE!

Then right. The terrain is rolling, the shoulder is narrow to almost non-existent. Stevenson looks like it has been spiffed up, minimarts and coffee shops are available here. A few more miles and you turn left on Wind River Rd, climbing to and through Carson. Past Carson the shoulder turns to soft gravel. You'll be climbing almost all the way to the Stabler Market; the last half mile is downhill. Not a steep climb, by any means, but it does go on. Check out the "Poaching Hotline" signs.

We had the delight of meeting a PCT through-hiker at the Stabler Market; he was picking up his package of goodies. He's doing it for his second year in a row ("I didn't learn"). We could appreciate his mindset :-)

They've got Payday bars, bananas and V-8, so I was set. There is a tame deer wandering around.

The temperature dropped 15 degrees between Cascade Locks and the store. Almost getting chilly.

The return to SR-14 is a kick - be sure to enjoy the ride!

Then right on SR-14. The shoulder is generally better west of the bridge. There is water and restrooms (flush) at Beacon Rock, food at the Skamania Store and then not a whole lot of anything for awhile. The terrain is gently rolling, then toward the end, a climb.

Krogstad Rd is where the climbing lane goes away. It has a sign, even though it does look like someone's driveway. Eventually it gets another lane and a yellow line down the middle. Still going up. At Canyon Creek you'll go up for another mile, to cross Salmon Falls Rd. Then down...

The Washougal River Mercantile (a control) is a great stop - bananas, V-8, etc. Again, all good for me, with the addition of half of another sandwich.

Then downhill on Washougal River Rd for a long stretch. Shoulders are pretty much non-existent, and there is noticeable traffic. The river is pretty in the sun.

Eventually you will arrive in Washougal, and make a right on Shepherd Rd. Much quieter! Then into Camas, popping out by the DQ and Burgerville, past the paper mill and onto 6th. 6th turns into 4 lanes; the left turn to stay onto 6th (there is a minimall at the corner) has a protected left turn lane.

Then a peaceful stretch all the way to Ellsworth; be sure to stay left when 164th forks off to the right from Evergreen Highway.

Cecil says Ellsworth is the steepest stretch on the ride; sure felt like I wanted a winch at that point. Then the left on 23rd, a left onto the bike path at the end of 23rd (or hit someone's gated entrance), and up onto the bridge. Downhill the whole way!

When the path comes to a "T", go right, then right onto Alderwood at the bottom. You'll get a peaceful ride south of the airport, then over Columbia into N Portland.

Side notes: my Chico Velo Wildflower Century jersey got two unsolicited "that's a beautiful jersey!" comments. Yes, it is. Worth driving to California and riding 100 miles in the 94 degree heat for :-) (also visiting with friends)

Cecil and I did a side trip to the New Seasons in N Portland because we were desperately wanting for calories. She shopped; I watched the bikes.

Cecil: "what do you want?" Me: "anything as long as it has no kelp or chlorophyll...."

A cyclist came by and fell over himself, he was so dazzled by the beauty of our bicycles.

A young boy came by, dropped his bike, went in and returned some cans, then came out and tried to bum 25 cents off me. I'm pretty sure he tries that one on lots of people. Ask enough people for a quarter, you know... (No, I didn't enable him)

Then off to Wilshire Park, ceremonial signing of the cards, and a leisurely 4.5 mile ride back to Cecil's. It was getting dim again; my light flicked back on.

Sorry, no pictures. You can look at Cecil's, though.

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