We followed the Columbia River east for the first 35 miles. The views of the Gorge and the Columbia River are spectacular and having a good 10 mph tail wind made it even better. We rode on the freeway shoulder for 10 miles because there is no other road biker route east of the Dalles.
We turned south at Fulton Canyon just east of the Deschutes river and started our first long climb. Fifteen miles of quiet back roads took us to Moro where we turned onto US97 and continued climbing though the wheat fields with the wind on our backs. Our first stop was at the park in Grass Valley, the 100k mark. We filled our bottles from a garden hose, stopped at the Store/Deli for a receipt and continued south on US 97.
At Grass Valley we turned west and headed towards Sherars Bridge and the Deshutes River. We could see Mt. Adams off to the north west and scattered lines of showers crossing the rolling wheat fields and grass lands. We knew that sooner or later we were bound ride into a rain shower.
We rode into the rain just as we closed in on the descent into the Deschutes River National Recreation Area. The descent is a classic and the scenery is fantastic. We stopped and put on our rain gear at the top of the hill and then took our rain gear off when we reached the river.
In the summer, the Deschutes River canyon is hot and the place to be is on a raft on the river. But the warmer temperature felt great after the long decent and we had a picture taking competition riding up the canyon towards Tygh Valley. The climb was easy and the valley through the farms and ranches was green in contrast to the dark, dry hills leading to Tygh Ridge.
We were ready for a break when we got to the little store in Tygh Valley. I like stopping here and was glad to see the store was still open. It is nice riding a permanent and not feeling like your in a race and you can't stop and relax a little. After a while we were ready to roll so I asked, "R2R U Ready?" R2R said yes.
I reached US-197 and started the six mile climb to the top of Tygh Ridge. I turned around to see how R2R was doing and oppsydoodle, no R2R. R2R wasn't as ready to ride as he thought. His chain went off the back of his cassette and he had to stop and pry it loose. Eventually I pulled out my cell phone, "Calling R2R, Where are you?" The climb up to Tygh ridge isn't as long as I remembered. The good cardio portion is only 5 miles long and R2R beat me to the top.
We stopped at Dufer on our way to The Dalles and topped off our water bottles and sat down on the bench outside the store. Once again it was nice to relax and not feel like cogs in a giant
I noticed R2R disappeared on the final descent into The Dalles so I pulled over and waited. Pretty soon I was calling on the cell. It only rang a couple of times when I spotted R2R coming down the hill. R2R took a nail to the tire but it wasn't going flat very fast so we decided to pick a good place to stop and repair. R2R voted for Safeway which was a good choice because of the nice tables out side of the store next to the Deli. It was a major photographic event.
When R2R took the wheel off of his Atlantis, he also discovered his cassette had come apart. This explained R2R's shifting problems and probably the chain shifting off the top of the cassette. R2R was ready2ride in record time. He put his cassette back together and tightened it with a giant alien multitool with almost every gadget a guy could want. My cassette came loose once about 5 years ago out in the middle of the desert. Now I tighten my cassettes really good with a big Craftsman socket wrench.
From The Dalles we rode 20 miles on the scenic highway and the Historic Twin Tunnels Trail to Hood River. It was an incredibly gorgeous ride along the river. The wildflowers are about max and everything was crazy green. We ate burritos downtown at Taco Del Mar when we got to Hood River. Afterwards R2R gave me a ride across the river in his BMW. We had a good long bike ride with hills and scenery, a great big California style surfin mondo burrito, and a comfortable ride in a leather bound BMW with heated seats. Can it get much better than that?
At the Three Capes 300k this Spring, Dick Weber gave me several brochures for an organized benefit ride coming up on June 14th. Every year I see more and more road bikers in Hood River. I think the Columbia River Highway is a major contributor to the increase. I think I'll contribute and maybe even ride. I have a bowling shirt waiting in my closet for just such an event. I'll be ready to ride for sure.