Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One Covered Bridge and Two Gravel Roads

On Sunday afternoon, Troubadour and I decided to go for a wee pootle to get a picture of the bikes with the Wildcat Covered Bridge in Lane County.

(Corvallis to the Wildcat - Austa - Covered Bridge)
We headed south out Bellfountain Road to Coon Road.  Coon Road east to Territorial Rd and then further south to the town of Cheshire on Highway 36.  From Highway 36 we headed west to Poodle Creek Rd and then took it south to where it intersects with Highway 126 at Noti.  We took Highway 126 west past the hamlet of Walton.  A few miles before the bridge we turned right onto Wildcat Creek Rd. It was a nice little gravel road and the Gladius handled it well.

Upon arriving at the bridge we realized it was closed for repairs.  Doh!  Good thing we didn't try and get there from Highway 126.

(Wildcat Covered Bridge - built in 1925, signage down and closed for repairs)

(Proof it was the Wildcat Covered Bridge)
From the bridge we had two choices.  Do a few more miles of gravel on Old Stagecoach Road and end up at Swisshome and take Highway 36 back home, or return to highway 126 and reverse course.  Highway 126 is a very busy road and so we chose the gravel.  Narrow winding could we resist.

(Narrow winding road leading to Swisshome)
It was an awesome road.  No traffic, nicely graded gravel.  I kept it to about 2nd gear and 20-22 mph for most of it.  We encountered multiple railroad crossings and some cool railroad bridges. With low speeds and no traffic, it was easy to stop to enjoy the view and take some pictures.

(Lucy and Max having a little break)

(A beautiful gravel road through the coastal mountains)

(Troubadour taking pictures of some cool blue moths/butterflies)

(The Foxglove, aka Digitalis, grows wild in the mountains)

(As do some daisies)

(And whatever these magenta flowers were - photo by Troubadour)

(Troubadour turning around to view a railroad bridge)

(Railroad bridge over the Siuslaw River)

(All turned around.......)

(The Gladius and a railroad bridge)

(Troubadour and the road behind us)

(Max and the road up ahead)
A little further and we stopped yet again for a railroad bridge.

(Max and the road ahead)

(Cool railroad bridge)

(Lucy hanging out with the trees - railway in the background)

(Another cool railroad bridge)

(Troubadour waiting patiently as I parked and ran back real quick for the bridge pic above)

(Selfie before getting back on the bike)
We made it to Swisshome and the Highway 36 junction without incident.  We turned right and headed towards Triangle Lake and home.

At the Horton turnoff Troubadour decided to head North along a different route.  The picture below was taken at the last stop of the day by Horton.

(Lake Creek Rural Fire Department)
We stopped here and had a snack since it was around 5 pm.  We consulted the map and instead of heading back to Highway 36 we (he) chose to go over High Pass Road as a short cut to Territorial Road.  This would cut off a few miles.  The map indicated there was another gravel section on High Pass Road.

It was gravel alright.  An unmaintained one-lane road up into the mountains, switchback after switchback, sheer drop on one side.  The Gladius handled it like a champ, I am proud that I managed to do it, although I was clearly on the wrong bike for it.  With all the climbing I knew it was going to be fun going down the other side.  They didn't name it High Pass for nothing.

Twists and gravel going down, down, down; switchback after switchback.  Knees gripping the tank, wrists trying to prop me up.  At one point Troubadour suggested I stand to make it easier.  I was so wadded up on the bike heading downhill there was no way to stand at that point. He chuckled and asked me if I was ready for a different bike yet. Yes, I think I might be.

(Our route home from the bridge)
I was so happy to reach asphalt on the other side of the hill.  I did have to stop twice so that my hand could un-numb. When I ride the Gladius at low speeds and try to control the notchy throttle, especially downhill, my right hand will go completely numb.  It is mighty hard to control the throttle when I can't feel it.  I think it is a combination of wrist position (bars too low) and vibrations since I can ride the TW200 all day without my hand going numb.

Sigh, just might time for a new bike. I love the Gladius but I do believe after 5 years, it just might be the wrong tool for the job.

In total we did 150 miles (241 km) and roughly 20 miles (32 km) of that was gravel.

- Au Revoir

" Bravery is being the only one who knows you are afraid." - Franklin P. Jones

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Cape Perpetua Mountain Bike Ride

Troubadour and I had a bit of vacation time we needed to use and my boss was gone for a week at a conference in California, so we both took last week off from work.

On one of those days, when we weren't pulling weeds in the yard or cleaning out the garage, we went to the coast and took our mountain bikes along.  With temperatures in the valley forecast to top 95˚F (35˚C), the coast was the place to be with a high of only 71˚F (21.6˚C).  We took Highway 34 southwest to Waldport, then Highway 101 south to Yachats.  We stopped at the Green Salmon in Yachats for lunch. They used to be a great place to eat and are one of the only places in the land of seafood to get a vegan meal.  Unfortunately the tempeh rueben sandwich we ordered was incredibly salty.  When will restaurants learn that salt doesn't equate flavor?

From Yachats we drove south on Highway 101 and stopped at the Cape Perpetua Visitor's Center in the Siuslaw National Forest.  I was pretty sure they sold the one-year Northwest Forest Recreation Pass. Most places along the coast require a pass or a daily fee for use.  It is way cheaper to pay the $30 for the pass than to pay a daily use fee every time you park somewhere. We were in luck, they sold the necessary pass.

While there we started chatting with the Forestry workers about local mountain bike trails.  Our original plan was to ride at the horse trail/recreation area just North of Florence.  We've had friends that have ridden up there, but the forestry workers seemed to think bikes were banned.

Not wanting to chance it, we opted for the Cummins Creek trailhead. Just a short 6 mile (9.65km) out and back lollipop trail and the only one in the recreation area where bikes are specifically allowed.  

(Cummins Creek Trail - Cape Perpetua, Oregon)

(Cummins Creek Trailhead)
The trail started off relatively easy.  An uphill grade with a nice wide, fairly even trail.  Easy peasy.  And then it gradually got narrower and narrower.  We stopped a few places along the way for pictures, and for me to huff and puff and get my heart rate back down to a dull roar.

(Troubadour on a Trek on the trail)

(Narrower and narrower)

(And narrower)
At one point the trail was almost overgrown and we had to heft the bikes over a small dry creek bed and over/through a fallen log someone had cut an opening in.  Wide enough for hikers maybe, but not quite wide enough for bicycle pedals, just ask my shins, but we pressed on.

We were still on an uphill grade after 3 miles.  I had a copy of the above map with me and from what we could see we were on the upper portion of the trail.  At one point we thought we'd come to the lookout turn off but it was so steep and had so many tree roots that it would have been hard to push the bikes up it.

We eventually came upon the below sign.  It really confused us.  We had no idea where we were. We couldn't think of anywhere we'd missed a turn and there was only the one way to keep going, more uphill and more overgrown trail.  We didn't want to end up at the Visitor's Center or the forestry road since it would be a long way back to the car so we erred on the side of caution and reversed direction.

(Which way do we go?)

(Trobairitz on a Cannondale - photo by Troubadour)
Sure didn't take us long to get back down the hill.  Back through the fallen log and dry creek bed and then zoom, it was a great descent.  Troubadour stopped a couple of times along the way, since he is a faster rider, and snapped a few pictures of me.  The above picture was one of those.

Back at the car, we were still confuzzled as to what went wrong.  From the map it did not appear we could have taken a wrong turn.

Ah well, load up the bikes and head north on Highway 101.  We stopped at the Cape Perpetua viewpoint just above Devil's Churn for a look see at the Pacific Ocean.

But first a picture of the trusty Subaru with the bikes.

(Subaru Forester at the Cape Perpetua Viewpoint)

(A view to the southwest - the tide was out)

(Interesting tidbit regarding early travel in the area)

(Standing at the viewpoint looking up to the parking lot)

(Wild purple flowers, I have no idea what they are)

(And these clumps of succulents were growing on craggy overhangs.  To me they looked like Celtic knots)
We got home early in the evening where we found Basil asleep on the sofa.  He appeared to be enjoying the 'cool' setting on the ductless system we'd installed last fall.

(Are you comfy Basil?)
Troubadour checked his Strava tracks/map on the laptop once we got home and it turns out that while we thought we were on the upper part of the loop the whole time, we were actually on the longer lower part of the loop.  Our best guess is that if we had of pressed on we'd have been walking our bikes down that really steep section we thought was the trail to the lookout.  I think this time we chose wisely to turn around.

Our temperatures over the weekend broke record highs, and also broke the record for warm nighttime temperatures.  Luckily the high pressure system has moved on and our high is only supposed to be 70˚F (21˚C) today. Good thing too, since we have a moto-blogging compadre coming tomorrow to visit, hang out, and attend the Vegan Beer and Food Festival this Saturday in Portland (No, we won't be riding, I'll be the designated driver).

- Au Revoir

"Get a bicycle.  You will not regret it if you live." - Mark Twain , "Taming the Bicycle"