Conquered

I still remember my 8th grade Latin teacher, Mrs. Olsen. She was a fiery 4’10” redhead that danced around our classroom repeating Latin words. She expected our 13 year old brains to hold on to her antiquated phrases. Out of all of those hours I do remember one thing:

“Vici, vidi, veni.”

In other words:

“We came, we saw, we freaking conquered” (partially my interpretation).

There are a few rides that I fear, and today I conquered one of them. The Cherry Heights/7 Mile Road loop from Hood River to The Dalles, Oregon has caused me some grief in the past. It seems that every time I have undertaken this ride, some type of disaster impeded the way.

Highway 30 Near Rowena/May 2017

When my friend Jen said that she wanted to go for a long ride today, I optimistically suggested this 58 mile loop. The temperature was perfect (mid 60s) and the wind forecast indicated 10-15 mph gusts. Doable…although I’ll admit that I woke up with apprehension, praying that I would make it through. Somehow I forgot the last-time vow that I took to not do this again.

The elevation (+5707/-5616 ft) and gusts on this ride can be challenging. There are several wide open plunging descents and I have called for a car rescue with 50 mph knock you into traffic winds in the past.

The Dalles, Oregon

We left a little later than expected and the wind picked up as we cruised out of Hood River. As the wind gusted sideways during the first major descent into The Dalles, I began plotting an escape route. Views of the river showed windsurfers and whitecaps. Not necessarily a roadbiking compatible kind of day. Also, not the kind of day that my wind-obsessed kiteboarding husband would be waiting at home to rescue me out on the road.

No worries. We were 30 miles in and there was nowhere to go but up. We rounded a corner and hit a fork in the road. I forgot to look at a map, assuming that I have done this ride before and of course knew the way. We went right. I let Jen know that we could either go right or left and one way was the wrong way. A few miles into our right turn, Jen (who has never done this ride), told me that we were going west and that we needed to turn around. I figured we would get somewhere at some point and we turned around.

Beautiful Eastside Descent into The Dalles

After circling around The Dalles, we descended breezily into town. Jen needed some hydration and nutrition, and we decided to stop at a little market. Jen was concerned about not having a mask, but apparently there are no concerns about masks or pandemics in this town. We stocked up on licorice, water and Clif bars and went on our merry way.

As we climbed toward the Rowena Crest, the wind hit us from every direction after each turn. I braced myself and leaned into the crosswind. I channeled Mrs. Olsen and shifted into a lower gear. I thought about her persistence, energy and enthusiasm. She taught us a dying language that later helped me with my SAT’s and understanding of medical terminology. It’s funny that decades later, I can still remember those badass Greek goddesses from her class as well as the strong women who inspired me to believe that I could do anything that I aspired to do.

LESSONS LEARNED:

  1. Rapidly braking while going downhill with wind gusts can knock you off your bike. Best to put your head down and peddle through.
  2. I’m going to pick up a wind sport as an alternative to road biking on windy days.
  3. Teachers are amazing. You never know when those lessons are going to be remembered. Thank you Mrs. Olsen.

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