Race Cascadia SuperG Recap

The team headed up to Olympia to start the gravel season with the Race Cascadia Super G event. This event is in its 3rd year and has been on the team radar as a great one to get into the season before the epic Gorge Grinder the following weekend. The only issue was the race coincided with Zone5Promotions Piece of Cake Road race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have our cake and eat it to.

5:15am Opting for gravel, the team loaded the van and headed up to Olympia, WA early Saturday morning to what looked like a tough, tough, race with lots of climbing. It was a crispy 34F on our way up and we passed thoughts on kit around before all deciding base layer, arm warmers, and Pactimo Storm+ kit would be enough. To keep our minds occupied we threw a podcast on and listened to race recap of E3 and made our own plans for classics glory to unfold in a few hours time.

Our team of 5 consisted of one 70mi’er and four 50mi’ers. When we arrived the fog was lifting and the frost melting. It felt surprisingly warm.

8:30am The team assembled at the start area with the other 295 people who paid money to go up steep climbs and fast descents as fast as they can on gravel. We overheard discussion about snow falling two years ago, fairly epic race conditions. Someone remarked that there might be some hike-a-bike sections but we didn’t believe it. With the course topping out at only around 2800ft and the recent warm weather, it seemed unlikely.

At 845am the 70mi group went off and Brad was in it.

Full write up here

Towards the top I could feel myself going too deep so I let off just slightly and dropped off the wheels of Rob, a guy named Stephen Mull and a Canadian named Parker Bloom.

Tight pace lines, hopping pot holes, trying our best to float over chunky sections.  I felt in control… but just barely and had to remind myself you can’t finish a bike race with broken bones. 

Nobody needs water or food already surely.   Mechanicals!

Stephen, Parker, Erik, plus 3, plus me… 7.  Where’s Rob? 

Then we started the B-1000 climb.  My goodness.  We all rode together the first mile or two but I had no choice to back off and stay within myself.  Still 25 miles from finish, can’t bonk…yet.

I keep pace high but take the final turn onto the grass too wide!  He comes by and we drag race to the finish.  

-Brad Petersen 70mi Pro Division

At 8:50am the 50mi group rolled out. Michael recounts his race…

Full Write-up Here

Nervous start-line chatter leads to sizing up the competition.  Teammates snapping last minute photos reminds me that this is FUN, why so SERIOUS.

My plan going into the race was to stick with the leaders as long as possible, focus on hydration/nutrition, try not to flat or crash, and enjoy some incredible scenery along the way.  It was mission mostly accomplished across the board (minus the crashing part).

…put my head down and go as hard as I can for the next 2.5 hrs.

Something changes when no one is there to help you trade pulls, encourage you or offer you a gel or swig of water.  BELIEF.  I remind myself that I am strong, have trained for this, and can do it.

The next climb hits me hard.  7.5 mile Cat 2.  2,044 vertical feet at an average of 5% and pitches of 15%.  This one hurts. Bad.  I go deep..

My lead is short-lived as I hit an off-camber left-hander with a snow drift that sends me into a tumbling, cramping heap.  

-Michael Aylward 50mi Master 30-39 Division

Made possible by our Sponsors

Detailed Results

Training and Nutrition


Excellent Job!! You’ve just completed your first week of sweet spot training.

The hard work is over for today, but what’s going on in your body? Well, it’s retaining inflammation for up to 48 hours!

Inflammation is linked to all serious illnesses, from cancer and heart disease to alzheimer’s.
Ideal Avoid


Recovery is everything. Simply put, the faster we can recover and stem inflammation, the quicker we can recover. The quicker we can recover, the more efficient we become.
In time, this efficiency translates into strength and speed.

Pro cycling has known the importance of controlling inflammation for decades by using TUEs (Triamcinolone is a corticosteroid, or by inhalation in the case of Glucocorticoids)

Tips on inflammation:

  1. Diet is crucial. Replacing grains, red meat, eggs with nuts, particularly walnuts, cashews or almonds
    reduces inflammatory markers called C-reactive proteins.  An interesting article on antioxidant supplements is found here: https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0816p20.shtml
  2. Sleep is critical (when possible Brad). It is only through deep sleep that we access HGH (Human Growth Hormone)  …but, age is also a contributing factor:
  3. Keep Stress Low—it creates cortisol and this can reverse the effects of exercise
  4. Get enough Vitamin D! It’s a simple blood test. What it does:
    The recommended intakes of vitamin D throughout life were updated by the U.S. Institutes of Medicine
    (IOM) in 2010 and is: Adults to age 70 – 600 IU (15 mcg).  However, all things considered, a daily vitamin D intake of 1000–4000 IU, or 25–100 micro-grams, should
    be enough to ensure optimal blood levels in most people according to Medline.

Foods with good levels of vitamin D:

  • cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IU
  • herring, fresh, raw, 4 ounces: 1,056 IU
  • swordfish, cooked, 4 ounces: 941 IU
  • raw maitake mushrooms, 1 cup: 786 IU
  • salmon, sockeye, cooked, 4 ounces: 596 IU
  • sardines, canned, 4 ounces: 336 IU
  • fortified skim milk, 1 cup: 120 IU
  • tuna, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces: 68 IU

Other Tips

  • Eat whole foods, which give the body the inflammation-fighting tools it needs without having a negative effect on the inflammatory response, which could inhibit adaptation to exercise.
  • Don’t take anti-inflammatory supplements or drugs unless you have a specific medical need for them.  Taking them unnecessarily can actually inhibit your body’s ability to recover from training.
  • Fats are necessary in the complex process of recovery. Omega-3 fatty acids especially are needed to regulate the level of inflammation in your body. A diet low in omega-3 fats, while high in the more common omega-6 fats, can bias your body towards inflammation, impairing exercise recovery, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
  • Integrating fat in your diet does not mean succumbing more often to bacon cheeseburgers. Omega-6 fats are very common in the modern diet; they can be found in most vegetable
    and nuts oils as well as meats and dairy. Omega-3 fats are much more rare, although some are found in most foods containing omega-6 fats. Foods rich in omega-3 fats include walnuts, cold-water fish such as salmon, flaxseed, soybeans, soybean oil, tofu and canola oil. Many experts recommend eating no more than four to five times the amount of omega-6 fats as omega-3 fats, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Athletes may wish to take an omega-3 supplement derived from fish or krill oil to ensure dietary balance.


This Week’s Recipe:

Turmeric tea (also called golden milk) is a great way to get the benefits of turmeric daily. Find out how to make this ancient health boosting drink in under 5 minutes!

Author Katie Wells


  • 2 cups milk of choice such as almond pecan, coconut, or dairy, or use bone broth in place of the milk for a more hearty tea
  • 1 tsp  turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • pinch of ground black pepper (Needed to activate the Circumin in Tumeric)
  • tiny piece of fresh peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper  optional
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup or to taste optional


Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

Pour into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.

Drink immediately.


This may stain blenders and countertops. The color will eventually fade, but making a thick paste of baking soda and water and scrubbing the stain can help.


Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 61kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.4g | Protein: 1.9g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 2.5

Training and Nutrition

Antioxidants and Exercise Performance.

Last year, we visited a Quichwa family in the Amazon rainforest.  We needed a guide as “everything here is built to kill you”  One bite from a bullet ant (everywhere) would cause pain so severe it left its victim screaming in pain for 2 days–with no remedy. So, we found the son of a Shaman named Caesar who showed us the same plants his father showed him as a boy.  Leaves tasting like garlic and cinnamon were sampled as well as extremely potent wild ginger.   He took out a knife and slashed a tree —blood red sap flowed slowly out.  “This is the dragon’s blood” he smiled (Croton lechleri).  It’s an anesthetic used for any cut occurring in the jungle. He rubbed it into a white froth and encouraged us to taste it, we did, rather flavorless.

Hallucinogenic like ahauasca are not uncommon in the jungle,  but dragon’s blood didn’t seem to have any side effects.  That night, in a dream, I had a face to face conversation with my father who had passed on 2 years prior in a dream.  Was it the dragon’s blood?  Hard to tell so I did some research on it.

ORAC ( Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is the score given to all antioxidants based on how the antioxidant reacts to free radicals in a test tube.  Kale? = 1,770 /100 grams, an apples? = 2,828, Cloves, Sumac Bran and Cinnamon are at near the top at 320,000 units.   The highest antioxidant on the planet?  You guessed it, Dragon Blood Tree Sap coming in at  2,897, 110.

Many athletes supplement with antioxidants in the belief this will reduce muscle damage, immune dysfunction and fatigue, and  this will improve performance, while some evidence suggests it impairs training adaptations. 

Interestingly, the jury is out on whether most antioxidants are effective in performance sports.  (With the exception of Reservatrol (in rat studies) and possibly CoQ10 found in the following article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2315638/)



High Desert Gravel Grind Recap

We’ve been so busy that we neglected to recap the High Desert Gravel Grind so here’s a belated post about it.


Brad and Travis got up at 430am to head over to Tumalo for the HDGG.  The day actually started with Travis driving halfway towards Brads house and running into him coming his way on his bike.  We got a kick out of our 5am communications.  It was funny.  Nevertheless, we loaded the bike and gear and headed out.

The trip over was uneventful other than there was snow, yet again as we crested santiam summit.  The duo debated their kit choice to no end.  Brad was fairly confident he would just wear his cold weather bibs, sans knee warmers + arm warmers while Travis was left thinking he’d just freeze until it got warm.  A beet scramble was eaten 3 hrs out from race time…it wasn’t too bad but was a bold move from the typical oatmeal and honey with eggs that Travis typically eats before long days in the saddle.  Nothing like mixing the diet up before a 6 hour race!

They arrived on time, checked in and started race prep.  Number pinning, bathroom, kit donning, bike setup, bathroom again.  Spin, brrrrr, bathroom and then to the start.  They made an effort to get to the front at the start this time and it paid off with us standing amongst the other fast dudes 2nd or 3rd wave from front.

Bonk at the front


Neutral rollout was faster than anticipated and the race was on.  I won’t bore you with the entire race but some highlights.


  • Kesselman got unlucky and took a big gash on his tire and flatted.


  • Crash at the dam, less than 5 miles into the race.  Travis got caught up on it as he was on the right side heading into the dam section.


Dirt Naps

  • Brad was unscathed and ended up on the crazy double-track with the lead group.  While Travis was stuck working his way through people, with the leaders out of site.


  • First climb was long but Brad hung in while Travis went back and forth with a group that formed around him. 3rd group on road?


  • In typical fashion, Travis’ power meter was giving funky readings but he was pretty sure he was NOT doing 340NP for the first hour.  In fact the first few hours were so hard that he considered taking the short route at mile 40.


  • Short route actually ended up being more like mile 32, and neither Brad or Travis took it.  Brad remained at the front with the thinning group.


  • Another few climbs and a super chunky descent had Brad worried about his tire selection but he remained fairly close to the front of the race.

Epic Scenery on Chunky Gravel Descent

  • Travis is caught on descent by Wade Goff and holds his wheel up hwy 242 ascent but Wade chooses to bypass the aid station and Travis never sees him again.


  • The loop out and back to Black Butte is a horrible time.  The sand saps all the strength from the legs.


  • Brad settles in with two others and is racing for 3rd in the final hour while Travis consolidates his position against people arriving at aid stations when he leaves.


  • Rough descent ejects both of Travis’ bottles but he’s not caught.


  • Brad tips off his competitors of the early finish (IE, not at mile 90 like we all thought) but then gets out sprinted for 3rd.  He finishes 4th in men 18-39, about 18 minutes off the leader, Matt Lieto who finished in 4:52.


  • Travis caught a few masters in the last hour to the finish, and crossed the line 5th in men 18-39, 48min back from Lieto.  “It was hard”.


All in all, it was a great day for the Bonk Collective.  18 min back from the leader and mere seconds from a podium spot is a great day for Brad and neither of them suffered mechanicals on their journey over 90 of the roughest miles they’ve ever endured.  This was a seriously epic ride that will surely become a fixture in the early northwest gravel race calendar.  In 2017 the race contained a lot of roads, while this year 90% of the race was over gravel!


Congrats to the team for a great day of racing.

Solo riding to finish

All pics courtesy of Adam Lapeirre / Oregon Gravel Grind  See them all here!

Strava Upload


Race Recap: Gorge Gravel Grind

The Dalles, Oregon. 9am.  Sunday April 8th 2018.


  • Brad Petersen Super Grinder – 105 miles.
  • Travis Power Big Grinder – 74 miles.
  • Dan Handorff Big Grinder – 74 miles.


We drove through an hour and a half of absolute demoralizing downpour to arrive in The Dalles, Oregon with nothing but a few drops of rain from partly cloudy skies.  The neutral roll-out over wet pavement threw up a considerable amount of rooster tails and everyone in the pack bartered GU shots for wheels behind those few with full fenders mounted.  Of the three of us, Brad took the lead, sliding through the pack like a wet fish in the hands of a toddler, wanting to be close to the front when all hell broke loose.  I followed, doing my best to avoid the taste of the road in my mouth and thinking to myself, “5 minutes in and my kit is already dirty”.  I looked down…no power numbers to my new wahoo bolt.  Sigh, so much for pacing myself on power.


We hit the first climb at mile 5 and it quickly became apparent who was racing and who was there for the aid stations, scenery, and camaraderie of others.  I survived the 3 mile ordeal and Brad found me a bit later after the first decent was like, “have you been here the whole time”?  Yeah man, I’m sneaky like that!  Kesselman was off the front already though!


The second gravel descent brought the first crash.  Dude got a bit too far into a power slide and flipped his bike in the corner.  We all kind of got hung up there though and it was a gentle reminder that gravel can be tricky.  John Whethers had an early rear wheel flat!  Suck! Brad and I kept at the front as the road pitched back up again 16mi into the race.  At the end of the climb 2 mi later I had trailed off the front group and gaps formed on the downhill.  The guys I were with just were not able to close them and so we hit the main climb at mile 19, apart from each other.  I asked the guy next to me, “Are we finally on the long climb”?  “I don’t think so, it starts at 20 and I only got 19”, he replied.  Well…that’s unfortunate because that was already the hardest hour I had spent on a bike since cross season!


At the front, Brad got to experience the Decker Pain Train as Carl Decker (Giant factory racing) rolls to the front and kicks it up a notch.  Brad hung tough, doing 375W over 20 minutes but the leaders, sans Kesselman, all got strung out.  Just as things began to reach their breaking point, Matt, Brig and Carl stopped at the aid station for some refreshments.  Brad caught up, and passed them, successfully closing that gap!  I was a bit back back at this point, clearly not experiencing the NOX boosting effects of the celery I at that morning and I look over and who’s there but John Whethers.  Dude patched his flat and came back so fast!


Soon it all came back together more or less and Brad was there, basking in the sun (wind) with the big dogs when his front tire punctured.  Lieto looked over and a smirk appeared, or something and that was that.  Eventually, I came around the corner to see black and neon hunched over a wheel, working on a new tube and a million ideas raced through my mind!  I first thought to stop and help…but, then realizing I was not the stronger rider, I headed up the hill at a slow pace with thoughts that once Brad got back up to me I’d power him back up to the front.  LOL what naivety!  I must have been suffering from extreme oxygen debt to even think that!


Once Brad caught up, halfway up the final pitch I hit the gas and carried us to the top of the crest.  Felt good until it didn’t because that 30 mph wind (or more?) came whipping over the top of the ridge we were on and even though we should have stopped climbing it felt like we hadn’t!  I quickly found out how spent I was and instead of dragging Brad back, he began dragging me!  I hid behind him like a little puppy, sheltering myself from the wind, and trying to find something left in my legs to help out.  I’d stick my wheel into the wind and try and pull through, only to get blown back into his wake.  We laughed a bit at the conditions.  Yelling at each other this and that like we were in a night club with music blaring.  The gorge wind tunnel was in full effect.

The truth though was Brad was in full on diesel mode.  All the climbers were getting blown around while he just laid the watts down.  He ended up pulling me to the group that I left when he flatted and once on the pavement they all hid behind him as well.  We gobbled most of the leaders of the big grind up on the top stretch into the wind.


Brad told me Kesselman and maybe others were opting for the big grinder instead of the super.  Oh great, I thought.  It was an even sadder moment though when I had to leave Brad for the turn onto the big grinder course.  I yelled something stupid like, “HAVE A GOOD RIDE BRAD”!  I don’t know if he heard.  I could barely even hear myself say it.


I settled into the group and we headed down the next gravel descent.  I was about mid-group and the wind was blowing at us from the left.  My 38mm tires felt like big sails in it and even at my weight I had to concentrate pretty hard to keep the bike headed straight.  Suddenly, John loses his front wheel to a gust, tries to save it, flips and takes a huge hit to the back of his head, body.  I hit the brakes and go by, looking back at the wreck and quickly deciding to stop.  Others blew by and I turned to see if he was ok.  Another guy had stopped as well.  John was on his back, his helmet crushed and seat bent all up.  The other guy asked if he was ok to which he replied, “no”!  We helped him to the side of the road and pulled his bike away as well.  I check my phone for coverage, 4 bars, could make a call if needed, then, realized I had no idea who to call.  I stayed with John for about 2 minutes and eventually another John showed up and said he was his friend.  I felt like things were under control and Whethers seemed ok so I decided to take off.  Maybe I could catch group?


For some reason the descent felt good despite knowing I could crash into a ditch and severely hurt myself.  I thought people were behind me but when I looked there was nobody in sight.  This let me open my mind to what was in front of me without worrying about what was behind me.  I averaged 30mph down the descent and gave myself hope that eventually the front group would cool their jets and I could catch them.  I passed one person just prior to the aid station, he looked cracked and didn’t even try to get on my wheel.  Could I catch others?


I hit the aid station quick, although my bike wouldn’t fit under the dang stand, oh what the heck.   I overheard the lady say that only 3 or so riders had gone though…how is this possible I thought?  Slammed PBJ and Nutella graham cracker sandwich, filled the bottles, grabbed 2 GU.  Was NOT stopping again.  Off I went.

View this post on Instagram

After being pummeled by 30mph gusts on a 50min gravel climb during the #gorgegravelgrinder a Wasco County "oasis" appeared. This mom/dad/son and daughter were slingin' Nutella and banana sandwiches along with the freakin' saltiest best tasting chips ever! Their van provided a much needed wind break as well as a heated santuary for one hypothermic rider. It was brutally cold, windy and desolate at this spot and this family was there for hours volunteering their time for the event. Shouts to this family and to all #volunteers who make events like this possible. Oh yeah…That view of 11,000' Mt Hood in the background made the climb worth it! * * * * * * #amaincycling #oregonbackroads #oregonbikeracing #cycling #gravelride #gravelgrinder #outsideisfree #mthood #cyclinglife #cyclist #cyclingphotography #cyclingpics #ridewithgps #wherethepavementends #explorenewroads #cyclingshots #roadslikethese #unlearnpavement #insearchofup #rideyourbike #traveloregon #onlyinoregon #roadcycling #fromwhereiride #thedalles #pnwlife

A post shared by KRhea (@krhea_frzfrmfoto) on


My soul got crushed not 5 minutes later at mile 42 when the gravel road pitched up like 9% into the sky.  I could see another rider but just could not close any on him!  I did the ole, shift to an easy gear maneuver, then realized I was already in my easiest gear.  I guess this is what it is like after hammering yourself for 2 hours 45 minutes straight.  Then after a short reprieve it got worse.

I didn’t really notice the climb at first because the guy I had come up on, Aaron, thought we were on 8 mile road and it sent me for a loop.  I tried to remember the profile but didn’t recall another long climb.  We chatted and I began to realize I was going really slow.  Maybe this was a climb?  I was laboring a bit when he asked if I thought 8 mile was actually 8 miles long.  I was confused as this was not 8 mile rd.  Either way, I hoped we were not on 8 mile because I really didn’t want to climb for 8 miles.  After a few more chats I came to understand that he was not racing, but just out for a ride with friends (who were nowhere to be seen).  When he had introduced himself as Aaron I thought, wait is this Aaron Borrill, a guy I follow on instagram?  So I said, Aaron Borrill? And he said yes, however, now that I see him on instagram there is no way it is Aaron.Borrill because that dude lives in South Africa!  Holy confusing times.

Anyhow, I ended up dropping him.  I seemed to be closing to the group ahead of me very briefly, but once I crested the final portion of the climb I could not see them.  I stopped to zip and then kept going down the other side, not to see another soul until after the 60mi aid station.  Pleasant ridge was fun.  The wind to my back made a huge difference in morale and the miles began ticking off more quickly.  There was a little kicker thrown into the middle of that extended my gap to the others.

Eventually, I hit Japanese Hollow and the sweeping pavement of 8 mile road.  The wind was at my back and 42×11 felt pretty easy to push.  I seemed to remember the course going steadily downhill all the way to the finish and I started feeling really good because A.) Nobody had caught me and B.) the hard parts of the race seemed to be over.  Little did I know that 8 mile road eventually heads into a wind tunnel and even though you’re going downhill it feels like you’ve hit a wall.  A massive wall of wind.

Medium grinder riders started popping up in front of me and I wanted to rest on their wheels but each time I approached it felt like they were standing still!  I went by one rider and yelled, “Heckuva way to end a ride huh”?  He yelled something obscene back.  I kept catching people but they were all medium grinder riders.  If you opened your mouth just right your cheeks would flap like a dog with their head out of the window going 60mph down the freeway.  It was hilarious!


I fought those final miles on 15 mile road.  I thought about taking a picture of a flag standing on end but declined.  I didn’t want to stop pedaling.  At this time I had another though that whoever settled The Dalles must be even less creative than me, can’t even name streets anything interesting, heck, can’t even name then after presidents at least.  I got a “good job” at the finish line and headed into town.  Felt good to be done.  Cramps were there but not debilitating.  It was a good ride.


I finished 10th in big grinder, 4th in my age bracket (men 18-30).  I was 7 min off the lead, 2 min off the podium.  Dang!


I waited and Brad finally came in with two others.  He worked hard to bridge up to them but said he got ANOTHER front flat.  Tubeless man, you need to go tubeless!  I had a beer while he pounded a burger.  We chatted about the race, enjoyed the sun, and hit the road home.  He ended up finishing 6th, 13th overall for the super grinder.  Great result considering the 2 flats.

In his words…

The hardest I’ve ever had to ride and mentally persevere to finish a bike ride.
Actually no, that title belongs to last years race in Bend.

Gimme a one liner summary…

Sailing a bike race!

When he got home his rear tire was flat…tubeless man, its time.


Dan was a bit worse off.  He had three flats, the last of which left him hanging for support.  He broke a tire lever too changing one of the flats.   Luckily, another rider was able to lend a hand and he was able to avoid a DNF for the day, finishing 35th in the big grinder.


As he put it…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…many lessons.


Well, thats a wrap for the first race of the season.  Shout out to Chad and Breakaway promotions for the work put into the race.  Chip timing provided super fast results.  Totally dig the after party at Clock Tower Ales.  The Dalles is beautiful.  I really should have taken more pictures but for now hit up insagram #gorgegravelgrinder.  I probably would have had I felt like the wind would not rip the phone out of my hand!


See you next time!


Bonk Collective Racing




Dixie Mountain After Work

We know the slog is real at this phase of our lives.  Work week, parenting, the stress of it all…whats your relief?  For us, we go riding.

On a cool March day the week before daylight savings extended our evenings, I set off for Dixie Mountain.  It was about 4:30pm in the afternoon and the goal was to enjoy the sunset but still get done by 6:30pm.  Dixie Mountain is a gravel climb outside of North Plains.  It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top where there is the Dixie Mountain Grange (also a quilt square).  As I headed out Evergreen Pkwy the experience was symbolic of the work I was leaving behind.  It was hectic, but as I turned onto Starr and then Meek road the quiet of the country began to fold in on me and peace followed.  Once I made it north of HWY26  on Jackson School road it was even more encompassing.



The road wound through the countryside and began to climb slightly towards the hills.  I passed a barn, weathered from years of standing proudly in the country field.  Then I found a church, with less regal of an existence.  Its door was boarded, siding worn and neglected.  The paint glass windows hinted at a previous existence much more beautiful than its current.  An outhouse to the rear marred its beauty even more.


It wasn’t too much longer before the roads turned to gravel.  I took Dixie Mountain road and almost immediately saw a sign saying the road was closed ahead.  I knew this…but also had seen on google maps that a trail seemed to connect through the closure.  I was running 38mm gravelkings and figured I’d just ride that trail, no matter how overgrown it might be.

It was quitting time and many truckers were coming down from the mill ahead.  Eventually, I came to the closure.  It was super wet, overgrown and something I was NOT going to be able to ride through.  6:30pm finish time was in jeopardy.

I doubled back to the bypass road and started my way around.  When it passed over a creek bed the temperature dropped dramatically.  It felt crisp and fresh all of the sudden and I knew that I probably was going to freeze my butt off once the shadows began to develop.  The gravel was well packed though and the gradual incline felt fast.  I twisted through the countryside, enjoying the climb and the sights on my way to the top.  A dog ran after me, its owners yelling for him to return but in the end relenting with a yell towards me, “He’s friendly”!  Yeah, I’m sure he’s friendly but I’m still going to kick him in the face if he gets in range.


At this point I began to wonder if I had time to get to the top before the sunset.  I advised myself to keep going regardless and then I began wondering if I would even have a nice view once at the top!  Before I had set out I didn’t think I’d ever ridden this road but the further up I got the more convinced I was that I had indeed done this climb.  The thoughts you get while riding a bike.

Soon I emerged briefly and had a view of the valley.  Further, the sun dropped and began its job of lighting up the sky.  I reached the Grange and had a quick snack stop.   Sometime in the summer they do a strawberry shortcake thing here and I really want to try and go.  The Grange also has a strawberry quilt square but I failed to shoot it.  Just before heading on my way I paused at the scene of light spraying through the trees onto the old siding of the Grange.  It was remarkable.


I knew I was in trouble with the time but there was nothing I could do about it.  This is a problem for me, letting go of the timing, the plan, the future, for a chance to experience the moment, the now.  I continued to ride and then realized I was not actually to the top of the climb yet.  The snow grew along the side of the road and the cold followed the sun descending upon me.  As I looked back over my left shoulder the scene began to take on a breathtaking nature.  Indigo, orange, pink.  I love this.

I hit pavement again, and my pace increased dramatically.  I whipped around skyline panicked I was missing seconds of the beautiful sunset falling to my back.  Instead, I faced the glory of Mt Hood, standing tall over the city as the light hit its face and distinct layers of colors visible.  NW Moreland Rd. my ticket back to the valley.  Toes already cold I turned and descended into the growing darkeness.





The descent was fleeting.  I saw a couple sitting on their property, just watching.  Another mowing his large field on his green John Deere while the sun dissipated into the coast range.  What different lives we live.  The road flattened and the dodge cummins that was riding my wheel finally blew by with a puff of black smoke.  Rolling coal or just a poorly tuned 5.9L, I don’t know.  It quickly brought me back to reality from the magic I had just enjoyed, too quickly.

I turned my lights on, crossed hwy26 and felt the city rise back into me.  The noise of cars, the buildings, the threat of glass or nails puncturing my tires.  The feeling was pushed away briefly on Starr Rd. when a chorus of frogs filled my ears as I passed through a marsh area but then returned fully.  I was back.  Cheers to sunset rides after work.


If you like reading stuff like this then hit us up on Instagram or let us know in the comments.  Now go ride your bike!