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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hood-Adams-Helens Tour, Day 4: Fri 13 July

Windsurfers at Hood River
Even though I woke up relatively early, I still left the home of my Warmshowers host after 10 am. Ah, slowpoke I am. I rode down the steep hill into downtown Hood River, a town I always enjoy visiting but don't get to often. (I think the last time I was here was 2009.) Of course, as soon as I got into town I felt like spending a good part of the day here. But if I hope to make it to a USFS campground up the Wind River by nightfall, I need to get a move on. It was tempting to get beer and food at Double Mountain Brewery but to do so would have meant waiting over a half hour for it to open. Alas.

The twenty miles west from Hood River to Cascade Locks was tough, to say the least. The wind during the summer blows from the west in the Columbia Gorge, and it blows fiercely. (There is a reason why Hood River is the windsurfing capitol of the universe.) I was looking at a consistent 15 to 25 mile an hour headwind. And it didn't help that I had to ride on the shoulder of Interstate 84 for most of it. At least it was scenic...

And by heading west on I-84 I saw a hidden abandoned section of the old Columbia River Highway just east of Hood River. The old stone railings were very intact. Wonder how many cars whizz by it each day without ever knowing it was there!

Oh yeah, I managed to see some other tourons on the way to Cascade Locks. Of course, they were on the other side of the freeway, going the other way. So no conversations, alas.

I ate some mediocre lunch in Cascade Locks, crossed the Bridge of the Gods, and then headed eastward into Stevenson, Washington. Now I had a tailwind! I drank some beer (Walking Man), got some more supplies, and then headed further east to the turnoff on Wind River Road in Carson. While the road paralleled the river, it was out of sight for the first 10 or so miles. The road kept on climbing gradually the whole way, and after some ho-hum territory near Carson, the scenery improved. I was in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I was in the woods again. It was awesome.

On the way up I ran into my friends Scott and Ashley heading down the road. They were on Gabe's Gorge gravel ride, a tour I could have gone on, but found all the climbing and gravel on the proposed route too intense for my taste. And now Scott and Ashley felt the same way, as they were taking a flatter, paved shortcut.

It was about 7:30 when I pulled into Paradise Creek campground. The campground is about five miles from Oldman Pass, and I wanted to camp as close to the pass as possible to make Saturday as easy as possible. The campground was pleasant enough, but almost full and filled with a lot of families, as it is a weekend in July. I spotted two other bike campers and wanted to go talk to them (and also see if they would be into splitting a campsite) but apparently they were already asleep. Alas.

Saturday promises to be a long day, but hopefully not as tough as Friday.

53.9 miles
9.5 average speed
5:40 saddle time

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