Have you ever been on a bike ride in Portland on a clear day, then looked east to see the magnificent snowy peak of Mt. Hood? Now imagine riding to the mountain, hiking to the summit, skiing back down, then riding home — all under 24 hours.
That was the audacious plan hatched by friends Andy Edick and JT Lehman on a spring day in May of last year. Now in their 30s, the pair ran cross-country together at University of Portland and they’re no strangers to cycling, skiing and mountaineering. Those skills would all come in handy on their 24-hour Mt. Hood-by-bike-and-ski adventure.
“We’d always kind of joked about doing it,” Edick shared on the phone with me this morning. “And when the window opened up, we finally decided if we’re ever going to do it, this is it.”
The “it” is a biking, hiking, and skiing adventure that would take them from the Willamette River to the summit of Mt. Hood — and back — before the earth made one rotation.
Edick and Lehman grabbed some climbing gear and their skis, strapped it all to their bicycles, and headed out around 4:30 pm on a Tuesday. They kept their ride simple and direct by taking the Springwater Corridor as far as possible, then connecting to Highway 26 to get up to Timberline Lodge. “It was a long slog getting up to Timberline,” Edick recalled. After a stop for snacks at a store in Rhododendron, they rode the rest of the way up to the lodge in darkness. Edick said he was initially worried about the safety of riding the highway, but with the wide and relatively gravel-free shoulder, he said it felt much safer than expected.
They reached Timberline Lodge around midnight, after grinding up the final grade in their easiest gears. Once their bikes were parked, they hung out, ate some food, and took a nap on their sleeping pads for a few hours.
They started for the summit around 6:30 am and made it to the top around 11:00. Once clicked into their skis (Edick was using a splitboard), they carved back to the parking lot in a mere 30 minutes or so (not before Edick had a scary slide across an ice field, a sign of how tired his legs were). Eager to keep descending, they re-packed their bikes and began the downhill roll at about 1:00 pm.
During lunch in Rhododendron, Edick said they doubted they could make the 24-hour time limit they’d challenged themselves with. But after a beer and food, they felt recharged. “We realized it’s possible to get back in 24 hours, so we powered the rest of the way.” 40 miles of pedaling was all that remained.
Drafting behind each other for maximum speed and efficiency — and with encouraging cheers from passersby who realized what they were doing — Edick and Lehman reached Portland and the Willamette River in 23 hours and 50 minutes. After a quick swim off the Eastbank Esplanade, they posed for a photo to mark their accomplishment.
Would you do it again? I asked Edick. “I would love to… Get a couple more people and get a small crew up there. It was such a fun experience.”
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