GRAVEL 2019 Route Talk

Our routes for GRAVEL this year take us across high prairies, rolling hills, canyons, and forested foothills. While the grass lands and wheat fields have greened back up, you don’t have to look far to see signs of the massive and devastating fires that struck this area in 2018. Scorched forested areas are slowly starting anew and many miles of charred fence lines and power/telephone poles have been replaced with fresh new ones across the region.

Short Route: 31.8 miles, 2140 ft of elevation
Long Route: 65.3 miles, 5064 ft of elevation

The Long and Short routes depart together, starting the day on pavement but both hit gravel with a memorable climb just under 5 miles from camp.  Mt Hood rises to the west with other mountains coming into view the farther up the hill you go, helping to take your mind off your burning thighs.  Both routes hit a well-deserved rest stop near mile 18. The Short Route makes a turn back towards camp, utilizing some of the same roads as outbound and some different ones as well – the Short Route is essentially a looping out and back.  The Long Route makes a big loop to the south leaving the open grass land and sparse trees behind following an oh so fun descent into Tygh Valley area. The route travels through White River State Wildlife Area and then enters the dryland forest landscape of Mt Hood National Forest.  As the route climbs, riders will witness the change in foliage and types of trees associated with higher elevations. The Forest Service gravel road we are riding turns to pavement, but your fatter tires will still stand you in good stead, as it’s a rough and large aggregate asphalt, kind of the ‘gravel of pavement’.  The aftermath of the winter’s rain and snow continue to let loose some rock from cuts made to build the road, so please use caution on this pavement. The Long loop closes out at the rest stop that Long Route riders will have visited earlier in the day. The Long Route then follows the same course as the Short Route back to camp where hot showers, great music, amazing food and cold, free beer await.

Short Route: 33.2 miles, 3118 ft of elevation
Long Route: 63 miles, 5216 ft of elevation

Today Long and Short have entirely different beginnings, but share some of same roads later in the day – think big loop for the Long with a smaller loop for Short fitting inside.  Both routes travel the high, rolling plateau of wheat and ranch land to the east of Dufur. If the weather cooperates, we’ll have views of the mountains from Central Oregon all the way to Mt Rainier in Washington, and territorial views of the Columbia River and Deschutes River Gorges. Talk about a panoramic ride!

Riders will be treated to views of some remarkably well preserved abandoned schools, barns and other buildings along the route. These are all on private property, so please do not enter.  Riders will also be treated to some great climbs followed by exhilarating descents, both gravel and paved. Long and Short Route share the same return to Dufur and camp for delicious lunch, a cold beer (or two), hot showers and more live music!

At any gravel event you’ll see a mix of ‘cross bikes, adventure bikes, mountain bikes, and a handful of hearty souls on road bikes. A gravel specific or Cyclocross bike is likely to be the most fun on these routes, but a bike you are comfortable on for these kind of miles, so long as it can run fat enough tires should work just fine.

Most riders will be happiest with at least 32 mm tires, or a bit fatter, and with a bit of tread to help in the sections of deeper, looser aggregate. If you are running knobbies, something with a smoother middle, and knobs on ‘shoulders’  for a lower rolling resistance will likely suit better for the pavement portions of the course….don’t forget to bring a repair kit with extra tubes just in case.

A frame or other bag for your bike or a small backpack to carry extra food, water, and clothing layers is a great addition for this event.  While we have fully stocked stops and SAG support on the routes, riders should also be prepared for a measure of self-reliance as stops are placed a bit farther apart than you may have experienced if you have participated in other Cycle Oregon events.

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