Our very first cycle tour involved a bee sting (our dog, Maxwell), a meltdown (me), a phone call requesting to be picked up by a friend (following aforementioned meltdown), and a doggy trailer escape on a busy road just a few blocks from our house (Maxwell strikes again). When our friends Chantel and Dorothy invited us along for a Willamette Valley wine country cycle tour, we were enthusiastically on board. This would be our first pedal-powered endeavor. We had no idea what was in store for us.
I can’t remember if we had already decided to embark on our multi-year tour at that point, but it was an activity we had been meaning to try for some time. Of course we brought the dogs (we had two at the time) and I thought it would be a great idea to borrow a friend’s bike trailer to house our entire tub of camping gear. Kinda like car camping, only I pull all the heavy gear. This bike trailer, mind you, was duct taped at all the connecting points and the shreds from what remained of the cover flew behind me like streamers. This was in addition to my two rear panniers.
The winery hills were steep and the distances far for someone new to touring. We arrived to our campground on the first night just as the sun was settling for the day, navigating the shadowy path in darkness. I couldn’t appreciate the views because all I could think about was getting off my bicycle.
On our ride home, we left our friend’s farm behind and took on the 40-mile journey back to our house. Perhaps it was knowing that we would be terminating our first cycle tour or the fact that I could say that I went on a pedal-powered wine tasting adventure, but on that last day, the cycle touring bug hit me.
Before leaving on our trip, we went on exactly three cycle tours in addition to that first one. Our second took us from Cannon Beach, OR to Astoria and back, over two days, and on our third, we navigated the San Juan Islands in WA.
The Oregon Rode Trip
Almost exactly three years after that initial cycle tour with Chantel and Dorothy, Dave and I will find ourselves following the exact route we took on our first day out. For the next three weeks, we will be cycle touring to some of our favorite places in Oregon, along three of the state’s Scenic Bikeways with Travel Oregon, Oregon Wine Country, Travel Lane County, Visit Central Oregon, and Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory (where I worked before we left!) on what we’re calling The Oregon Rode Trip. Nope, that’s not a typo, that’s rode as in the past tense of ride. Get it?
The ride will take us from Portland to Eugene, then on to Bend and back to Portland. We’ll pedal along a bike path that will take us all the way from Portland to Oregon City and then follow country roads to Champoeg State Park (pronounced Shampooey). From there, we’ll pick up the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway and visit the state capital, Salem and then continue to the college town of Corvallis, eventually making our way to Eugene, stopping along the way to sample wine, beer, and farm to table foods all grown right in the Willamette Valley.
Our next leg will follow the McKenzie River (one of my favorite places in the world) where we’ll wild camp along the banks of the river and next to the 26-mile long McKenzie River Trail (fun fact: my first and only (so far) 50k race was on this trail), and then indulge at Belknap Hot Springs the following evening. We’ll hit the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway, a 38-mile stretch that ascends to 5,325 feet at the peak with 360˚clear views of several Cascade peaks before hitting the downhill into Sisters.
We’ll take a bit of a break in Central Oregon and stay with our friends Chelsea and Dakota. You may remember them from our time in Croatia and they are the friends we credit for us becoming official vegans. They just bought a house in Bend and will be showing off all the adventures to be had in their new hometown.
On the final leg of the Oregon Rode Trip, we will venture into Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory, where we will descend to Detroit Lake, taking in views of the prolific Mt. Jefferson along the route. From there, we continue back toward Portland along the Cascading River Scenic Bikeway, which follows the Clackamas River and forest roads gifting the rider epic views of Mt. Hood and some less-frequently visited sites. (Fun fact #2: Dave, Sora and I were supposed to be in the video for this bikeway, but landslides had closed the road and we had to leave for our trip before the road reopened). The bikeway finishes in the town of Estacada where we’ll camp at nearby Milo McIver State Park before heading back to Portland the following day.
In all, the trip will last about three weeks and take us along some of the state’s best cycling routes.
Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways Program
So what exactly are these Scenic Bikeways that I speak of? Based on the Scenic Byway program, Oregon is the only state in the nation that features bicycle-based overnight travel. The Scenic Bikeways are created from routes suggested by locals that are officially reviews, ridden, and designed with the cyclist in mind. RideOregonRide.com lays out each bikeway with detailed descriptions, photos, a video, and downloadable maps and turn-by-turn cue sheets.
Oregon has some of the best cycling in the country and these 15 routes throughout the region showcase the best of the best the state has to offer.
Now, you might think that we’re a bit sick of traveling by bike after spending two years in the saddle. In fact, I’ve told many of you that this is indeed the case, however, we knew that while we were back home, we wanted to really explore Oregon, and we know the best way to do so is on two wheels. We jumped at the chance to work with Travel Oregon and the regional tourism boards to create this trip and anticipate the adventure with excitement. In addition to all the riding, we’ll sample some of the state’s many breweries, visit our pals at Burley Design, find all of the best dog-friendly activities in the area, as well as all the delicious vegan eats. I’ll be documenting our ride here, in sections and will include maps of our routes that indicate where we ate, visited, slept, and wish we hadn’t missed.