Bicycling from Corvallis to Portland

A few days ago, despite a badly bruised (fractured?) rib, I biked with my partner from Corvallis to Portland.  We stuck to scenic country roads as much as possible, so our route was not the most direct – 80 miles became 110 as a result, making this the longest bike ride either of us had been on (in a single day).  I expected the ride to not be so bad, but to be in for a world of pain the next couple of days.  Other than my bruised rib, we both felt fine (but tired) the next day.  The ride itself was harder than expected, though – even though we’d been on 70 mile rides before.  It was quite hot and stopping for a few hours in the middle of the day was not a great option, since the ride (including regular breaks) already took nearly 12 hours.  We swapped a single set of paniers (carrying food, clothes for two days and some work) back and forth, which I would recommend if possible – it made for a nice break, both weight- and wind-wise.

Much of our trip ran along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (consisting of designated country and city roads).  Although the bikeway is signposted, in preparation, I mapped out our route on Bikely and imported the resulting gpx file using Trails on my smart phone.  I was glad for it, as we twice missed turns and were not clear on where to go several other times.  Since there is no room left on my handlebars for a smartphone mount (due to such safety items as light, bell and “oh shit” brakes*), the gps was relegated to a panier, which meant more frequent and longer than otherwise desired stops.  Remember, cyclists don’t have passenger seats and dashboards for maps and gps units.  Signs were not ideally placed for a cyclist.  Each turn was marked with at most one small sign, thankfully at eye level, but directly at the turn, and sometimes on the other side of an intersection, resulting in short stops and loss of otherwise maintainable speed.  Which, over 110 miles, makes a difference.  While I am very thankful for bike infrastructure (living in Oregon is a North American cyclist’s dream), I wonder how often bike routes are tested by cyclists under normal conditions.  Simply moving the signs back 10 or 20 meters could make a world of difference. Even better would be doubling up signs along the route.  But that would cost money.

We took the train back to Albany from Portland – biking the 12.5 miles from the train station to Corvallis.  One great thing about biking 110 miles is that 12.5 miles feels like nothing.

Thanks to everyone who provided us with water along the way.  No thanks to the person in Oregon City, who upon my legally crossing at a 4-way stop nearly t-boned me and yelled “Get off the fucking road” with his two children sitting in the back of his car.  Remember: bicycles legally are vehicles and have a right to use non-Interstate roads.

* An extra set of inline brake levers at the top of drop bars, excellent for emergencies and long descents.

(This post is backdated, moved from glencora.org to carfreecorvallis.com)