Friday, March 14, 2014

Velodirt Dalles Mt 60

Let's get in our bloggy time machine, shall we?!  We'll set the dial to May 2011, a big month in my life story.  March's Velodirt ride was over and I'd never even heard of it anyway.  Nor had I heard of Old Moody Road.  I woke up at DesChutes campground.  A handful of us were talked into riding an alternate route to The Dalles, and avoiding riding on the freeway shoulder.

I found a nemesis that day - Old Moody Road.  This gravel and dirt road, although beautiful at the top, is steep going up.  I had to walk, and it wouldn't be the last time.  On my first real gravel grinder ride, the 2012 Velodirt Dalles Mt 60, I walked up Old Moody again.  And I'd continue walking up Old Moody the next several times I encountered it. 
Fast forward to March 2014.  I'm embarking on my 6th Velodirt ride.  The day began with a crowd of 200 riders, and a lot of familiar friendly faces.   Our leader, Donnie, unceremoniously mounted up, saying something about "we're here to ride, let's go".  Even though he spoke softly, everyone heard him.  This man is a clever route finder and planner.  His understated style attracts the best riders - mobs of the best riders.

We rode together as a giant peleton, crossing the Columbia and spreading out along the first dirt climb on the Dalles Mountain Road.  Unlike past years, I kept up with the fast kids.  A few people passed me, but I also passed a few people.  It's not a race and it's silly to compare oneself to other riders, but it sure felt good to ride fast and strong.

Now for the descent.  I wasn't scared at all, not even for one second.  I flew down the hill at 30 miles per hour with complete confidence.  The AX (my new cyclocross bike - the Focus Mares A.X. 3.0) is a dynamo.  The Panaracer T-Servs (32s!) felt like a favorite pair of worn-in sneakers.  Reliable and comfortable.

When the gravel ended, I actually felt disappointed.  But I took comfort knowing the loops awaited.  Unfortunately, access was denied angrily by a selfish hording hillbilly standing in his front yard screaming and swearing and spitting all over the place.  It occurred to me how this poor schmuck and Donnie are the exact opposites.  Donnie shares.  He finds beautiful amazing adventures and tells people about them.
So instead of enjoying the lovely switchbacks on the car-free hill, I screamed down the busy highway, stopping to look at some baby rattlers and eat a PBJ.  Then down to the river, across to Biggs and a quick McDonald's stop.  I saw my pretty young co-worker there, Katie, who said she was having a crap day.  Later we compared notes.  My amazing day still took longer than her cruddy day!  But, then, it's not a race.
Riding along the river, I recalled riding down from the Fulton Canyon on the Stampede last year and how dramatically beautiful it is up there.  Then, the turn to meet my nemesis.  Good old Old Moody.  I rode it.  Yes, I rode up Old Moody the entire way, and I believe I could do that again.  Finally!  All of my gravel practice and suffering have paid off.

Old Moody's beauty cannot be beaten.  From the top of the ridge, you can see forever and forever looks pretty fantastic.  The weather was also pretty fantastic.  I spent the day riding with The Kid, who asked that I change his nickname to The Pirate, and we had a glorious time.

Rolling into the Dalles, I felt a single raindrop on my cheek.  We found a place for a beer and ran into other riders there, two of whom are actual readers of my blog (hi Bob, hi Kevin!).  The drive back to Portland was so wet it was scary.  What a different day we would've had if the rain came earlier.

1 comment:

  1. Old Moody Road: makes me older and moodier.