Having been separated while riding up a steady incline for quite some time, Andrew and my varying speeds brought us together again after about 15 minutes of riding solo, and conversation picked back up where it had left off. Whether it was a conversation about bike performance or bike parts, politics, relationships, or some other subject that interests us both depended on the particular meetup, as this became a steady pattern throughout our ride this weekend. And it was a wonderful and easy pattern to fall into, the conversation ebbing and flowing as we separated and rejoined again and again.
I often find that with a steady pedal cadence and a heightened heart rate, life gets simpler. The chaos of work and busyness of home are forced into submission by endorphins pushing all but the barest essentials from the mind. And it is this simplicity of task and mind that brought Andrew and I together once again for a weekend well-spent pedaling our way through the Oregon Stampede route.
Want more detail or the GPX version of this route? Click here.
Important sidenote. I did not create this route. We actually found it through oregonbikepacking.com, a great resource for multi-day gravel rides in Oregon. However, while we can’t claim to be founders of this great ride, we did pick the absolute PERFECT weekend to ride it. We had good riding weather (although we were pretty heavily layered throughout the trip), almost no rain and, most important, very little wind, which is often the most disheartening aspect of riding in The Gorge.
We got to the Deschutes River State Recreation Area around 8:30pm on Friday night and set up camp quickly, because we knew the next day had a lot of riding in store for us. We left to start the first climb of the day around 8:15am up Old Moody Road, one of the steeper climbs of the ride right out of the gate. The first 40 miles of the ride to Dufur were absolutely stunning, with old building relics of pioneer days long past, and numerous deer sightings along the way. The view of the Gorge wasn’t too bad either.
We got to Dufur around 12:30pm and ate lunch at the City Park there. When we were about ready to leave, we met some local Dufurians who, after the obligatory ‘You crazy bikers’ greeting, shared some concerns about our route choice and promptly gave us his two-cents. His concerns were mostly because our route appeared to be heading straight into a big rain cloud, which worried us as well. We thanked him for his time (he really was a nice guy) and headed out on the route we had originally planned, only slightly unnerved by the impending rain we hadn’t expected to hit until tomorrow.
But the rain never came. The clouds continued to break up seemingly around every turn, and we stayed dry throughout the duration of the day. The only real challenge throughout the first day’s ride, other than the rather long mileage that neither Andrew or I had ridden in some time, was the 5 mile section through White River Wildlife Area, where some seasonal creeks were flowing through sections of road that we had to cross. After trudging through this section, however, we sailed the rest of the way to Sherar’s Bridge, where we set up camp for the night.
In total, we covered 75.3 miles on day one, and climbed over 6,800 feet of elevation.
We left camp around 7:15am because we knew the the forecast had called for rain in Tygh Valley and The Dalles late morning, and we wanted to beat it as much as possible. We started the day with another climb out of Tygh Valley, and then followed an undulating gravel road along the top of one of the many hills that are so well-known throughout the Gorge. Here the farms were quite sparse and any possible view of the Cascade Range was spoiled by heavy cloud cover, which gave the landscape an almost claustrophobic feel compared to the expansive sky we had grown accustomed to the day before.
Still, we carried on throughout the morning, taking only one 5-minute stop to scarf some food before continuing. The day’s riding had more climbing than we anticipated, but overall was very doable, made sweeter by the fact that we only experienced a few rain spritzes throughout the ride, and the wind was mostly at our backs until the very end.
In total, we rode just under 49 miles on day 2, and ascended almost 3,800 feet of elevation.
When we did arrive back at Deschutes River State Recreation Area around 11:30am, we were absolutely astonished by our luck: no mechanicals, almost no wind, and NO RAIN. We celebrated by heading to Freebridge Brewing and reminiscing about the highs and lows of the ride. Then we got in the car and drove home. It rained the entire way, and we couldn’t have been happier.