The Ride: Gorge backroads delight on the Dalles Mountain Mutiny

Looking back towards The Dalles where we started.
(Photos and words by Gabriel Tiller/Limberlost)

Welcome to The Ride, our ongoing series of inspirational adventure stories sponsored by 21st Avenue Bicycles. See more from this series here.

It’s becoming that time of year again when cyclists start coming out of hibernation and you can usually count on it being sunny (or at least not snowy) in the rolling grass hills of the eastern Columbia River Gorge. One of VeloDirt’s longest running rides — the Dalles Mountain 60 — took place last weekend starting anarchically from the unassuming parking lot of Holsteins Coffee in The Dalles. For a non-event, just a murmur between friends on Instagram or the simple expectation of tradition every second Saturday of March, it’s a rather popular ride.

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The Dalles at a tipping point says “bike freak” Mayor Stephen Lawrence

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A bike tour of The Dalles-3

Mayor of The Dalles, Stephen Lawrence.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePorltand)

The Dalles’ Mayor Stephen Lawrence described himself as a “Blumenauer bike freak” when I met him in City Hall on Monday. I’m used to elected officials boosting their cycling credentials when they talk with me; but in Mayor Lawrence’s case, so far he’s actually backing it up.

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A bike tour of The Dalles: No spandex required

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A bike tour of The Dalles-27

Several murals in downtown The Dalles
depict the area’s rich history.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

While most of the attention for cycling in The Dalles is focused on the stellar roads outside the city, you’ll be missing a lot if you don’t explore the town itself. Put another way; you don’t have to wear spandex or be ultra-fit to explore the cool things this town has to offer. From history, to local watering holes, to big views of the Gorge, a bike is all you need to take it all in.

After being here a few days, I heard about several “must-see” destinations over and over again. So today, I headed out and connected a bunch of them up into a tour. I had a great time doing it myself, so I figured it’d be worth sharing.

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Chad Sperry, The Dalles’ bike ambassador

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The Dalles - Day One-37

Breakaway Promotions owners Chad Sperry (right) and
Lori Waters (center), with employee Tony Kic
outside Baldwin Saloon in The Dalles.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It seems like every notable bike city has its unofficial bicycle ambassador. Sometimes it’s a blogger and consultant, like the case of Mikael Colville-Andersen in Copenhagen; or it can even be a city official, like when Mia Birk led the cycling charge in Portland in the 1990s. Out here in The Dalles, the position rests with a man named Chad Sperry.

Sperry is co-owner of Breakaway Promotions, one of the largest and most successful bicycle race event production companies in Oregon. Sperry runs the business with wife and business partner Lori Waters. Together, they’re responsible for an impressive list of events; from mountain biking to elite-level road races and national championships. In total, they put on over two dozen events with over 60 event days in Idaho, Utah and Oregon. His Gorge Roubaix is one of the reasons I decided to come to The Dalles. And it’s an event with extra meaning because Sperry lives here and he’s an unabashed advocate of cycling in his home town.

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Photos from day one of the Gorge Roubaix

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Gorge Roubaix - Saturday-8

(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The first day of the Gorge Roubaix is in the books. It was a fantastic day of racing, with dry and party cloudy skies most of the day. There was some rain for the later races. And the wind was howling; but that’s to be expected out here in the Gorge.

Personally, I’d rather forget what happened. Long story short: I got dropped early by the Cat 3 field and never caught back on. Oh, and the only guys I passed all day had gotten flats. It was my first road race since 1998, so I didn’t expect much. But still, being last and riding slow and alone for three hours in a “race” is never awesome.

But enough about me, let’s take a look at some photos from the day.

I got an unexpected treat this morning and was able to hop in an official media car to do some photos of the early races. It was beautiful out there. Before we headed out on the course, I got a few shots in the parking lot and registration area. Have a look…

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