Category Archives: Ride Reports

From the Depths: Portland to Eugene Memorial Day Weekend 2011 trip recap

Editors Note: This ride report somehow languished in the drafts folder here for almost three years. This tour happened over Memorial Day 2011. But anything to read about bike touring during these dismal days are better than nothing, right?

Nate who joined us for the Eugene ride on his second Cycle Wild trip, wrote a short recap of our adventure. An edited version of it is below. Here’s a picture of Nate:

Nate and the Coburg Hills: Eugene Cycle Wild Trip

On the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend at 7:30ish in the morning, seven gear-laden cycles and their riders met at the Clackamas Town Center stop at the end of the green line. After a short speech from our ride leader, Lillian, we were given cue sheets and got on the road.

Our route followed the I-205 bike path down to Oregon City, where we crossed a river and climbed the meanest, shortest hill of the trip. (Two of our riders actually took the Oregon City elevator part way up the hill!) Oregon City passed quickly, and we found ourselves on rolling hills surrounded by sparse homes, lots of trees, and the occasional scent of cow. After a brief lunch and the second of many repair stops on the trip in Canby (and meeting up with our eighth trip member) we continued to roll south through very similar terrain under an unexpectedly sunny sky into Silverton, where we were treated like kings and queens at the wonderful bike shop in town (we needed more repairs.)

Lauren and Bill Crest the Hill

The bike shop even had ramps in the parking lot for doing BMX tricks! We ended the day in Scio, where the group was able to stay under the good graces of a contact we found on www.warmshowers.org (there’s a severe campground lack in that part of the Willamette Valley). Our host, who has crossed the country by bicycle twice at seventy years old, was very generous, providing us with delicious pasta and salad for dinner, a floor to camp on (two campers set up their tents in the backyard, but the floor looked pretty comfy to the rest of us).

The Whole Group in Scio!

Day two featured a little climbing early in the day, but became a mostly flat ride with gorgeous views of the Willamette river valley, greenery all around us.
Ed Riding Through Grassland

This flatness was appreciated particularly by one of our number, who heroically rode the whole way on a single speed with a basket on the front. We observed miles and miles of grass farms, and coasted into Eugene in the evening, where we stayed at an urban eco-village in town. Once we settled in, we immediately found our way to the Pizza Research Institute where we happily stuffed our faces. After winding down, and a good nights rest, the group went separate ways in the morning, with some folks busing back, some riding the train, and one workhorse riding all the way back in one day.

This trip was strangely full of technical problems. The first day saw a minor fall, a flat, a nearly broken front derailleur cable, a broken pedal and a saddle that needed replacing. The second day saw a problematic kickstand, and two flats in the last mile. However, despite all of these problems, we were hardly slowed. Through the help of two bike shops, a gracious host, and each other, we managed to bike ourselves all the way to Portland to Eugene, and have fun doing it.

A Nuclear Free Zone: Eugene

See even more pictures from the ride at Flickr.

Battle Ground Lake cabin camping report (Feb 9-10)

Cabin 15, Battle Ground Lake State Park

Saturday February 9th. April and I awoke dang early to a chilly morning, 37F/3C. (Can’t complain after seeing the 3 feet of snow they got Back East.) We had a good, filling breakfast at Paradox Cafe. Then off to our main destination: the cabins at Battle Ground Lake State Park.

Cycle Wild  had two trips to Battle Ground Lake in 2012, once in February (cabins), and once in August (tents.) These last two accounts go into good detail about Battle Ground Lake, so you should read those first in case you haven’t yet already.

Anyways, what were the differences with this trip? Well, this time we rented all four cabins at Battle Ground Lake, meaning a total of twenty people could fit. And we had twenty, plus two extra who braved the cold temps (highs in the mid-40s F or 7C, low around freezing. Compare this temp to our August trip, when the high was 102F/39C.) We met at Cascades MAX station by the airport and departed around 10:45 AM on Saturday morning.

Waiting for the flat to be fixed.

No major issues on the 25 mile (40 km) ride to the park, beside a flat on the I-205 bridge. But with 22 riders, the odds are good that someone would get a flat. We had a supermarket and lunch stop around noon, and reached the campground around 3 pm. Everyone settled into their cabins, board games got pulled out, firewood stacked for the evening blaze. Most everyone took a good walk around the lake, as did April and myself. We managed to spot an otter in the water, and a bald eagle attempting to fish. (Even though I did bring binoculars, I forgot them back in the cabin.) During the dark hours, folks alternated between playing games in the cabins or hanging out by the fire.

Morning came, and people slowly awoke. Food got made and things packed up. We departed around noon, and most of us took lunch at Laurelwood Brewery in Battle Ground. Most of the group got back to the Cascades MAX station around 4 pm and went their separate ways home.

The view of the lake from the cabin.

For more photos, go here.

Grand Tour Week A

This was the first multi-day tour that I’ve been able to take since riding for 7 days through Montana in 2001. I’ve done around 40 or so over-night trips around the Portland area since 2007, but have never been out for more than 3 nights.

One of the neat things about touring with a group and each rider going their own pace is that we each experienced the tour differently. Interactions with traffic, sights, food, and even weather patterns all varied with each rider. There were days where Audrey and I left so early that we ran into some fog that other riders did not.

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It was really relaxing nice to ride a route that someone else had planned out so that we could focus on enjoying the scenery without worry. Each day brought us detailed turn sheets and a basic map where we were in the tour. I think Matt Picio did an awesome job getting the entire route planned, turnsheets and maps produced and making sure we had a place to stay each night.

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Everyone in the group seemed to get along and enjoy each other’s company after the end of the day of riding. Despite unrelenting sun and heat, we ended each day with celebratory drinks, laughs and the stuff that makes a group tour so awesome.

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My entire tour photo set on Flickr

Cycle Wild photo group on Flickr

Ride Report: Battle Ground Lake State Park bike camping overnight: Aug 4-5, 2012

The group ready to depart at Cascades MAX. Photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) by Will Vanlue.

The high temperature for Saturday, August 4th in Portland was 102F/39C, and for Sunday, August 5th was 94F/34C. The hottest day of the year so far. What a great day for a bike ride! (Sarcasm.)

But thankfully we didn’t have to go that far, only 25 miles. Still, 25 miles in high heat and not enough shade is tough. We took frequent breaks on the way, looking for shade wherever. The fourteen cyclists rolled on valiantly, and no one overheated too much. But there was a promise at the end of all the suffering, a cool promise. A lake. For swimming.

We reached Battle Ground Lake State Park around 3pm. The park was the busiest I’d had ever seen, as people from all over were driving anywhere there was water they could go in. Even though I didn’t see traffic near any of the other popular swimming spots (Sandy, Washougal, or Clackamas Rivers), I’m sure the roads were choked. The parking lot was at capacity, and park rangers were only allowing one car to come in for each car that leaves. Yep, all camping spots were full as well. Thankfully we reserved three spots which fit all of us comfortably.

The three spots were at the very end of the walk-in sites, about a half-mile down a winding trail from the parking lot. I really like the walk-in sites at Battle Ground Lake: inexpensive, wooded, quiet, and very divorced from the RVs. The sites near the end tend to have more separation from each other than the ones at the beginning. We all set up tents, and a few folks braved the crowds at the lake to get a quick dip. But myself and six others waited until after dark to hit the water. We were entertained by the bullfrogs calling for mates across the lake, and had a great view of the starry dome overhead.

The next day, several folks opted to leave early to beat the heat, while the main group rode to the Laurelwood Brewery in Battle Ground for lunch and beer. The ride home was easier than the ride to the lake: more downhill than up, and a high almost ten degrees cooler than the day before (but still very hot no matter what). We took several shade breaks on the way back, one at Hockinson Meadows Park where several members of the group took advantage of the sprinklers. And everyone got home safely.

Trip Report: Battle Ground Lake cabin camping overnight, 11-12 Feb 2012

Hello friends! We’re going to re-blog a few ride reports that originally appeared over on my blog, Urban Adventure League. 

We rode northwards from Portland into the far-flung features of Clark County, Washington. The destination was Battle Ground Lake State Park, just three miles (5 km) outside of the city of Battle Ground.

April and I have been to this park a few times, and consider it to be a humble jewel: a small lake formed in a volcanic caldera, surrounded by trees, and only 25 miles (40 km) from the edge of Portland. The city of Battle Ground has all the services one would need for bike camping (save a bike shop, but the Fred Meyer hypermarket has basics like tubes) so one can stock up on supplies right before entering the park rather than hauling all their food from Portland. The park itself has a small campground divided into two distinct sections: the main loop which is dominated by RVs, and a walk-in site area. Naturally we gravitate towards the walk-ins, as it is quieter than the main loop and the sites are more in nature without being too far from the main bathrooms.

And Battle Ground Lake also has four cabins available for rental. These cabins sleep up to five (full size futon for two, double bed for two, and single top bunk), have electric lighting/heating, and a table. The beds are a simple vinyl covered foam mat, but this means for bike camping we’d only need to bring bedding, food, camp kitchen stuff, and extra clothing. Cabins and yurts are pretty common at state park campgrounds in this part of the world. They are not expensive, especially when you fill them up ($30-65 a night depending where you are), comfortable, and highly desirable. It’s next to impossible to get a yurt on the coast in the summer if you hadn’t booked it six months in advance. But in the off-season, and especially at an off-the-beaten-path park like Battle Ground Lake, it’s much easier. So Cycle Wild rented two cabins for this weekend.

Since out of all the folks in Cycle Wild I’ve ridden to the park the most, I was the one who routed the ride. And since I knew that the route was going to be relatively flat to slight upgrade, with a couple of short steep hills, and we would not be burdened with carrying a tent, I decided that this adventure would be the appropriate place to test out the Raleigh Wayfarer for touring. My first Three Speed “Tour”!

So now you are asking: How did the Wayfarer do? For the most part, great! I was able to keep up a good pace and keep up with my derailleured brethren (or just April when we were alone). Lowering the gearing played a part: the low gear of 41 inches was able to handle all but one hill fine. (The hill that I couldn’t handle was a short steep one of about 10% grade. If the road was quieter I might have tried “tacking” or switchbacking but since it had some traffic, I got off and walked. It added an extra minute.) And the high gear of 72 inches was a great cruising gear for the flats.

Rural Clark County farmhouse

But you might have noticed I said for the most part. There was one issue, but it was a major one: my rear  wheel.  I’ve been hoping to get as much life out of it as possible, but it’s starting to go bad. A week and a half previous to this trip a spoke went. So I had that fixed. I hoped that the wheel would hold out a bit, but no such luck. About four miles into the main ride departure point (the Expo Center MAX light rail stop in far north Portland) another spoke went. Damn. The remarkable thing about 40 spoked steel wheels is that it takes a lot for them to get severely out of true. The wheel rotated fine. Yes there was a wobble, but it was not hitting brakes or frame.

If it was just a broken spoke, that would have been one thing. But no less than two miles later I got a flat. At this point, the rest of the group (eight folks) went ahead and April and I said we’d meet them at the park, and I repaired the flat.

While repairing the flat, I noticed there was a lot of dirt stuck to the underside of the rear fender. So much so that when I scraped it off, where it fell would make a great planter:

Rural Clark County, looking east towards the Cascade Mountains

Anyways, besides my mechanical escapades, the ride out was good. The weather report was iffy–20 to 30 percent chance o’ rain depending on who you asked. But remarkably the rain held off for both Saturday and Sunday. It was mostly cloudy, though with sunbreaks and occasional glimpses of snow covered mountains like Mount Hood. The temperature hovered over 50F/10C. I basically got away with wearing a wool t-shirt/wool flannel/wool vest for my top the whole time.

The rest of the party greeted us when we arrived in camp. Besides the eight who started with us at Expo Center and who would be sleeping in the cabins (Matt P, Tomas, Audrey, Senior Ed, Erinne, Kirk, Ryan, Nolan), Theo and Asta rode out on their own and were tent camping across from our cabins. The evening was subdued. Some folks hung out by the fire, others played a spirited game of Apples to Apples. By 11pm, pretty much everyone had retired for the evening, including April and myself.

The next morning we mulled around camp a bit, then packed up and hit the road. I opted for a different routing to get back to Portland. The one going to Battle Ground Lake used the Interstate (I-5) Bridge that leads into the heart of Vancouver, Washington. On the return we used the Glenn Jackson (I-205) Bridge. I did this to get another “flavor” of Clark County, Wash. The route up was decent, about half sub-urban/half rural, but the rural section was still on moderate traffic roads. The return would be on low traffic roads until we hit the suburban sprawl of east Vancouver, which would be bike lanes/low-traffic neighborhood streets.

On the way back through town most of us stopped for lunch at Laurelwood Brewing, where I learned I had yet another rear flat. I let the main group go ahead while April waited for me to patch the tube.  Thankfully the tire gave me no more troubles after that and we made it back to the Portland side of the Columbia River (and the Cascades MAX stop) just as the sun was going down.

Overall it was a good adventure, despite the mechanical setbacks. Everyone seemed like they were having fun.

Links to the routes to Battle Ground Lake (Ride with GPS):

From Portland (Expo Center MAX)

From Battle Ground Lake
 

Trip Report: Columbia Gorge/Ainsworth bike camping overnight, 7-8 April 2012

Hello friends! We’re going to re-blog a few ride reports that originally appeared over on my blog, Urban Adventure League.

The Long Haul Trucker reposes at Horsetail Falls

Finally, finally, a good weather weekend in Portland!

I awoke butt-early on Saturday morning (April 7th). 5:30 am is way earlier than I need to get up normally. But I intended to meet Tomas in Gresham at 8am, where we’d have breakfast at a corporate diner chain. I could have taken the bus or MAX lightrail, but opted to ride the 13 miles from my house to Gresham. It was cold that morning, 32F/0C. But clear and no black ice and very little frost to worry about. And I got to see the rarest of sights (for me), the setting full moon over the West Hills!

The ride was uneventful and mostly quiet. I got to Gresham at 8am for breakfast. Tomas was running late, as the bottom bracket on his mountain bike self-destructed in the last couple miles. But rather than scrub the trip, Tomas got his sweetie Audrey to deliver his other bike via Zipcar. Whatta gal! After b-fast, (9:30am) we rode over to the Cleveland Ave MAX station to meet the other riders. We had eleven (including Tomas and us): Amy, Andy, Tomas, Tim, Erinne, Kirk, Russ, Laura, and Bill. Andy, Erinne, and Kirk would only be riding with us part of the way, so eight for camping!

The ride was pretty good. The biggest issue was the stiff easterly wind. While it was sunny and warm (high 63F/17C), the east wind was blowing at 15-25mph, creating a good headwind for much of the way. It felt like we’d almost get blown off of Crown Point! (The next day heading back, this would translate into a strong tailwind.) And because it was such a nice weekend, the first real nice one of spring, the Historic Columbia River Highway was crawling with people–and drivers. Thankfully there wasn’t much conflict, but there was more traffic to deal with than I wanted to.

We hit up the usual spots on the way to Ainsworth State Park, where we would camp: Women’s Forum, Crown Point/Vista House, Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Oneonta Gorge/Tunnel, Horsetail Falls, and of course Multnomah Falls which had hundreds of tourists. Due to the busy nature of the stops, we spent less time than we would normally do, and made it to Ainsworth around three pm. We found two empty sites in the walk-in spots, but one couple was leaving their spot so we also took that spot.

We made food and hung out by the fire until past dark.  A few hours after we got there Todd Boulanger from Vancouver rolled on in and he joined us. It got cool overnight but not that cold, great sleeping weather.

I awoke around 8:30am on Sunday morning (April 8). Another nice day, with a high of 68F/20C. Everyone else was up and almost ready to go, so they took off in advance of us, while Todd and I had a leisurely breakfast and rolled out of Ainsworth around 11am. After a quick stop at Multnomah Falls (less crowded than yesterday), we opted to take the faster, more direct route back to Troutdale (easternmost city in Metro Portland along the Columbia): I-84. Yep, a freeway. While it’s never exciting to ride on a freeway, the twelve foot shoulder, flatness, and strong tailwind made the ten miles of freeway riding go by fast. I was keeping a speed of 18-22 mph (30-35 km/hr), which for me is a pretty big deal. The only glitch in the plan was Todd got ahead of me and forgot to get off at the exit we agreed on, so I had to track down a payphone (my cell was dead) to get in touch with him.

The final twelve miles home was solo and uneventful. I stopped at a city park in Wood Village where a ladybug decided to hitch a ride on my Carradice bag. I got home around 3:30pm, wiped out. The distance each day was about 32 miles and I wasn’t that loaded with stuff, but I’m a bit out of shape when it comes to this long-distance riding. I need to go on more rides. And more camping excursions. Now if this nice weather will stick around…