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Get ready to climb: Portland’s De Ronde/La Doyenne weekend is coming

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

In Portland we call this fun.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Rumor has it that Portland’s toughest weekend of cycling is coming up. “De Ronde” and its sister event “La Doyenne” are two unsanctioned road rides that have captured the imagination of thousands of riders (and the media) over the years because of the sheer difficulty of even finishing.

Our secret sources say the Big Weekend for both rides is April 18-19th.

We hope you’ve been training a bit because if you choose to do both you’ll need to climb nearly 15,000 feet over the course of about 100 miles.

Don’t take my word for it, check the elevation charts (yikes)…

De Ronde.
La Doyenne

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The Ronde PDX, also known as De Ronde Van West Portlandia, started in 2007 and its companion La Doyenne (De Ronde Van Oost Portlandia) was added in 2013.

We’ve covered De Ronde a lot in the past because it happens right here in the West Hills above downtown Portland. This year we wanted to share a bit more about La Doyenne from the guy who started it, 42-year old Andrew Springer.

Follow if you can.

Springer moved to Happy Valley (an unincorporated community southeast of Portland) from Bend in 2008. As soon as he got here, “Friends kept bringing me to the West Hills,” he shared, “to chase the Lions of De Ronde.” Springer is referring to the Lion of Flanders stencil that marks the De Ronde course (the event is inspired by the famous Flemish race Ronde Van Vlaanderen).

While Springer loved the steep West Hills climbs, he thought his local climbs were pretty darn nice too; but he was tired of riding them by himself. “Living in Happy Valley at the time, I was surprised that I rarely saw cyclists on and around Mt Scott, despite the fantastic climbs and close proximity to Portland.”

So Springer modeled La Doyenne as a tribute to De Ronde; “Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery,” he says.

The ride’s popularity has exceeded his wildest expectations. Many of the nearly 1,000 riders at Saturday’s De Ronde do the double and ride La Doyenne the following day.

And then there’s the story about how Springer met the woman of his dreams. After the 2013 La Doyenne, Springer checked the climbing segments on Strava to see how the leaderboards were shaken up. Then something caught his eye: “I kept noticing a particular girl took a lot of QOMs [Queen of the Mountains].” Springer made contact, they went on a bike date, and the rest is history. “We went for a ride together the next week. This past May we were married on top of Mary’s Peak on an 86 mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing.”

If you plan to do the rides and want to prepare (mentally or physically), check out the routes of De Ronde and La Doyenne via Ride With GPS. On second thought, if you haven’t done the rides yet, you might not want to know what you’re getting into.

If you’ve already done La Doyenne, Springer wants everyone to know that he’s made some important changes to the route this year. The start/finish has been moved to the west side of the Springwater Corridor, making it easier to get to from Portland. He’s also added a few new climbs and improved the flow of the route. He even tells me you can expect some food about half-way through course.

Learn more about this Big Weekend of Fun and Pain at RondePDX.com.