Oregon Bicycle Ride
August 3 - 10, 2013
The 2013 Oregon Bicycle Ride will take us to one of our favorite areas: the Wallowas. By mixing some old roads with new, we have created quite an epic ride. The layover days will provide a variety of options including a ride visiting historical areas, or spending the day exploring what is known as the doorstep to the Eagle Cap, Oregon’s largest wilderness area, where you can ride the tram to the top of Mt. Howard and hike around the high country. After regenerating your spirit in Joseph, we will explore a brand new route descending down to the Grande Ronde River at Boggan’s Oasis before climbing out of the canyon along the aptly named Rattlesnake Grade. The adventure continues as we pedal along the banks of the Snake River before turning inland to discover Dayton. Here we can expect the unexpected: 4-star French restaurant, French trained chocolatier, and a Book & Brew shop, to name but just a few.
The Tour Itinerary:
Saturday, August 3
Campsite: Weston-McEwen High School and Athena City Park
Registration: 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 p.m.
Rider Meeting: 7:00 p.m.
Our meeting point is Athena, a small community originally established as a stage stop between Pendleton, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington. Here we will set up our tents in the shade of the tall trees in city park, ready our iron steads for the journey ahead, and greet old friends who will join us on what will be an epic bike ride across Northeast Oregon and back through Southeast Washington.
Sunday, August 4
La Grande, Oregon
Distance: 65 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 4900 ft. / 3460 ft.
Campsite: Pioneer City Park
We start our ride by leaving the open plain, riding through the Umatilla National Forest and up over Tollgate Pass (4,292 ft.). After stopping to take in the scenic viewpoint at Umatilla Breaks, we descend toward Summerville and the Grande Ronde River Valley. Lightly traveled back roads take us to our first night of camping in the bustling, little city of La Grande. There’s a lot to enjoy here: microbrewery, restaurants and shops.
Monday, August 5
Distance: 75 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 3700 ft. / 1800 ft.
Campsite: Joseph High School
The day starts with a long flat ride to Elgin before mounting the Minam Grade and gliding through the Wallowa Canyon. The views of the valley are fantastic and we get our first glimpse of the Wallowa Mountains ahead. We make a stop in the town of Wallowa to visit the Nez Perce Interpretive Center to learn more about the Native American culture and its history in the Grande Ronde River Valley. From here, we head to Lostine, leaving the highway at Enterprise and making our way into the little town of Joseph.
Tuesday, August 6
Joseph & Imnaha, Oregon
Distance: 60 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 3200 ft. / 3200 ft.
Campsite: Joseph High School
Our first layover day has lots of options available, from spending the day roaming the delightful little town of Joseph with its eclectic mix of shops and galleries, or riding bikes to Wallowa State Park for an invigorating swim or to stretch legs on a hike in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. For those looking for a longer bike ride, the supported route for the day follows the beautiful Little Sheep Creek Canyon to the town of Imnaha (pop. about a dozen when everyone is home). If you are inclined to ride the rough, dirt roads past town, this is the gateway to the National Hells Canyon Recreation Area. The non-adventurous will turn around at the bridge and head back to Joseph for a cold beer from the local microbrewery.
Wednesday, August 7
Distance: 88 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 4580 ft. / 8100 ft.
Campsite: Chief Looking Glass Park
This is the day we have all been waiting for, an opportunity to ride the Rattlesnake Grade while receiving full support from the Bicycle Rides Northwest team. We leave Joseph and head to Enterprise, Oregon, turning north and making a gradual climb up to the Joseph Canyon Viewpoint. Soon after, the descent begins, riding the twisting grade down to the Grande Ronde River and Boggan’s Oasis. This is a great place to enjoy a milkshake while resting your legs before starting the long, nine mile climb up the Rattlesnake Grade to Fields Spring State Park. But the climb isn’t over, it’s one more mile up to the rest stop at Anatone (pop.: humans 38, dogs 20, cats 17, horses 11) before descending to our campsite in Asotin, Washington.
Thursday, August 8
Distance: 74 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 4400 ft. / 3500 ft.
Campsite: Dayton City Park
Head across the road and start the ride on a bike path along the Snake River to the city of Clarkston, Washington. From here, we ride along Alpowa Creek, past Chief Timothy Park, and up to the Alpowa summit (2,785 ft.) with views of the Blue Mountains to the south. The descent takes us to Pataha Creek Valley as we follow the route of Lewis and Clark through the small towns that serve this thriving agricultural area of Washington State. It’s just one more climb before dropping into our resting spot for the next two nights in the welcoming little town of Dayton.
Friday, August 9
Distance: 40 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 2800 ft. / 2800 ft
Campsite: Dayton City Park
It’s harvest season in Columbia County, Washington and the roads are full of harvest trucks. The Columbia County Grain Growers asked that we choose an alternate route and we have a great one. The ride will head away from the golden fields of wheat and up into the emerald green pine trees. The ride will be the opposite of the Joseph ride to Imnaha in that we ride up toward the Bluewood Ski Area and drop back down to Dayton in time to enjoy a dip in the city pool.
Saturday, August 10
Distance: 62 miles
Elevation gain / loss: 2100 ft. / 2820 ft.
We finish our journey by riding over the rolling wheat fields, the Blue Mountains still off in the distance, making our way to the renowned wine country and university town of Walla Walla. As we head south, we cross the border back into Oregon, passing through the small agricultural town of Milton-Freewater, known as Muddy Frogwater Country. This area, frogs and all, is developing its own wine industry. Back roads take us past wheat fields and grain storage bins until we drop back into Athena and complete full circle another epic route down beautiful river valleys, up long grades with names like Rattlesnake, and across rolling, golden fields of wheat.
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