On Saturday 20 August, 2011, I prerode the Bridge of the Gods 200K with David Parsons, Ed Groth, and Steph Routh. David, Ed, and I are putting this loop on as a brevet on September 3rd and needed to check on the cue sheet and conditions – especially since the last time this ride was done as a brevet was a few years ago. We started at 7:30am from Wilshire Park in Portland (yep, a summer brevet starting in Portland!) heading North on 33rd to Marine Drive.
Steph on Marine Drive
This road gets a bit of traffic at times, but is fine on a Saturday morning. Marine Drive gets a lot of cyclists, but that doesn’t mean you will enjoy it – fortunately there are multi-use paths along most (not all) of the road. To start off on the paths, follow signs on 33rd, cross to the opposite side of the street just before a little overpass and then turn under it. If you hate yielding to other cyclists and people out on foot, or love riding in pacelines, just stay on Marine Drive. The milage should be very similar.
The Frontage Road to Troutdale is basically a truck stop, so if you already need to refuel, you can. I usually skip these stores and use the Plaid Pantry at Graham and the Historic Highway 30 or skip that and get a bite to eat in the twee stretch of old Troutdale which is just a little further along. Next supplies are at the Corbett Market – a whole 6 miles or so away.
The Historic Highway 30 is one of my favorite stretches of road and (after a quick stop at Glenn Otto park to use clean, free bathrooms) I zipped along the gradual climb to Crown Point and the Vista House – a good place to stop with a camera. But don’t do as we did and stand around there talking to folks forever.
Ed and David at Crown Point
Take your photos and then get ready for a fun, twisty descent into the best part of this route. Highway 30 after Crown Point runs along the Columbia at a pretty low elevation, so it’s pretty cool and well shaded by trees. Along the way there are several waterfalls to your right and services are available at Multnomah Falls – including ice cream. We also met some nice cyclists and had a long chat – beware distractions!
Mike with Ice Cream
After Multnomah Falls, it is only a few miles before you will be riding on I-84 which is unpleasant, but only 2.4 miles long. There is a bridge with almost no shoulder and you will have to swerve to the right almost immediately after the bridge because the shoulder widens and smooths out, except for the rumble strip which begins directly ahead of you. My solution to these freeway miles is to pedal faster – so I pushed 25mph or so the whole stretch and then waited at the trail at mile point 43.5. My odometer indicated mile point 45 and I know that David Parsons is going to revise the mileage on the updated cue sheet, but I’d recommend using the first 20 miles of simple cues to figure out if your mileage is off so you can correct along the way.
My freeway speed was faster than the others, so I ate some blackberries and waited. David showed up and joined me and then Ed and Steph showed up with three nicely inflated wheels and one flat. And then the nice cyclists from Multnomah Falls arrived. As David mentions in his ride report – we stood around and gossiped.
The trail from here to Eagle Creek is bumpy and has a flight of stairs going down to the East – so please obey the stop sign at the top.
If you’ve managed not to waste as much time as we did, you’ll have time to eat something proper in Cascade Locks. I recommend that you do not try to do this at Char Burger (the restaurant at the end of the trail). Instead, stay on 30 (also signed Wanapa) going East for a couple of blocks and check out the Pacific Crest Pub on the South side of the street. They have a lot of shady, outdoor seating and plenty of room for bikes. They also have food (at pub prices) and beer – including taps from Walking Man Brewery which is located just across the river in Stevenson (if you’re a diehard fan you can probably plan to go off route to find Walking Man, but we didn’t so I don’t have any tips). Once you’ve sufficiently refueled, cross the Bridge of the Gods and you’re in Washington.
Self Portrait on the Bridge of the Gods
The out and back bit to the Northeast is tough, but we had wasted a lot of time and needed to ride it quickly. I ended up ahead of Ed and David, riding all-out in the steadily increasing heat and missed the control at Stabler. You need to go 8.5 miles on Wind River Road – that gets you through Carson, across the Wind River Bridge (the river is way, way down from this bridge), and towards a Fish Hatchery. If you reach the fish you’re 5 miles too far. I only went 1.5 miles too far, so I can’t say much about the Hatchery except that I hear they have water.
The Stabler store (at the intersection of Wind River and Hemlock Y is now a residence (no wonder I missed it!) and when David, Ed, and I all pulled in at the same time we were really disappointed not to be able to buy cold beverages. I recommend a resupply in Stevenson or Carson on the way out and maybe on the way back. Just don’t be like us and skip all of your options. We did end up stopping at Beacon Rock State Park to refill water bottles and sit in the shade. At this point it was about 90 degrees and there is little to no shade along 14. Oh and it’s a bit rolling before the big climb. There’s a great viewpoint at the top of the big climb which makes it worth it, but instead you’ll be turning on Krogstad and missing it.
The old cue sheet made Krogstad sound very easy to miss, but there is a street sign and the satellite dish in the yard is actually huge (though barely visible behind the fence). I got there a bit ahead of everyone and had a good chat with Kieth – a local who sells rocks and crystals at this intersection. Ed bought a rock! Ok, so it was a crystal, but he still did.
From there it’s up to Canyon River Road and then up some more to the next control. It was hot enough on our way UP that the road was blistered and glistening. Riding across the blisters made a quiet pop pop pop pop pop pop popping sound.
Washougal River Mercantile – mp 95 (or 100 if you add extra miles like I did) – has lots of food and crap. I was really hungry and very happy about the food and crap. Once on a very cold ride I bought gloves here, but today it was hot and most of the male customers had apparently left their shirts at home. I was feeling better because of the food, but then we rode along the narrow chipseal ribbon called Washougal River Road where many, many drunk river rafters and waders and swimmers were transforming into awful shouting honking drivers. I hope for your sake that they are not doing this when you ride the brevet on 3 September. Traffic and heat continued through Camas and the bumpy rough surface of 6th/Evergreen Highway was quite welcome if only because there were very few cars there.
Eager to get home, I bombed down the 205 bridge to Oregon (30mph tucked – could have been faster if not for bumpy metal plates over the expansion joints). All the heat and wasted time and bumpy roads and car stress hadn’t done wonders for my mood, but the last several roads on the route were quiet, smooth, and calming. We pulled up to Wilshire Park at almost 8pm – 12 hours and 37 minutes after we started. You can most certainly do it faster than this – David notes that we were only on our bikes for a hair under 9 hours.