A 60 mile ride featuring 4000 feet of elevation gain and several miles of gravel.
Next, we climbed up Kater Road. The sun was shining and the temperature must've been in the mid-60s. In March! We checked out the Yankton store, which is also a restaurant, before passing the quaint red Pittsburg Schoolhouse and starting the gravel portion of the day.
Now we really were in the middle of nowhere. I can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else. This was quickly becoming one of the prettiest and funnest rides of the season. Not to mention, the perfect mix of five riders. An extra bonus: this was an initiation ride for the newest of the Sisyphean Hill Riders, Karl.
The group flew ahead while I cautiously navigated the tough terrain. The cue sheet instructed us to take every left fork and that we'd be climbing until mile 25. You can imagine my surprise when everyone went right and down at mile 21. I chased unsuccessfully. I wasted time trying to get a cell signal. Finally, I gave up and continued on ahead to see what would happen next.
Here a couple riders had waited for me. They had to play another game of chase to round up the two that had gone ahead. I, for once, was undeterred by the idea of riding alone so I went back to the missed fork on my own. Back at the fork, it felt like the hill and the gravel were absolutely made for me. It didn't hurt that the temperature was soaring, the birds were singing and I was getting my first sunburn of the season.
A few more miles on gravel and the paved Apiary Road appeared. I was elated! I surprised myself by turning back to ride that same gravel stretch so I could bluff the others that we were on a deadend. Later, back on Apiary, I believe I experienced the best road descent ever. It was long, not too steep, no switchbacks and simply spectacular.
Another stop for a flat near a campground. I sat in the grass and finally, after thousands of attempts in my lifetime, learned how to "play" a blade of grass. You thread a wide piece of grass tightly between your thumbs and blow. It sounds like a peacock mating call.
Little did we know then, but we were still in for what felt like an enormous climb. Up, up, and up along the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, from which you can see millions of trees and rolling blue hills. And not many cars.