This from the Oregonian today. I guess our little ride is now up for public attention. I imagine they will have to stop it now. Oh well, one can ride it whenever one can. I do.
On Sunday, 350 to 450 cyclists will show up forthe annual Ronde PDX.But just ignore them. They’re lunatics.
The Ronde is a totally Portland ride: unofficial, unsanctioned, unhosted, unpermitted, unannounced and unimaginable. Only 47 miles long, the nonevent climbs 18 to 20 of the city’s steepest hills, depending on the route. Few are called, many are broken.
This year’s torture-fest is the same as last year’s, running up and down the West Hills like a lost puppy, ending with delirious cheers — in your head — at Council Crest, the city’s highest point. The ride’s jagged elevation profile looks like the EKG of someone having a heart attack.
People show up as if invisibly summoned, following small yellow lions painted on the street. The image of a medieval lion links the ride to the Tour of Flanders, a road race of short, sharp hills held every spring in Belgium.
With dozens of twists, hairpins and doublings-back among million-dollar homes, Oregon riders can lose their sense of direction. One minute they come tantalizingly close to the radio tower on Council Crest, only to plunge maddeningly toward the river. One guy got lost so many times, it took him three attempts over three years to finish.
Did I mention there are no official rest stops?
Two sections are notorious for their 22-25 percent grades. Brynwood Lane off Skyline Boulevard is no lane. It’s a goat trail. To avoid falling over, riders seek refuge in flat driveways on the way up, like toeholds. Rocket out of one driveway and churn until you reach the next. Some riders spin out. Some pop a wheelie. Some simply fall over, or yank their cleats out of their pedals. The few, the proud and the correctly geared will make it straight up.
The ride’s other hurt locker is College Street, an evil squirt of precipitousness where riders pray they will meet a car coming down the single lane, allowing them to dismount without shame.
Brad Ross and Hugh Givens began the ride in 2008, inspired by the Tour of Flanders. Ross is a bicycle race promoter, well-known for putting on the Cross Crusade Cyclocross Series, U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Portland Twilight Criterium and the Cascade Classic in Bend. Givens is a commercial artist.
Randy L. Rasmussen/The OregonianRiders follow medieval lions over a course that winds up and down the West Hills.
“Hugh and I have been riding our bikes in the West Hills since the beginning of time,” Ross says. “We knew all these cool hills, so we decided to bolt them together.”
No one counts the number of riders, but they’re not shy about telling Ross how they feel about the ride.
“I get a lot of I-hate-yous,” he says. “Also, a lot of people say they had no idea that road existed. One of Hugh and my goals was to show people new cool roads that they haven’t seen before. You don’t need to get in your car and drive to the country to go for a great ride on scenic and challenging roads. There’s plenty right here in the Portland city limits.”
The ride is unofficial because they didn’t want to “go down the insurance road,” he says. “But we want people to know about it. The city isn’t mad about it. Everybody knows about it.”
Not everybody. Mayor Sam Adams’ office wasn’t aware of it, said Caryn Brooks, his spokesperson, adding the mayor “is a firm supporter of bicycles for both commuting and recreation.”
This is recreation?
As you might expect, not everyone finishes the Ronde. The swiftest do it under three hours, apparently. Some riders of pristine carbon bikes avoid the first section, which climbs Saltzman Road through mud and gunk before reaching Skyline Boulevard. But they can’t avoid Brynwood if they want to boast they’ve toured the Ronde.
“The coolest thing for me is when I hear that a group of cyclists went out and did the whole route again weeks or months later,” Ross says. “The whole route is marked, so there’s no reason people can’t go out and do it whenever they feel up to it.”
No reason at all.