Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 21st, 2013 at 12:41 am
hundreds of riders on Saturday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Saturday was another great edition of the infamous and unofficial classic Ronde PDX ride. Hundreds of people showed up to push the limits of their legs over 47 miles and nearly 8,000 feet of climbing. We climbed up and down and up and down countless hills between NW Saltzman Road and Council Crest Park. With nothing but yellow stencils of the Lion of Flanders painted on the road to guide us, we pedaled through potholes, gravel, smooth pavement, and even some singletrack.
De Ronde is a special event. Many people say it's their favorite day on a bike all year. Maybe it's the sheer challenge of finishing, maybe it's the adventurous and extremely scenic route, or maybe it's the camaraderie that develops (I overheard countless people introduce themselves to the person riding next to them). Whatever you think of it, there's no denying De Ronde has become a cherished local institution. I even heard someone call it a rite of passage. In some ways, this is the racing crowd's World Naked Bike Ride.
That being said, if you think only hardcore racers show up for De Ronde, you'd be wrong. It attracts a wide variety riders. I saw a bunch of mountain bikes on the course and there were several touring-bikes. There was even one guy on a recumbent, tadpole trike!
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The course itself is something you have to experience to really understand. The first major climb of the day, NW Brynwood, is a heinous 23% grade. It's basically a wall of pavement. And today it claimed many victims. It's not only steep, it's narrow and full of slick green moss. People were literally falling over each other as they heaved their bikes side-to-side in an often futile attempt to keep their cranks turning.
My luck and my legs on Brynwood were no good. In fact, I didn't feel great at the outset of today's ride. Then came SW College, which is another leg-breaker at nearly the same steepness as Brynwood. With my legs warmed up, I somehow managed to make it all the way up without walking (or turning into a driveway, which is a lifeline on these steep climbs)! Making it up College gave me a much-needed mental boost that carried me through the rest of the day.
Check out more of the action on the climbs in the photos below by Dave Roth:
The other thing that helped keep us going today were all the kind folks along the way who passed out free water, drinks, and treats. The support from local residents is really special. Families that live along the route offered free cookies, lemonade, candy (a Snicker bar at mile 38 saved the day for me!), and more.
One of my favorite stops was just a few miles from the finish line, where a friend had a cup of frosty beer poured and ready before I even stepped off my bike (thanks Dave and Brad!).
(Photo: Dave Roth)
Thanks again to Brad, Hugh, Andrew, and everyone else who makes De Ronde possible.
If you did the ride, I'd love to hear how it went...