A short while ago I got to spend two days with my son during his visit out here before he heads overseas. We went down to The Dalles Oregon via some amazing scenic and also pretty twisty roads which was a ton of fun.
I had the best time with him; not that is was a giant raucous event, but relaxed and nice, chatting bikes, racing, life and Spanish speaking television shows when we got really bored.
My son was back in town for a couple of weeks before he was due to head overseas. In the midst of all the visiting with friends and family he asked me about going off for a couple days ride. Originally we thought about going to Beaverton to see his grandma, but after she came up for the small party we held we decided to do something a little more fun.
Two days, not too far away, lots of twisties and scenic views....I know just the route.
The first stint was a boring freeway blast, but that is often a necessary boredom so I will simply skip ahead.
We got off at Woodburn for gas and to hit our first decent stretch of road. West on NE Cedar Creek quickly becomes a less packed country road. The road snakes back and forth gently for a while until you pass the red barn and head up into the low rolling hills. The curves get better and you play between tree lined canopy and small farms.
South at Munch Rd and we were treated to some really nice tight corners strung together for a few miles. What a great little road. Pavement is perfect and views are mostly sparse farmland, but you know you're not in some remote area. At the T intersection, I incorrectly took us East. The road (379th/Fargher Lake) was a great twistly little stretch so even though I knew we made a wrong turn after a couple moments (intuition is great isn't it), I decided to wait to turn around 🙂
Back on track we rolled down into Battle Ground, then took a short stint on hwy 205 to hwy 14, west to Washougal.
Being that I was riding with a young man in his very early 20's we needed to stop for lunch. That gave me a chance to check in with any customers needs and the break was welcome.
Leaving behind a nice chat with another rider we headed north on Washougal River Rd, which early on is a glorified country residential road. Soon, however, it starts to get good running along the river, twisting back and forth perfectly. Pavement is perfect enough until running through a gravel section, then a rough road section until finally rolling to the end of pavement at a park?!?! Where the heck are we?
I was enjoying myself too much I missed the turn south at Canyon Creek. We did find a nice little waterfall/river from a small bridge. A few photos and nice break later and we backtracked the few miles to the correct road which took us down the Hwy 14 so we could blast west to the bigger fish we wanted to fry today.
Hwy 14 runs along the Columbia river through a few tunnels and small towns. Off to the right (South), you see the glorious water that you can't really tell is moving and Oregon following along with you.
After another short break for gas and my son to pound a monster energy drink (kids) we were off. I was taking him up Canyon Rd to Appleton, then over to Klickitat. At least that was the plan.
Find our spot we took the hard left off Hwy 14 and cut back and up into the first short section up Old Hwy 8. You gain altitude quickly and just when you're finding a rhythm you need to take the right turn onto Canyon Rd where the fun really begins. This perfect smooth ribbon of spaghetti is just a beautiful connection of corner after corner with a couple switchbacks thrown in just to make sure you're paying attention.
Both of us were tossing our bikes with abandon power out of the corners wishing we'd taken a little more entry speed on the way in because darn it, once again I could have gone faster.
You break out at the top and head to the Appleton intersection (there is no town, just a turn off). This begins the downhill toward Hwy 142. There is a fantastic spot for photos (if you haven't seen my Klickitat photos, try my Instagram account).
Today, however, we saw smoke down in the valley. After much deliberation we decided that roll down there to see if it was in fact blocking the road or not. Worst case and we'd have to re-ride a couple miles back up to where we just were.
Worst case later and we were happily slamming our way along the Appleton-Klickitat curves and then subsequently back down Canyon to Hwy 14. Fortunately the gap between where we popped out (Old hwy 8) and Hwy 142 is literally something like 100 yards so we didn't have miles of detour to worry about.
We rolled into The Dalles (yes, you have to say "the") and found our lodging for the night. It was the cheapest place in town (Oregon Motel) and wasn't all that bad. I am a cheap hotel guy, but I can say it didn't stink or anything. Things were small and quaint and gave me the feeling that this place had been around for a very long time.
After a decent enough nights rest, I woke up pretty early. I let the boy sleep and did some work.
We rolled out West along Historic Hwy 30 up to Rowena Crest. If you're out in The Dalles or Hood River, you kinda have to go up to Rowena Crest. Even if you don't like heights or awesome views, the road on each side is amazing and completely worth staying off Hwy 84. It arcs in and out of the trees and tightens up and closer you get to the top until you're running along rock walls and barriers. At the top there is a little viewing area, but nothing else.
Heading down 30 West from the crest is another great stretch. Perfect pavement and medium tight turns welcome your brake pads and chicken strips. At the bottom you pop out by the Hwy 30 cafe (I don't know the actual name, but it tries to evoke the Hwy 66 ideal in it's look).
We hit 84 and blast along with the trucks into Hood River to cross back into Washington. The bridge is metal mesh type which means your bike is going to squirm back and forth and if you have a negative center slot in your tire like i do, you have to talk to yourself to RELAX the whole time.
Back on gloriously solid tarmac, we head west on Hwy 14 toward Carson where I'm going to show the boy one of the best roads I've ever ridden (wind river/curly creek).
Hopping off Hwy 14 early you take the truck route up to Carson. This mile or so is actually a surprisingly good twisty stretch of road. I like to roll through town instead of turning to continue on the "truck route" which diverts logging trucks around the town.
We get gas at the Texaco and experience the most full port-o-potty I have every seen. The urinal was full and the crap was right there! Don't sit down.
We head up past the hatcheries and take the right turn onto Wind River into the trees. It does take a few miles to get to the good stuff, so be patient. The road is tree lined and quite nice, but if you've read this expecting amazing corners all linked together, it's up the road...don't worry.
Past stream/river views, places to camp, hike or whatever people do other than ride (no idea, but people do stuff I guess) the fun begins. Paved a couple of years ago, this virgin tarmac is flawless and the corners are linked so well together with only a couple of them that tighten up more than you'd expect so you can just settle into a rhythm and lean further and further.
It's hard to describe, but you pitch the bike in, look as far through the corner as you can and whack the throttle (I like have a 650) then as you exit you toss it over the other direction and repeat. There are a few sections so occasionally you can wind it out a little or if you're like me, take the time to relax a touch.
After too much fun and wondering how I could ride this road more often, we up over the top. Stopping at a rest area with benches, a toilet and an amazing view of Mt St Helens we snack on PB&J and Apples (pays to do a little preparation).
From there we rolled along to NF-25. This stretch is pretty chunked up so be sure to space out and pay attention. You just got done going fast and you'll be able to once you hit NF-25 so it's ok, you can take it easy.
Down from the Ranger Station toward Cougar is a great road. Not smooth and a little frost heaved from time to time it's still a great road. Lots of glorious tree lined sunshine road with tons of corners. I did a video on NF-25 so you can check that out if you want.
After Cougar we continue west along Hwy 503.
If you haven't, take the turn at Yale Bridge Rd. I don't care if you're heading north, take this little detour south. The corners hit immediately and don't let up. Elevation changes and a true one lane bridge make this worth the extra time/miles. This is a must do road!
We roll back to Woodland and north on I-5 the fun now behind us we settle in to the mind numbing boredom of the freeway in comparison.
Our last break is Centralia for gas and a shared Red Bull which does a really good job of bringing me back to full focus.
How after two days with my youngest and I feel insanely happy and blessed.
I can't wait to do something like this with my oldest.
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