Sunday, May 2, 2010
Reason to Ride Salem #3: Small Towns
If you’re going to ride a substantial distance in the Salem area, you’re going to encounter some of the smaller neighboring mid-valley towns. They are a big part of the Mid-Valley’s allure for cyclists.
Urban cycling definitely has its appeal, but it’s not for everybody. I think most folks would say that their favorite kind of riding is when you can wind it out on the open road, and find some fun smaller towns along the way. The Mid-Valley is perfect for that kind of riding. It takes very little time to traverse Salem and get out to some great rural scenery, where little towns are positioned every few miles.
For most small town businesses, mere survival requires some creativity and lots of determination. When Steve-O and I rolled through Independence a while back (see pictures), we noticed the front window for a pizza place. It’s also where you can get your computer repaired. In Amity, you’ll find a fun little spot that offers groceries and espresso drinks...and antiques. This can-do ingenuity makes me want to walk into the local coffee shops when I’m on a ride, plop down my buck fifty on the counter, take my fresh cup o’joe, and feel like I helped stimulate the local economy. Coffee can be a stimulus, you know.
Of course, each small town has its own personality, which has developed over the past century and a half or so, when the great westward push arrived and someone said, "hey everybody, let's start a small town!" Places like Aumsville and Rickreall, Turner and Jefferson, Mt. Angel and Silverton, and others--each has an important role in the agricultural lifeblood here. Yes, that means that you might share the two-lane roads with occasional tractors and livestock trailers. It’s not like there’s ever a ton of traffic, however. Sometimes on warm summer days you can roll past a farm and almost get knocked over by the “eau d’cow” in the heavy air. Keep mooving....it usually passes in a minute or two. (Was that one bad pun, or two?)
The low, flat, straight roads on the Valley floor will treat you to some wide sweeping views of neatly ordered farms, vineyards and orchards. You’ll come to a bend or a rise in the road, and each time your view completely changes. It’s like turning a new slide on the viewmaster and you just want to keep looking deeper at the picture. On your ride, you'll eventually encounter a sign pointing the way to a small town just a few miles down the road. Whether you roll right on through it or stop for a quick break, you will know that you've arrived in the heart of the Valley.