The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Dispatch from The Dalles

Posted by on March 27th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

The Dalles - Day One-12

Picture-perfect cycling roads are as abundant out here as the cherry orchards. This view is looking west on Emerson Loop Road just east of downtown.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Before today I had never stopped in The Dalles (population 14,000) for more than a quick pit-stop at Burgerville during a family road trip. Now, after spending my first full day here, I realize I’ve been missing a lot.

I’ve set up a temporary BikePortland office in this lovely town on the Columbia River and for the next several days I’ll be riding, racing, and reporting as much as I can. I’ve come here with help from The Dalles Chamber of Commerce and other local civic boosters. They all share a common belief: Bicycling, and the tourism and economic development that comes with it, will play a big part in this city’s future.

Since I arrived around noon today, I’ve meet with the President and CEO of the Chamber and a locally-based bicycle event promoter. I’ve also got meetings set up with a local city planner, the owner of the local bike shop, the city manager, Mayor Stephen Lawrence, and others. This weekend, I plan to participate in the Gorge Roubaix — two days of racing on some of the most beautiful roads in all of Oregon.

Speaking of riding, before my first meeting today I managed to sneak away for a quick ride. It was raining hard as I drove east from Portland, but the sun broke through (as it often does here on Oregon’s “dry side”) and the blue skies and high clouds combined for a perfect introduction to riding in The Dalles…

The Dalles - Day One-4

Heading out of town on 15 Mile Road I couldn’t help but stop and take in the views.
The Dalles - Day One-5

The Dalles - Day One-6

I didn’t plan on riding any gravel today, but I came upon McCoy Road (which happens to be part of the Velodirt/Dalles Mountain 60 route) and I couldn’t resist taking it.
The Dalles - Day One-7

The gravel out here is pretty tame. Round pebbles and relatively hard-packed.

The Dalles - Day One-9

The Dalles - Day One-10

The Dalles - Day One-11

The Dalles - Day One-13

There’s very little auto traffic on these roads. And the pavement is nice and smooth.
The Dalles - Day One-14

I got a nice view of downtown and the river on my way back.

Stay tuned for more photos and stories from The Dalles. If you’ve spent time out here, or have something to share about this area, feel free to tell me about it.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • m bodd March 28, 2014 at 5:22 am

    cars passing nicely out there ? I would think that being so rural they might not be used to the bicyclists on the road. when I head out to rural clackamas county I get frequently buzzed by single occupant giant diesel trucks. almost every time!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 28, 2014 at 7:23 am

      cars passing nicely out there ?

      Yep. Very nicely. And what’s great is that there is very very little traffic at all.

      I would think that being so rural they might not be used to the bicyclists on the road.

      This town is pretty familiar with people riding on the roads. They’ve hosted the Mt Hood Cycling Classic (one of the largest stage races in the country) for many years and they’ve got several local charity/group rides that have been happening for a long time. Similar to Hood River, most people in The Dalles know that outdoor recreation is a major piece of the tourism puzzle and in a town this small, those dollars are prized by everyone.

      when I head out to rural clackamas county I get frequently buzzed by single occupant giant diesel trucks. almost every time!

      This is an entirely different animal than Clack Co.

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      • Dan Morrison March 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm

        Clackistan, where every truck must have a 4″ lift and a grenade sticker and a monster energy sticker on every car. Every car must have a coffee can muffler and a shocker sticker on the rear window. All are piloted by straight-bill wearing rubes.

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    • Charley March 28, 2014 at 7:23 am

      I’ve ridden out there a bunch. If you see *anyone* (and that’s no guarantee), they’ll give you space on the road. It’s a GREAT place to ride!

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  • m bodd March 28, 2014 at 5:30 am

    awesome pics btw! makes me want to head out there TODAY!

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  • Mike Quigley March 28, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Ouch! Roads with no shoulders and lots of ***word deleted by moderator – please refrain from insults Mike***. Watch out….

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    • Jeff March 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

      I did some gravel riding last year a little further east, near Condon and Heppner. The literal 5 people I saw all day all smiled and waved. Give it a try.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 28, 2014 at 7:24 am

      What are you talking about Mike? Have you ridden out here? And what’s with the random insult about The Dalles residents? Please be more considerate with your comments if you’d like to maintain the privilege of leaving them in the future. Thanks.

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    • Charley March 28, 2014 at 7:24 am

      No shoulders needed! There’s no traffic to speak of, and people pass with care. They’re used to wildlife, livestock and tractors, so they give space.

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      • Chris I March 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

        Bingo. The people playing farmer on the urban fringe tend to be more hostile to cyclists. Rural parts of Oregon are pleasant to ride in because there are fewer people, and life tends to move a bit slower.

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  • JerryW March 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Funny, I don’t see any rednecks in any of the photos, nor are they mentioned in the article. Perhaps we need to go out and see if Mike prejudges a community that is reaching out to be welcoming to cyclist. Commentators here are often much worse than the people they unfairly criticize, IMHO.

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  • Paul in the 'couve March 28, 2014 at 7:51 am

    People who live in cities too long get skewed views of actual small towns and open country life and people. People in real small towns, not suburbs and exurb rural areas, are not carbon copies of people who are within the urban influence. I’ve lived around eastern WA as well as other very rural areas. Sure, certain caricatures and stereo types have accuracy, but the basic level of respect and decency towards other people both on and off the road is actually better in small towns and rural areas.

    As far and cycling and being on small rural roads, as mentioned, the traffic is drastically less to often almost non-existent. That has multiple positive effects. Besides just plain not having many encounters with cars at all, drivers are not rushing, are not fighting traffic and generally are not hurrying or trying to beat the clock. On rural roads (not necessarily major highways) drivers virtually always give plenty of space.

    Part of that is that real rural drivers are just used to a slower pace of life. Another part is that they are very accustomed to slowing down for tractors, loose animals, wild life watching and saying hello to neighbors.

    Those “city folks” who think Cark County or even Lewis County is “rural” are missing it entirely. The problem in Clark, Lewis, Washington and Clackamas counties is that you have a lot of city / urban people who have convicned themselves then can life 30 or 40 miles outside the city and “have the best of both worlds” and they drive like ________ s to make it work. That does not equate to people in rural areas outside of The Dalles.

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    • Chris I March 28, 2014 at 8:58 am

      I work with many folks that subscribe to this way of life. They play farmer on the weekend, drive an hour each way to work, and complain endlessly about traffic, crime rail, cyclists, etc. I would much rather share the road with real farmers in rural Oregon.

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    • Lisa Farquharson March 30, 2014 at 6:41 am

      Our community is does a pretty good job at being friendly and respectful and the only thing I caution is the time of year you ride on those beautiful roads is during the farmers Harvest Time. If you aren’t sure just call the chamber and we will let you know to the best of our ability what is happening in our county. We really want to give our farmers some leeway during that time as their livelihood truly depends on it….

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  • Steve Schulz March 28, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Jonathan, you’re exactly right about the great town folks and the excellent riding in that area. That’s EXACTLY why we’re visiting The Dalles on the Cycle Oregon Week ride this year! It’s an area not to be missed.

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    • Lisa Farquharson March 30, 2014 at 6:33 am

      I am looking forward to seeing you in September in our beautiful town!!!!

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  • Champs March 28, 2014 at 8:47 am

    If there’s plenty of gravel in Dry Oregon, we’ve got it here in the city, too.
    Same goes for rednecks. The urban and rural varieties differ somewhat in both cases.

    On the open road, kindness and respect work pretty well. In the city, it’s less effective: the short version of my favorite anecdote is that I caught up to the jerk several blocks later, waved, and watched his rage boil over inaudibly, because he couldn’t reach the passenger side window crank to give us the business. We didn’t get civility, but at least we got hilarity.

    Gravel is a different story.

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  • Jimf March 28, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Love riding out in The Dalles. You could ride those roads east of The Dalles all summer and never do the same loop twice. It is not uncommon to ride 70 miles and not see more than 1 or 2 cars the entire time. The only way to really do it though is on something that can take on dirt roads, since those make up parts of many of the best loops. An incredible, incredible place to ride. Oh, and while they may exist, I’ve never come across an inconsiderate driver out there.

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  • Ben March 28, 2014 at 9:13 am

    If anyone’s looking for routes I picked up this bike map at the Gorge Discovery Center this summer…I think it turned out really nice.

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    • Lisa Farquharson March 30, 2014 at 6:36 am

      We have lots of information and maps at The Dalles Area Chamber’s office and if you have any questions please give us call 541-296-2231. We would love to help in any way we can!

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  • Johnny March 28, 2014 at 9:13 am

    These photos are from yesterday the 27th? Looks great. How’s the weather today? Looking forward to the rest of the reports.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

      yes. the photos are from yesterday the 27th. Unfortunately today is much different… lots of rain! It’s supposed to lighten up, but well see.

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  • mikeybikey March 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Looks great! Let us know about any recommended bike shops in town that rent road bikes and/or bikes equipped for touring.

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  • Ayleen + The ORbike Team March 28, 2014 at 10:25 am

    The Dalles is hosting the start/endpoint for this year’s Cycle Oregon week long ride and they’re super excited to be the welcoming committee to kick off the ride. Everything I’ve heard from them has been extremely positive. Can’t wait to get out there this September (spaces are still open for Cycle Oregon).

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  • Bill Walters March 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

    What about the wind? Seen it blowing hard and constant on past visits. Not such a factor on the singletrack over behind the old middle school — but on the open road?

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  • wsbob March 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

    The hills that make up the broad horizons in the pictures are so beautiful. With sound judgment applied, they’ll continue to be that way for many years to come. I hope more people coming to this area will be just tourists, rather than aspiring residents, the object of someone trying to make money from them by plastering those hills with residential developments and mini-mansions.

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    • Chris I March 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      I don’t think you have to worry about that. The job market out there is on life support, and I doubt that many people have the salt to make the commute in to Portland every day.

      I’m not sure if you could even build residential developments out there. I’m sure it’s outside the UGB.

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      • Pete March 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        The unmanned aircraft industry has grown dramatically and brought a ton of people/jobs to the gorge over the past decade, but mostly in Hood River or White Salmon. There’s a lot of what I call “Ugly Stepsister Syndrome” in Oregon. I’ve spent time in several cities where residents vocalize criticism of neighboring communities as if they’re rival clans. Corvallis/Albany, Eugene/Springfield, Hood River/The Dalles are three that come to mind. (I suppose I could add Portland/Beaverton with lots of supporting proof from comments on this forum alone!)

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      • Pete March 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm

        Oh, and most of the zoning where the pictures are is agricultural, meaning 20- or even 40-acre plats minimum (with allowances for worker housing). On the Columbia River itself you have the contentious Gorge Scenic Commission ( and Gorge Scenic Act. In Hood River the city planning commission has been focused for many years on infill – hence the many close-in three-story multifamily townhouse developments.

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  • Matt March 28, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Jonathan: nice write up on TD.

    In fact ,one of your pictures is facing my families farm of 100 years. The Dalles is a gorgeous place to ride, and people are incredibly courteous of riders (every single person that passes you on these rural roads will in fact wave to you), but also grateful you are there taking in the sites and perhaps spending some money. The Dalles is a poor community. It has a little bit of a broken spirit. That stated, people are proud of it. Support them.

    I have long sinced moved from TD, but my wife and I go up about twice a year to ride.

    Rather than Burgerville, try Big Jims. Go have a beer at Clocktower. A glass of wine at Sunshine Mill is good too. Of course the rides out 15 mile are awesome, try Cherry Heights, or the back roads into Mosier. Endless killer rides.

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  • Kristen March 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Head up 197 out from the Dalles, and stop in Dufur at Kramer’s Market. You will be surprised at what you find. They have AMAZING food there, and a really good beer selection.

    Or, stay the night at the Historic Balch Hotel (more of a B&B with lots of rooms than a hotel), have a scrumptious and luxurious breakfast, and ride the roads around Dufur.

    Be sure to wave hi to Stan if he’s out, his fields are around the Balch at that end of town.

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    • Pete March 30, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      YES! When the Tour de Hood Ride ( first started (to accompany the now-defunct Mt. Hood Classic) the ride left Mt. Hood Meadows and headed east over Lolo Pass into this area and then back. Jeff and Samantha were always gracious hosts to a rest stop at the Balch (, which is an *incredibly* beautiful place to stay. My Mom drove my van as SAG support, and the one year I accompanied her due to a broken collarbone I forgot my camera (Doh!). I miss that route and the Balch was such a highlight.

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  • Ich Bin Kurt March 28, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Fantastic Riding(and people) out there for sure. Don’t forget about the Cherry of a Ride they have been hosting for almost 10 years.

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  • A.K. March 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Jonathan, that looks like a beauty of a route. Care to post at on Strava/RidewithGPS/etc?

    The only ride I’ve ever done out that way was to drive and park in Hood River, go through Moser and past Rowena point, and then back via 7 mile hill. A good ride but a beast of a climb if you’re looking for more of an easy day.

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    • Pete March 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      A nice climb! Ride it the opposite way if the winds are easterly… you will scream down the old highway back to da hood.

      Here are other gorge rides for ya (be sure to tip your blogger Temira):

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  • Alison Graves March 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    The Dalles is working hard these days to become even more bike friendly, too. They are encouraging local businesses to be part of Travel Oregon’s bike friendly business program and they’ve been great to work with getting ready for Cycle Oregon.

    They deserve lots of credit for their hard work and it’s great to see your showcasing this great resource we have, Jonathan!

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  • Bill Stites March 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    A while back, I’m going to guess about 2003 – 2007, there was a race called the “Wasco Wild West 75”, with the main categories being recumbents and tandems. It was a grueling race of 75 miles up-n-down plenty of hills in beautiful wide open country, with the start/finish at an old schoolhouse on 15 Mile Rd., east of town.
    I just volunteered to help out, racing like that is NOT in my short-trip-city-riding blood. While the roads were not formally closed for the race, everybody seemed to know about it and there was tremendous support … except financially.
    It was run by Clay Smith – hope he’s still involved with bike organizing there.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 28, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Yes. Discover The Dalles.

    It has such good urban fabric for a small town (minus the recent sprawl to the west) that it could be a super compact bike town with the grid and urban form if the town fathers just embraced the possibilities. Think Hood River 20 years ago…but drier and flatter and with a land focused sport.

    I enjoyed working out on a City project there 2 years ago and it opened my eyes.

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  • Kevin Wagoner March 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I love this area. I’ve been on two rides out there this year. The Dalles Mt 60 and then the Center Ridge ride listed on last weekend.

    Most of my pictures in my Cycling 2014 set on Flickr are from those two rides.

    I’m excited that just posted two more routes out of the area. The paces is brilliant.

    I recommend the Baldwin Saloon for a shot of post ride whiskey!

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  • Tom N March 29, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I live here and ride these roads. Anyone who rides as a group, please try to get single file whenever a rare vehicle does come upon you. We have worked hard to keep a good relationship with those living and working out here. Stay away from these roads during wheat harvest in late July and into mid August. Wheat trucks carry very heavy loads and can’t easily slow down to avoid you. There is usually a large sign indicating the time when wheat harvest is in progress. Ride the ‘cherry’ loops during these times as cherry harvest is over then. Clock Tower Ale’s, The RIverTap, The Sunshine Mill are all great places in town for a nice post ride beer or glass of wine.

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  • jim March 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Jonathan: As usual I don’t think you have any idea of how good of an eye you have for taking quality pictures. I’ve mentioned it before and I don’t think you believed me.

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    • jim April 1, 2014 at 12:00 am

      I don’t have an eye for photography, I do have an eye for good photo’s though.

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  • Julie Browning April 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I have enjoyed reading your recent stories spot lighting The Dalles. I ride out there most weekends: pavement, gravel and trails. I love the riding opportunities out there and am excited to see what the future holds. As usual great photos!

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