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Riding Rowena: A mini Gorge Roubaix gallery

Posted by on March 30th, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-6

Racers ascend the Rowena Loops with I-84 and The Dalles in the background.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today, on the second day of the Gorge Roubaix, we got to ride the Rowena Loops. The loops are a famous stretch of the Historic Columbia River Highway between The Dalles and Mosier. Just looking at the serpentine curves of the road and the spectacular view of the Gorge that lies beyond them is cool enough; but to ride them is a whole other experience.

Today’s course took riders both up and down the loops. I snuck up to the Rowena Crest view point ahead of a few groups of racers to snap photos…

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-3

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-4

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-5

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-8

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-10

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-11

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-12

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-13

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-14

Given how I felt at the top, I was very impressed that this group of Category 4/5 women racers was still smiling!

There was a lot more amazing scenery on today’s route. We rode the Historic Highway all the way into Mosier, then headed south to loop back through Dry Creek Road. Here’s the route on RideWithGPS if you’re interested in trying it out yourself.

— See all of my photos from The Dalles in the gallery.

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

  • n8m March 31, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Beautiful shots Jonathan, thanks for sharing!

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  • Dave Zimbelman March 31, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Beautiful photos Jonathan; thanks for making the trip to The Dalles and congrats on jumping into a race after a 16 year hiatus. Very impressive.

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  • Jordan F March 31, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Awesome photos! That climb was so beautiful it was darn near impossible not to smile all the way up. That gravel, on the other hand…

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  • Kristen March 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Sunday was definitely a more climby day than Saturday. The gravel section trended up, then up some more, then steeper up before going up some more. I was lead for Mens 4-5 and Masters 1-2-3, it was awesome to see these guys absolutely at the limit. Just incredible.

    We enjoyed leading the racers, going back down the loops was an exercise in technical driving at speed to stay ahead– while also looking back to make sure we’re keeping the right gap! Good suspension and good brakes were important for the lead cars, and keeping your head on a swivel.

    I heard over the radio that someone in the Cat 3 men crashed near the top of the loops, heading down. He got his bell rung, and last I heard was getting a ride down to the medics to get checked. Hope he’s not too injured, and that he heals up fast!

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    • CaptainKarma March 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Haha, that’s what my flight instructor always said – “Keep your head on a swivel!”

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    • Pete March 31, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      There’s one sketchy turn, about the fourth or fifth, where it suddenly tightens and there’s almost always scree this time of year. It’s tempting to carry speed through it but I learned the hard way to scrub a little when I see that section of white guardrail. It’s on this turn that I learned long ago why cyclists shave their legs…

      Hope he’s OK – and kudos on your motoring skills!

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  • RH March 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

    This Gorge riding looks great! Is this something a novice bike rider could do (I bike year round in PDX, maybe 2000 miles/yr)? I don’t worry about being too slow up the hills, etc.. How hard is this stuff on a scale of 1-10? Are there sections of the Groge closer to PDX that are a little easier? Is traffic an issue or do 99% of the car take hwy 84 and not the scenic route?

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    • Chris I March 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      One of my favorite after work rides is to drive out to Hood River and start at the Mark O. Hatfield trailhead. Head east through the Mosier tunnels and then up 1st Ave to Rowena crest. About 24 miles round trip.

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      • Kristen March 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm

        Or, go do the Gorge Ride in June. Starts at the Discovery Center and heads West, up to Rowena Crest, down into Mosier, through the Twin Tunnels to Hood River and back. It’s a 40-mile round trip, and the last 5k or so is difficult because the wind usually kicks up in the early afternoon.

        Traffic is generally light, and the locals are used to seeing riders.

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    • doug B March 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      I’m in the same boat as you and ride about the same amount. I wanted to get out for a ride yesterday, but it was supposed to rain. On a whim I checked the weather in The Dalles (after reading BP)- no rain. So I went there and rode from the Dalles to Hood River and back, what a great ride. I just put it my small gear and enjoyed the scenery going up, and had a fun ride coming down! I don’t have too low of gears(39/25 is my lowest) so my cadence was pretty slow. Must have just missed the race, there was still signs out. I had dinner and came home, ended up being a great day. Next time I might make a weekend of it and bring the family and check out different routes. Anyway, I would say that if I can make it so can you!

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    • doug B March 31, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Also, it was probably a 6-7 for hardness and not many cars at all. The few that passed were respectful and gave lots of room. From just outside Mosier to Hood River there is no cars, just a nice wide trail with some walkers/dog walkers. Would definitely do this again.

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    • Tom N April 1, 2014 at 8:14 am

      This is terrific for a novice. The grade is never above 5%. Ride from Hood River on the twin tunnels trail( no cars allowed) to Mosier then the old Highway to The Dalles Discovery Center. It is around 20 miles one way. Remember on a west wind day to start at Discovery and then return with the wind at your back.

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  • Dan Liu March 31, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    A masterpiece of civil engineering!

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  • patrickz March 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Jonathan, some or all of these photos should be in a BikePortland calendar that I can mail to friends and relatives so they see that what I tell them is real. Thanks for sharing!!

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  • Mark March 31, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Jonathan, your spectacular photography is half of what makes this blog so incredible. Your writing is the other half. And Michael’s writing and number-crunching is the other half. And the podcast is definitely at least another quarter. And the commentary and online community you have built is certainly another half. Okay, my numbers aren’t adding up to 100% but you get the idea.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Hey Mark,

      Thank you! That is so nice to hear. I think we’ve got a great thing happening here and I’m glad you’ve noticed. April will be 9 years since I started doing this and I think our product is as strong as ever. We’re working on a major site upgrade and another Big New Thing that we hope to launch soon, so stay tuned. Thanks again for reading and for the kind words.

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  • Pete March 31, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Been riding this route for a very long time and never get tired of it. Have to say it was at it’s most scenic watching Alison Tetrick place second in the 2012 Mt. Hood Classic TT tho… 😉

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