Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Recap and photos of De Ronde PDX

Posted by on April 21st, 2013 at 12:41 am

2013 De Ronde -1

The start of De Ronde, a group ride that attracted
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!

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Rolling out at the start.
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One of the several off-road sections that used part of the SWTrails network.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
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This older guy was just cruising along up on Skyline with an old Schwinn, “BYKHUGR” license plate, sandals, and wire baskets full of stuff.
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2013 De Ronde -8

Climbing up through Washington Park near W Burnside.

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On SW Hewett Blvd just south of Highway 26.
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One of the larger and more well-stocked rest stops.
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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.

2013 De Ronde -4

Tackling Brynwood
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Watching people suffer is a spectacle.

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.

2013 De Ronde -6

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!).

Me and that beer.
(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…

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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

  • John Lascurettes April 21, 2013 at 12:56 am

    BYKHUGR dude tempts me to try this next year.

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    • 9watts April 21, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Nice plate. I just noticed his scrap book/ransom note technique for creating it.

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    • Metropolis Cycles
      Metropolis Cycles April 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      One of his tires actually exploded shortly before the turn up to Brynwood. We were stopped in a big group waiting to turn left onto Miller off Cornell when I heard it go, then saw him pushing that beast over to the sidewalk.

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  • captn haddock April 21, 2013 at 7:23 am

    It was good fun. I do wish that I had stopped for beer along the route, but I was trying to hit 4 hours (just over by 9 min). For a non-ride, damn, I felt both proud of my effort / placement in the pack & intimidated by how strong some of the riders are.

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    • captn haddock April 21, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Also, the guy with the trike? Yah, AWESOME props to that guy, even more so since he finished the ride!

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  • jayteepee April 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

    A heretofore unknown muscle cramped seriously on me, shortly after the College climb. A pretty impressive feat for an event that didn’t happen.

    And to the sadistic individual who thought to include Brynwood – I’m not sure whether to love or hate you. I drove up it in my car prior to the event and thought “hell, this isn’t so bad”. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As punishing as it is, I wouldn’t do the ride again without it’s inclusion. It’ll be fodder for water cooler conversations for at least the next week.

    Many thanks to the people who dreamed up this sufferfest, and to all of the wonderful and supportive people who came out for the ride. An especially big thanks to the amazing members of the community who came out in support of the ride. The cookies definitely helped stave off imminent bonkage. Thank you so much!

    I wish I had the energy for today’s van Oeste Portlandia. Maybe next year, if I can manage more saddle time ahead of time (and shed the 10 pounds of dead weight I was carrying).

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  • Russell @ Upper Echelon April 21, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Always a highlight of the year and an event that shows how special the Portland bike community is. Nice running into you, Jonathan!

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  • Cory @ Crank Coffee Roasting April 21, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Boy was that fun! Thanks to all that help this to happen. This was my first time but not my last. I met lots of great people. This was my cycling highlight of the year (so far). Cheers.

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  • Champs April 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    This year, knowing the route and not having any (major) technical problems, I had a much better time than last.

    I rode my touring/commuting bike because my road bike wasn’t cutting it when I previewed the route. A 30×25 low gear helped, and so did 28mm tires over mossy and rough road/trail conditions.

    Best of luck to the people riding today. I rode about half of La Doyenne earlier this week, and have regrets that I ever met Charlotte and Quail Ridge.

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  • Mike bodd April 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I had a blast even though i missed the college loop! But at the end up on fairmount blvd i decided that before i summited cc i should go back and hit it – so I did! then went allll the way back up and finished with three extra miles at 4:12. Should have pre ridden the course like it was suggested to me.

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  • Jonathan Gordon April 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I rode the double header this weekend. Super fun, super challenging. Hard to say which was more difficult: De Ronde had more technical descents, La Doyenne had some more sustained climbs. And it also followed De Ronde. Finished both in nearly the same time.

    I feel so lucky to live in a place where people are motivated to put so much effort in creating these routes just for the love of riding and that there’s a large enough of a community to enjoy their work. Is there anywhere else on the planet with homegrown rides quite like these?

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  • Matt April 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Did both. A little sore right about now. Sore but happy.

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  • Brian H April 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Hey Jonathan – I read the bikeportland blog several times a week, but I’ve never posted here. Figued I’d do so now since you captured my picture, I’m in the blue jersey with green sleeves on the far left of the 4th picture from the top. This was my first Sufferfest, and it was a blast! I managed to pedal all the way up Brynwood except for about 10 feet where gravity forced me to dismount and walk to the next driveway. After the short walk I was able to make it from driveway to driveway pedaling the rest of the way up. Lots of great people on the ride! Is there any chance you could send me that picture? Love your website.

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    • Pete April 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      If’n he doesn’t get a chance, open in flick’r, right-click and open ‘original’, then you should be able to right-click and “save image as…”.

      Glad you folks all had fun! One of my Portland buddies came down and rode Primavera Century in (sunny 😉 California with me but he says he’ll tame the Lion again next year.

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      • Brian H April 22, 2013 at 9:25 am

        I appreiciate the suggestion… Actually, right after I posted the comment I realized I could download it from the website & kind of felt embarassed for asking… Now you know why I don’t usually post comments. Better to be silent and have people assume your an idiot, than speak up and remove all doubt! 🙂

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  • Patrick Croasdaile April 21, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Did both as well. The East side, “La Doyenne” was really special. A lot more competitive, fewer roadside supporters, but a great challenge nonetheless. Thanks to Andrew for putting it on. I think there’s room for more of these next year.

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  • Curtis Roth April 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    This looks too fun to miss. Perhaps next year.

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  • trikeguy April 22, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Wow, that was great. So many great people out there. Not enough long rides in yet this year and I had a bit of cramping issues after mile 30 and dropped way off my pace, but I made it 🙂

    There are only a couple of spots that aren’t great on a trike – coming down off the hill the last time when you’re just about to Council Crest there’s a single track that was almost too narrow, and climbing up off Westwood there’s a single track that’s almost too narrow. But otherwise, what a course.

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    • A.K. April 22, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Props for doing it on a trike! How much does it weigh?

      I did the ride last year and had a hard enough time on my 19 lb road bike.

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      • trikeguy April 22, 2013 at 11:36 am

        That’s my commuting trike – it weighs 35lbs bare, probably closer to 40 with bags and junk on it. Nice thing about a trike with really low gears like that one – there’s not much you can’t get up if you have traction and time 🙂

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  • matt f April 22, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Great fun! Thanks everyone!

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  • Mike April 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Simply one of the most crazy amazing rides I’ve ever done! Didn’t have to walk Brynwood or College, but did dive into a driveway on each. Next year I’ll try to avoid that. And I’ll stop for beer next year, as well. I really appreciate the effort that went into devising such a scenic and brutal route!

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  • jered April 22, 2013 at 10:21 am

    It is an epic ride. The mood and attitude of the ride is great. Loved climbing and chatting with strangers. There is something amazing about suffering with that many other folks – all the kind folks along the way, simple things like a lion on a piece of cardboard with a garden hose for water – super cool!

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  • Joe Partridge April 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I had more fun this year than in any of the past running of this event! Why? This year I got smart and rode my touring bike with a triple! 🙂

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  • Joe April 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    looked awesome. gummy bears! :)) hops too

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  • davemess April 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    this is the best ride/bike event of the year, hands down!

    Does anyone know why the OHSU descent was taken out/rerouted? this caused us to miss the down and then up on SW Hamilton.

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    • Paul Souders April 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      We just went off the map and did that our own selves. Who’s gonna stop us? Actually it was kind of due to muscle memory; if you didn’t see the brand new lion redirecting through the VA it was easy to slip back onto the old route.

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      • davemess April 23, 2013 at 7:06 am

        Might I suggest going down Sam Jackson (straight instead of turning under the tram) and then turning up Terwiliger at the gas station. This would add another hill and give people a fun downhill, and still allow for the old Hamilton section.

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  • Jonathan Gordon April 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    It looked to me like there was construction at OHSU. There were official road detour signs. I was pretty impressed that they had routed around it.

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    • davemess April 23, 2013 at 7:07 am

      The construction isn’t on the old route. Everything is clear if you’re wanting to ride it again.

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  • Metropolis Cycles
    Metropolis Cycles April 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Here is Team Metropolis’ version of events.

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  • Swan Island Runner April 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    My wife and I went up to College St and watched you brave folks grind it out on the hill. Great job to all you riders!

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  • brett April 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Both are wonderful rides. They obviously need to be linked together into a century.

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  • Andrew Springer April 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I just want to thank everyone that came out for the first annual La Doyenne – The Tour of Happy Valley. Without you it would just be a dream of mine. Hard to count but we estimated about 200 at the start. What a great 2 days of climbing around Portland! Thanks Brad! I am excited to share that the Ronde/La Doyenne double will officially be Saturday and Sunday going forward – until the rides get cancelled. Please share the route with your friends and come chase lions throughout the year!

    -Andrew Springer

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  • JL April 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I know they aren’t races but…. who won? 😉

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  • John Weathers April 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Casey Ehrman was one of two Therapeutic Associates riders that finished first on Sunday followed by myself, then Nathan Coffey from Tigard followed by a nice guy named James from Sunnyside Cycles in Bend.

    Casey and his buddy made some different choices than we made regarding traffic signals, traffic and stop signs so I decided to let them do their own ride. Let’s just say I have a family and a well developed instinct for self preservation, and also for preservation of what I regard as the best organized road ride in Oregon.

    In any case, kudos to Casey for his 2:58 time and Strava KOM — having done it once before while chasing Jacob Rathe in vain, I can tell you it takes a special effort to do that course in under 3 hours.

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    • Chris I April 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

      My time was closer to 6 hours, so I obviously was not racing anyone, but I was definitely disappointed by some of the behavior I saw by riders, especially towards the beginning. Blowing stop signs at speed, riding 4 abreast uphill on Skyline, etc. If this ride is going to be seeing greater numbers every year, we need to obey the laws, or it is going to see increased scrutiny by the authorities.

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