After a great weekend gravel ride with WebCyclery (the Spring Classic ride, with over 50+ riders), I have two other gravel / adventure rides to suggest. Billy’s Playground, as in Billy Chinook, the indian guide for John Fremont and Kit Carson. The rides explore the area between Sisters and Lake Billy Chinook. You cross many streams and creeks that flow into Lake Billy Chinook and throughout you get big views of the mountains and the the high desert looking east. The rides share a common stretch of about 35 miles, from the starting point out.
Billy’s Playground – Roubaix option
This ride is a really fun century ride (97 miles / 5300 feet of gain) that can be done on a road bike, preferably with 28 mm tires. You will get a bit of everything on this ride: quiet paved roads, gravel, a couple of cool descents and climbs, spectacular view of Lake Billy Chinook, and the opportunity to ride Lower Bridge in the opposite direction from which most of us ride it. Also, the ride has a convenient half way refueling stop at the town of Culver.
The gravel portion of the ride has a long descent that can be a bit tricky due to the loose gravel, but with patience and diligence it can be safely navigated (I know of some riders who have ridden this portion on 23 mm tubeless tires). There are two fun climbs, paved, each about 2 miles in length averaging about 8 % grade. I call this a Roubaix ride in that out of the 97 miles, only 17 miles are dirt / gravel. This ride is not a beginner century ride, but it is not your “oh my gawd” over the top difficult century either. However, expect it to be more demanding than the Tour of Deschutes Century.
Billy’s Playground – Gravel option
The gravel option is shorter in length and ascent (61 miles, 3400 feet of gain) than the Roubaix option, but it has about 33 miles of gravel. For this ride, I do recommend a gravel / adventure bike. On the ride you will have one less paved descent and ascent and not cross over Lake Billy Chinook, but you will still get quiet paved roads and big views. This is a 5 star gravel ride and one of my favorite gravel / adventure rides.
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