Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oregon Blue Mountains 1200 ISEP

This is the introduction in for the six permanents that make up the Oregon Blue Mountains in Six Easy Pieces. The entire route is a difficult one with a estimated elevation gain of just over 45,000 feet of climbing. The route from Elgin to Baker City is part of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. The route passes the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center located five miles east of Baker City.

In addition to the amount of climbing, these routes can have extreme temperatures with hot days and very cold nights. Several of the legs are very long between services so a self supported tour will require riders to be prepared to carry enough water to get them through the long dry legs and enough clothing to keep from freezing. Winds can be strong especially in the Columbia River Gorge or in the plains between Condon and Hood River. National Weather Service high wind warnings are not uncommon.

Each of the six stages is 200k long with the exception of the first and last which are a little longer. Lodging in Hood River can be difficult to find unless you reserve a room in advance. There is a huge demand for motel rooms because of the popular wind surfing along the Columbia River. There are hotels at the end of each leg and telephone numbers for the hotels are provided in the post for each ride. In most cases, there is no alternative lodging and riders would want to confirm their reservations before getting too excited. If you ride with a pad and bivouac bag, be prepared to survive some cold nights, cougars, coyotes, black bear and various other interesting creatures.

Update: I am planning on riding the Six Easy Pieces in 2008 from June 21 through 29. That is more than 6 days but am thinking of taking a day off along the route. If anyone wants to ride with me, send me a note. Let's ride!

Update 2: Here are several temporary links that might be helpful. You can use terrain view in Google Map or add a topoline gadget and view the topo lines on the map. You can also send the route to Google Earth and use 3D view.
Experimental Google Map with entire route.

List of cites along the route with distances and service/lodging flags.

Update 3: These routes have been submitted to RUSA for approval as 200k permanents. Approval is pending.

Update 4: Added a link to the Hells Canyon Scenic Byways web site. The web site has additional documentation for the Grand Ronde Valley (Elgin to Joseph), Forest Road 39 (Wallowa Mountain Loop), and Halfway to Baker City (Pine Valley). Also added a link to the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center that is located on the bike route on OR-86 five miles east of Baker City. The Hells Canyon Scenic Overlook is located on road 3965 and might provide a 6 mile route replacement opportunity. The GORP website suggests a possible road washout on FR 39. However the Wallowa National Forest Recreation Report and the Oregon Hells Canyon Recreation Sites do not indicate washouts on FR 39.

Update 5: 12-Jan-2008 - updated the Elgin-Halfway route and sent the modification to RUSA. The route from Elgin to Joseph stays on OR-82 and does not use the back roads so the route passes through Enterprise. The route also passes through the Hells Canyon Overlook on Forest Road 3965. Both Google Earth and Bikely map systems have the FR 3965 road mislabeled. Google Maps has the correct road number and location for FR 3965.

Update 6: Ride History
Rick Blacker and John Kramer completed the following. (ride report)

Route Date Time
-------------------- ----------- -----
Bingen to Heppner 20-JUN-2008 13h02
Heppner to Elgin 21-JUN-2008 12h13
Elgin to Halfway 22-JUN-2008 12h49
Halfway to John Day 23-JUN-2008 13h12
John Day to Condon 24-JUN-2008 11h59
Condon to Hood River 25-JUN-2008 12h38