Gorge Ride - 2009
  The Columbia River Highway was the first paved highway in the Northwest.  It was also the first scenic highway in the country.  Construction began in 1913, and by 1922 Portland was connected to The Dalles by a paved road.  Years later, when the river level highway was built (currently known as Interstate 84), much of the old highway fell into disrepair or was actually destroyed.  The Gorge Ride is a fundraiser for the "Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway".  Their vision is to restore and preserve the existing drivable portions of the historic highway to their 1920's appearance and link drivable portions with pedestrian and bicycle accessible connections, creating a continuous route through the Columbia River Gorge.
The Gorge ride begins and ends at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center just west of The Dalles.  On the way to Mosier you ride on the old historic highway (with very little vehicular traffic).  From Mosier to the west trailhead you are on a very nice multi-use path on the roadbed of the original highway, and go through the restored Mosier Twin Tunnels.  After the well-supplied rest stop at the west trailhead, you turn around and head back east.  The 40 mile round trip has nearly 3,000 feet of elevation, and takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Northwest.

I took way more pictures than I usually do on a ride.  With scenery this beautiful I couldn't help it.  The ones below should give you a taste of how wonderful it really was.  (Click on each picture to see a larger version.)
The picture to the right was taken at the top of Rowena Crest (looking east) after a long climb up the switchbacks.
Our beautiful ride in the Columbia River Gorge
A rest stop at the west trailhead, then time for the return trip...

This was an incredibly beautiful ride!  I guess we shouldn't be surprised, since it took place in a National Scenic Area.  We have driven the freeway through the Gorge many times, but seeing it from the old highway is far more beautiful.  By moving at a much slower pace, and not having a steel cage around you, makes it a lot easier to take it all in.  While riding, we talked about how amazing it was that 70 years earlier there were Model T's heading down the same road on what was then, a major excursion from The Dalles to Portland.  You also couldn't help but be in amazement at the engineering feat to construct that highway in such rugged terrain with the equipment they had available at the time!

As far as the organized ride itself is concerned, I want to thank all the volunteers who helped to make this an amazing experience!  All of the stations were staffed with friendly and helpful individuals.  The rest stops had a great selection of snacks, good restroom facilities, and bike mechanics on duty.  While on the course you continually saw support vehicles on patrol looking for cyclists in need.  This is certainly not one of the largest or more well known rides, but after our experience this year, we are going to make it an annual event.  And as we have said before, I can't imagine a more beautiful ride anywhere!  I encourage you to check out their website right here, and mark your calendar for next year.

Copyright 2015  -  TandemRide.com  -  USA