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I rode what I call "Round the block" (almost-century) yesterday. Went solo, starting to 'ramp-up' my training for second (and serious this time) attempt at the Everest Challenge race coming in Sept. in the Owens Valley-Eastern Sierras in California. Last season, on a whim I went without any specific training and failed to finish that, so this year I'm doing some longer days to prepare...as much as you can prepare for something that's equal to two Death Rides, but done as a race...see: http://everestchallenge.com/

Started from home, west of the town of Lyle,Washington. on Hwy 14, 10 mi. east of Hood River (windsurfing mecca) in the Columbia Gorge. About 70 miles east of Portland, Oregon on the east slope of the Cascade range. Right between Mt Hood and Mt Adams, two snow covered volcano peaks.

I took off at 7:30am in shorts, leaving the Columbia Gorge, headed up Hwy 142 following the Klickitat River northeast towards Goldendale, Wa. Very pleasant, scenic, no traffic. Every ride in the Gorge pretty much starts with a climb, river level being only about 150' elevation.

I rode my Ridley Damocles on some low profile carbon tubular wheels because as usual in the Gorge, it looked to be a windy afternoon. I take three bottles on hot days on this loop because there aren't any C-stores or (government-certified) safe water sources between the town of Klickitat and the town of Glenwood..about 40 (?) miles apart. I know of a couple of springs, but they are hard to find.. There's a couple of parking areas to start riding from just west of Lyle alongside SR 14 with rest rooms. The town of Lyle has a store, a gas station and a Tavern..

The ride starts with a gradual climb along the river (the Klickitat, designatet Wild and Scenic) for about 20 miles, then you leave the Klickitat canyon and climb out, on a really cool little road to the plateau near Goldendale, Wa. This little section of road is one of my all time favorites, very european without guardrails and only a single lane wide..You gain about 1700' in three miles until you top out on the Goldendale "heights". This climate zone is Ponderosa Pine, scrub Oak and sage brush with wheat and hay the main crops.

You turn northwest soon after the climb (the road becomes two lane again) leaving Hwy 142 for the Glenwood/Goldendale road. After a bit more climbing you re-enter the Klickitat Canyon and descend back to river level down a long smooth wide-open stretch, Mt Adams and Mt Hood shining. You re-cross the Klickitat at a F.S. campground (toilets, boat ramp but no drinking water) and begin another long climb to Glenwood..about 20(?) miles. This is a gentle climb through the forest, heading straight at Mt Adams. Watch the road, not the mountain... At the apex of this climb, there is an overlook a short distance down a dirt road..Worth the side trip to have a gander at some waterfalls and the Klickitat River, now far below in it's canyon.

Glenwood's about half-way..A store and a cafe. I fueled up and restocked with water at the little general store...what a bunch of characters in there! At Glenwood, I decided to side-step the now very strong west wind and head for BZ Corners (another town) direct rather than continuing on west into the "town" of Trout Lake. If you keep on to Trout Lake, you again climb after a few miles, then descend into town. An excellent cafe in Trout Lake, with wonderful Huckleberry milkshakes, BTW.. By cutting south through the Conboy Lake Wildlife refuge you can tuck into a little bit of shelter from the headwind, which is quite a bit more work when you're riding solo. This shortens a perfect century (103 miles) to only about 92 miles. From Glenwood to BZ Corners, you change climate zones. You leave the dry pine forest and come into more rainforest country...some Cedars and lots of green grass in the fields, dairy farms, etc. You drop from the plateau/ridge into another river drainage, The White Salmon river, which also has it's headwaters on Mt Adams.

There was a big "hatch" of grasshoppers in Glennwood. Quite painful if they hit you on the nose..It's about 20 miles from Glenwood down to BZ Corners..10 almost flat and 10 downhill..so I enjoyed the downhill into "town" at BZ Corners..(another one gas station, one cafe town).

At BZ Corners you turn left (hwy 141) heading back south towards the Columbia River and the town of White Salmon. By now, the famous Gorge Wind was blowing but the road is smooth and downhill through a beautiful green valley.

I went through "city-center" of White Salmon (a couple of gas stations, a couple of stores and some churches, even) and rejoined SR 14 in the town of Bingen, Wa....After about 8 miles, with a 40mph tailwind as I rode towards home, I cut left up "My Road", which is Old Hwy 8, at Rowland Lake and hit my driveway in 5hrs 10mins..

Between home and when I rejoined state route 14(what counts for the main road on the Washington shore of the Gorge) again, I saw perhaps 4 log trucks, a few cars, a black bear and a gazillion grasshoppers. Climbed about 6300' but kept a moderate pace for the most part.



All in all, an enjoyable ride. I'm lucky to live where rides like this abound. Between now and late Sept I plan on a couple of these rides per week, plus my normal races and training...Maybe I'll not bail on the Everest Challenge this time...especially if it doesn't snow and rain on us this year..

Don Hanson
 
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