Friends of PWA

Start/Finish: Mark Hatfield Visitor Center - Columbia Highway Trailhead

2002 = 44 miles

2003 = 40 miles

Ride Discontinued after second year.

2002 was the first year of this ride. 
Lisa was involved in this ride as an event organizer, which was the reason that I rode in the ride the first year.
The ride was directly after Cycle Oregon, and I would have preferred to use the following weekend as a rest period instead of participating in another hill climb, but it is a great ride.
And, I was able to see her and participate in an event she was working on.
I parked at the bottom of the hill, both saving spaces for other riders, saving the 3 dollar parking fee, and getting in a little more hill miles. The weather was great, though the attendance was rather light.
It is such a treat to ride those 4 miles along that wide smooth bike path that was once the Columbia Historic Highway. 
The path travels high on the hillside, overlooking the Columbia River and slides below a cover of trees. The ride out to Roweena crest is at first a series of rollers, then a gradual, incline through some open spaces that can expose you to a little wind.
A rest stop was atop Roweena Crest, which gives you a break before the long, winding downhill. Here you need to be alert, to navigate the many switchbacks and contend with the sudden wind gusts, but its a great ride down.
Rode out to The Dalles Interpretive Center, and then out the bike paths that take you out a few miles to the river. Winding, wide paths, with very few people, back up the the center to look around and then visit with Dave and Edna who are staffing the rest stop. 
At the stop I meet up with Andrew Black who had been acting as the bike mechanic, but got bored since there was nothing to fix, so he had ridden down from Rowena Crest to The Dalles and back.
We ride up the winding looping road to the top of Rowena Crest, at a good pace, as he is a strong rider, and I am in my best form having just completed Cycle Oregon.
On the ride back there is a long downhill stretch through the orchards. 
At this point, as I was gathering speed, I shifted in to my large front ring, but the derailleur over shifted causing the chain to go off the other side of the chain ring. After a brief glance down to see the cause of my pedaling problem, I looked back up only to realize that I had now gotten out onto the shoulder of the road. Unwilling to risk swerving back up on to the roadway at a speed of approximately 25 mph, I opted for rolling down the incline and into the field. I quickly hit a bump, and flew over the top of the handlebars, did a somersault and came to rest more or less on my feet. A quick mental/physical inventory revealed no real damage, and I was quite relieved. Straightened up the handlebars, replaced the chain and put everything else back in place, and after a moment for composure, was back on the road to finish the route.
After the ride, was able to meet up with Lisa for Lunch and ice cream in Hood River, prior to heading home.

2003 - The second annual ride
Again, Lisa is involved in the ride, and has gotten me involved as well, attending the Friends board meetings, providing input where I can and generally helping Lisa with her duties. A web site has been created, and a registration service was involved.  The date has been moved, prior to Cycle Oregon this year, but also the same weekend as the MS150. So, I have decided to support the Friends, instead of MS this week. Lisa and I leave for the course very early so that we can put up directional signs by 8:00am. Last year she was a SAG driver, this year she is a rider so we ride together. We get back to registration table about 830 and get on the course by 900, I am rider 11, pretty low number for an hour in to the ride. But we are off, the weather being cloudy, a bit cool, and a bit humid as well. And windy.  A nice ride, and we see a few riders out on the road to Rowena, it is getting windier but we keep up a pretty good pace. The ride up and over the crest prove to be uneventful with the exception of meeting 3 tour buses on the winding loops of the Rowena Crest downhill. We get to The Dalles and hear that we are actually the last riders on the course. Not that we are slow, its just that there weren't any registered riders after us going the full distance. So after we chat at the rest stop, the women begin dismantling the rest stop and we head out. The guys at the top of the Crest have waited for us, which was impressive since it was quite windy up there as well. We stay to catch our breaths, fill our bottles and have a few more cookies. I didn't mention that this ride features home made chocolate chip cookies. That by itself is worth the ride. And we are off to the finish. The organizers have waited for us to finish the course as well. The last few miles along the bike path were harder for me than I expected. The brisk pace and the steady heavy winds, which forced us to pedal during some of the best down hills, has taken my energy, and I didn't enjoy the last stretch as well as I expected. Our early plans called for going back again, at least up to the crest and back giving us at least 60 miles. But the group has decided to go eat in town, and we decide that a social hour at a brew house may be more fun the doubling back in to the wind for more miles. 
A disappointing result for the organizers in terms of a fundraiser, but it is still a great route to ride.

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