I took the Coast Starlight from PDX to Eugene, given as how they've now got bicycle service AND a better schedule than the Cascades.
Pro: better schedule and cushier seats
Con: coach passengers sit in the very tail end of the train, baggage car is right behind the locomotive. It is a very long train and "the stop in Eugene is 4 minutes!". No wifi, and the water dispenser in the car was empty. And the lighting was dim.
But with all that, I made good progress knitting on my sock, to the point of finishing it, but not weaving in the ends; I wanted better lighting!
First off the train, and scampered up to the front (as the conductor was announcing Last Call!), to find Michal holding my bike, waiting for me to show up with the claim ticket. Whew.
Our route was Bill Alsup's Perm #1177: Eugene to Beaverton.
And so, up at 5am for the 7am start. The drop down Michal's hill was kind of scary in the dark, like it always is, but I didn't work up to the whole bike shaking, like has happened before. We found Chris at the coffee shop, and got ourselves some coffee as well.
Sunrise wasn't until 7:25am, so we got to enjoy heading north out of Eugene in the dawn. All the coffee for breakfast and at the start meant that the customary pause at Armitage State Park was again observed. We also decided that it wouldn't be raining any time soon, and ditched our rain jackets. Once over the McKenzie River and through Coburg, we were out in the rural Willamette Valley for most of the day. Not that we could SEE anything, because there was a persistent fog, which stayed with us until we started the climb on Gap Rd (mile 22 or thereabouts). We then dropped into Brownsville, pausing at the Chevron c-store, where I discovered PayDay bites, a convenient form factor presentation of the PayDay bar.
North through Brownsville, re-enacting the final scene in Stand By Me, then out the other side, eventually arriving at a road blockage. Now, there's nothing OUT there, but looking ahead, we could see a small herd of cattle on the road. It turned out to be the annual moving of the bulls from one field to another, and we watched them being herded by several guys on ATVs and an SUV bringing up the rear.
That settled, we continued on north. Now, it was supposed to be raining most of the day, but we hadn't seen any rain to this point, and the skies looked like we wouldn't, for awhile anyway. There were even bits of sunlight!
|pic by Michal Young|
After the bridge, a driver stopped to warn us that there was a chaser dog up ahead "on one of the downhills". We did not find the chaser dog, but I did find a shard of glass, so there was a pause to fix the flat. I just swapped in a fresh tube.
A few more ups and downs, and we found Chris waiting for us in Scio. It wasn't a control, so we kept going, encountering the Leffler Grade. I didn't know if I'd be riding up it or walking it; maybe a third of the way up, walking all of a sudden became a very attractive option. Once at the top, we rolled along the ridgeline, finally dropping back down and entering Stayton (67 miles), our first open control. On this route, the preferred stop is the Safeway; for other routes, the Roth's Market. Drank down a half teaspoon of salt before going in.
I got a rice bowl with orange chicken, and Michal and Chris cheerfully refilled my bottles (one with plain water, the other needed hot water for the Gatorade-Tea-Maltodextrin beverage). I ate about half of the orange chicken and rice. I really like orange chicken, and white rice seemed to be a good thing for my stomach. Michal thought he'd have a taste, and proceeded to make serious inroads on the leftovers.
And with that, my stomach was all of a sudden very much happier, and we had a tailwind to Aumsville, and all was right with the world. It looked like it might start raining at the corner of Shaw Hwy and Hwy 214, so Chris pulled on his rain jacket. Michal and I didn't bother; we couldn't see where it would get any worse than a bit of drizzle. And, indeed, it cleared right up.
|pic by Michal Young|
At the northern terminus we crossed Hwy 99E, turned into the wind for a bit, and then picked up Boones Ferry Rd (we'd see a lot of this road off and on for awhile), and ended up in downtown Woodburn, our next control. We usually stop at the Del Sol market and get tacos or tamales. We both ordered tacos, and I am pleased to report that I managed my entire transaction in Spanish (and yes, there was an actual conversation), then foraged around the store for other things. I found Arroz con Leche (rice pudding!) in the refrigerated case, in a single serving container, and promptly snapped it up. It was much better than the tacos - I had ordered Asada tacos, and they were dry and bland; I kind of expect Carne Asada to be moist and flavorful. We never found Chris; he had gone ahead.
Michal noted that the cars passing by had their windshield wipers on. Darn. On with the rain jackets and rain legs. I was already wearing my Showers Pass waterproof socks; they'd likely get another trial. I didn't bother to pull on the helmet rain cover.
So now it was dark and raining. My helmet headlight seemed rather uninspired, and the stretch from Hubbard (just north of Woodburn) to Aurora (just south of Wilsonville) was not clear in my mind. Michal had been fiddling with his gps and got it working again, so we'd be ok.
Heading out of Hubbard, we picked up Boones Ferry Rd again. The traffic was rather heavier than in previous years; maybe these were folks headed home from the aforementioned football game. I see now that we just head north on Boones Ferry, cross Ehlen, and then turn right on Keil, cross a very busy road (the rain had gotten much heavier), follow Keil to Airport, and head north to Miley, at which point I no longer need a cue sheet.
Yes. Well. From Miley Rd to get to Wilsonville, there is the small matter of crossing the Willamette River. At this point the only way across is the Boone Bridge shoulder, which is a busy stretch of I-5.
So, dark. Pouring rain. Four lanes of high speed traffic. Lots of debris on the shoulder - wheel parts, shredded tire parts, possibly a departed opossum or two. Good times.
After exiting I-5, turning left onto Wilsonville Rd (there is also the part where one must leave the shoulder and move left two lanes), and onto the relative quiet of Boones Ferry Rd... Whew. We then turned into the industrial park, and I was on my work commute home from my stints at Microsoft in Wilsonville.
After topping out on the small climb on Boones Ferry Rd (there we are again), we dropped down into Tualatin. There is usually a bike lane until there isn't, and the descent is ever so much more fun in the summer evening sunlight. By now I was feeling soaked through, but not too much further to go!
Through Tualatin park, over the river and into Cook Park in Tigard, north on Hall Blvd, left into Old Downtown Tigard, then out the west side, the non-intuitive left onto Greenburg Rd, cross over Hwy 217, and ride up the back side of Washington Square Mall... North on Scholls Ferry, and finally the left turn into the neighborhood before the last bit. We actually got across to the turn lane without having to resort to the crosswalk and sidewalk to get to Elm St.
Through the unmarked and very subtle cut-though (always helps to have a local guide at this point), down 5th Ave (where I just wanted to turn right through the office park and go home!), under Hwy 217, up Griffith, and done. 12:22 elapsed time.
I barricaded my bike with tables and chairs up against the Starbucks window, and went inside to find hot coffee, and Chris A and Chris W (who rode one of my local perms and was planning to meet us at the finish). They had obviously been there awhile, certainly long enough to change into dry clothing :-) They eventually took their respective leaves, we finished our hot drinks, and rode the last mile to my house, where Fitz and Cyndi were awaiting our arrival.
Hot showers first, but Fitz had made an enormous pot of turkey chili and fresh cornbread. With pie for dessert.