Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dodging Raindrops

Despite the weekend's rain showers, we found ourselves leaving the car behind and heading away from Salem on our bicycles. This was our first go-round with this thing called "credit card touring." We had packed for an overnight stay, including some books, a fresh change of clothes for dinner, and creature comforts that you wouldn't ordinarily take on a bike tour. That's part of the trade-off with this type of touring. You're not bringing a tent and sleeping bags so you can bring other stuff along if you want. 

The Lions Gate Inn, Newberg
We rode in a weather window up the valley. The rain never got us--but it was close. An angry-looking rain cloud chased us up from the south the whole way, finally overtaking us at Champoeg. Haha...just in time, we reached an overhang at the park. A bench underneath gave us front-row seating for the very short shower. We snacked on energy bars and talked and let the weather do its thing. Mrs C, I could tell, was having fun on this ride. What a relief...I really wanted it to go well! The sun reappeared and dried off the pavement, and we continued on to our destination in Newberg, dry and still smiling.

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway lets you enjoy miles of car-free riding, so you can ride side-by-side a lot of the time. These are the less traveled roads that connect farms and small towns. Cherry orchards are busy right now as workers fill 5-gallon buckets while perched on tall ladders. With the combination of sun and rain, the smell of mint nearly knocks you over when you ride past these fields with the dark green mint plants. Mrs C marveled at the agricultural diversity. Along with several nurseries and hazelnut orchards, we rode past fields with wheat, hops, onions, and corn. 

I learned a hard lesson about trying to improvise the route we were taking. The valley has an interesting web of highways and roads criss-crossing the region. Some roads are more heavily used than others. I knew there were roads that were more direct than the Scenic Bikeway. Almost instantly after choosing a "shorter" path home, I regretted it. The shoulder was narrow and rough, and the Sunday traffic whizzing by us was way too close. We split off and took farm roads as soon as we could until we could rejoin the bikeway. Once there, it was back to enjoying some quiet, picturesque riding together. Lesson learned.

Yep, we both agree, this kind of touring works for both of us.

No comments: