Sunday, July 18, 2010
An awful lot of fuss and went into preparing for Cycle Oregon Weekend, how did I overlook what city it was going to be in! Really – somehow I got it in my mind that it was in Molalla however the whole hoopla was taking place in Monmouth. It is a good thing that the Molalla exit came before the Monmouth exit and that I didn’t get to far off the beaten path. I usually see lots of cars with bikes on them headed towards any organized ride. This wasn’t the case even though this is one of the more popular rides in Oregon with about 1700 riders.
Arriving before sundown was a great relief since I was going to have to pitch a tent. Those who know me know that I am not much of a camper but I have learned a few things over the years. 1) a tent needs stakes (though this tent needs new stakes) 2) being close to the honey buckets may be convenient but those doors slam all night long 3) get that tent up before dark. I used all of my past lessons and pitched that tent like a pro, all except those tent stakes. In my flurry of preparation I meant to buy a mallet but that didn’t happen. Not perfect but good enough!
I set out to survey the grounds. Nossa Familia coffee had a full blown coffee stand, there was an acupuncture tent, bike repair stand, secured bike parking, information booth, directions to the gym where from 6 am to 11 pm you can both shower and flush, a medic tent, and in the dining hall you could get meals! Everything a small bike community could need. After checking it out I ate dinner and headed to my tent. Since I had also forgotten a chair I climbed inside, organized the unorganizable and pulled out my book. With my earplugs securely inserted I was into slumber but only for two hours at a time. I knew I should have stopped at Costco and grabbed that air mattress!
Morning came upon us and the stir of riders began. The longer the route the earlier you want to get out of camp. It was supposed to be a pretty warm but the morning was telling a different story. I calculated the appropriate clothing and headed for chow.
I rolled out by 8:00 am which is a fairly late start for me. I had planned to take it easy all weekend and do as much hanging out as riding. Since I didn’t have a chair to hang out in and the weather being so nice I opted for the 73 mile ride instead of a shorter route. It was a pretty cold start and I was wondering if I was underdressed since most riders had many more layers on then I did. As soon as we hit those first hills I was warmed up! Those other riders were warmed up too, stopping on the side of the rode to shed clothing.
We were riding through farm-county, the fields were pristinely manicured and if I were to name the ride for the day it would be called ‘The Mojito Ride’. Twisting through the mint fields was refreshing as long as the wind was blowing in the right direction. The right direction for mint smelling is not always right direction for riding. If that wind is hitting you head-on, which much of the time it was, the work required to move forward exponentially increases. Working hard increases one’s appetite so it was a good thing that the lunch stop was coming up.
When I arrived at the stop I saw a bunch of people under a tree in the shade. They were sitting in a circle so I knew something was going on over there. I grabbed my lunch and headed over. There were three men playing what I would call ‘mountain music’. They were telling stories about hard times, jilted lovers, and had even worked in their own made up stories about stolen bikes, flat tires etc which in this instance was quite funny. The man on the fiddle looked like he lived the ‘back-country’ life. He looked up as he was singing and had the most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. He played from the heart and enjoyed what he was doing. It was a great break from the hot sun. This would have been a really good time to apply my sunscreen here.
Animal life is always present on these country rides, leaving the lunch stop I saw the strangest goat. This goat looked as if it had manmade horns atop its head! I stopped to take a picture and I could hear other riders saying ‘did you see that goat? What the heck was on his head?’ My guess is that this little guy was naughty and that by duct taping this stick across his head he could not escape or get into trouble. This may have been a way to solve a problem but it just seemed wrong.
The covered bridges were nice and spoke to the history of the area. There was one spot where there was no bridge and I have to admit I was a little worried when I realized we were going to have to cross the river by ferry. I am not afraid to ride the ferry and I don’t mind the lines of bikers waiting to get on the ferry. I was anxious about the drop and rise from the ferry landing, not so much the drop but any time I have taken a ferry the climb after the departure has been brutal.
While waiting for the ferry I saw some large nests on top of posts. I heard a bird screaming and I looked up to see what I thought was a bald eagle! I could also see a baby bird sticking its head out of the nest screaming just like mama. I was so surprised I told some other people ‘See that eagle up there? Isn’t that amazing?’ Just about the time I had about 15 people looking up a gentleman said ‘Ummm that’s an Osprey.’ Well I looked it up and they are also known as a Fish Eagle so I was kind-of right.
The climb out of the river bank was nowhere near what I imagined. One last rest stop and down the home stretch. I finished my ride of 73.5 miles in 7 hours and 30 minutes; 5 hours and 45 miles on the bike and another hour and 45 minutes off the bike. I averaged 13 mph though I topped out at 42 miles an hour which is pretty fast. After returning to camp I showered and took in a yoga class, grabbed dinner, a glass of wine in the beer garden then tucked in for the night.
Day 2 came to my tent much quicker than Day 1 did so I must have gotten a better night’s sleep. There were a few ride options and while I thought I was going to ride the mid-level ride I ended up on the shorter route. This is much better then unintentionally ending up on the long route! When I first realized it I was disappointed then it occurred to me that I loved the ride I was on and I should just enjoy it!
There were less ‘working fields’ on this route and more open land. I saw a tree house that in any urban neighborhood would be the envy of others though way out here I am not sure there are too many people to come play in it. The tree was set a long ways from the house and actually closer to the road. I guess if you are going to build a cool tree house you need to build it where the tree is.
We pulled into Falls City, founded in 1891. The lunch stop was here but it was only 10:00 am and I wasn’t hungry yet. I quickly got out of the rest stop and headed into town. There was a small ‘art festival’ set up so I stopped there. I meandered around the eight outdoor booths and even had a garden mint truffle that could put Peppermint Patty out of business. Just outside of town there was a sign that said ‘falls 100 yards’. About ½ the riders went for the adventure while the others forged on. The sight was amazing and looked like a spot where some very daring teenagers may jump into the river. I saw a couple fishermen that had climbed down into the cliff to fish though I am not sure what they would be fishing for in a waterfall. On the way back to my bike I listened to a father talk to his son about wooden pipes from years gone by, there was one that was in fairly good shape coming out of the ground.
As I mentioned wildlife is plentiful on these country rides. Saw something poke its head out of the bushes and try to run across the road. Slowing as to not be part of a bad incident I saw that she was trying to get some babies to follow her. I pulled over to quietly wait and she did not seem to mind my presence though the oncoming bikes were upsetting. Finally out of the bushes she darted, she was making a run for it though when she got to the other side she realized her babies had turned back at the sight of the oncoming bike. She took off in a low flight back to the other side crossing that biker’s path on the way. After the Osprey incident I did not want to misname this bird but I have looked it up and believe it was a quail. No animals or bikers were hurt in this incident.
I dropped down into the last rest stop and proudly climbed back out. I spotted one last strange looking bird on the way back to town but even google can’t help me identify it. If I had to guess it would be some sort of fishing bird local to the area. I ended my day with another 35 miles under my belt and an experience that I am blessed to have had. I didn’t miss the mallet or the chair though I have to admit I did miss the air mattress and thinking back I should have applied the sunscreen on Day 1 at the lunch stop – OUCH! A wonderful time spent looking through polarized lenses.