Cycle Oregon Day 3 – Dufur to Tygh Valley

Cycle Oregon 2014 - Day 3-38

Mt. Hood was the star of today’s show.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Route map
(Click to enlarge)

On Day 3 of Cycle Oregon, we’re finding our rhythms. In camp and out on the bikes, daily routines are setting in. As we pound out the miles day after day, our bodies are adjusting to the rigors — and immeasurable rewards — of exploring Oregon’s beautiful backroads on a bicycle.

Today we continued our quest of the “Magnificent Seven” Cascade peaks with an ascent of Mt. Hood. I’ve lived in Portland for 10 years and had never seen Mt. Hood up-close from her eastern side. Until Today.

This morning we left the sweet little town of Dufur and headed west on Dufur Valley Road. As the morning sun peeked through the clouds, we rode past hay and alfalfa fields. Then the road tilted skyward and we began the first of what would be 6,740 feet of elevation gain on the day (to go along with 74 miles). As the sign announcing our entry into the Mt. Hood National Forest passed, it seemed like everything changed. About 16 miles up the road, near Camp Baldwin and Eightmile Creek Campground, the oak trees gave way to pines and firs.

Cycle Oregon 2014 - Day 3-2

First light leaving Dufur and heading for the hills.
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So close. Like you could reach out and touch it.
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Our first rest stop of the day was firmly ensconced in the forest. There to greet us — in addition to the cheery and helpful local volunteers and amazing spread of energy-inducing foods and drinks — was Charlie Wicker of Portland-based Trailhead Coffee Roasters. Charlie had left camp at 4:30 am on his 120-pound cargo bike to ride up and serve us fresh pour-over coffee. Over the years, Charlie has innovated his bike-mounted brewing station significantly. Here’s how it works: He pours water through a artistic glass funnel into a huge pot, where it’s heated to just the right temperature. Then, using a custom hose and spout, he infuses four small pots (that swivel around in a wooden stand — another one of his innovations) of freshly-ground beans. The result is really good — and truly bike-powered — coffee!

For Charlie’s next trick, he’ll be opening up a new cafe/tasting room with chocolate-maker Patrick Zender of Ranger Chocolates. Watch for Cup and Bar to open later this year at 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

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Pouring the water into the pan…
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And out it comes hot and ready to infuse the beans.
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Love the fashion sense Charlie.
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Hot pour-over doesn’t suit you? Well then how about some freshly brewed iced coffee in the middle of nowhere?

Continuing our ascent of Mt. Hood, we rode through the watershed for The Dalles near Dog River, then turned south on Highway 35 and followed Hood River for several miles. It was in this section of the route that we got our first major view of the mountain. It was sufficiently stunning. So much so, that many people simply stopped pedaling, laid down their bikes, and stared (then took photos).

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It seemed like we climbed all day today. We gained 3,000 feet by mile 20 and our lunch at the top of Bennet Pass at White River Sno-Park was the highest point of the entire ride at 4,647 feet. The climbing was made even more difficult by a stiff headwind.

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You could tell by the changing geology that we were nearing the summit.

Our lunch spot is likely to be the most memorable of the trip. The sno-park is right at White River, which tumbled down from Mt. Hood through a valley of grey-colored rocks from a recent melt that loosened vast amounts of rock and dirt from the slopes. Beyond the epic setting of the lunch stop, it also happened to be very cold. Many riders were unprepared for the low temperatures. Thinking the day would be warmer and full of climbing, most people discarded jackets and extra layers at the rest stop lower down in the valley (Cycle Oregon has a great “gear drop” service where they’ll take your unwanted extra stuff back to camp). One woman was taken away from lunch with hypothermic symptoms and a friend of mine said he finished his meal in the porta-pottie to stay warm. With a descent right after lunch, some folks opted to stuff discarded pieces of cardboard into their jerseys to block the cold wind.

Cycle Oregon 2014 - Day 3-35

The geology on this trip has been amazing.
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Mt. Hood and White River just beyond Bennet Pass.
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Bike parking with a view.
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Trying to stay out of the wind to stay warm.
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Cycle Oregon is all about music. This guy played for us during lunch.

We left Bennet Pass and continued south on National Forest Road #48 which follows the White River south for 15 miles. It was a wonderful descent. We plunged down through a channel carved in the forest. As we lost elevation and turned our handlebars east, the temperature and the landscape changed quickly. We left the cold air and thick forest for warmer temperatures and the dry, wide-open valleys characteristic of Oregon’s dry side. We finished the day on Rock Creek Dam Road (which is full of terribly jarring cracks that have left 6-8 inch gaps across the entire road) and made our way into Wamic and then Tygh Valley.

Cycle Oregon 2014 - Day 3-41

The descent back into the valley was cold — but oh so fun!
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I love how this shot shows how the road
is literally cut like a channel between the thick forest.
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We climbed and climbed and climbed today.
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There are worse places to suffer.
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And just like that we were back to the dry, wide-open valley.
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Historic Smock School near Wamic; built in 1905 and used until 1957.
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Our final descent into Tygh Valley.

Today’s finish line was a special treat. Dozens of local high schoolers set up cheering sections and yelled at the top of their lungs as we came through. The cheerers included the “Maupin Militia,” a group of young kids who specialize in boosterism. Also at today’s finish line was a special treat. Portland-based businesses Nossa Familia Coffee and Ruby Jewel Ice Cream teamed up to give every finisher a double espresso ice cream sandwich. The occasion was Nossa Familia’s 10th anniversary at Cycle Oregon. As riders rolled into the Wasco County Fairgrounds, Nossa Familia’s founder Augusto Carneiro was there with a broad smile and an ice-cream sandwich. It was just another one of the small things that makes Cycle Oregon so special.

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Augusto Carneiro of Nossa Familia Coffee.
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The ice-cream sandwiches were just about perfect after long hard day in the saddle.
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A hero’s welcome.
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Members of the Maupin Militia doing their thing.

Thanks for following along with me on Cycle Oregon 2014. Tomorrow we head south to Madras. It’s another long day in the saddle with 84 miles and over 6,000 feet of elevation gain in store. I’ll wake up at 5:30, strap on my camera and lenses, and head out again to document Oregon’s amazing beauty. Stay tuned!

— Browse all our Cycle Oregon 2014 coverage here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Chris Smith
9 years ago

I have fond memories of Dufur and Tygh Valley from Cycle Oregon VI!

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
9 years ago

Much of the open country between Smock Prairie and Friend (SW of Dufur), including Postage Stamp Butte overlooking Tygh Valley, is White River Wildlife Area, managed by OR Fish & Wildlife. We have seen elk and pronghorn there. The Barlow Road (Old Oregon Trail) passed thru Tygh Valley, Smock Prairie and then followed White River up to the pass…close to the route CO took. Mt Hood has a different & imposing look every mile as you circle it; no wonder the native peoples considered it a home of the gods.

9 years ago

So cool! We used to ride this route in the early days of the Mt. Hood Classic / Tour de Hood before Chad changed it to the “3-summits” route.

“This guy played for us during lunch.” – maybe I’m wrong but that guy appears to be Moe Dixon, an icon in the gorge music scene (and I’ll use this opportunity to shamelessly plug my friends for those of you into traditional instruments:

9 years ago

As a participant in CO for several years, I always found it worrisome that so many people abandon their gear early in the day by taking advantage of the “great ‘gear drop’ service.”

You are in the mountains, people. The weather can change dramatically, especially in September. By abandoning your gear, you are putting yourselves and others at risk. CO has great support, but there’s only room in the SAGs for one or two hundred riders. That leaves lots of riders who could be in real danger.

On CO Ten, we were “held” on a pass in the Coast Range to allow emergency personnel to reach an injured cyclist and it got cold. I loaned my spare jacket to an unprepared “weight weenie” who had jettisoned everything but her jersey and shorts early in the day.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
9 years ago

…man…so jealous again of those riding this week.

The only thing worse than flowing the gorgeous coverage of CO by BP while working at my desk is the Tour coverage in July.

So Jonathan, Allan and others…ride hard, eat well, and …save some stars for me for when I ever get out there. T