This event popped up on the OBRA calendar and immediately caught my eye. A 58 mile “cross” race in Gifford-Pinchot National Forest was bound to take me to some uncharted territory, destroy my legs, puncture some tires, and leave me in a dreary eyed happy post-race stupor.
Unfortunately the race was deemed too dangerous by the OBRA official who rode the course and the race was cancelled. Amongst the stated safety concerns were: busy hwy with no shoulder, narrow bridge, slippery gravel, too remote, oncoming cars a hazard on narrow roads, washouts VERY dangerous, more slippery gravel. But Glenn Johnson, the would-be race promotor, turned the race into a ride. I gathered a group of friends and headed to Carson, but were running late and missed riding with Glenn and his group. It did make for a surreal day following 6 or so bike tracks through some pretty quiet woods.
The route turned to gravel about 6 miles into the ride and carried us up over 1800 ft along a single lane gravel road to views of Mt. Hood. This was the most significant climb of the day cresting at just 13 miles in. From there the route gradually descends along a mix of double track and single lane gravel as you float back onto pavement.
The remainder of the ride we pedaled out on a mix of pavement, white gravel, and dodging burly pot holes until we arrived at the pleasant sight of Goose Lake Campground. WATER! We rode through the campground searching for a spigot, but to no avail. The closest water was back the way we had come in Trout Lake. Luckily, we were prepared for no services and carried on. The next 4 miles (from 34-38) were pretty brutal. We were riding between some highly trafficked recreation areas. The vehicles, even if they were polite, threw up loads of dust and the road surface from ditch to ditch was a solid washboard. We flew by the turn off to FR-6801, our Garmin’s blared we were off course, and relieved, we turned down the remains of an old forest service road welcoming us with a large sign: “Road Closed 4 miles Ahead.” So begins the part of the day that makes all the rest of the bullshit and annoyances disappear. This is the segment that makes the ride. Rather than sound the spoiler alert and tell you what you will find…. just GO RIDE THIS ROAD. It’s full of surprises, views, really cliche super amazing awesome terrain and some fabulous bullshit. Consider the first 38 miles warmup, or payment for the pleasure of FR-6801. And be sure to thank Glen for his time scouting and putting together a great route.
Tires: CX or 28mm min with tread.
Start: Skamania Public Utilities Building in Carson, WA