The Columbia River Gorge in soggy early spring isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ve got to hold a grudging battle with the elements, with the headwinds that resolutely push you back down the hill, with the hail on a storm’s edge that will pummel you on the shoulder of a highway, and with the swift changing tapestry of sun and cloud and sky.
But those chunky gravel roads, up the slopes of bare hills just-turned green, reward those who stick it out and keep riding.
Last weekend, we joined about two hundred other gravel-riding enthusiasts for the annual Dalles Mountain 60, a route originally mapped out by the legendary bikepacking blog VeloDirt, which takes you up the stunning Dalles Mountain and back through rolling fields studded with windmills. With 4,000 feet of climbing spread out over 60 miles, 30% of it gravel, this isn’t your normal weekend ride.
Folks of all cycling persuasions — local shop teams, the randonneurs from Seattle, the bikepackers with all their gear for spending a night out, the fat bikes, the lone wolves — took the gamble to get out there on a marginal day in early March (the Gorge isn’t known for kind or predictable weather) simply for the chance to ride some sweet roads together and share a little adventure.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there this spring. Take a turn up that road and see what you can find when you aren’t looking for anything in particular.