Long Loop: 77m/7300ft
LONG LOOP (W/ CHENOWETH OPTION): 78M/8400FT
Short Loop: 47m/5000ft
Recommended Tires: 35+ files tread/mtb/cross. You can do the long loops on 33's, but i wouldn't really recommend it for the short loop. 35+ is optimal, 38c is better and 40+ is bestest
Services: None (Dalles return does have water re-up/snack-restock, but is only on the long route at mile 60)
Road Surface: Mixed tarmac, maintained gravel, chunky rock, dirt
This will be a mixed-terrain affair, but leaning primarily in the gravel/dirt direction. Start is in 'downtown' Mosier, OR, which really amounts to the corner of Center St. and Historic Highway 30 there at the Mosier Grange Hall. There is plenty of parking along the north side of 30 and it possibly looks like the lower, west end of the grange lot may be up for grabs. Feel it out, but don't quote me on that.
The route is broken out into two loop options, a 47m/5000ft or a 75m/7300ft just to keep things squarely on the golden ratio. Both options head west through the twin tunnels before swinging south to climb up into the Hood National Forest via Fir Mountain Road. The longer 75 mile loop is mostly fast-rolling smooth gravel/dirt and will connect with NF17 and 1720/Brooks Meadow Road to 1722/Upper Fivemile + Dutch Flat and descend the brutally scenic Skyline road into the Dalles before returning to Mosier via two choose-your-own-adventure options: Rowena or Chenoweth. Both spectacular in their own way! Tears of joy will flow, unabated...spirits will soar like eagles!
The shorter 50 mile loop (47 miles in full transparency) will hop the gate at John's Mill road/1711 and descend the Forest of Unfathomable Sorrows, so named for its rather chunky/rocky road surface and stark, burned-out/haunted witchy vibe, before connecting to Ketchum road and dropping into some of the more spectacularific views of Mill Creek and hills rolling all the way to the Columbia. Vensel, Osborne Cutoff and DryCreek descend back into Mosier.
Both routes wind up at the Mosier Falls swimming hole (see right) which will be a great opportunity for a bracing dip and a high-five with your mates for a gauntlet well-run. There is a goatpath leading down behind the guardrail on 3rd to a lower guardrail where there is plenty of room for bikes. A set of steep stone steps lead down to the water. Dicey in cycling shoes, but well worth it.
Note: the only services along these routes will be on the long route at mile 60 in the Dalles where you will find a Home Depot and a gas station/convenience store as the easiest water refill + supplemental snack options.
This is a completely unsupported/self-supported ride (non) event. You and you only are responsible for getting yourself in and getting yourself out of these rather remote and rugged mountain areas. Though beautiful and scenic, this is high country with weather subject to frequent and capricious change (to quote Nick Wood), temperature drop, wind, rain and occasional patches of lingering snow. Additionally, the winter storms have left us with lots of downed trees and more debris than usual.
So come prepared.
Don't show up without the route on your GPS.
Don't show up without extra tubes.
Don't show up on road cleats.
Don't show up on 25's or even 28's for that matter.
Bring more nutrition than you need.
Two large bottles are the minimum, you should also have a means to filter/treat water and be prepared to do so.
Bring a rain/wind jacket.
A GPS device is absolutely required here. None of these roads or intersections will be marked and active logging operations in the area create a dizzying array of ever-changing offshoots, sidespurs and otherwise disorienting intersections. In a nutshell: it's very easy to get lost...so I cannot stress enough the importance of having the route on your Garmin, iPhone or other GPS-enabled device.
Additionally, there is no cell service back up in these hills, so practicing solid buddy system/group solidarity is strongly emphasized. Getting caught out by yourself with no GPS at a dubious intersection can be a daunting proposition, so be smart, be safe, come prepared and stick together.
That being said, this is an incredible route with breathtaking scenery and a broad, wide-ranging cross section of epic terrain!
So, just to make things interesting we've stashed six 8oz flasks of Bulleit Rye along the Mayhem route. While the short and long routes share a common front end, three of the six will be found along areas specific to the short loop. Happy hunting!
1. Where the Pavement Ends. You've just suffered through a brutal climb and the worst part is, you're not even halfway there yet. You were promised a gravel ride and WTF, it's been paved up til now? The pavement has just ended and while you're technically riding gravel now, you've still got a long way to climb. If there is one paltry bit of consolation I can offer, there is a tree on your left. Marked number '4'. Have a look around the base of this tree. The side facing the fence. There may or may not be a rustic assemblage of pinecones and twiggage obscuring something there against the base of the tree. See what you find. It may or may not soothe your delicate sensibilities at this point. What can I say? We tried.
2. Oh HELLO?!?! Mount Hood. I didn't see you there. HOLY SHIT, you've just received a full-frontal from Wy'east. I know it's a bit of a shock after all this boxed-in upper Fruitlooping alpine business, but WOW, Hood cuts an imposing figure from this vantage point. Nice right? What's that? There's a road leading off to the right? Why would someone pile all that dirt and all those logs in the way? Perhaps they don't want you offroading, starting fires and shooting guns into the woods? Or maybe...just MAYBE they don't want you to find that wee nip of Belgian bellywarmer hiding in the end of the hollow log. Who's to say? Certainly not I.
3. Gated and Hated. Wow. You've made it to the John's Mill gate. That was kind of a gnarly climb, yeah? I think any decent person would offer you a drink for your efforts. You have some chunky stuff coming. I hope your bike handling skills are up to snuff. Pro tip: It helps to loosen up. This gate has three posts. The first two are kinda obvious. Check the third. It'll help.
4. The Pearly Gates. Do you even descend chunky stuff, bro? Holy WOW. Yeah. I'm with you. That was fucked up. A lot of chunk. Again, as a conciliatory gesture have a look behind the gate. You'll find an array of upturned rocks beside the bottom gate...look to your right. Does one look like a table? Is there a flask of premium treasure behind that rock? Grasp it, unscrew it, toss your head back, free yourself. Live a little. This ride is hard. But it's a whole lot better w/ a bit of fire in your belly!
5. Cattle Guard Party. This is the intersection of Ketchum Road, Vensel and Chenoweth Loop. This cattle guard is all that stands between you and the sexiest descent sequence in the area. You deserve it. You've earned it. But before 'tuckin n' truckin' back toward Mosier, be sure to have a look inside that cattle guard. Those things are deep and weird and nobody really knows what happens inside there. Best thing to do is investigate. If it were me, I'd look into the fourth bay from the left. Reach down. See what's in there. If you happen to find a flask in the ditch, it's okay, we say it's cool, drink it.
6. Swimmin'. Now that you've finished crushing the ride, it's time to take a dip. Careful, those rocks can be mighty slippery in cycling shoes. There is a rocky protrusion overlooking the falls from which a single tree/shrub grows. Feel around at the base of this tree/shrub. There may or may not be a final bit of buried treasure waiting to be found!