(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.
I’m glad to see so many people had fun. Unfortunately, a participant cut a blind corner on a descent and almost ran into my car while I was driving home Saturday (note to “organizers” – having the route go down McDonell was perhaps not a great choice). I also witnessed numerous cyclists blowing through stop signs and even partially blocking a road in my neighborhood. This isn’t a NIMBY complaint, but as an avid cyclist I wish other cyclists in this town would be more cognizant of how their behavior can lead to negative images and stereotypes for all of us.
Meh, I never trust anyone who defines themselves as an ‘avid’ cyclist. I’ve had too many motorists who defined themselves that way tell me how I should or shouldn’t be riding. My best advice to you would be to slow down and be careful; especially as an ‘avid’ cyclist you should have known this event was occurring.
And everybody is responsible for their own behavior; like any individual motorist, each cyclist is solely responsible for their own behavior, and doesn’t represent the larger group of cyclists just by virtue of being on a bicycle.
I guess cyclists “partially blocking a road” should have used the invisible bike lane or sidewalk.
If they’re all standing in the middle of the road, I think he/she has a point.
I did half of La Doyenne to test my new knee regimen. So far, so good — and good fun.
But here’s a nitpick, at the risk (nah, certainty) of pedantry: “De” and “La” are both articles in their respective languages, serving much the same role as “The.” So when you see “the De Ronde” or “the La Doyenne,” you’re really seeing “The The Ronde” and “The The Doyenne.” And once you’re aware, ain’t it distracting?
I agree Bill. Thanks for pointing that out. I edited the story.
perhaps due to the fact you’re pointing a camera at them?
Nah, I think it’s a symptom of hypoxia…
Sorry to by picky Jonathan. But Mt. Scott-Arleta is a neighborhood in Portland (west of 82nd and south of Foster), not to be confused with that actual hill, Mt. Scott (which is mostly in Clackamas county, Happy Valley).
The Portland neighborhoods on this ride were Lents and Pleasant Valley.
It’s fairly confusing.
I’m bummed I had to miss both these rides, but the beauty is that the routes are always there! I think they did an awesome job with the new La Doyenne route.
My craziest Happy Valley moment was a moving truck completely blocking a very curvy road. The driver furiously waved me toward the sidewalk as I came down a very curvy blind hill around 1pm.
Why are they smiling? Two possibilities:
1. They’re freakin’ nuts!
Thanks to everyone that came out to La Doyenne! Without you, it would just be a map.
Bummed to miss La Doyenne this year, riding 350 miles east two days from now made me reluctant to do both days, but I had a blast on west side; anyone who did both I salute you. Next year : )
Thanks to “some guy” for all the work to put up a fantastic La Doyenne route. My friend and I are west-siders who were east-curious, and we came away from the ride with sore legs, a healthy respect for the hills on the east side, and big smiles after a “fun” day of suffering. And ending a ride like that at food carts — with a beer tent, of course — is an inspired route indeed.
You might as well have a sign that says, “Say Cheese”
Because they are all white people who can afford to deck out in expensive sportswear. That hill is the biggest challenge they face in life, and they had to seek it out.
huh? none of those pictures are wearing particularly expensive kits, and Im pretty sure you know nothing about any of them or their life challenges.
You uphill riders. If you want to “claim your lane” at least try to keep up with traffic, especially on the curves. Otherwise, move over.
You want to pass on an uphill curve? I suggest you wait.
I did both of the rides and they were just fantastic. La Doyenne is picking up steam as there were neighbors and people out that were more aware of it this year. Rather than dwell on the few riders that strayed from the formula, let’s celebrate these phenomenal events. I’ve paid $100 registration for rides that weren’t half as good….where else can you push a climb AND get doused by Supersoaker wielding children? Portand, that’s where!
I love your ride and appreciate all the work you’ve put into it. This was my third time completing the weekend double and while the original course was awesome, the new configuration is markedly better! It’s clear you’ve put a ton of thought into it. I look forward to the next one.
This is a reply to Some Guy