Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seven Mile Hill Road

Author:  Dwaine Trummert
Initially I felt disappointment at having to miss  the Puyallup Cyclopath Skate Creek ride. Until I heard the post-ride weather report.

And I was happy to spend a long weekend with family in the Gorge. Hood River is a great place to windsurf, get outdoors, and relax. We did most of those.

Daddy and Daughter on the
Historic Columbia River Highway
Saturday included a family bike ride on the portion of the Historic Columbia River Highway that is closed to cars. This scenic 4.5 mile stretch of road is popular with casual cyclists and pedestrians and is a great place for younger riders. Our group started with four but my 9 year daughter upped the pace about one mile into the ride. Her and I went off the front, climbed out of the saddle, took a few photos, chatted, rested, and had some daughter-daddy time. By the end of the day my Garmin reported that we had travelled 9.9 miles with 753 feet of elevation gain. When I informed her she had completed 3/4 of the elevation gain at 'The Climb' she was especially proud.


Sunday called for a ride with a different flavor. My Father's Day plan included an alarm clock and a few more miles. Following 'The Dalles Lollipop' route from the book 'Road Riding in the Columbia River Gorge'
would provide about 50 miles and 4000 feet of climbing.

The early part of the ride included the same portion of Historic Columbia River Highway as the family ride the previous day. The real climbing starts in Mosier and ends 1600 vertical feet later halfway up Seven Mile Hill Road. The ride to Seven Mile Hill Road was nearly car free and I had yet to see another cyclist. I did witness other oddities including a wheel-sharing-triple-tandem art sculpture. Even more peculiar was a male deer. With antlers. Watching me ride by. While he sat inside a horse corral.

Although this route was a loop, the first half was primarily Eastbound with the wind aft of the beam.

Strong wind. Wind that makes Hood River and The Gorge the windsurfing Mecca of North America.

That tailwind continued down the second half of Seven Mile Hill Road. Which is a world class descent. The road wound down a series of switchback
with long straits between. The scarcity of the trees allowed me to peer over the edge, see the next stretch of pavement below, and verify that no cars were on their way up. My gearing wasn't tall enough to allow me to add any effort. Yet the Garmin flashed '45' late in the descent.

Turning left on Cheneweth Loop road started the return West to Hood River via Highway 30 (aka the Historic Columbia River Highway). But the fun didn't end. After fighting the Westerly headwind for five miles the road turned into the hills and up towards Rowena Crest viewpoint. The climb was fantastic and my arm was nearly falling off after waving to all the motorcyclists on their way down. At the top I took in the views and chatted briefly with one of the many dual sport motorcyclists that was participating in a rally and enjoying the scenery.

The ride back to Hood River was uneventful. The headwinds were somewhat mitigated by this section of highway being more protected from the wind.
And, at mile 38 of 50, I saw my first cyclist. It seems we Cyclopaths must get an earlier start than our sane counterparts.

After hearing early reports from the official Cyclopath ride participants my disappointment turned to releif. Both my ride and the Skate Creek Loop ride had weather factors. I can be content dealing with a headwind. Especially when it's a warm headwind.

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