Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on April 22nd, 2012 at 10:27 pm
Gorgeous weather brought out a huge crowd (900? 1,000?) for the De Ronde Van West Portlandia today. The unsanctioned ride is a grand tour of our city’s amazing network of hilly streets, out-of-the way parks and trails, and ritzy neighborhoods nestled in the hills high above southwest Portland.
In total, the ride took us 47 miles and included 7,800 feet of climbing — much of it extremely, uncomfortably steep. (And if you’re curious, it took me about 4 hours and 40 minutes.)
Before the ride started, organizer Brad Ross was excited; but clearly a bit nervous. With this many people and no official permits or road closures, he had reason to be concerned. Luckily I haven’t heard about any bad incidents. Chalk that up to respectful riders and drivers.
From the northwest industrial area, we rolled out on Highway 30 to our first climb; NW Saltzman Road. It was a perfect warm-up as the trees and ferns of Forest Park kept us cool. Once we got to Skyline Blvd, I don’t remember what happened really. All I remember is that we descended a lot and we climbed an awful lot.
Some of the climbs were extremely steep. Brynwood and College especially. If it wasn’t for flat, residential driveways adjacent to the climbs that gave riders a chance to breathe for a few seconds, many more would have had to walk. Even with those driveways, many people (including myself) found themselves out of gears and out of breath and with no other option to get off and walk.
The pain I felt during the ride was a small price to pay for the ride itself. The route was out of this world. Brad (Ross) and Hugh (Givens) have scoped out a connection of roads and trails that is simply fantastic (and should be permanently signed!). I was pleasantly surprised that we went along dirt paths, around gates where cars couldn’t go, and through some of Portland’s marquee natural spaces like Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum.
I had my demons throughout the day. At one point my hamstrings succumbed to cramps and I had to dismount and stretch. (Of course, a woman working in her garden nearby asked me if I wanted to come over and sit down and have a drink!) I also spent the final several miles feeling generally uncomfortable and wanting it to end. But as many of you know, once you actually finish a ride like this, the great feelings erase most of the bad ones.
And the view atop Council Crest! Wow!
It was my first time doing de Ronde and the route, the people, and the entire experience, has given me a deeper appreciation for our city. Thanks everyone who makes it happen and for all the supportive people along the route.
Here some more photos of the day (taken with my phone and I didn’t really focus on the photos… All my energy was focused on making it to Council Crest!).
Me, tired and happy…
(One final note… Reader Allison D said she lost a handlebar-mounted HD camera on Highway 30 before the Saltzman climb. If anyone picked it up please contact us and we’ll put you in touch.)