Sunday, August 12, 2012

Permanent #1613 -- Elphias Doge

I've got a big soft spot in my heart for the state on the other side of the Columbia River. My first two 100K routes both head up into Washington, and I feel Portland roadies in general do themselves a disservice by rarely riding north for their adventures.

This particular permanent was inspired by my experiences on this spring's flèche, as seen here and here, and I set out looking for a way to turn a 400+ mile Eugene-Olympia-Portland extravaganza into a more manageable Portland-based route.

The result is what you see -- north through La Center, Kalama, and Kelso, over the Lewis & Clark Bridge (still yucky), then up Apiary Road before ending up back in familiar randonneur territory in Vernonia.

The first thirty miles or so are exactly the same as on my Luna Lovegood populaire, and for good reason -- in Google Maps, you might see that stretch of road and think bah outer Vancouver sprawl crap, but it's actually an awesome stretch of farmland with some fairly robust rollers to get your legs ready for this super-sized course.

When we rode Olympia-Portland after the flèche, we climbed the entirety of Green Mountain Road south of Kalama, all the way up to 1700 feet with several stretches graded above 10%. This way, though, cuts off about half that elevation, and instead cuts back towards I-5. RWGPS suggests there's a 14% portion of the climb near the top, though, so it'll certainly still make you work.

After that, you can regain some energy in beautiful downtown Kalama then ride the last ten or so miles of the day on the Washington side of the river on relatively low-traffic old roads paralleling the interstate.

There's nothing particularly exciting in Rainier or Longview, but plenty of options for refueling. There is a stretch of almost exactly thirty miles between Rainier and Vernonia without any stores (there is a campground roughly halfway, not sure what's inside), so plan accordingly.

Coming from the north, Apiary Road is a little unkind -- two false summits, including the unpleasant experience of climbing up to 1000 feet, feeling like you're done as you drop down to 600, then turning a corner and going up towards Camp Wilkerson at 1200.

After that, though, most of your day's climbing is done, and the Shell Station in Vernonia is always there to provide friendly service and hot fried food. Depending on your start time, season, and weather, you'll probably get onto the Banks-Vernonia trail in pleasant low-traffic hours, then take Zion Church and some back roads east to find the big Forest Grove-Hillsboro-Beaverton sprawl. The last 20 miles is a straightforward series of well-traveled west side bike commuter routes, finally dumping you into Portland city limits via the Highway 26 bike path.

239km, 148 miles, just under sixteen hours upper time limit. Ride it!

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