This post could just as easily be called “Pete & Dean 1, Oregon Stampede 1”. The plan for this one started about 4 days after completing our first and successful attempt at the Oregon Stampede just about a month ago. I was laying in a hotel in San Diego, on a work trip, and Dean asked via text the simple question of “want to do the Stampede loop again?”. I figured what the heck, why not!
Dean is coming into the final 2 weeks before he rides the Dirty Kanza, and he wanted to get in one more long ride. The Stampede route offers close to the same elevation and it is just plain hard. Good mental and physical training for 200 miles of Kansas gravel.
In order to avoid the late finish similar to last time, Dean and I drove out to the campsite on Friday night planning for an early start. We did not get going at the planned 6:30 AM start time, but we were on the road by 7AM. We had awoken to a constant rain pitter pattering on the camper. Needless to say it wasn’t the greatest of motivators.
I layered up with wool knickers, craft base layer, wool long sleeve, hat, gloves, showers pass jacket and their waterproof socks (which proved to be horrible in my opinion). Most people who know me know that I despise being cold. I made every attempt to assure myself of having some warmth for the long day.
With a very brief lull in the showers we hit the road. The route almost immediately starts uphill on Old Moody Road. We spooked two cows and their two calves. It was a bit humorous as they continued to run down the road in front of us. Finally they all took a left and started back up into their pasture.
The first 25 miles is almost all climbing with a couple short steep downhills. We topped out at the summit ride of 2800′ after starting at around 150′ at the campsite. Temps up on the wide open summit was hovering around 41 degrees. I was thoroughly soaked at this time. The wool was not keeping me warm, my jacket was soaked and the “waterproof” socks were totally sucking (and totally soaked). We had an extended descent down into Dufur for stop #1 at the wonderful Kramer’s Market for a refuel and assessment of the situation.
We talked about how during the descent we both felt like our calves and hamstrings were on the verge of cramping from the cold. Dean couldn’t feel his hands and I had very cold toes. I described the situation as being firmly ensconced in the category of uncomfortable, but just shy of entering the world of miserable.
I did my best to warm up inside while we both had pulled pork sandwiches, french fries, and a big old cup of hot coffee. I was shivering quite a bit at first but eventually got to the point where I was just wet, but the wool was now at least warm. The temp in Dufur was only in the mid 40’s and we still had roughly 80 miles to go at this point. This is where the decision was made to loop back towards camp and call it a day.
It really was the prudent decision. I was a bit bummed because I felt like I was the one who was suffering more than Dean. He seems to like the cold and handles it much better than I do. He is the one riding 200 miles in 2 weeks though, and digging a hole and potentially getting sick was not going to help anyone.
We spent 4 miles on highway 197 with cars flying by us at 65+ MPH, then turned onto Old Highway Road which was peaceful and fast pavement.
Along the Old Highway Road and Fifteen Mile Road the temps had climbed up into the mid 50’s and the rain had stopped for the most part. We also dropped from 1300′ in Dufur down to about 350′ for a nice 13+ degree rise from the summit ridge. My wool was now living up to the “warm even when it is wet” tag line. That made me happy!
Our last bit of gravel was climbing back up Old Moody Road and back to the campsite. I had one of the top 5 most glorious hot showers of my life and another large cup of hot coffee. We started a fire and chilled in front of that for about 5 hours before going to sleep and waking to cool temps and cloud free sky again. We didn’t conquer the Stampede this time. There will be more attempts and probably more failures, as long as the wins out weigh the losses though, I’m game for more. For me, this really needs to become an annual ride.
This ride will be remembered for crap weather, a huge pulled pork sandwich, great company and definitely how the smell of sage just perfumed the air for most of the first 40 miles.
We still ended up with just shy of 70 miles and 4500′ of climbing. Still not a bad day on the bike.
Well, until next time….
Thanks for reading,