Despite the trip being a three out of five stars type of affair, my Bike Overnight to Barton last week was fun. And getting out there on the bike has gotten me excited about camping and touring again. I had been worrying that my desire to go on that trip could be chalked up to inertia, instinct: Bike camping is what I do, so I must go bike camping. Now with a successful S24O out of the way, I can safely say this: Bike camping is something I like to do.
This has been an interesting year, to say the least. My enthusiasm levels dipped dramatically at the beginning of “stay at home” in March. They started to rebound in May, and I got excited about some personal projects. Then June hit, with the death of George Floyd and the protests surrounding it. July brought federal “police” to Portland so they can tear gas protesters. Doing anything for myself felt selfish, frivolous. My enthusiasm levels tanked again. It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve started to feel better about doing things for myself, and I’m gearing up to finish those projects I started in May. Of course, two months from now, the new crisis could hit, and my emotions will once again take a nosedive. But for now, I must live in the now.
What does this have to do with bike touring? Well, it means that I want to get out there again. I want to do more bike camping and maybe even attempt a wee bit of a tour before 2020’s good weather window closes. So maybe I have my bike touring mojo back? I hope so, especially after fretting about said lack of mojo last year.
Of course, these interesting times mean I need to do camping/touring in more limited parameters. This is not the time to go far, long, or epic. I should stay within, at maximum, a three hour radius (by car) from my front door. Also, as much as I’d like to, I need to steer away from options that require starting/ending the tour by transit or Amtrak. I know that I’ll be able to do a long tour outside of the area aided by transit at some point: not this year, probably not next year, but there’s always 2022…
Besides overnights, I do have an idea for a tour that falls within the parameters. I’ve been meaning to explore more of the Willamette Valley (at least the parts north of Albany-Corvallis) for awhile. Despite being in my backyard, I’ve not done that much in the Valley. But I know there’s some interesting roads (including gravel) and nice scenery that way, but no big mountains to summit.
I had been toying with the idea of a Three Speed Tour of my own using the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. It’s flat enough that it’s possible on a three speed, but ending in Eugene means taking Amtrak home unless I rode it the same way back. But I’d also want to explore some of those hills in the valley, which wouldn’t be as fun on the Superbe. So I’m thinking of a loop that heads as far south as Albany or thereabouts, using my Bantam. (You know, the touring bike!) I’d try to hit up some of those mid-valley hills and seek out gravel. There’s just enough camping options now to make it work. And hopefully I can make it work!
Here’s some photos of the first time I toured the Willamette Valley, back in 2009.