Today we rode 65 miles and climbed 5,150 tiring ft from the bottom of Mt Hood to Kah-nee-ta (Indian and spelled that way). Mount Hood, rising about 11,239 feet is the tallest mountain in Oregon It is a “dormant” volcano, but is always spewing steam. It’s the fourth highest in a string of Cascade Mountain range volcanoes that string from British Columbia to CA. Eleven glaciers grace its peak. What is awesome about the mountain is that it towers over neighboring peaks in the Cascade range, and is covered in snow year round. It has a massive base covering 92 square miles. It is highly visible from Portland (on clear days) and is generally visible from miles around.
When we started at 6:30 am the temperature was 38 degrees, which was painful since I did not dress (or even bring clothes) for that temperature. I knew that the temperature was going to change throughout the ride, but didn’t figure on that cold. We climbed several thousand feet to the “recreational” base of the mountain and the temperature was mid 50s–nearly a 20 degree swing. We were told, though, not to not take off any layers (not much of a problem in my case), since as we descended through the gorge the temperature again dropped. We made a sharp left turn in the road, and literally the climate completely changed. Dirt turned orange and clay like and the air dry. A desert. Right now I am sitting by a pool at a gaming casino at an Indian reservation. I feel like I am in a different world than the last several days of rain and cold and clouds.
The climbing was strenuous, but I think I am pretty good at that. What I am not good at is descending–I chicken out really quickly when my speed exceeds 30 mph. The excitement some very “ordinary” middle aged guys show toward a rip roaring descent is amazing. One guy said at breakfast that “he lives to descend.” I just want to live. The idea of coming off the bike at 50mph scares me. I am going to have to get better at descending on this ride, but it’s too early to get to get too daring.