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The Last Winter Tour of the Willamette Valley

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The Last Winter Tour of the Willamette Valley

Old 03-01-19, 08:41 AM
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The Last Winter Tour of the Willamette Valley

Somewhere in an ancient downtown New York pizza joint, 4 joined together prior to my flight back to Portlandia after my Tour de French Fender Day. @-holiday76 mentioned wanting to do a PNW bike trip the following year. I took note.

Fast forward to mid-winter, @nlerner tells me he has spring break open (he teaches back east), and wanted to get out of the snow and slush of greater Boston for a bike trip in "warm and sunny Oregon."
In March.
Early March, still winter March, Portland to Eugene, three days of credit card touring, roughly 60 miles/day riding.
@-holiday76 wants in. For a fourth, I suggest our good friend Bob, who we've credit card toured with before. Well, two dropped out, leaving Neal and I thinking that my publicist @Andy_K would fill in nicely, but three's a crowd, and even numbers are better on a ride like this. Everyone gets a buddy that way, and sharing hotel rooms saves costs, so @northbend is contacted. His exact words: "That's crazy. I'm in", and quickly invites the legendary Bob Freeman, ex-partner of Bill Davidson of Davidson bicycle frame, and co-owner of now defunct Elliott Bay Cycles. So now we need another to fill in a 6th slot, and @Dfrost is quickly added. But then Bob comes back to me with an ask: his old college buddy Bill Wayne (big on the CR list) wants in, he's added, we need one more, so @RiddleOfSteel is slotted as the eighth man. Our plan is to take the train back from Eugene to Portland, someone checks and notices that there are only so many bike hooks in the baggage compartment, so the list is frozen. No man will be left behind...

Here's the route, color coded by day:


@Andy_K and I sat down at a brewpub to finalize the route, so you know it's good. Hotels in Salem and Corvallis are reserved. Despite the cold and snow we've been getting lately, a miracle "hole in the weather" is forming.



Leaving l'Atelier in Portland Saturday morning, returning by train from Eugene Monday evening.

If no one freezes, it will be epic.
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Old 03-01-19, 12:53 PM
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Wait, this is what I agreed to?!
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Old 03-01-19, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
Wait, this is what I agreed to?!
Note how I waited until you were already on the plane before the press release came out.
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Old 03-01-19, 01:29 PM
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Don't go south of Eugene on Amtrak you might never get back and give Corvallis a "Go Beavs!" for me as you roll through.

I had Coffee with @Dfrost on Sunday and he is in training for this ride.
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Old 03-01-19, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ryansu
I had Coffee with @Dfrost on Sunday and he is in training for this ride.
We were supposed to TRAIN for this?

I thought we were taking the train back from Eugene

:-)
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Old 03-01-19, 03:25 PM
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According to the picture it’s downhill all the way - easy peasy.

You boys have a good time and post pics!
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Old 03-01-19, 03:42 PM
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If training means extensive sampling of Oregon wines, I’m there!
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Old 03-01-19, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by northbend
We were supposed to TRAIN for this?
I've only ridden one day in the past two weeks. It's important to taper before a big event, right? At least I should be well rested.
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Old 03-01-19, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs
According to the picture its downhill all the way - easy peasy.

You boys have a good time and post pics!
You might have noticed the elevation profile. Ahem. Im doing the ride on a borrowed Raleigh Sports.
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Old 03-02-19, 07:55 AM
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looks like fun, i wish i coulda pulled it together!

If only baseball spring training didn't happen in spring....

If you guys survive this trip and have interest in doing something i have cooking in the mid atlantic memorial day week, send me a note.
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Old 03-02-19, 09:10 PM
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Updates on the road

More to come when Im home.



Bill and Matt


Dave and Neal


Matt


Dave and Andy
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Old 03-02-19, 11:12 PM
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Excellent!
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Old 03-03-19, 04:02 AM
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Sounds like a great chilly adventure.
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Old 03-03-19, 09:29 PM
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Day 2 update


The second day of any tour is hardest for me. After putting in 60 miles yesterday, getting up and doing it again was a bit rough for most of the gang.

Luckily the weather was sunny, but a bit cooler (colder!) than yesterday. We left Salem after eating at a great omelette place, then wandered around downtown till we finally found the riverside road to get out of town.



Getting ready to leave the hotel


We stopped in Jefferson for lunch, and got a
history lesson from Bob Freeman, whose grandparents lived there.

A little outside of town we split into two groups. Heres our gruppeto on the MUP into Corvallis.



Met up at a brewpub with the main peloton, then to our hotel.



this is credit card touring

Tomorrow is our final day. Were all a bit worn out, and are scouting a shorter route to Eugene for the 4:30 train ride home.
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Old 03-03-19, 10:40 PM
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Jealous. But I have this "job" thing tomorrow.

BTW: it's been blowing 20mph and temps in the mid-30's in the Portland area. I hope it's not as windy down there.
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Old 03-03-19, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs
According to the picture its downhill all the way - easy peasy.

You boys have a good time and post pics!
The Willamette runs north. So, it averages an uphill ride, although the ride in general is relatively flat.
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Old 03-03-19, 11:56 PM
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I'm still planning on heading north tomorrow. Hopefully we'll meet around Brownsville.
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Old 03-04-19, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
If training means extensive sampling of Oregon wines, Im there!
Edenvale is the *best*.
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Old 03-04-19, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
I'm still planning on heading north tomorrow. Hopefully we'll meet around Brownsville.
change of plans, check your email
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Old 03-04-19, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
The Willamette runs north. So, it averages an uphill ride, although the ride in general is relatively flat.
Oh well I was referring to the route starts at the top of the picture and then goes down to the bottom.
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Old 03-04-19, 12:00 PM
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You folks look like you're having too much fun! With, one assumes, the requisite amount of beer!
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Old 03-04-19, 07:54 PM
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Day 3 mostly done

Every day has been colder than the last. It was 28 when we left the hotel at 9am. We quickly got on 20 miles of straight, flat country road

We stopped once or twice to regroup




We stopped for Mexican food in Harrisburg. We all agreed that our well chosen clothing kept us comfy while riding, but getting back on the bike after lunch we felt cold. After a few miles of hard peddling we were warm again. @CliffordK was kind enough to ride put and meet us 20 miles from Eugene and harbor pilot us to the train station. Of course we stopped for rehydration and a snack.

Travelling by bike on the train from Eugene to Portland is very civilized. For $5 they get their own space.



We’re on the way home. More pix later.

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Old 03-04-19, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
Every day has been colder than the last. It was 28 when we left the hotel at 9am. We quickly got on 20 miles of straight, flat country road

We stopped once or twice to regroup




We stopped for Mexican food in Harrisburg. We all agreed that our well chosen clothing kept us comfy while riding, but getting back on the bike after lunch we felt cold. After a few miles of hard peddling we were warm again.

@clifford_K was kind enough to ride put and meet us 20 miles from Eugene and harbor pilot us to the train station. Of course we stopped for rehydration and a snack.

Travelling by bike on the train from Eugene to Portland is very civilized. For $5 they get their own space.



Were on the way home. More pix later.
Well done lads, very good on ya. Color me jealous.
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Old 03-05-19, 12:38 PM
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We all made it back to Portland Union Station in one piece, then rode over to Bill's place on the Eastside in the dark - all of us had proper lighting. Bill, Bob and @northbend were staying there, myself, @Andy_K, @nlerner and @Dfrost were driving my pre-positioned pickup the 11 miles back to my place, but we decided to have a victory celebration at Lardo, which is 2 blocks from Bill's. Massive amounts of pork, brisket, and dirty fries were consumed, along with appropriate rehydration. 4 bikes were packed in the back of my pickup, I drove back to my house, Dave packed his bike into his car and drove back to Seattle, Andy went home, Neal spent the night for an early morning wakeup, a 9:30 plane from PDX to Boston awaiting him.

Going into this trip, there were several things that easily could have gone wrong.

1. Plans were made well in advance of the first week of March. The weather could have been crap. It should have been crap. We should have ridden in the rain 50% of the time, statistically and historically speaking. Eugene had a foot of snow fall less than a week before our departure. Solution? Invite Neal, he's got weather mojo in spades. Two years ago he came out for a conference and stayed for a few days to get a meet and ride with us. It had been raining for 57 days straight up till he came out for that ride, then it cleared up. This year there were exactly 3 sunny days in a row on the weather report, and they aligned to our trip. It was cold, but dry and sunny. We all were properly clothed, and for the most part rode dry and warm.

2. Several people out of 8 RSVP's could have cancelled for one reason or another. In the end, only one did, @RiddleOfSteel bowed out a day before we left due to knee problems. Rule #1 : never start a big ride or tour with a known problem. There'll be enough pain and suffering once you start...

3. Mechanical failure. @Dfrost had two very minor ones. The first was a loose pannier bolt that he discovered after day 1, easily fixed by tightening it back down. The second was a flat tire literally 10 minutes from the finish in Eugene. Seven bikes, three days, 160 miles, one flat. Maybe someone else had an adjustment or near miss, but I didn't hear about it. This crew knew how to prep a bike for a tour.

4. Crappy route. The first 12 miles or so were suburban garbage miles, over half of it was my daily commute with 147 turns - but I know it by heart, so everyone just followed. We all decided that the last day we had planned was maybe too ambitious. @CliffordK suggested a better route and was kind enough to map it out for us.

5. Getting lost. Neal brought his Garmin and downloaded the routes. I had ridewithgps maps with turn-by-turn directions, so I just listened to what it told me to do. This was sometimes critical as the faster riders would often break away, each pack had an "expert" to guide them. We also had maps and cue sheets printed out, but unfortunately the turn by turn directions didn't include the names of the streets. We fixed that on the 3rd day, using the hotel guest computer and printer and selecting the correct options. Double check your cue sheets, people! @CliffordK again came to the rescue and was our harbor pilot the last 15 miles or so to the Eugene train station, taking some shortcuts that we never would have thought of, avoiding traffic, and getting us on the wonderful bike paths of Eugene for the last part of the ride. We almost always regrouped at at strategic points, such as a turn or the top of a hill.

6. Internal squabbing. 7 guys, none of whom knew everyone else before the start of the ride, but of course we all hit it off. It's the damndest thing, everyone I've met on the forums has been just great people.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to try something audacious. If you're riding with a bunch of veteran riders (and you can meet many of them online in this forum!), risks will be mitigated. The stories we told of tours past showed that all or most of us knew how to deal with adversity. We were smart enough as a group to improvise, adapt, and overcome when the situation arose. There was a daily bail-out plan. We helped each other when needed. No one rode alone, no one was left behind. Well, we did ghost Dave and Andy on the last turn to Bill's place at 8:30pm. We rode back and found them circling around and around the large circular rose garden in the middle of Ladd's Addition. If you weren't within 50 feet of the peloton, the two quick right hand turns in the dark and you're easily ditched...

We beat the odds. It was epic. I expect the rest of the crew to post pix and experiences soon.
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Old 03-05-19, 01:05 PM
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Well done, guys! Looks like it was fun.

edit: PS, RHM, Holiday76 and I had lunch at John's again today. Still good.
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