Even though its still April and we are seemingly in the thick of an unpredictable spring, this past weekend felt like mid-July. Sunday was a beautiful day for riding, and the Ronde PDX (De Ronde Van West Portlandia) provided a good excuse to meet up with hundreds of like-minded cyclists and attack (or be attacked by) the steep stretches that populate the west hills.
It was my first year participating in the Ronde, and I had a pretty great time following the painted lions on the ground as my friend and teammate Crossett and I traversed the steep climbs and quick descents. In our typical fashion we we’re a bit late to the start and found the tail-end of the group on St. Helens as they began to wind up Saltzman through Forest Park. This was probably my favorite part of the day, charging up Saltzman on my carbon Scott CR1 equipped with 23c road tires, dodging puddles and powering through the mud and gravel.
Sure some of the climbs were quite steep, and I was feeling pretty dead tired by the end, but what really proved to be memorable was the diversity of cyclists that I rode next to. From bearded old men who would pass you on their dated Trek Y-Frame mountain bikes, to Italian-speaking Euro guys who were riding without jersey and helmet, to pros such as Erik Tonkin and Ryan Trebon riding at the front.
Events like the Ronde and Cross Crusade races show a great cross-section of Portland cyclists, ranging in age, gender, skill-level, etc… And while nobody said the ride would be easy, all are invited to participate, and many do, collectively enduring a tough day in the saddle.