I’ve done the Gorge Ride at least twice before, but it’s been a few years. It’s a ride that supports the historical Highway 30, the first highway in the Pacific Northwest, if I recall correctly. Here’s a quick bit of info about it: HERE. It’s supported by Friends of the Historic Columbia Highway.
For the other times I’ve done the ride, I stayed at a local motel that has a restaurant in it. I can eat dinner, sleep, and get an early breakfast. However, the last time I was there I ended up with six spider bites on my legs. C.R.E.E.P.Y. So, I decided why not try Airbnb? I snagged a very cute studio in a Victorian-style home. Airbnb prices are crazy high with “covid cleaning,” but hotels are pretty pricey too. Why not go cute and unique?
I got to store my bike at the bottom of the stairs, which is nicer than in the Jeep. I was the only one using that entrance, so it was relatively safe.
Tiny! The shower is straight ahead of the toilet – very small! But the whole thing was efficient and well-done.
The kitchen was also very small. Just beyond the sink there is a stand with a microwave oven, coffee maker, and supplies. Under that is a toaster oven and a dorm-style refrigerator with freezer. Lastly is an impressively sized pantry. If I lived there, I definitely would have stored a lot more in there than food!
After a great night’s sleep, I headed out to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. This neat salmon-in-the-river metal sculpture was over a freeway – pretty neat!
The beginning of the ride started out with an insane headwind. The Gorge is known for windiness. Check out the Columbia Gorge Wind & Water Association.
This was supposed to be a better picture. You might notice it’s slightly askew. Well friends, that’s because a big gust of wind almost knocked me over! I had to keep both hands on the handlebars as much as possible. This comes into play later…
I put a big red arrow pointing at the Rowena Crest viewpoint. Waaaaaaay up there. I’m biking up there. *sigh*
It really is a beautiful ride, but there’s a lot of uphill. Going on Highway 242 helped me prepare for this, I thought. But I had to stop a few times on the way up. I’m not ashamed to stop and rest!
Almost there! Hairpin turns and all, this is a killer hill. This sight gave me hope though.
At the top!! You can see the road far, far below. What a view!
Here you can see some of the hairpin turns and a little car. Those dots on the road are more bikers, pushing hard.
The top is a large circle where cars (or bikes) can pull over and passengers get out to enjoy the view. You can see a pair of bikers almost dead ahead, on the other side of the circle. To the left are some Honey Buckets for when that coffee makes it to the bladder.
Just after Rowena Crest is a beautiful viewpoint on a narrow bridge. There’s a house down there! That must be an amazing place to live.
I couldn’t take pictures for a while because I was concentrating on staying on my bike and alive. But I finally made it to the halfway point! They had berries, pineapple, bananas, sandwiches, keto snacks, energy balls, water, and water with electrolytes. Such a treat!
This guy. I’m not going to lie, he annoyed me. He was driving an e-bike and he had a Raiders sticker on the back (I lived in San Diego for a while, and the Raiders fans were not a terribly friendly people when in town, generally speaking). He passed me a couple of times. It could also be that I was struggling, and he passed me without a struggle at all, and that’s why I was annoyed? My legs were BURNING!!
I stayed there for quite a while, trying to let my legs rest. I’m not great at eating during a big ride, but I forced myself to eat some energy balls and drink more electrolyte water.
On my way back, I enjoyed the cherry trees and the sunny weather. It was so nice! I knew it was raining at home.
This side is a very long hill, going back up to Rowena Crest. It’s not as steep, but it’s hard after doing the first half and then having more hill to climb. I pulled over, drank water, rested, and then would start up again.
Remember when I talked about the wind and the gusts? Well, I made it to Rowena Crest again, and there were a lot of cars, bikes, and people. I had to move my bike to get out of a car’s way, so I ended up with my wheels in some soft pea gravel. I was adjusting my technology (my Apple watch) when a strong gust of wind hit me from the left and I lost my balance. My left foot was on the ground, but my right was still clipped in. In the soft gravel, my tires quickly sank and shifted, giving me no time to unclip and put my foot down. I went down into the pea gravel. So embarrassing.
I got up as quickly as I could, ignoring the burning on my leg and knee. An older gentleman came up behind me, looking at me but not saying anything. I said, “Pretty gusty up here!” He agreed and said, “I’m a little worried about going down!” I agreed and said I would probably go slower than normal.
I did not go slow.
I got on my bike and got the hell out of there, leaving my shame behind me! I reached speeds of just over 36 mph, my tires absolutely singing. Not only was I leaving that embarrassing moment behind, but I was so grateful for some downhill! I was happy for every bit I didn’t have to pedal.
I changed the exposure on this so you can see the craggy nature of some of the scenery nearby. I was only a few miles from the finish at this point and struggling to make it. My legs were absolute toast.
Normally, I cool off by taking a couple of slow laps around the parking lot. Not this time. I went straight to Matilde and loaded Sasha (my bike) in. I took off my helmet and sweat-gator and walked to the building. I got my free ice cream and went back to the Jeep. I am READY TO GO HOME.
The wind had fun with my sweaty hair. I didn’t care at all! I’m going home!
A quick scenery shot on the way home… You can see where the fires of either 2019 or 2020 ate some of the trees, black skeletons left behind. Things are green around it, and healing. It just takes a while, like most healing does.
I’ve enjoyed this ride more the other times I rode it. This time, I fear I wasn’t quite ready for it. I’m getting there, but the elevation got me this time. I’m doing another ride in a week, and I almost cancelled. But… it doesn’t have the same elevation gain, so I’ll probably go for it. I’m glad I finished, but it was painful.
Distance: 38.6 miles; Elevation Gain: 2,620 feet