Tag Archives: two-day touring

Two-day touring: South Valley Loop & Velo B&B

Screenshot from 2014-06-02 06:42:49It was a late start to the bike-touring season and almost thwarted by the realization that our camping gear was in Portland (where my partner lives during the week and where our last tour ended).  Then we realized that we could pay for roof-over-our-head accommodations!

I found a bed and breakfast just south of Eugene which is now, far and above, my favorite bed and breakfast and up there on the list of my favorite businesses.  Velo B&B is run by Misha & Rob English.  The “English” name may be (correctly) recognized by bike aficionados as the English of English Cycles, Eugene-based hand-made bike creator.  Misha is a vegan baker who will make you question every disparaging thing you’ve said about things made without butter and conceiver of Morning Glory in Eugene.

Between delicious vegan breakfast (and bedtime cookie snacks) and bike friendliness, I was won over.  But then.  BUT THEN.  But then we found out that they are also CAR-FREE.  With two businesses up a non-trivial hill about 3 miles south of Eugene, I was duly impressed.  The place was cosy, affordable, quiet, clean, friendly, beautiful — not your grandma’s B&B.  Misha and Rob were wonderful hosts — great conversation and just the right amount of privacy. This is a place to try out and recommend widely.  Oh right — they also give a 10% bike-there discount.  So, you know, love all around.

The bike ride we took, directions here is also recommended.  A wonderful loop around the south Valley, with varied landscape (fields, rolling hills, forests of different types) and VERY low traffic (except in approaching Eugene, where the shoulder was wide).  When approaching the B&B keep your eyes peeled for a red wheel and look out for the house number.

A successful introduction to bicycle camping

This past weekend, my partner and I took 6 of our friends on what was (for 5 of the 6) their first bicycle camping trip.  We went to Brownsville, our now go-to intro bike-camping destination.  Let me tell you, the Brownsville campground (at their gorgeous, tricked-out city park) is a happening place.  Lots of people, lots of camping, right by the river.  And free fire-wood!  And a lax camp-fire policy.

In other news, there seems to be a murmuring of biker-hiker camping at the Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site.  I’m guessing you could lend a supportive voice to that idea by emailing the park.

What are the most important intersections?

The City of Corvallis will be taking a census of bicycle usage in mid-October.  They are looking for the most important intersections to count bicycles at during rush hour times.  To me, that means intersections that are most heavily used and so will have the highest bicycle count.

If you have any ideas, leave the in the comments, and I’ll pass it on to Greg Wilson in Public Works.

Also, stay tuned for volunteer opportunities for this!

Two day touring: Alsea Falls

A favorite short tour of mine is to Alsea Falls, a wonderful, quiet BLM site with a small campground and gorgeous falls.  The route we take to Alsea Falls is on some of the most quiet and smooth roads through beautiful rolling hills.  The hills.  This ride is not for the faint of heart.  Particularly if you come via Bellfountain rather than the more gentle (but still challenging) HWY 34.  Near the end of the ride, there is a climb of roughly 1000ft in 1.5 miles.   Continue reading

Two- day touring with Amtrak: Corvallis to Portland via Champoeg and One-Green World

My partner and I headed out on our first tour of the year.  We’ve done several two-day tours.  It’s a great weekend break for me and requires much less planning (and fitness) of a longer tour.

On this tour we:

  1. Biked from Corvallis to Albany and took the train to Salem.
  2. Ate breakfast at the Sassy Onion.
  3. Tried to get a bus out of Salem, and failed as there was only one bike spot left on the bus.  With bus frequency close to 30 minutes, we opted to bike out of Salem.  I had been hoping to avoid this as Salem is an incredibly unfriendly town to bike in (compared to Corvallis or Portland).  Turns out we nearly beat the bus to the edge of town.  This really highlighted three big complaints of public transit: infrequency, lack of reliable space (for cyclists) and speed.  We have a long way to go.
  4. We biked to Champoeg State Recreation Area where we had a cabin booked for the night.  Despite the amazing weather we had, it was a wonderful treat to be warm through the night and be carrying a lighter load for this first tour of the season.  Sad though, that we couldn’t take advantage of Champoeg’s $5 bike-in/hike-in tent spots!  Do I hear a future tour? (Note: Champoeg is pronounced “Shampoo-y”.)
  5. The next day, we biked from Champoeg to One Green World to buy a second load of fruit trees for our food-not-lawns project.  Yes that’s right, we bought 4 trees and 2 vines and carried them on our bikes.  Turns out saplings are really small, so this isn’t as impressive as it sounds.  Jim, one of the owners, was impressed enough, though, to take our picture next to our sign.  I recommend checking them out.  They have an incredibly extensive selection of fruiting plants that are suitable for the valley.
  6. From One Green World, we biked to Canby, with the hopes of taking the Canby Ferry, but sadly discovered it was closed.  A kind stranger saw us squinting over our maps trying to decide how to reroute ourselves through Oregon City without having to bike on HWY-99, pulled over, introduced herself as a fellow cyclist and gave us directions on quiet roads that took us into Oregon City.  Thankfully, as Oregon City is another bicycling unfriendly city, we quickly ran into a bus stop that took us into Portland.
  7. When we crossed into Portland, we disembarked with our 2 bikes, 4 panniers and 6 plants and biked up to Apex Bar which has the largest bike rack I’ve seen at any establishment.  The day-time bouncer was quite amused with our load of plants.
  8. After relaxing for a while, we biked to Portland Amtrak.  We took the Eastbank Esplanade – busy, but beautiful.  We had to wait roughly 20 minutes at the Steel Bridge, which was open, to let a boat to pass through.  I’m less than amused at the priority of a single, recreational sailboat through over that of easily one hundred pedestrians and cyclists.  I am not sure why the opening of a draw bridge for recreational users cannot be timed and controlled, just as busses are for those of us on land.
  9. Across on the west side of the river, we made a few wrong turns with (uncharacteristically) lacking direction to the train station, having to turn back after realizing we were on the wrong side of the track and wouldn’t easily be able to cross.
  10. The train was unfortunately late.  We knew we would be cutting it close to bike home from Albany in the dusk, and the half hour delay meant the entire ride was in the dark.  We were well-prepared with all of our bike lights and reflective bits in place.  Drivers seemed more cautious passing us than during the day and we made it back to Corvallis safely.

Overall, a wonderful trip with many things to be grateful for.

Two-day Touring: Lyons, OR

Corvallis is a great place to live to as a bicycle camper/tourer.  My partner and I have done several two-day bicycle tours on weekends over the summer, mostly to Alsea Falls, which I’ll blog about later.  Planning these trips takes some time: which campground to go to?  will they have a spot available? do they have firewood? which route to take? is it paved all the way?  does it have logging trucks? So, I’m going to try and get in the habit of broadcasting the results in the hopes that I can save some other bicycle tourist in the Willamette Valley some time and effort.

Last weekend’s trek was supposed to be to Silver Falls.  A lucky call to the campsite ahead of time let us know that most of the tent sites were closed and they were booked up for the weekend.  A scramble to find another off-season campground that was open and available for a Saturday night led us to John Neal Memorial Park in Lyons, OR.

The route: Most of the biking I’ve done near Corvallis has been hilly: up into the Coastal Range. This route was perhaps the flattest 50 mile ride I’ve ever taken, in Oregon or not.  It runs across the Willamette Valley from the base of the Coastal Range to the base of the Cascade Range.  The route I have given is the route we came back on after learning that we could avoid some industrial areas north of Albany and slightly busier roads leading to Stayton.  I was utterly amazed that the quiet farm roads were paved.  For a long stretch of perhaps 15 miles between Jefferson and Stayton, we could count on one hand the number of cars we saw.

Stops along the way: At about the halfway point we stopped at Green Bridge Gardens where we regretted the amount of food we brought with us.  We still stocked up on pears, peaches, raspberries, cherry tomatoes and a (small) marionberry pie that we heated up over our campfire later that night.  The farm made a great lunch and water-refill stop.  Close to our destination, we happened by Trexler Farm which, normally only open for lunch, happened to have an open door where Sharlene Trexler was happy to serve us some delicious, locally-roasted and much-needed coffee and even more delicious home-made pumpkin bread.  Sharlene let us know that in the future we could call up and arrange to have a meal after-hours.  Breakfast the next morning found us at Your Country Kitchen, a not-so-greasy family-run greasy spoon.

The Campsite: When we first arrived at the John Neal Memorial Park, I’ll be honest: we were disappointed.  The campground is just at the edge of Lyons, OR (a town of ~1000) and so felt quite … municipal.  The campsites are very close together with not much privacy.  However, only about 5 of the over 20 sites were occupied, so we were able to camp in a stretch without any gorvs in site.  When dusk fell, we felt like the only people there.  Dead silence.  Firewood was available for purchase at the two nearby convenience stores and a house on the way to the campground.  We went with the latter for convenience, but the firewood was from leftover lumber, not in log form, and took away from the romance of a campfire.  Add in the luxurious shower facilities, and the night wasn’t so bad.

Next time: The route was gorgeous and quiet and safe.  I would ride it again in a heartbeat.  I plan on trying the campground at North Santiam State Park, a walk-in/boat-in site, which is across the river from John Neal Memorial Park.  It was already closed for the season this time.  John Neal would make a good back-up site, though.  I would also recommend it as a ‘beginner’s destination’ as the ride, though long, was very flat.