Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Adventure Cycling Along the Columbia Gorge

In mid-June, after the 10-day bicycle ride around the Olympic Peninsula with Craig, I headed down to Oregon to assist with Adventure Cycling's Columbia River Gorge tour.

The evening before the tour began, I stayed with my friend, Robin, who lives in Portland. To keep with the Adventure Cycling theme of today's post, I should mention that I met Robin at my Adventure Cycling Leadership Training Class in Missoula in June 2013. As it turned out, Robin lived on a floating house on Hayden Island -- just across the street from the marina where Jake and I lived! What a small world!

Robin and I spent a few hours in the early evening sailing Robin's boat, Vela. The weather was splendid, and the company was grand. I really enjoyed sailing along the Columbia River, where I had spent so much time a few summers prior.

Vela's sails, against a perfect sky.


I loved sailing Vela, a Ranger 20. She was easy to rig, easy to launch, and easy to single-hand. I could totally see myself owning this boat. I just wish she were a bit more accommodating for a liveaboard arrangement. Although I consider myself to be a minimalist, a Ranger 20 would be extremely tight quarters for more than a night or two on the water.

Vela, a Ranger 20.

After returning from our sail, Robin and I then kayaked to Island Cafe for dinner. On our paddle back to Robin's floating house afterwards, we spotted a few beavers frolicking in the water. How fun!

The next morning, I drove the short distance to Gresham, the start of the Columbia River Gorge tour. The tour, an 8-day fully-supported bicycle ride, covered 325 miles of riding in both Washington and Oregon. There were 26 riders and 6 staff members.

The staff for the Columbia River Gorge trip.
From left to right: me, Tom, Pete, Don, Marianne, and Dan.

I, known as "Rest Stop Sarah," was in charge of the mid-ride rest stops. "Marker Tom" marked all of the turns and cautions along the route with spray chalk. "Lunch Stop Don" served lunches. "Luggage Truck Marianne" drove the luggage truck from campground-to-campground. "Mechanic Dan" kept the riders' bikes in tip-top shape. And "Director Pete" beautifully orchestrated the entire event.

As we were preparing the support vehicles in the parking lot, a guy pulled up riding a motorcycle. I wanted to give the guy the stink eye, as he parked right next door to my van. Come on, dude, there is plenty of parking in the parking lot! Little did I know that the motorcyclist was one of our riders! Yup, Jeff, who had motorbiked up from California, had his bicycle packed in his motorcycle trailer. How cool is that!

Jeff is a "biker" of both the motorized and non-motorized variety.
Jeff's bicycle was packed in the trailer of his motorcycle.

Each day of the trip, I set up rest stops along the route.

Me, at one of my rest stops.

The caterer supplied me with a selection of foods and spreads from which I created a variety of tasty snacks for the riders. The red platter below displays bagels with cream cheese, chia nut bars, dates, and bananas topped with peanut butter and M'n'Ms. The green platter contains banana nut bread (optionally topped with peanut butter, nutella, and/or and bananas), nutella or raspberry-stuffed dates, and oatmeal bars topped with either peanut butter and jelly or nutella and bananas.

An assortment of yummy snacks.

For each rest stop, I decorated the table with a flower bouquet and some sort of rock display. At my first rest stop, for example, I decorated the table with a bouquet of daisies and foxgloves and a collection of rocks spelling "Adventure Cycling."

The table decorations at my first rest stop.

The subsequent rest stops saw the appearance of my "rocks of wisdom," such as the one shown below:

One of the "rocks of wisdom."

It was fun to see the riders pull up to the rest stop and go straight for the rock to see the day's wisdom.

It was also fun to see the riders practice yoga at the rest stops. (One of the riders, Delinda, taught an informal yoga class at camp each night.)

The riders practice their yoga moves.

One of the riders was recovering from an injury, and so he and his wife brought a separate support vehicle along for the ride. Whenever I spotted the vehicle, I left a little snack and note on their car.

Leaving a treat.

The riders quickly became friends. By the end of the trip, we were like family.

What a good looking group, with the majestic Mt Hood in the background!
Back row (l to r): Dan, Scott, Pete, Craig, Ross, Don, Chris, Stephen, Jon, Greg, Dana, Troy
Middle row (l to r): Jeff, Jill, Martha, Tom, Marianne, Susan, Brad, CJ, June, Bob, Bev, Dick, Ken
Front row (l to r): Delinda, Sarah (me), Sandy, Troy, Pete, Joe, Matt

Each day on the trip, I had a few moments to relish in the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. One such moment was atop the Rowena Crest. 

I had biked the Rowena Crest on the second day of my cross-country trip two years prior (see Day #2: Scary Ass Bridge). As I paused at the top of the crest on my cross-country trip, I never would have guessed in a million years that the next time I visited the Rowena Crest, I'd be staffing a trip for Adventure Cycling!

Relaxing atop the Rowena Crest.

Soliture and I also had the opportunity to relish in the gloriousness of Mt. Hood. I savored the moment as I lounged in a comfy chair on a perfectly warm and gorgeous day, watching tiny dots ski down the slopes in the distance.

Relaxing in front of Mt. Hood.

I really enjoyed getting my hand bitten off by a gigantic, angry salmon...or maybe not.

Having fun at the fish hatchery.

I had an absolute blast staffing the Adventure Cycling tour along the Columbia River Gorge. The route was gorgeous, the guests were great fun, and the staff was beyond awesome. I had a smile plastered to my face during the entire trip.

Before and after my rest stops, as I drove by the riders and shouted words of encouragement from the window of my van, I kept telling myself, "I love this so much." I would be withholding an important detail if I didn't share with you that I shed a handful of joyful tears on this trip.

Life is good. More of this, please!


  1. I can't imagine a more positive, friendly, happy and encouraging person to be there waiting at each days mid morning break! It would be the highlight of day!

    I was wondering how this went and I am very very happy it was a good experience!

    Little sailboats scare me, but I am a big proponent of that fun between the legs every chance I get!

  2. Thanks, Tony. It's easy to be a positive, friendly, happy, and encouraging person when surrounded by so many awesome riders. :) For what it's worth, I think you'd enjoy an Adventure Cycling trip. :)

    Fun between the legs is always great! Unless, of course, your saddle is a bad fit. :)


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