Heading out on a bike tour down the Willamette Valley…

From my last tour of the Willamette Valley in 2009. Taken at Champoeg State Park on 11 Aug 2009. This was my Surly Long Haul Trucker, my touring rig from 2008 to 2013.

If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you know I love bike touring. I’ve been doing it since 2005. And you’ve probably also picked up that over the past few years I haven’t been doing as much touring as I’d like. Last year was a dry year, but to anyone who has been awake, not doing a bike tour in 2020 was pretty much a given. How would one do it during pandemic?

Still, after two successful overnights under the belt last year, the trip to Barton in July and then Ainsworth in August, I hoped to pull off something. I had my sights set on a Willamette Valley tour in September, a four day loop with easy mileage days and not a lot of hills. I hadn’t done a true valley tour since 2009, so it was overdue. I made plans to depart, then the fires happened. There was no way that I was going to ride in extremely unhealthy air. The fires eventually abated, along with my enthusiasm. I shelved the idea of a tour until 2021.

I started spring off with two overnights, McIver and Ainsworth. Confident again, I made plans for the Willamette Valley tour for the last week of June. I’d be fully vaccinated by then, and the rains should be over and it wouldn’t be too hot. Well, I got everything right except for the last one. The dates I chose would see record-breaking heat. The Sunday chosen for departure saw an ungodly 112F as a high, then followed by a positively obscene 116F on Monday. There’d be no way in hell that I’d ride in those conditions, I might die.

I pushed the tour back another week, when cooler temperatures were in store. Then I realized that the Bantam needed drivetrain work before I could go out on the road. The tour gets pushed back again another two weeks when I had an appropriate window of time.

So now! Now I get to go out on this tour. It’ll be a four day sort-of-loop in the northern reaches of the Willamette Valley. Here is how the tour breaks down:

  1. Today, Monday 19 July: I take Trimet (light rail and bus) west to Forest Grove, then ride about 30 miles south to McMinnville.
  2. Tuesday 20 July: Ride 40-ish miles south to Albany.
  3. Wednesday 21 July: Ride 30-ish miles north to Salem.
  4. Thursday 22 July: Ride 30-ish miles north to Wilsonville, where I take Trimet (train and light rail) home.

As you will note, the days have fairly low mileages. Being out of shape and out of practice, I wanted to make this easy on myself. It’s not about epicness, it’s about being on the bike and exploring an area out my backdoor that I don’t always explore enough. And I will actually be staying indoors every night, which means I don’t need to haul camping gear. I’ll be touring as light as possible!

Still, I’m a bit anxious. I haven’t tested myself like this in a long, long time. I hope everything goes OK. Doing a tour through this area gives me many bail-out options if I need to, whether transit service, Amtrak, or calling Emee to pick me up. But I really don’t hope I bail out.

I’ll have a report of the trip on the blog after it’s done. I’ll be posting a few on-the-road updates on Instagram and/or flickr, so check those out if you want to see how things are going. Wish me luck!

5 thoughts on “Heading out on a bike tour down the Willamette Valley…

Add yours

  1. A well thought out plan. I agree that until you see how you feel in the morning after riding the day before will dictate the pace of your endeavor. Good luck with your trip. Looking forward to your “after” report.

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