Splendid Cycles

The ‘Ronde’ sufferfest ride returns on Sunday

Posted by on April 19th, 2012 at 9:36 am

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

The flag (and the pain) returns Sunday.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Ronde PDX (a.k.a. De Ronde Van West Portlandia), Portland’s ultimate unsanctioned test of cycling sanity, is set for this Sunday.

The ride is a leg-and-lung-busting tour of the steepest climbs in the West Hills. It was first held in 2007 and has become legendary. Since that first running, the Ronde has received major media coverage and now attracts upwards of 700 riders.

A story in The Oregonian today shares some quotes and background about the ride from its organizers Hugh Givens and Brad Ross (the same Brad Ross who manages Portland’s Cross Crusade series and many other major bike races).

The 2012 edition leaves at 10:00 am this Sunday from NW Industrial Street and NW 30th. As for the route… just follow the lions!

If you’re new to town and/or this ride, browse our past coverage and check out some of my favorite photos from past years below…

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-7

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-5

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-24

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-34

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-26

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

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-35

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-25

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-36

Tour of Flanders, Portland-Style - De Ronde-101

Have fun out there and good luck!

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  • Scott April 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Is Ira wiping his nose or sniffing something? It isn’t sanctioned so there is no testing…

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  • NW Biker April 19, 2012 at 10:11 am

    When I follow the link to their website, it says that there’s no ride this year. I didn’t see a date anywhere (not that I really looked). I live in the west hills and thought it might be fun to watch a bit. Do you know if they’re really riding?

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    • Looking for Lions April 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

      It says that because it is “unofficial”. It will be happening Sunday, come out and watch and cheer us on – and if you are going to be out there anyway, maybe offer some water to refill bottles, especially since it is looking like a warm day!

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    • Matt April 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

      It’s really happening. The site says no ride because “officially” there is no ride, capice? Sunday 4/22/2012.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

      as others have said.. yes. They are absolutely doing it. be there. 10AM NW Industrial St

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      • NW Biker April 19, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Got it, thanks! I can’t ride myself right now (flat or otherwise) due to an injured shoulder, so maybe I’ll check the course and go be an unofficial cheering section somewhere.

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    • Champs April 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

      I presume that it’s cost-prohibitive to get permits/officers for closed roads, controlled intersections, etc. that you’d have in an “organized event”.

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  • Chris I April 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Has anyone done this before? I have ridden from Welches up to Timberline a few times, and up to Mary’s Peak from Corvallis. Is this comparable? I guess there are several opportunities to bail early…

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    • Paul Souders April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

      I’ve never ridden up Mary’s Peak but it’s nothing like Welches/Timberline although the vertical gain is comparable. There are a dozen or more climbs, intercut with an equal number of drops. The steepest are at least 23% grade, about 4 times steeper than US26 or 2-3x steeper than Lolo Pass. The longest is Salzman, 5-7% for about 3mi, most of the rest are less than 1mi long. But steep.

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    • jeff April 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      no, this is quite a bit harder than both of those climbs.

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    • Thomas Le Ngo April 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Ronde is harder than Timberline. No other ride has left me feeling so humbled. And I’ve ridden to Timberline from Gresham and back before, with no problems. Having it so early in the season certainly doesn’t help either.

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      • Champs April 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

        I think it depends on your style. I’ve done better on short, punchy climbs, but that could be from living in the Midwest and just flattening quarter-mile hills. I’m getting better at the longer ones, but it’s hard to get the pace just right.

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    • jered April 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      It is pure brutality – super fun, super hard! DO IT!!

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  • Champs April 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

    So much for the perfect big-mileage weekend. This is too hard to pass up, even if I have to shred every last tooth on the big cog.

    A lesser challenge, but the one I’m least confident in, is that I can kit up, pregame, and roll down to NW Industrial by 10am on a Sunday.

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    • A.K. April 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Yes – the thing I keep telling myself is that at least once I’m done I can collapse on one of the benches at Council Crest park, and my house is nearly 100% downhill or flat from the finish, with the only bump being the Hawthorne bridge.

      Any ways, summer is nearly here, plenty of time coming up for long rides!

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  • A.K. April 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I am doing this for the first time this year. I am mentally trying to prepare my body to accept the pain it will endure.

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  • redhippie April 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I had a Vasectomy a few weeks ago. Is this an adequate excuse to quit or should it just add to the glory?

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    • Brad Ross April 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

      You’ll be out of the saddle for the whole ride. So nothing to worry about.

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  • GlowBoy April 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Wow, I just looked at the route and it looks well thought-out, with most of the climbing taking place on quiet streets, and busier streets used for descents. I’m not up for the public humiliation of taking 6+ hours (I’m a very slow climber) to finish this route amongst the crowd, but since the map is available I may go and tackle it on my own someday. Maybe in segments, maybe all at once if I feel like it.

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  • MPL April 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    The lions are out, gonna be a sunny warm 70+ degree day, can’t wait, did part of it last wknd while on a ride , love brynwood awesome hill!!!!!! if your new HYDRATE!!!!!!

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    • Chris I April 20, 2012 at 7:24 am

      Are there spots along the way to refill water bottles? I’m trying to decide if I should load down my bag with water or just expect a kind resident to have a hose available for us.

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      • A.K. April 20, 2012 at 11:57 am

        I bet people will have water. Bring some cash. People I know that have done it in the past said many residents set up stands and sell food/drinks/etc. while cheering the riders on. The last thing I’d want to do is carry too much water with all the extra weight burden.

        Also, the ride passes a few other places that will have water:

        1. Mt. Calvalry Cemetery, right before the bomb down Burnside street, they have a drinking fountain out front of the main building.

        2. Right before the Sylvan overpass on Skyline blvd, there is a gas station with mini mart, as well as a Starbucks across the street.

        3. Where SW Hewett intersects with SW Patton rd, there is a gas station on the corner there.

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      • Ben Guernsey April 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        Bring two bottles and some cash to hit a convenience store if you run low with no fountain near by.

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  • Stripes April 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    I like the photo second from last, of the dude pedaling in running shoes and no spandex. He is the official hero!

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  • Brian Faris April 19, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    After forty years of riding, this ride ranks right up there for the most exhausting. I rode my 38 lb. touring bike because my road bike has conventional gearing. With nearly 8,000 ft. of climbing from my house and back, this was not a wise choice. Optimal would be a light bike and compact gearing.

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  • anthony sands April 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    gonna single speed it, thinking 36-18? any thoughts?

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    • Brian Faris April 22, 2012 at 8:11 am

      I hope you are young, strong and have good knees. College and Brynwood are going to be a bear.

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  • thefuture April 20, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Hmm….do I ride my bike that has a double or my lady’s with a frame that is a size too small but has a triple? My first Ronde, going to see how far I get.

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  • Herb Fyfield April 20, 2012 at 11:38 am
  • Ben Guernsey April 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I heard the unofficial organizers wanted to put signs up to permanently mark the route. Would be good for locals and out of towners who want to come test themselves in the hills of Portlandia.

    Whats the total elevation gain? Somewhere near 10k?

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  • Champs April 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    “Look for the flags”. Yeah, whatever.

    I started near the back and worked my way up, but when I flatted at the top of Cornell, that was my last contact with the group (that’s fine, I’ll catch on somewhere, right?), but the trail went stone cold. Weak.

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    • Eric April 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I don’t know where you got the “Look for the flags”, the route is marked with lions on the street with like 1 sign. But you got your money’s worth on the ride, right?

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  • MPL April 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Great day for this ride, finished about 4 and half hrs, fun day, met some cool folks along the way, feel good, thanks to the people who put out stands with food and drinks, you rock, FUN in the SUN!!!!!!

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  • A.K. April 22, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Harrest thing I’ve ever done on a bike. Can’t wait to see pictures from the photographers that were out there!

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    • A.K. April 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Hardest, even.

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  • Dan April 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    OBRA posts have photo locations:



    I thought the course was surprisingly well marked, with turns clearly painted on the street. Better than some ‘official’ rides I’ve done. If in doubt, if you’re near the top of a hill, you’re going to bomb down soon. And if you’re at the bottom, look out.

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  • rick July 23, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Is this planned for 2015?

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