Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Washington Cascades bike tour, Day 1

Bike path start Washington Cascades_0411
Read the prologue to this trip here.
We met our fellow riders for Adventure Cycling's Washington Cascades van-supported tour on Saturday night. It turned out there were only 11 instead of 13 riders. Two had to cancel before the ride started. Tricia noted that the only other female rider was our friend Catherine, so she'd generally be "ridin' with the boys™" again. She was happy that our ride leader, Heather Anderson, is a woman, which at least brought the total to three.

I'd checked out Heather on the web and discovered she'd written a book, I Never Intended to be Brave, about her five months and over 5,000 miles of solo cycling across Southern Africa. I wondered what she'd think of an old guy on a carbon bike in racer lycra who needed a van to carry his stuff. I was throughly intimidated after reading her story and vowed to never let her hear me complain about the weather or the ride. But after meeting her and her co-leader Greg Edwards I felt like we'd be in good hands, and they both had the good graces not to laugh out loud at me — at least where I could hear them.

We'd been on one Adventure Cycling van tour and several fully supported tours before. The fully supported tours are grand. Your camping equipment is hauled for you, all the meals are provided by a full staff, and the roads are even marked. All you need to do is ride. The van tours differ in that they are smaller (13 instead of over 50,) and the cooking is shared. Every night a team of two is responsible for buying the food from shared funds, setting up the kitchen (camp stove on folding tables) cooking, cleanup and then the next morning setting out breakfast and lunch fixings, and finally cleaning and packing it all up. There are no road markings, just a map and a map meeting the night before. It's not self supported in that we don't carry our tents, bags and food on our bikes, and we have the Adventure Cycling leaders to fall back on if things go to pieces. Still, it feels more like an adventure than a carefully-controlled event.

Super 8 start Washington Cascades_0400With the meeting and orientation out of the way we woke up the next morning, packed the van with our tents, sleeping bags and such and headed out from the not-particularly beautiful industrial zone where our Super 8 motel was located. In 90 seconds we were on a wonderful bike path rolling along the river on our way to adventure. The ride was beautiful right from the start. We headed up the Oregon Gorge in search of coffee. Sure, we were semi-roughing it, but we weren't going without coffee. We were shocked that the small community of Troutdale had two coffee shops that weren't open that early. That's just wrong.  But eventually we found a coffee hut that fed our addictions. We also came across a dragon that, as "Mother of Dragons" and "Khaleesi of the Khalasar" Tricia demanded a photo of.

Tricia manages to find coffee one Day 1 of our ride. #birthdaygirl

Mother of dragons Washington Cascades_0414

We stopped at the Portland Women's Forum State Scenic Viewpoint and later the Vista House at Crown Point for some amazing views.

Curtis Tricia Womens Forum Day 1 Washington Cascades_0428

Tricia Vista Point  day 1 Washington Cascades_0432
Then it got even more beautiful. The road was smooth, the car traffic light and there were frequent waterfalls to stop at and marvel over.
Waterfallday 1 Washington Cascades_0463

We rode the first day with our friends Bob and Catherine who know most of this route well and are just fun to hang with.

Bob, day 1 Washington Cascades_0449

At one point our route took us off the road and onto a short bike path with a tunnel just the right length for pretty, but not so long and dark as to be worrisome.

Tricia in tunnel day 1 Washington Cascades_0464

Then it was back to hobbit land bike trails.

Headed toward Bridge of the Gods on bike path Washington Cascades_0489

Close to the end of our ride for the day there are stairs. The good people of Oregon have designed them with tracks and groves  on the sides for bikes, which must be very nice for fully loaded touring bikes. Tricia just hoisted her little pony up and danced down them in road cleats.

Tricia stairs Washington Cascades_0480

Sign day 1 Washington Cascades_0495We arrived at our camp site in the shadow (well, there would have been a shadow if there had been any sun) of the Bridge of the Gods. Our site had a very bike friendly brew pub and a beautiful setting. I can't tell you how happy I'd be to see a sign like the pub had in my own community.

Our sleeping area was between two sets of train tracks that, it turns out, get a lot of use during the middle of the night. We had some impressively loud sounds that managed to wake up even me, a world class sleeper.

We managed to set up or tent between rain showers and thunder and still had time to grab a tasty brew and attempt to watch the world cup final on an iPhone using the bar's slow-but-free wi-fi.  And, as if a planned special treat, the Thunder Island Brewing Company was showing a traveling photo exhibit of images made of the special  folk who stop in at the Adventure Cycling office in Missoula Montana on their cross country bike trips.

The shared cooking thing worked out well the first night, and Heather surprised Tricia with a birthday cupcake.

TRicia birthday day 1 Washington Cascades_0513

Read the prologue to this trip here.
Read all the entries in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

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