The timing could not have been better for a bike ride in the Willamette Valley yesterday. The weather got better and better as the day went on, and the fall colors were fantastic. The cool, damp air made being outdoors feel really good. A few miles of pedaling and the stress of the past week just fell away. Destination: Silverton, a cool little town not far from Salem. I snapped a few pics during the ride...click on them, they enlarge nicely.
Along the way there was a fun cyclocross event going on at EZ Orchards on the Northeast corner of Salem. Little kids were playing in structures made of hay bales while their parents were getting really muddy on their bicycles. That’s call that a whole family win-win. I come to EZ orchards more often these days. Some of the very best produce in town can be found at this spot. They’ve got the whole ambiance thing figured out, too. Definitely worth a visit.
Out in the countryside, harvesting continues at a brisk pace, only now it’s all about Christmas trees. Talk about aromatic, riding past the tree farms. There, fresh cut trees were being bundled and loaded into big trucks, the first leg of their journey to a living room of somebody who will no doubt pay a premium price.
Coming into Silverton, I passed the house that holds so many memories of visits to Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Roy, and my cousins, Elaine, Steve, and Jeff. I slowed down a bit there. Every visit to their house would include an exchange of songs at the piano between Uncle Roy and me. I always loved watching this big man sit at the piano, toes tapping, playing his self-taught jazz and ragtime tunes with such a velvety touch.
Silverton has taken good care of their cool-little-town image by staying hip and trendy with the older buildings; murals and well-kept store fronts are inviting and fun.
A quick food stop was the last smart decision I made on this ride. A sidewalk sign caught my eye, advertising chicken and white bean soup at the Silver Creek Coffee House. Not only was it great soup, it was fuel I didn’t know I was going to need. I’d have been in serious trouble later on if I hadn’t eaten there.
I’d figured a 35-mile round trip would be about perfect. Thanks to my knack for creating routes in my head that don't really exist, I got to ride twice as far and with some hefty climbing. I could have just turned around in Silverton and ridden the same route home, but I got creative. In this case, creative=dumb.
Heading south out of Silverton, you end up on the Silver Falls Route, a lovely, scenic climb from the valley floor up into the first set of foothills of the Cascades. I found out the hard way that there's no "quick" return to Salem that way. I’d already consumed half of the water and energy bars I’d taken along, about right for a little spin down in the valley, but not so much if you’re out of the saddle climbing 1600 feet and riding 70 miles. Uff da. I survived, but the last ten miles were u-g-l-y. Thank goodness I got this picture of the North Falls along the way. I like it!
Yesterday’s ride was both rewarding and punishing, but so worth taking. I got home, legs complaining but spirit and soul rewarded.