Raising two daughters in Oregon we hiked. A lot.
Despite my wife and I constantly stealing a few hours here and a few hours there to get out on our bikes, our daughters haven’t caught the cycling bug. At least not yet.
My daughters now beyond college, we still hike when they come home. We were hiking a trail where contributors donate benches, and typically have some sort of words of wisdom on them. My daughter Sierra asked what I should have on my bench, if they decide to honor me some day. I thought briefly and laughed, “He liked the woods more than people.”
OK, maybe that’s only half true.
OK, maybe more like 75 percent. 80? 90?
I suppose I should edit that, which is what writers/editors do. It should be more like “He liked to be alone in the woods rather than with people.” So this is a long, roundabout way to get to the point that I ride alone almost all the time. That said, however, since we’re going to become tight kindred souls sometime down the road, I figured I’d start my columns by inviting everyone to come out and ride with me from my home in Oregon.
I’ve lived in some great cycling areas. I grew up riding the remote, paved dairy roads in Wisconsin. I took up cycling again in earnest in Southern California, rolling up and down the Pacific Coast Highway for 10 years.
When I landed the VeloNews gig in Colorado, we moved outside Boulder, to Loveland. From there to Austin, Texas. Then we headed for Knoxville, Tennessee. I commuted 12 miles each way on bike. The folks I worked with warned me to be super careful. They talked about the NASCAR wannabes in pickup trucks sprinkled everywhere in the backcountry.
Turned out, Tennessee backroads were the best roads I’ve ridden on, if you can avoid the dogs. In Southern California I was chased by maybe five or six dogs in 10 years. In Tennessee I was chased by five or six dogs every ride. Fast, vicious dogs from hell.
Eventually we made it to Oregon on an adventure to find a new home (that’s a story in itself, well, actually an ebook called You Can’t Cook a Dead Crab and Eat It). The cycling infrastructure in Eugene, Oregon is as good as it gets. Now I live in the small town of Dallas (not to be confused with The Dalles). This is the Oregon wine country.
I roll out and spend most of my time on gravel roads snaking through the farmlands and vineyards during the week. On weekends I’m a 20-minute ride from hitting the logging roads of the Coast Range that, well, they seem to go on forever.
I can ride the backroads to the top of Black Rock Mountain Bike Trails. You can take the ramps and jumps, I’ll take the road down. I’m now a couple hours from famous rides like the McKenzie River Trail and Oakridge’s Middle Fork Trail. Trust me, they are worth the drive.
It doesn’t get much better than this. Oh, sure, we get rain. But not as much as Oregon’s reputation portends. It’s mostly in the winter. June to October is pretty much dry as a desert.
So bring your bike. Come on out. Just remember, I have no bike-handling skills and I’m the tortoise, never the hare. But we’ll enjoy long, sweet rides with endless stories.
Time to ride.
Amen. This new Raz column really hits home.
Glad to hear feedback!
Back in the day, as they say, some friends and I did some mountain biking around, Portland, Bend, and other places I no longer remember. The riding and the beer were equally sublime.
You got that right. We’ve got some great breweries out here. My favorite is Xicha, a Mexican Brewery in Salem. I’m a lagerhead in the land of IPA. A lot of my rides swing past some nice wineries and even a cidery.
I’m ashamed to admit that during my sojourn in Oregon I never rode a bike. Didn’t even own one. I had discarded a Schwinn when I fled Tucson in late 1980, leaving it for the landlord as partial payment for doing a slipshod job of sprucing up her rental.
I did do a great deal of drinking and walking, however. Squirrel’s Tavern in Corvallis was a fave and an easy stroll between the newspaper and my hovel.
Caught Johnny and the Distractions up north in Portland; Quarterflash, too. Heard Paul Brady and Andy Irvine at some small venue just down the street from Squirrel’s, another easy walk even if you’re using parking meters as walking sticks a la Tom Waits.
Failed to acquire a wife and daughters, but I did add a dog to my collection and a neighbor kept ducks.
When I got tired of the quacking (and the newspaper) I moved back to Colorado, where I almost immediately bought a bike. I haven’t been without one since. If I ever go back to Oregon I’ll bring one along.
Corvallis has some great rides and some good breweries. They just completed a trail that will take you all the way to the coast. Haven’t ridden that yet.
Raising three daughters in Oregon I get out with my bike any day I can. Well, almost any day, it snowed today here in the Willamette Valley not far from your home in Dallas. The C2C leaves here from downtown and I took it to the coast in One Beach already a few times.
Glad to find your article! Keep it up Johnny
No snow for us in Dallas. C2C is in my list come spring!