Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crown Point

In the mood to try something new, Peter and I set off to Crown Point, a vista overlooking the Columbia River that is some 900 or so feet above sea level. After carefully studying Veloroutes, Bycycle and Googlemaps last night we decide that Burnside and Stark (via Mt. Tabor) with their consistent bike lanes are the best way to get out there. This ends up being a wise decision because the bike lanes are ample and the lights timed well so we make great time getting out to Troutdale.

Before too long, Stark curves around and makes its way down to the river where we cross a bridge and turn onto the East Historic Columbia River Highway. To our relief most of the road has a nice shoulder and the cars passing you give you plenty of room. We start climbing and climbing. At about 16.5 miles, I start feeling the need for a snack, so we stop for a banana and then we continue on. Up, up, up.

The way to the Crown Point Vista House is clearly marked so I know I could do this ride by myself. Going up, I lose track of how long we've been climbing. It's not too terribly steep so I'm not in my lowest gear and I even manage to snag a picture of a field of cabbage? as we ride up.

Half a mile from the Vista House we start descending and lose our shoulder. As we come around the last of many curves, we are greeted with undoubtedly the most beautiful view I have ever cycled to.

To our further delight there were clean, very nice, bathrooms and a water fountain at the top. We look out over the view, eat some snacks, and drink some Gatorade. I was surprisingly hungry at this point...much hungrier than I was Tuesday at the 23 mile mark. I eat an extra banana and a granola bar and shrug. "I guess some days you are just hungrier," I think.

As we start back up the .5 mile or so of climbing out of the vista our legs feel tired and stiff. We wind our way up and I say, "My legs are getting warmer, but they are about to get stiff again." We crest and start the long journey back down to Stark. We go down, and down, and down. I'm a little skittish with descents but I'm doing okay until I look at my cyclometer and it says we've been going down now for 5 miles. I start to get nervous. When do we get to go uphill again? "Uphill, uphill," I start saying to myself. I brake a little to get myself together and then finally after 7 miles of descending we are at Stark. 7 miles! We went up for 7 miles! No wonder I was so hungry at the top.

The next fairly long uphill stretch feels soothing to me but Peter is getting tired. "Remember that when we get home it will only be half of what your longest ride ever is. For me it will still be one of the longest rides I've ever done," he says. He's doing great though. Most of the time when I look back to see if he is there, he is right behind me.

We decide to skip Tabor on the way home and just follow the bike route down Burnside, Couch, and Davis all they way back to our neck of the woods. Pulling into the driveway I check our mileage: 46.1. Peter's second longest ride ever and with it's over 5000 foot raw elevation gain, certainly his hardest.

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