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Massive turnout at “De Ronde”

Posted by on April 4th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-4

The fabled Lion of Flanders
led the riders out of Northwest
Portland this morning.
-Slideshow below-
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland’s unsanctioned spring classic, the third annual De Ronde van Oeste Portlandia, attracted an estimated 600-700 riders today. They were treated to a gorgeous day with clear blue skies and temperatures well into the 60s.

They started this morning in Portland’s Northwest Industrial area and headed out via Highway 30 toward Sauvie Island. Then, from NW Salztman Road to Council Crest in the Southwest Hills, they pedaled, walked and willed themselves up too many grueling climbs to count.

Story continues below


I rode the first few miles with packs of enthusiastic riders as far as the eye could see. The next place I met up with the ride was on SW College Avenue, just south of I-405 and downtown Portland. At a muscle-wrenching 26% incline, College was one of the steepest climbs on the day. Some riders fell over when they couldn’t turn the pedals over fast enough and were unable to unclip from their pedals, others just walked, and a few were able to pedal up the whole thing.

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-27

A 26% incline caused several riders to fall over in their pedals.
Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-25

For many, it was easier to walk.

I heard of two serious crashes, both on fast, downhill sections of the ride. One of them was very serious. Riders told me that a man was coming down SW Vista at well over 30 miles per hour when a truck entered the roadway in front of him. He hit it square on, crumpling the truck’s metal body. He was taken away by an ambulance (I’ll update this story when I hear more about his condition).

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-10

Riders strung out along Highway 30.

Riders of all types showed up. I even saw one man with his very young son behind on a tandem (I hope they stayed upright on the climbs). One rider, first-timer Ben McLeod, said the ride was “more challenging than a century.”

While bragging rights were at stake for the areas strongest riders, the idea of this ride is just a fun, personal challenge. I heard reports of a Pabst Blue Ribbon stop that a local resident had put out for riders. 50 people stopped to rest and chug a beer before continuing on.

At the end of the 44 mile ride, high atop Portland at Council Crest, ride co-founder Brad Ross told me finishers enjoyed a “big party”. “This is the first year this ride had good weather,” he said, “so we just took over Council Crest.”

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-11

Riders relied on these stencils to find their way along the circuitous route.
Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-21


The party continues tonight at Roots Brewing in Southeast Portland.

Check out more of my photos from the day in the Photo Gallery or in the slideshow below:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Were you on the ride today? How’d it go for you?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • UncleMuscles April 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Doesn’t really make you feel like partying when you hear about a crash like that. The ride was a blast and I was enjoying my “recovery” until this news came through. It sounds like this was the fault of the car, but there was a lot of unnecessary and unsafe riding going on. Maybe we shouldn’t be stopping to chug beers when we’re on an unsanctioned and questionably safe “ride”. Best wishes for both crash victims- I’m really hoping for some good news on this.

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  • pkoonce April 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Sounds like a great ride, and thanks for the inspiring story! Does anyone know of a list of long rides that will be offered throughout the season?

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  • Suburbanite April 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Brutal….I wasn’t ready. Whole lot of fun though. Going to do it again in a couple months when I’ve got my legs back for the season.

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  • old&slow April 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I witnessed the accident on Vista. It was brutal, the worst crash I have ever seen. The guy had no chance, probably didn’t even touch the brakes. It happened so fast, like an explosion. I hope somebody knows who the rider is and will keep us posted on his condition.

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  • old&slow April 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    By the way, it was totally the drivers fault. When you are coming down Vista, you don’t expect and shouldn’t have cars turn in front of you. It was just tragic, although I have know idea why the driver made the turn.

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  • tom April 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    That ride was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. Can’t wait to drink some beer at Roots.

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  • Christopher April 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I met my goal of not walking. Phew. Well, except for the gate at Saltzman of course. I’ve been working all year to make this ride, but it was by no means easy.

    I saw a rider down with a blanket wrapped around him, but I thought it was on Pittock. I could be wrong, or maybe that’s the other crash that was mentioned. The course was pretty convoluted, and I hardly knew where I was at times. Lots of people were there for that rider so I figured there was nothing I could do to help, but I saw his ambulance coming as I came down.

    Lots of friendly riders out. Nothing like common suffering to bring people together. I’m thankful for the sun!

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  • Michael Wolfe April 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I finished in about 4:30. Pretty sure that makes me the first and only recumbent rider to finish ever. Brynwood was a crime against traffic engineering and I had to walk half of it. I did pedal all but about five feet of College, though.

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  • Loren April 4, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Lots of fun, and have never ridden with a nicer group of people. On the last half of the ride it seemed like there weren’t many people still pedaling…. Anyone else find that to be the case? I didn’t see the PBR stop, but the two ladies and the guy that were handing out beer, gatorade and food, hats off.

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  • Ben McLeod April 4, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    What a crazy-fun ride. I agree, it was by far the nicest group of people I have ever had the pleasure to ride with – which is good, because it was by far the most difficult ride I’ve ever ridden!

    I’m thinking of the injured tonight, and hoping for speedy recoveries. I’m also hoping the truck driver gets charged. There was no reason they should have pulled out in front of traffic; biker or car!

    Thanks all for such a great ride and day!

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  • grimm April 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Spirits were high, climbs were epic and the descents white knuckle. It was fun, and the weather made it even better. Beat last years time by a long shot, under 4hrs this year.

    I had just turned off burnside when I heard ambulances, I had really hoped it was unrelated to the event. Speedy recovery.

    Oh and I saw lot of cameras (well the same crew in at least 3 locations), hopefully whatever footage comes from this can get posted.

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  • bahueh April 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    oohhh man, the news of an accident sucks.
    that’s really bad….i was chatting with a teammate about it as we were descending Montgomery…lots of people of varying ability levels on busy streets. Drivers downtown aren’t used to seeing that many cyclists…the potential for collisions was definitely there. this report just made me call all of my friends who I knew were out there to make sure they were OK….

    route time was under 4 hours…climbed Brynewood and College without too much trouble…no walking……got interviewed by the OPB camera crew…totally cracked on the final climb up to Council Crest…

    I can honestly say that was more difficult than 99% of the races I’ve been in…kudos to everyone who tried…

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  • Anonymous April 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Out f’ing-standing photos, J!

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  • red hippie April 4, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks to the great folks who set up aid stations and lent their hoses to replenish water bottles. You were real life savers.

    This was a great early season ride and helped to make me excited about the upcoming year. I felt like Rock Balboa out there, all I wanted out of today to to go the distance. 5 hours and 2 min. Next year I think my goal will be to not have to walk.

    My thoughts are with the cyclist taken down. Go to watch him get loaded into the ambulance. Definitely caused me to rely on my brakes during decents more.

    I’ll be excited to see it all on OPB.

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  • edwin April 4, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Exhausted… I rode the de rond today. That was the gnarliest road ride I’ve ever been on. Fifty miles and all of the ‘worst climbs ever’ linked together. Brynnewood was something amazing. Every time we approached Fairmont on the last third of the ride, I was nearly sure we were about to see the last climb to our final destination: council crest. That was about when the route turned back down the hill. More super bumpy, broken pavement, twisting, west hills style descents.
    I’m totally bushed, but as I type this at Tiny’s–while enjoying a Cubano–I know I cannot go home without quaffing one at Roots with the survivors. I also know it’s about time to get back in shape…and build a lighter road bike.

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  • Anonymous April 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Heard from an eye witness that the tandem dad with his little boy pedaled all of Brynwood.

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  • Scott Turner April 5, 2009 at 6:58 am

    This is a HARD ride! Congratulations to everyone who finished. Looking forward to good weather again next year!

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  • r hatch April 5, 2009 at 7:13 am

    The beutiful weather made it feel like i was cheating..a nice change.It was great to see a huge collection of riders at Councel Crest. I got 7500+ ft for the day and that was enough for me. Im gratefull for all the “pirate”aid stations big and small it all shows what a great bike town we live in.

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  • steve p April 5, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Huge thanks to the unsanctioned organizer who put this on. Events like this is why portland is a great bike town.

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  • Josh April 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

    It was certainly a great ride again. Thanks to the girls with the Beer!!! that was the best surprise of the ride. I hope that both riders that went down are ok. Thanks for the coverage Jonathan.

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  • Kevin April 5, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I’m absolutely green w/ envy. Looks like such a great ride. Bold! So, is this ride anonymously organized? Nothing official? The city and police don’t freak out that there are no permits or anything, yet there are that many riders on the course? (Not that I’m suggesting this ride needs any of that!) I’m just curious to know how it works in Portland.

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  • SteveD April 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

    It was our first time and we enjoyed the challenge. We arrived at Council Crest long after the party was over. But we made it!

    I think a lot of people got lost finding the way. We had to use a map to guide us in a couple places.

    Sorry to hear about the accidents and hope those get well soon.

    Thanks to all those that were involved setting up this event. And thanks to Jonathan for the create article and photos.

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  • Richard Lee April 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

    What a fine idea. I hope Vancouver, Canada can one day be like bike friendly Portland!

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  • Anne April 5, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    There was a crash yesterday at SW 16th Ave. and SW Myrtle St. involving a De Ronde cyclist coming down the hill with other riders and a red truck coming up SW 16th turning left. Fire, police and finally an ambulance responded. The rider appeared to have a broken leg.
    I am a neighbor and would like to know that the rider is OK.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 5, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I received an update from a witness on that serious crash with the truck.

    The guy who hit the truck was John Ebenal – he sometimes rides with my team (Word-RCB, formerly BIKE-Cyclisme). Some of us were with him when it happened and the rest (including me) came up right after.

    He was conscious and coherent, but in pain. He was taken to Emmanuel where the diagnosis was tib/fib fracture and some ribs as well. he will need surgery for the leg, but a teammate who visited tonight said he was in good spirits.

    Thank God, because considering the nature of the crash, it could have been so much worse. We were all left shell-shocked and shaking our heads wondering what the driver was thinking. There were at least 10 riders right there and he just made a left turn right in their path. It was a very narrow miss for at least a couple others.

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  • Dave April 5, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I followed the ride and took photos at a couple of different locations. Check them out at my site:
    Ronde 09 Photo Albums

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  • Loren April 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the photos Dave!

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  • Candi April 5, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    OPB is doing a full show on their Oregon Field Guide of the ride. Let’s make sure that we post when it airs.

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  • Zaphod April 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I love the ronde.

    After two years of grim weather, this was just too nice. I only learned of the bigger (Montgomery) crash just now and an relieved to learn that, while busted up, it appears that he will be OK.

    I saw the immediate aftermath of the crash near Pittock mansion. That section of road is covered in sand and debris. It would be easy to eat it if you came into the corner too hot. The rider was conscious but clearly in pain.

    The PBR that magically appeared two thirds into the ride was exactly what the body and mind needed to finish the last few climbs. Thanks to Amy & the group for such a generous gift.

    While Brynwood and College were ugly… the most painful climbs were the last few. It appeared that the summit was upon us until the lions decreed we point our bikes downhill only to regain our altitude inch by inch powered only by the spirit of Pantani.

    Many a ride has ended at Council Crest but this one was handily the best.

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  • Zaphod April 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    BTW, reading UncleMuscles’ (#1) response and the story’s characterization of the beer stop makes me want to clarify what the vibe was. What I saw were riders (myself included) stop, relax, take some time and enjoy a beer along with some savory treats. It was relaxed and quite nice in the early afternoon. Never did I see anyone stop, chug and roll. This wasn’t a race with all the urgency that goes with it.

    It was a self selecting group who partook and the only ramification was perhaps sub-optimal climbing speed on the next hill.

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  • old&slow April 5, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    For those of you who didn’t get a chance to watch the real “RONDE” today in Belgium, it was awesome. This race and next weeks Paris/Roubaix make the Tour de France look like a cakewalk. They had 22% grades like Brynwood with cobbles that these guys race up. The organizers of our event are close to the real thing. The Pro’s in the “RONDE’ race on every cowpath, cobbled grade they can find in that country. Devolder won in a runaway.

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  • Krampus April 5, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    That guy is a TROOPER. He wins the gold and everything. I love that pic

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  • ken April 6, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I agree. He passed me on Salzmann and I never saw him again.

    Kudos to the stoker!

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  • solid gold April 6, 2009 at 9:27 am

    man, that is like a bizarro world ZooBomb!! in the day instead of the night, uphill instead of down, older guys on fancy bikes instead of younger guys on homebuilt bikes, spandex instead of leather (except for the one guy on a MTB with pants, which is like the one guy in spandex and a road bike at zoobomb).

    both are unsanctioned, take place in public streets and parks ,and apparently also involve drinking beer at the top of a hill to celebrate!

    nice work! except zoobomb is every sunday, but if we had to ride back up the hill, it would happen A LOT less.

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  • cd April 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I was behind John when he was hit by the red toyota pickup. It was the most horrific thing I’ve seen in a long time. I still don’t know why the driver decided to turn. John and I agree that we didn’t see a blinker so the driver turned without even signaling. John was already breaking before the collision and I could see him trying to steer clear but the truck had completely blocked the road. We weren’t going over 30, more like 25mph because we knew about the sharp corner down the road.
    John was in good spirits Saturday evening and today they are suppose to do surgery on his leg. He’s already anticipating being back on the bike soon. He’s such a trooper.

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  • King April 6, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for the update on John. Please keep ’em coming.

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  • vincentpaul April 6, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    The words foreseeable, standard of care, and liability come to mind. Future organizers and promoters might want to check their personal liability policy. It’s pretty easy to imagine an attorney standing in front of a jury explaining the standard of care that is appropriate to a mass cycling event. Saturday’s events should be a reality check.

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  • WORD April 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

    The Doctors placed a titanium rod in John’s lower leg yesterday. The surgery went well and without any complications. John will stay at the hospital for a few more days for observation. They also need to keep a close eye on the bruised lungs, to make sure there’s no clotting (he broke 4 ribs). The compression fractures on a couple of vertebrae are relatively moderate and don’t require any surgery, just rest & recovery. The doctor’s & nurses are doing an excellent job (and John’s wife happens to be a nurse too), so we’re hoping for a smooth recovery. Our team is organizing meals & yard work. If anyone wants to contribute to the food fund, contact Thank you.

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  • jeff April 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

    vincentpaul, put 700 riders out on a sunny day organized or on their own, odds are someone is going to crash.

    great ride again, most beautiful of the year.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Vincentpaul is the same guy who thinks pedestrians on multi-use paths can run backward (literally) and “straddle the path five abreast while balancing dinnerwear on their noses” without having to worry about negligence.

    His free unsolicited online legal advice is probably worth exactly what you paid for it.

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  • old&slow April 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    vincent, who said anything about an organized ride? It was just people out riding their bikes on a sunny day and is not against the law as far as I know.

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  • Brad Ross April 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    #37 Sounds like legaleze for “Lets take all the fun out of life”

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  • tim h April 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    fun isn’t organized, it’s fun

    hooray fun

    unfun people can stay home

    more fun for the rest of us

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  • muddy joker April 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve been on many memorable rides over the last 15yrs or so, but Saturday was the ride of a lifetime…so unique…SOOO FUN!!…
    Thanks Brad Ross…
    Now..can anyone tell me where I can get a “RONDE PDX” t-shirt like the one in the last pic?

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  • Jason April 8, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Yes what’s the 411 on those T-shirts. Will pay money and have witnesses that I did in fact finish this year (so I wouldn’t be a De Ronde-T-shirt-wearing poseur)!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

    about the shirts….

    Brad Ross brought a bunch of them to the after-party at Roots the night of the ride.

    I’m sure he still has more… i would bet that they show up at a future event… and/or become raffle fodder at the Cross Crusade!

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  • King April 8, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I got mine!

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  • redhippie April 9, 2009 at 8:16 am

    So what is the harder event, Paris Roubaix or Tour de Flanders?

    Now we need a Pair-roubaix tribute ride. Perhaps the route could go along marine drive (against the wind) hit forest service gravel roads up to Larch mountain, etc etc.

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  • ski_pdx April 16, 2009 at 11:20 am

    any idea when the opb video will air?

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