After riding our second century ride of the STIHL Tour des Trees yesterday, the other cyclists and I were all excited to get back on the road from Hood River to Portland, Ore. Today's route would take us along Oregon's Highway 30, following the Columbia River as it carved toward the Pacific Ocean.
We had one last climb to look forward to up to the Vista House at Crown Point. We passed Multnomah Falls for another postcard photo. As I made my last climb, I felt stronger than I had any other day and realized that this climb would have been a challenge for me just a week ago, but after the Dufur Gap yesterday, it seemed like a mere hill.
From Vista House, you can see the entire Columbia River Gorge. The river was wide and calm below and you could see every shade of green. Down below, cars and trains looked like model toys as they traveled along the river.
After a slight uphill, it was mostly downhill back to Portland. Winding on Highway 30 reminded me of country roads back home. We rode hard all the way into Portland and made it in time for our final event, another stellar performance by Professor Pricklethorn, this time at Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. Visiting with the children was inspirational and put things in stark perspective for me. The thoughts of the pain in my leg evaporated.
Being a part of helping these children smile and learn about something so important to our communities, trees, was the most fitting end to our journey.
Earlier this week, I was trying to explain to my girlfriend what this trip was like. The best I could do was this: gather the most interesting people you know that share a similar hobby, pick the most beautiful and dramatic backdrop, help raise awareness for the importance of trees and the work of the TREE Fund, eat amazing food and for some, drink amazing drink, and leave with more friends than you came with.
Chuck Kellen is an employee of STIHL Inc. who is spending this week cycling through Oregon with the STIHL Tour des Trees. The event benefits the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund (TREE Fund). To learn more, visit www.stihltourdestrees.org and www.treefund.org.
Photo Credit: Alvin Gilens