This is written (mainly) by Bernie: 64 miles
I woke in our little wooden cabin to the sound of groaning and David saying he couldn’t move. His back had stiffened up during the night. A dose of anti-inflammatories and a helping hand up and luckily it loosened up although I felt a little uncertain whether he would make it cycling at all yet alone over the 3000 foot pass we had on today’s route. We set off resolved to flag down a pick up truck if needed but as it was he was OK. It seems thst cycling itself, where there is no twisting, is not painful but getting on and off the bike which was accompanied by the odd groan.
We were soon back into cloud as we ascended Oldman Pass, which was ‘only’ a 2000ft climb. Unfortunately the promised spectacular views over Mount St Helens were obscured by fog – so we did not even have the promise of great views to spur us on. However the climb had to be done and it was. My back rack chose to break just as we started descending but a ‘heath robinson’ repair with 2 bungee cords kept us going. This meant I was pretty gingerly going down the first steep bit of descent but then there was a lovely gradual downhill alongside Wind River below the cloud line where it was dry again. Down, down to meet the Columbia Rover again at Stevenson where we had a welcome stop for lunch (there being absolutely nothing before then). Next door was a hardware store where we managed to replace the bolt needed for my rack.
Then we had a flat ride round to Cascade Locks and over the river on the inappropritely named “Bridge of the Gods”. A rather scary metal bridge where you could see the river through the grill below and the side rails did not seem nearly high enough! There were few signs of deities – if one ognores the group of young cyclists who appeared ever now and then for the next 20 miles.
We were now in Oregan – one state done and onto a new map. We had 20 miles along the Oregon side of the river to reach the town of Hood River. At one point this involved a very steep 600ft climb. We have done much longer climbs but this was so steep it was a but of a killer. It would have had an ‘arrow’ on an OS map but we both managed to get to the top without getting off and walking. Two of the young chaps zoomed past us on their bicycles who we met at the bridge. They whizzed past us going up and when we got to the bottom on the other side they were resting by the road as 2 of their mates came up just behind us. We exchanged pleasantries and found we were all going in roughly teh same direction.
The next part was a bizarre experience of having to go for 10 miles on the freeway (like a motorway) as there is no other road. The mountains steeply meeting the river at that point and so all traffic, including bicycles, goes along the freeway. It was pretty horrible and noisy. At one point the shoulder became very narrow but luckily there was a strong wind behind us blowing up the river valley so we flew along pretty quickly. As we came off the freeway the 4 chaps hurtled past us again – a bit like the hare and the tortoise!! I had been rather nervous about getting accomodation in Hood River becasue it is a popular weekend destination (and we had worked out after some thought that this was Friday evening). I still did not think it would be good for David’s back to camp but we needed a hotel with space! After a few false starts luckily we got the last room in a very pleasant motel, about a mile from the town centre.
A long hot bath eased David’s back and my legs. We pedalled into ‘downtown’ and had a great meal at Brian’s Pourhouse – helped along by a raspberry martini for me and local beer for David followed by some Oregan wine (this part of the Columbia Gorge being very famous for its winery’s). We wobbled slightly back up the hill to bed!