(Photos by Ken Luke)
Climbing very steep hills on bikes is hard. Most people dread them. But for some reason, hills are also a temptress to many riders. And somehow, they are also fun.
The proof is in the pictures.
Right now hundreds of people are at work still feeling the pain in their legs after an epic Climbing Classics weekend in Portland (no one calls it that, I just made it up). Between Saturday and Sunday’s De Ronde and La Doyenne rides, there was nearly 16,000 feet of climbing packed into just 100 miles of riding.
I wasn’t at De Ronde this year but I heard it drew a huge crowd, possibly over 1,000 people (for a recap, check out this great write-up by Ted Timmons). This year I did La Doyenne for the first time. It was a fantastic route through hill-hugging subdivisions in Happy Valley and Portland’s Mt. Scott neighborhood. The roads were unrelentingly steep, but the pavement was smooth and fast and the views of Mt. Hood, the downtown Portland skyline, and Mt. St. Helens were breathtaking.
Photos of these rides are hard to come by because most people are singularly focused on maintaining momentum and just getting to the finish line. That’s why I was happy to see photographer Ken Luke standing outside his home — which happened to be on the La Doyenne course — at the start of one of the day’s many gruelings climbs (Hillcrest Road, which I heard a few riders refer to as “Hellcrest”). As I looked through his gallery I was struck at all the smiles. People were happy despite the pain and strain that comes with keeping the pedals turning up 15-20 percent grades.
Check out a few more of Ken’s photos below…
Browse Ken’s entire gallery here.
We also heard from Jeff Turner and Laura Trace. Their 11-year old sons, Collin Turner and Jacob Smith, did every mile of De Ronde.
“There was some moaning and groaning, and they walked a few times and I pushed both boys a few times,” Jeff said, “but they did it. I don’t brag on my kid often, but I was really impressed today.”
And Laura added: “After 5 hours, one exciting fall and several handfuls of gummy bears they reached the top of Council Crest. They tackled every hill with determination, and summited triumphantly.”
Congratulations to everyone who finished one — or both! — of these rides. If you haven’t tackled one of them yet, I highly recommend giving it a go next year. Similar to Bridge Pedal or the Naked Bike Ride, these two rides are fast becoming a sort of a rite of passage for bike-loving Portlanders.