Did my first real long ride of the season yesterday, with my housemate and several other friends. Out to Scappoose, up Dutch Canyon Road to Dixie Mountain, and then back in Skyline and Cornelius Pass (yuck!). Good stuff. If you're interested, here's the route. Just over 90 km, all told, with near 1000m of climbing.
Out to Scappoose, it was the usual dull ride along Hwy 30, traffic and all, but as soon as we pulled off onto Dutch Canyon, things were great - quiet road, beautiful scenery... Once you turn onto Otto Miller, the road turns to gravel, and pitches up fairly steeply almost immediately. It's pretty packed gravel, due to reasonably regular traffic, but there's still a fair bit of loose stuff, about 1cm in size most of the time, about halfway between railroad and pea gravel. Due to recent rain, the ground was wet, which gave the exposed dirt sections of the road a springy feel of sorts, like your tire was a little bit flat, but it was smooth rolling regardless. Oh, and when I say fairly steeply, I mean you spend the next 5 km climbing from around 85m to 470m.
But it's a beautiful area, despite the occassional clearcuts old and new you start seeing as you approach Dixie Mountain, and the view from up top would b incredible if it isn't raining and a little foggy, like it was by that time on our ride. Dixie Mountain is the same gravel, but heavier application, and we had our first and only flat there - if I was riding anything less than a 28mm tire, I'd be a little careful about picking my line - but I was on 32s, so it was no problem at all. Most of the climb is on Otto Miller, but Dixie Mountain on to Skyline is rolling and twisty, a good wind-down from that.
After hitting Skyline, the rain really started, and for some reason we decided to just bomb Cornelius Pass, which I don't recommend at all, due to heavy traffic - but it was the fastest way down to Hwy 30... Good fast downhill, though - it'd just be a lot more fun without the traffic, which I must say were quite patient considering what an inconvenience we were. From there, it was then just the usual ride back in Hwy 30, over the St Johns, and back along Willamette.
Overall, I was happy to not get my ass handed to me - I was able to keep up with the pace on the climbing (thanks to my lower gears!) and generally keep up in the rolly stuff (the new 48t big ring is just the thing, makes the crossover gearing that is possible with 2x6 gears perfect for terrain like that, which bodes well for PBP), and not feel totally annihilated afterwards... It's also a good base for more exploring of gravel/dirt roads in that area, cause there are a lot of options when you're looking at the map...
Anyhow, here's some pics, mostly by me, but a few from Ira:
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