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  1. #1
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Riding Up The Gorge?

    This may seem like a ridiculous question but I've been getting conflicting answers so I thought I would try asking here. I'm planning a trip that involves riding up the Columbia Gorge, west to east, and I'm wondering if I can expect a headwind or a tailwind? I live in Eugene so I can't go up and check for myself, so any info appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
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    East winds in the winter, west most of the year. It's all driven by pressure (or temperature) gradients, desert vs. coast. The one thing you can pretty well count on, is that there will be wind, except for on very hot summer days.

    I recommend Hwy 14 over I-84 [changed my mind, see below], where the Old Hwy (30) is gone (actually, I don't really recommend it at all). You can cross at Bridge of the Gods (Cascade Locks) or The Dalles, but not here at Hood River (Port bastards). I recently rode over the Biggs Bridge, not a great idea.
    Last edited by fallzboater; 01-25-2010 at 04:17 PM.
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  3. #3
    FKA Malibu412
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    As said, winds will typically be east-to-west this time of year, typically west-to-east in the warmer months and a toss up during transition patterns. Boils down to heavier, cooler air pouring through the Gorge and into less dense, warmer air. Works either direction based on the season.

    If I were to plan such a ride, I would try for early Summer or Fall for a west-to-east. In regards to safety, I would prefer the wider shoulders and greater visibility along I-84 even though I would prefer the route itself on WA 14. There are a few sections of old 30 that I would ride which are great for cardio and scenery/stops/historical connection. Narrow but most vehicles aren't buzzing by at 60mph+ like they would be on 14.

    Just my thoughts. Sorry if tmi.
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  4. #4
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    Is there any particular reason you have to go through the gorge? I prefer heading over the passes and up the east side for touring.

  5. #5
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    Like mentioned by the others, the wind depends on time of year and weather.

    I also agree with Brandon, there are much better routes east than through the Gorge. What is your destination? If you must go through the Gorge, I'd ride the Old Columbia River Hwy, but that only gets you halfway, then you will need to finish on 84. Hwy 14 would be a very nice ride if it were not for the lack of a shoulder and the speed people drive.

    If you can easily get to Detroit on Hwy 22 from Eugene, check out FR46/Breitenbush Rd to either FR 57 or FR 42. Both 57 and 42 get you to Timothy Lake. I know FR 57 is paved and a very nice ride, very few views though. FR 42 is more direct but I do not know if it is paved. This is useless info if getting to Detroit from Eugene is a pain.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  6. #6
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    Like fallzboater said, the winds are generally from the west in summer and east in winter, but even small changes in pressure gradients can cause the wind to reverse itself. If you're planning a trip in advance you simply can't make any assumptions about the wind and bet the farm on it.

    Like others have said, there are better routes over the Cascades if your main objective is simply to travel east. But if your destination really is the gorge, I'd ride a combination of the old highway and I-84 at least as far as Cascade Locks or preferably Hood River. I-84 might not sound very pleasant but at least it has a full vehicle-wide shoulder on it to keep the idiots a safe distance away. I would NOT want to ride 14 between Washougal and Cascade Locks even though the scenery is better on that side. Very little shoulder, very curvy, very many speed demons AND semis not paying attention and not staying between the lines. 14 is a decent alternative from Hood River to Dallesport, although on that stretch the route on the Oregon side is even nicer.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan
    If you can easily get to Detroit on Hwy 22 from Eugene, check out FR46/Breitenbush Rd to either FR 57 or FR 42. Both 57 and 42 get you to Timothy Lake. I know FR 57 is paved and a very nice ride, very few views though. FR 42 is more direct but I do not know if it is paved. This is useless info if getting to Detroit from Eugene is a pain.
    FR 42 is all paved. I've done a very nice road ride (once on a bike, many times in auto or motorcycle) from Hood River to Breitenbush Hot Springs (or thru to Detroit), taking Hwy 35 S (back-roads to Cooper Spur, first), I-26 E, FR 42, then FR 46 south (110 mile road ride, and we had spouses drive us back after a soak and dinner). There are sections that are one-lane with pullouts (I can't remember if 42 or 46, though), a lot like you see on the Lolo Pass Rd. on the east side of Mt. Hood (although that one does have a six mile section of well-graded gravel), but it's pretty quiet through there most of the time.

    I guess I'd agree to just stay on the OR side through The Gorge, even though riding on the I-84 shoulder does not appeal to me. You need to do that from Ainsworth to Hood River, and again from The Dalles to Celilo (if you're going that far). I know these roads all very well; we mostly ride on the north side of Mt. Hood in summer, and between HR and The Dalles in the winter. One thing about The Gorge, if you don't like the weather, check again in 10 minutes.

    It is possible to link up Battle Ground -> Cougar -> Trout Lake -> Glenwood -> Klickitat -> Lyle on the WA side, which is a great W->E moto ride, but it's not in The Gorge.
    Last edited by fallzboater; 01-25-2010 at 04:25 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlowBoy
    14 is a decent alternative from Hood River to Dallesport, although on that stretch the route on the Oregon side is even nicer.
    Yes, you absolutely want to ride the Old Hwy (Rt. 30) between Hood River and The Dalles. Don't miss that. At The Dalles (197), cross over to 14 if continuing east. Take a detour up and down the Maryhill Loops Rd. south of Goldendale. Or, stay in OR and take mix of paved and gravel roads from East The Dalles through Fairbanks to Deschutes River SP (I have not personally verified that all roads shown on Google go all the way through).

    Pics below are from my daily commute through Rowena, and near 1,800' top of Seven Mile Hill, just to the south, from last January. (Guess which way my bike is pointing, based on prevailing winds, and why I'm not in this picture.)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Riding Up The Gorge?-rowena-2.jpg  

    Riding Up The Gorge?-sevenmile-hill-1-09.jpg  

    Last edited by fallzboater; 01-25-2010 at 05:27 PM.
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  9. #9
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Wow, thanks for all the input, I really appreciate it! My pea-brained plan was to ride from Eugene to Portland, visit family, then cut right through the gorge on the 14 to Goldendale, where I would meet up with more family. My thinking was that I have driven I-84 many times and always wondered what the gorge looked like from the Washington side, but it sounds like an exceedingly bad idea. Riding the cascades and east side is beautiful but I'm not interested in doing that during the winter, especially if I can spend all that climb time with my family in Portland instead. Sounds like my best bet would be the Columbia River Highway to I-84 to Old 30 to The Dalles and across to WA-14. Do I have that correct? Anyone know a good place to camp between Portland and The Dalles?
    Last edited by Sizzler; 01-25-2010 at 08:01 PM.

  10. #10
    FKA Malibu412
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler
    Anyone know a good place to camp between Portland and The Dalles?
    Lotsa places along 84/30 to camp but I like Ainsworth myself--right on Highway 30 about 3 miles east of Mult Falls. Viento isn't bad either--a little farther east and about 7 miles west of HR. These are State Parks for a reasonable fee.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler
    Wow, thanks for all the input, I really appreciate it! My pea-brained plan was to ride from Eugene to Portland, visit family, then cut right through the gorge on the 14 to Goldendale, where I would meet up with more family. My thinking was that I have driven I-84 many times and always wondered what the gorge looked like from the Washington side, but it sounds like an exceedingly bad idea. Riding the cascades and east side is beautiful but I'm not interested in doing that during the winter, especially if I can spend all that climb time with my family in Portland instead. Sounds like my best bet would be the Columbia River Highway to I-84 to Old 30 to The Dalles and across to WA-14. Do I have that correct? Anyone know a good place to camp between Portland and The Dalles?
    That's right. You'll only need to ride I-84 from Ainsworth (Exit 37) to the first Hood River exit (Exit 62), or about 25 miles. That could take you anywhere between one hour, and four, depending on the wind direction. Old Hwy 30 from Hood River through Mosier and Rowena (or over Sevenmile Hill, if you need more climbing) to The Dalles. Once there, you can ride through town, or on a nice paved waterfront bike path from the Discovery Center east. There's a sidewalk you can ride across The Dalles Bridge (no toll), and Hwy. 14 east of there is not too bad. The much nicer route is from Lyle through Klickitat to Goldendale on 142, but you'll need to either cross at Hood River (in a car, $0.75 toll), or back-track on 14 from The Dalles. Either way, the climb out of The Gorge will be the most difficult part of your ride (unless you got hammered by an East wind), but the grades aren't too bad.

    If I'm home (Sundays are the only ones I can count on, right now), I'd give you a ride across the HR bridge, but I bet you could also hitch across fairly easily (lots of bikers, kayakers, windsurfers, here).

    You could camp in my yard in Hood River, but your avatar scares me just a little. PM me if you can use any help.
    Last edited by fallzboater; 01-26-2010 at 05:30 AM.
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  12. #12
    ronbo613
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    Everyone posting here is correct. If you're riding westward in summer; odds are the wind will be from the west.
    Living on the WA side of the river; I would describe riding on 14 as "hairball"; at best. I would take 84 from Portland to Hood River; ride the old highway to The Dalles; then cross over the dam and head for Pendleton. If you want to camp; take your bike out of sight of the road and go to sleep. There's rest stops and stuff; but locals just head for the woods. Nobody will bother you; heck, they won't even see you.
    Depending on the bike you're riding; you can exit the old highway at Mosier and ride over the hill to The Dalles. Great ride and will cut 15 miles off the I84 route. Couple hills out of Mosier.

  13. #13
    The Brutally Handsome
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    Thanks again everyone for the advice! I feel like I'm getting closer but I just want to make sure of a couple things. From the looks of google maps, I could take Stark Street straight out of Portland to the Historic Columbia River Hwy, past Crown Point, and eventually down to to Ainsworths for a short (25 mile) stretch of I-84 to Hood River, Old 30 . . . does this sound about right?

    fallzboater, I'll be riding my Surly Big Dummy, which is just over 7 feet long, so hitching rides will impossible unless it's from a full-size truck. Also, thanks for the vote of confidence regarding my avatar. I too would be concerned if that was my actual visage!

  14. #14
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    What route will you come into Portland on? I would try to avoid riding Stark all the way through. If you will be on the 205 bike path or going through Sellwood, jump onto the Spring Water Corridor, at some point you will need to get off and make your way to the Stark St bridge and cross the Sandy River. Or ride all the way to the Marine Drive bike path, this is a very nice route along the Columbia River, but a little further north. This will take you into Troutdale and would be my preferred route.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

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    Another option would be to jump on the MAX and avoid most of Portland. You can ride it from the Clackamas Town Center to Gresham.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

  16. #16
    Daniel the Dog
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    Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by OldHouseMan
    Another option would be to jump on the MAX and avoid most of Portland. You can ride it from the Clackamas Town Center to Gresham.
    Avoiding PDX is a good thing--at least on a bike

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler
    Thanks again everyone for the advice! I feel like I'm getting closer but I just want to make sure of a couple things. From the looks of google maps, I could take Stark Street straight out of Portland to the Historic Columbia River Hwy, past Crown Point, and eventually down to to Ainsworths for a short (25 mile) stretch of I-84 to Hood River, Old 30 . . . does this sound about right?

    fallzboater, I'll be riding my Surly Big Dummy, which is just over 7 feet long, so hitching rides will impossible unless it's from a full-size truck. Also, thanks for the vote of confidence regarding my avatar. I too would be concerned if that was my actual visage!
    Right, you can start anywhere there in Troutdale, or Lewis and Clark SP. I don't know anything about actually riding through Portland, I avoid it. You've got the rest.

    I don't have a big truck, but still might be able to help you out, depending on when you're coming through. I've wondered how much effort they'd put into trying to stop you if you did ride over the HR bridge. N-S would be no problem (toll booth on the S end), but S-N I suppose they might call a cop in WA to hassle you.
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  18. #18
    42t
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybo
    Avoiding PDX is a good thing--at least on a bike
    Why's that?

  19. #19
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    Any possibility there's a taxi company in HR that can ferry cyclists across the bridge? Never looked into it myself, but could be a good option if it exists.
    "People like GloyBoy are deaf. They are partisan, intellectually lazy & usually very angry." -Jaybo

  20. #20
    ronbo613
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    Any possibility there's a taxi company in HR that can ferry cyclists across the bridge? Never looked into it myself, but could be a good option if it exists.
    Unless you look like Jack the Ripper; stick out your thumb at the bridge and a cyclist in a vehicle will give you a ride across.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronbo613
    Unless you look like Jack the Ripper; stick out your thumb at the bridge and a cyclist in a vehicle will give you a ride across.
    Agreed. I think it'd be fairly easy to get a ride, even for a tandem. You might just have to wait for a pickup.

    I've been thinking of staging a "critical mass" style ride over the bridge. We were hoping they'd figure out a way to allow bike/ped access with the recent re-decking, but no joy. The bridge is quite narrow, and the steel deck and joints (it is a lift-bridge) would be treacherous with road tires, probably not too bad with a MTB.
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    Knowing the Port of HR, I suspect any attempt at a critical mass bridge crossing would result in an immediate raising of the lift span!
    The drive towards achievement and success is the motive power of civilization.

  23. #23
    Daniel the Dog
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    Cars and lots of them

    Quote Originally Posted by 42t
    Why's that?
    I get nervous on a bike in traffic. Plus, I don't find it fun. Both are good reasons for me to seek dirt....and roads without traffic...

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo
    Knowing the Port of HR, I suspect any attempt at a critical mass bridge crossing would result in an immediate raising of the lift span!
    Good point; it'd probably be best to do it the other direction, so it'd be too late once they saw you. How 'bout you start, Mr. Diplomatic, and we'll be right behind you, heh.
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  25. #25
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    As far a cities go, PDX is one of the more bike-friendly (or at least bike-aware). There are definitely worse places to ride.
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