A man, a plan, a canal – Panama!

[A palindrome in 3 parts]

SE Portland to Boring, OR and back. March 18, 2017.

I rode out to the intersection of 212 and 26 today, mostly to get some miles in, but also to start prepping for my 2nd attempt at a human powered climb of Hood from Portland. The plan is to ride to Timberline, skin up to Hogsback, summit and then ski back to my bike (and ride back to Portland). Boom boom boom.

That was my plan last year. Lots of things went wrong, but the biggest was simply leaving too late in the afternoon. I was packing and repacking and left the house mid-afternoon with my skis on my pack (on my back) which proved unsustainable after 5 miles, so I had to stop and readjust – the first of 3 times trying to find a comfortable way to carry the skis on the bike for 64 miles (I only made it 56 miles before pulling the plug at the rest area in Government Camp).

SE Portland to Government Camp, by bike.

Things I’m thinking about this year:

  • Maybe have someone meet me at Timberline to help me get some food and warm up and mainly watch the bikes. I’m not sure I feel comfortable locking the bike up — and I don’t really want to carry a lock all the way up there anyway. Last year my plan was at arrive before sunset, cook some food, change and take a power nap before starting to climb – I never made it that far.
  • If I leave earlier in the morning and take the day to ride out, I can be more relaxed about a start time and getting some rest, recovering from the ride.
  • I don’t want a sag wagon or assistance, but maybe just someone to help out with transitions. TBD to carry bivy gear and a bag to sleep…. more weight == less likely to finish… the light and fast or margin of error debate. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
  • There was a lot of construction on 26 last year between Welches and Govy. All that construction is done and there’s a nice wide shoulder now. The only close call I had was after dark just before I got to the Ski Bowl parking lot – a big semi rolled by and the wind blast started to pull me left – I steered hard right and hit the guardrail and banged up my knee. That’s when I stopped and took stock of everything for a minute or two.
Too much stuff. I took my big belay parka to use as a bivy/sleeping bag and I had my jetboil to cook some hot food… but I never got to that point.

I was looking through my training log leading up to the attempt last year and I was only averaging about 40 miles of riding in the weeks leading up to the “BIG RIDE”. I’m taking some time from running right now and I’ve averaged about 100 miles a week for the last few weeks. I think I’ll be in much better cycling shape for this attempt.

In Bruce Chatwin’s book The Songlines, he writes about  Australian Aborigines singing their world into existence:

A knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. In some cases, the paths of the creator-beings are said to be evident from their marks, or petrosomatoglyphs, on the land, such as large depressions in the land which are said to be their footprints.


I just love the idea of human powered adventures. I’ve been thinking of a way to push the boundaries of what’s possible – and I’ve come up with a new twist.

Instead of heading home after climbing Hood, my plan is to hang a left on 26 to 35, ride down to Hood River, cross the bridge to White Salmon, and then ride out to Trout Lake and climb and ski Mt. Adams.  Then riding to St Helens to climb it and then riding back home again.

Cycling mileage looks something like:

  • 64 miles to Timberline
  • 90 miles to Mt Adams
  • 90 miles to St. Helens
  • 80 miles to home
    • ~325 miles?

So.. some logistical concerns that I’m mulling:

  • I’ll need bivy gear to sleep, this isn’t a one shot deal but a multi-day suffer-fest
  • I’ll need a lot of food, on the bike, climbing and dinner fuel
  • I’m leaning away from pulling a trailer – I think it would just kind of suck … but not out of the question yet. I need a better way to carry my skis.
  • How many days?
  • Where to bivy? There will be some recovery time at Timberline before climbing … so in the parking lot. Then maybe somewhere closer to Adams. Could be a big day of riding to get ready for Adams the next day.  Then somewhere on the way to St. Helens.. not sure – I can’t see this far ahead for this adventure.  The day between Adams and St Helens could be a real treat.
  • Getting across the bridge to White Salmon – bikes aren’t allowed on the bridge, but I’ve heard you can get a shuttle.. or have someone transport me over the bridge.
  • When is the road to Morrison Creek going to be snow free enough to ride it to the Adams trailhead? Route timing in general.
  • That’s it for now…

Why do anything really? In this case.. because it makes me happy.

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