Thursday, July 26, 2012

Permanent #1595 -- Pomona Sprout

This... is a fairly hard one. The raw mileage/elevation doesn't really do it justice -- the vast majority of elevation is crammed into the middle 35 miles, and the course has a nasty habit of punching you in the stomach with a series of damn steep ramps.

I did an inaugural ride of the route yesterday with David Parsons, who as usual has a nice set of photos available here.

The start point is again right near my house on SE Holgate, and the first ten miles are easy enough -- over the Bybee rail bridge and onto Springwater Corridor. From there, you have a somewhat unpleasant stretch on Foster and Tillstrom (moderate traffic, minimal shoulder), but they're a necessary evil to find the start of Borges Road.

The fact that Borges -- if you have no idea how to pronounce Spanish -- rhymes with gorgeous is quite apt. This is a wonderfully remote and shaded stretch of three miles, and you'll completely forget about all the greater Portland area suburban sprawl just a few miles away in any direction.

Of course, Borges is also the first climb of the day -- the peak is actually the ride's highest point, but it's relatively moderate and pleasant. Or, perhaps it just felt that way since I had relatively fresh legs. As a bonus, I stopped halfway up to gawk at a trio of turkey vultures which had just landed in the branches above our heads.

Speaking of apt names, Sunshine Valley Road is next. It's still nice and quiet, a little lumpy but never gaining or losing more than 150 feet of elevation at a time.

After a quick stop in Boring, you're back familiar OR Rando territory by taking Richey Rd to Kelso and then Amisigger, which drops you down to the Clackamas River via an awesome 2-mile descent. No shoulder, but the pavement is even and the turns are gradual so you'll have no problem hitting 35 and taking the full lane.

Take Bakers Ferry Road over the river, then a left onto Eaden for four more awesome quiet countryside miles... followed by a short stretch of 10% grade before ending up on Fischers Mill, followed by a fairly mild stretch through Redland which connects you to...

Maplelane Road! It's a great short, lazy s-shaped sweeping descent, followed by a hellish half-mile climb that's 12% at its worst spot. Oh, and there's a camel at roadside, too.

Thankfully, once you turn off Maplelane, there's only one notable climb left for the last 25 miles. You drop down almost all the way into Oregon City, but back out again via Holcomb and then onto Front Ave. Front becomes Forsythe, then -- unsurprisingly -- goes up, up, up. On paper, it's nothing too serious, but you will almost certainly be feeling the ill effects of the day's previous hills at this point.

You're rewarded, though, with a fantastic descent on Gronlund, back down to the banks of the Clackamas to turn back west for Oregon City, then River Road through Milwaukie and back into SE Portland.

David and I finished in 5:38, including about a 20-minute Taco Bell visit with nine miles remaining but no other significant on-course stops. Could probably do a 4:45ish finish on another day, with no Taco Bell and a more masochistic approach to the hills... or I could pack some more snacks and take the full 6:44 maximum time limit. It'd be a great ride either way.

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