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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thoughts on my 2012 tours: Hood-Adams-Helens, July

LHT and McGee Creek, Lolo Pass Road, Mt. Hood National Forest
Ah, what a weird beast of a tour this was! Not too long, not too short. (5 days) The first two days were really short. The first day was a group ride with Cycle Wild, the second day was just with April, the last three I went solo.

The big thing about this ride was climbs. The PDX-Oly-Astoria Tour in June got me back in the swing of touring again, but it was climbless. Yes, there were hills, a few short steep ones too. Yes, I "summited" the Coast Range, but it was only 700 feet and the climb was so gradual. I hadn't done a true mountain climb since July of 2011, while on tour through the Canadian Rockies. A year without a mountain pass, and I was feeling rusty. What I needed was an honest to goodness mountain pass. Or two.

And the Hood-Adams-Helens tour delivered. While neither of the passes, Lolo at 3,450 feet and Oldman at 3,000 feet, would be considered big mountain passes (at least not in this part of the west), they were climbs. Both were steep, Oldman more so, but by the time I got to Oldman I was ready for it.* No need to worry about my mountain-climbing ability, I can still do it.
Mt. Hood and Hood River valley from Lost Lake Road

The best part of the trip was riding along the quiet roads through the National Forests. Both Lolo Pass Road and Wind River Road had minimal amounts of traffic, and lots of scenery. Sure, there was gravel here and clearcuts there, but overall it was good. Good enough for me to want to tackle more Forest Service roads in August.

The second-best part of the trip was the century I pulled on Day 5, the final day. While planning the trip, I had no intentions of doing it, so I set up a place to stay around the 75 mile mark. But as I closed in on that mark, I said, why stop? Home is so close. So I kept on going. Yes, it was dark when I got into Portland, but it ain't like it was the first time I rode in Portland after dark! I've done centuries before, but it's always nice to know I still have it in me. Bragging rights, if you will. And unlike most folk who ride 100 or more miles at one clip, I've always done mine with a full touring load. (Bragging rights, indeed!)

*Not so much in August on the Helens-Rainier-Seattle-Vashon tour, where Oldman was the first climb of the trip.

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