Support BikePortland

Are your legs are ready for the big De Ronde/La Doyenne weekend?

Posted by on April 6th, 2016 at 11:01 am

The West Hills are full of freshly painted lions that mark the De Ronde route. This photo of SW Knights Blvd and Kinsgton Drive in Washington Park is where anonymous organizers have added one lion for each year of the ride’s existence.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

What better way to embrace this warm and sunny start to spring than to pedal your bike over 14,000 feet in elevation over 100 miles. Right? If the thought of that makes you smile not cringe than you should make plans to ride the De Ronde and La Doyenne rides coming up later this month.

These two rides are loosely organized and unsanctioned but they’ve both gained a huge following. It’s a big accomplishment to finish either one of them. Do them back-to-back and you earn serious street cred.

The De Ronde was first held in 2008. It follows a relentless roller-coaster route (see below) of Portland’s nearby West Hills and tackles nearly every major climb (and many minor ones) between NW Saltzman Road and Council Crest Park. It’s named after the Tour of Flanders, a famous one-day race in Belgium. In 2013 a fan of the De Ronde, Andrew Springer, created the La Doyenne (nickname of another Belgian spring classic, the Liège-Bastogne-Liège) ride on the steep hills around his home in the Happy Valley/Mt. Scott area of southeast Portland. Then he sadistically scheduled it on the same weekend as De Ronde and this legendary double weekend was born.


Check out the route map, elevation profile, and a cool heat map of the steepness for De Ronde:

(Detailed route info at RideWithGPS)

(Detailed route info at RideWithGPS)

And here’s a look at the same for La Doyenne:

And here are a few pics to get you in the mood:

2013 De Ronde -1

2013 De Ronde -6

2013 De Ronde -7

The big weekend is April 23rd and 24th. The De Ronde meets at 10:00 am in front of Pyramid Brewery in the northwest industrial area (2730 NW 31st) and La Doyenne meets at 9:30 am at Cartlandia for coffee (SE 82nd and Springwater Corridor). Good luck out there. I recommend doing these with friends because you’ll need the motivation and mental support. Happy climbing!

If you’re new to town and want more info, check out our story archive and also watch this great Oregon Public Broadcasting piece from 2009.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

BikePortland can’t survive without subscribers. It’s just $10 per month and you can sign up in a few minutes.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Champs April 6, 2016 at 11:09 am

    No Prize but Honor
    No Fee but Sweat
    No Support but Lycra
    No Sponsor but Yourself
    No Rules but the Lawful kind
    No Sanction but from the Madonna del Ghisallo
    No Climate-Controlled Elevated Hand-Holding Cycle Tracks

    Recommended Thumb up 12

  • Todd Boulanger April 6, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Pretty soon they will have to adopt Roman numerals…in order to get the event stencilling done. 😉

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • reader April 6, 2016 at 11:33 am

    “Are your legs are ready for the big De Ronde/La Doyenne weekend?”

    Um, no.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Bradwagon April 6, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      I think that’s the point right? I mean nobody actually trains hills in the winter. This ride clears out the cobwebs… right guys?… guys?!…

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Dan A April 6, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        The last two times I did this, I was READY. And my quads cramped up around mile 30 both times. Still finished, but ouch.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Hudson April 6, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Hmmm, I might try this. Can anyone recommend what type/size tires are best? It looks like this covers a lot of roads with sketchy surfaces…at the same time I don’t to carry a bunch of friction from oversized tires. Opinions, anyone?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • dwk April 6, 2016 at 11:47 am

      I have ridden it 5 times (never finished). bring lightest bike you own.
      25mm tires are fine.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      The De Ronde has some relatively short dirt/unpaved/trail sections but they’re in good condition and not too bumpy and rocky. I would recommend 28s which would also help you stay comfy on all the potholed and cracked roads of De Ronde. The road conditions for La Doyenne are vastly better and smoother given that it happens in an area with much newer residential development so you’d be fine with narrower tires on Sunday.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 7, 2016 at 11:40 am

        I ran it on my carbon fiber race bike with 23s. No biggie.

        Not sure if my legs are ready, but my De Ronde leg tattoo is.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • fat spandex dude April 6, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      I’d go with at least 28. Although, according to Jan Heine’s research, rolling resistance on smooth surfaces is not notably impacted by tire width until at least 35mm, and can even be negatively impacted by running narrow tires on poor surfaces.

      Another big factor is gearing. I really wouldn’t want to do either of these events with 39×25 as my lowest gear. Maybe 36×27 or 36×29, or just swallow what little is left of my pride and roll with a Sugino XD2 triple with a 13-30 cassette so I can wallow in the sweet embrace of 24×30.

      I was hoping to do one of these this year, but three months of illness over the winter left me in awful shape. Next year!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Todd Hudson April 6, 2016 at 1:32 pm

        Hmmmm…I’m running 35s on a Nakisi crossbike. It’s my “fast commuter bike”. And don’t even ask about the gearing. It’s essentially a mule that moves fast when I want it to. Though I’m ahead of the curve fitness-wise, so I’ve (maybe) got that. It sounds like this isn’t a race, so…..

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Bradwagon April 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          If you have even some general cycling fitness the only hill you may stall out on with typical road bike gearing is Brynwood. Other then that it’ll be fatigue that gets you, not gearing / physical limitations due to grade (ie losing rear traction).

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • Tal April 6, 2016 at 8:32 pm

            Driveway circles are permitted on Brynwood.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • dwk April 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm

          Just go for it, as I said, I have ridden it 5 times and will do it again. I do 5 or 6 trips to the top and back down and usually have had enough and ride home.
          This year I may try and finish, you never know…
          It is definitely not a race.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Champs April 6, 2016 at 2:45 pm

          Neither 35s nor the lowest gear you can imagine are overkill for De Ronde.

          I’ve ridden the course a few times on a cross-ish bike with 28s, and did the Pittock Mansion segment on a cargo bike with my girlfriend on the back.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Chris I April 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      I ran it with 25s a few years ago and was fine; I even saw a few guys with 23s. 28s would probably be ideal.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley April 6, 2016 at 11:48 am

    The event itself is completely outside my bike universe, but wow, those maps are cool!

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • danny April 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Well, College is nothing to sneeze at either when it comes to stalling on hills…

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Eric April 6, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    “Anonymous organizers” ha!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Sio April 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    I’ve never done anything like this but want to check it out. I’d love to join a group. Anybody know of one?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • hotrodder April 6, 2016 at 11:58 pm

      A group from Velo Cult will recon DeRonde this weekend, Saturday 8AM in the parking lot.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Tal April 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Rode 23’s last yr and recall a couple bits on De Ronde that had me questioning my choice, but I got thru and would (will?) use 23’s again. No issues on La Doyenne that I recall. Bigger need is gearing. And spare tubes….because of those tires : )

    Sio, the whole thing is a big group. Show up and odds you’ll end up around and getting to know comparable riders. I met some new folks last yr and it was all good. Just expect to climb every time you turn a corner. It’s a grinder, especially so early in the yr.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • jered bogli April 6, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    DO IT! super fun, ride what you can then bail and refuel. It is a fun ride to suffer with some friends on – and to make some new friends by suffering together! I’ll be there. who knows how much I’ll get through…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Don Arambula April 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Commute daily to Council Crest, yet Brywood and College still strike fear in my heart. Year 4 for me. Might cheat by starting early. Slow and easy. #HomeCourtAdvantage

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ted Buehler April 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I’ve never done this ride before, but I plan to do it this year.

    I rode up Mt. Tabor once today to train, plan to ride up it 2 more times tonight.

    I think this ride has an exclusive feel to it that you need to be a hyper-fit roadie with 23, 25 or 28 mm tires to do it.

    I don’t think that’s the case. 7000 feet is just 14 Mt. Tabors.

    Anyone who is a fairly fit commuter could top Tabor 4 times over the course of a morning if they put their mind to it, had low gears, and stopped for snacks. And you only need to do that a couple times before you’ll be in good enough shape for the full 14-Tabor day. Low gears are key…

    If you might want to do this, just start hitting the top of Tabor, Rocky Butte, or Washington Park whenever you’re in the neighborhood and have a half hour you can spare for fun and personal fitness.

    I’ll be riding a mountain bike with slicks, pulling a bamboo trailer with a cooler. Anyone want to be part of my posse?

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) April 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      A MTB will be helpful for the gearing. There are certainly some, plus at least one proper fatbike.

      My attitude was “if I can’t make it, no big deal, I’ll just coast downhill to the city”. It’s nice having an out.

      Riding De Ronde inspired me to go to the Alps- I did a 16.6k ft day on Ventoux riding all three routes.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Dan April 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      You know you start riding up Tabor regularly and you’ll end up thinking that the Tabor Ten-Thousand isn’t such a bad idea…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Ted Buehler April 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      Ted T — My mountain bike has a 24 tooth ring in front and a 34 tooth in the back. Can climb pretty much anything, or pull a really heavy trailer up a moderate hill.

      I did indeed summit Tabor 3 times today, lovely day for it. Google maps says I rode 35 miles and climbed 1600′ total. I’ve never summited Tabor more than once a year, so 3x in one day was a treat. I recommend it.

      Per my previous comments, any regular Portland commuter should be able to get into shape to do most or all of this ride, but you will want **really low gears**, like my 24-34 combo (available at BikeFarm) so you can just ride up a really steep hill at a normal cadence, going slow. But, if you try to climb a lot of steep hills with just average lowish gearing you could risk wearing out some important cartilage in your knees by having to push really hard to get your bike up the hill.

      Ted Buehler

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Ted Buehler April 8, 2016 at 12:25 am

      Ted T wrote “Riding De Ronde inspired me to go to the Alps- I did a 16.6k ft day on Ventoux riding all three routes.”

      Funny, for me, riding the Alps has inspired me to to ride the De Ronde. I was there in October and did a 3000′ climb on two different days. Of course, I was touring on a beater mountain bike with slicks and carrying a lot of stuff… Still, I doubt my joints and ligaments could handle much more than 7000′ in one day under any conditions.

      Ted Buehler

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • christopher April 10, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    I did the Ronde last year for the first time. Went into the ride pretty fit (I race CX Bs) and ran a 11-32 in the back with a compact crankset. This year I will be doing the ride with a severely sprained ankle and will be running a 11-36 in the back. Here is the thing. Even if I was healthy I would still run the 11-36. Why? Because I’ve climbed Brynwood with a standard crankset and I’ve injured my knees doing the Oregon Outback in 3 days. I rather have the range that will allow me to get back on my bike the next day. If you have something to prove. Guess what, no ones cares! Everyone is out there fighting their own battle. Don’t be the guy that has to call their wife in the middle of the ride because of a leg cramp. Saw it last year and guess what? Little itty bitty cassette in the back on his really really expensive road bike.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • C Wells April 26, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I ran this Ronde on my 1964 Tour de France model Peugeot. My tires were a bit slick for the wet gravely Saltzman bit. If it isn’t wet any bike not too heavy will do. May you have many teeth on your largest cassette ring.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sio February 25, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    The website says it’s cancelled this year. Any idea why?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • PeaDub
    PeaDub March 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I’d also like to know… sad. 🙁

    Recommended Thumb up 0