What happens when you try to get a group ride together and nobody shows up? First you ponder (albeit briefly) if anyone likes you, then you continue on your merry way and have a fun ride.
I emailed a bunch of friends to see who wanted to do the Barlow-Bonney-Bennet Loop (I call it the Bennett – Barlow Loop since I start at Bennett Sno Park). We had done this loop 2 years ago with a good group. Injuries, conflicting events, etc knocked it down to just me showing up for the Saturday morning start.
This was going to be my first “real” ride on the Salsa Timberjack. I’ve been commuting on it a bit and tooled around the neighborhood, but no long rides until today. I ended up raising the seat maybe 1/8″ during the ride and that seemed to be the magic I was missing prior to this outing.
The goal of this bike is to have a dedicated bikepacking rig that can also handle some winter commuting and run errands. I keep the Revelate Designs frame bag on it at all times. The bag adds some nice grocery store runs options and means I can keep tube, tire levers, mini pump and a few other things handy.
It was probably for the best that I ended up riding solo today. I have been fighting a cold for the past few days and was probably operating at around 70-75% of my “normal”. Mostly I am just stuffed up so breathing was not fun. Full on mouth breather for most of today.
The last time we did this all the campgrounds were occupied to some extent. This time I didn’t see anyone though. About 2/3 of the way down Barlow Road I would find out why. A closed bridge, the sign used the term “condemned”. Not suitable for cars but totally passable by bikes.
The first 11-12 miles of this ride is more or less downhill. the next 14 is rolling to “not too bad” in my estimation. You sure as heck make up all of that after crossing the white river though. From mile 25 to 40 you are pretty much going uphill. Check out the GPS route I linked above and see for yourself.
The loop passes right through the McCubbins Gluch area which is home to the Bear Springs Trap mountain bike race every spring. Due to the extreme fire danger right now it is closed to all OHV use. In my head that means it would be a great time to go out and ride the race course on a mountain bike at a much more casual pace.
Ideally you could add in some of the race course backwards to this loop and skip some of the pavement along route 216. Probably not suitable to gravel bikes but totally doable on what I rode today.
The descent down to Keeps Mill was a lot more rutted out and “banged up” compared to two years ago. Definitely a road for high clearance vehicles. There are some nice camping spots along the white river at the bottom though. Some jackass had left the door to the pit toilet wide open and the seat up…….not exactly brilliant if you ask me.
The crossing of the White River was probably the only thing that made me slightly nervous. I was alone, nobody else was around, the water was moving at a decent clip and it was hard to see the bottom to wade across. What could possibly go wrong?
From this point onward it is constant climbing. I thought I was making good time to this point too….wishful thinking!
It was definitely warming up on this side of the mountain. I believe I saw upper 80’s on my GPS compared to the low 80’s when I got back to the car. Thank goodness most of this section is in some sort of shade quite often.
I was starting to see more cars on these back forest roads too. The one that struck me as really odd was the dude backing into a side road/trail for some camping (probably) but had a full on gas grill in a trailer. “Roughing it” I guess.
I ran into this guy above mountain biking up the road and then 3 more guys a bit further down. I was glad to be done after getting an early start, while these guys all appeared to be just starting their day.
I think this loop would make a fantastic mini-bikepacking trip. You pass numerous national forest campgrounds along the route. Currently those along Barlow road or the Keeps Mill seem the most ideal due to the lack of easy automobile access.
This was probably my last ride like this before 6 weeks of chaos. We sell our house in 2 weeks, spend 6 weeks in temporary rental housing and hopefully move into our new house by October 8th.
No trip to the Mt. Hood area is complete without a stop at Joe’s Donuts in Sandy. I hit them up on the way home and it was stupendous.
Thanks for reading,