Pedaling Yamhill County: A preview of Cycle Oregon’s ‘Weekender’ event

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Friday afternoon traffic jam on SW Muddy Valley Road southwest of downtown McMinnville.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Willamette Valley is no stranger to great bicycling. After all, it’s home to the first official “scenic bikeway” in America. But until this past weekend there was a large chunk of it which I had yet to pedal through: the western section of Yamhill County south of Forest Grove.

Weekender route locations in relation to Portland (upper right) and Salem (lower right).

The impetus for my trip was a pre-ride of the Cycle Oregon Weekender event. As you might already realize, BikePortland and Cycle Oregon go way back. I’ve been doing their rides and covering their work for over a decade now and they’ve been a long-time advertiser. I believe in what they do, so I’m happy to work with them — especially when it gives me an excuse to get out on the bike and pedal Oregon’s gorgeous rural backroads.

This year’s Weekender (July 7-9) looks to be a charmer. It’ll offer two full days of great roads and meticulously crafted routes, with an extra day on the front-end to settle into base-camp at Linfield College, which is mere steps from McMinnville’s main street. Whether you can ride 16 or 73 miles in a day, there will be a loop with your name on it. And whether you spend all weekend on a bike or not, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the local history, eateries and wineries that have put Yamhill County on the map.

Of course I’m biased to seeing places from the seat of a bicycle. And how can you blame me? In two days of riding, my partner from Cycle Oregon Tom Simonson and I, pedaled through a tapestry of bucolic splendor that would make anyone fall in love with the Willamette Valley. Beyond the countless number of vineyards, we watched farm-life and wildlife unfurl amid classic spring weather. Friday’s sun saturated the green and blue hues as if the earth was showing itself off after a long and cold winter. Then Saturday’s rain and clouds saturated our bodies as if the earth wanted to remind us that it’s not August — the traditional end of winter around these parts — just yet.

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Willamina Creek Road.
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Pedaling along the South Yamhill River southwest of Willamina.
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SW Ballston Road east of Sheridan.
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Hazelnut saplings near the farming community of Ballston.
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Was fitting to see this old car literally hugging a tree just south of McMinnville Airport on Earth Day.
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I can’t get enough of old farm houses and historic residences. This one is actually a bit off the Weekender route at Maud Williamson State Recreation Area adjacent the Wheatland Ferry crossing.
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Rich from Pinot Vista tasting room on NE 3rd Street in McMinnville pours us a locally-made post-ride beverage.

The Weekender ($199 for riders 18 and over, $99 for ages 7-17) is a pretty perfect way to get a strong dose of Cycle Oregon’s legendary vibe in a much more accessible package than their week-long Classic event. With so many routes to choose from, it’s great for families or for groups of friends with varying degrees of riding experience and fitness. I’ve done the event in years past with my family and kids. This year I’m taking a group of friends to test how it works as more of an adult weekend getaway with equal time given to riding, hanging out, and soaking up a bit of the local rural culture that makes this part of Oregon such a cool place to call home.

Want to join us? Register and learn more at CycleOregon.com. You can also view the routes for both days via Ride With GPS.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

I waited a while because I didn’t want to be the first to comment. 300 dollars for adult and child with no amenities is a bit steep. I so truly love the idea of this event, but the entry fee is just to high combined with too many ala carte charges.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
5 years ago
Reply to  Monkeysee

Just ride the darn thing. Not necessary to join the Cycle Oregon mob scene.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Exactly. While the amenities are nice, how often does one ever use a sag wagon or need a mechanic?

CO was way too crowded for me. Will likely never do it again.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

I’m not one to pirate a ride. No fun in that.

Carrie
Carrie
5 years ago

I used to think that too MOTRG. Then we went on a supported bike camping trip 3 years ago. And I watched my kids ride further than they ever had before because they learned that they could try it and test themselves and if everything went South, they had backup. While these big events and supported rides aren’t for everyone and for every year for most of us, the can occasionally be the thing that can take someone’s enjoyment of cycling to the next level.

We’re doing the cycling weekend as a family because my son wants to try to ride a Century in a weekend. For some of you that’s no big deal, but for him the knowledge that there is back up out there will let him take the leap to try (and of course the awesome training plan he’s on with his mom :)).

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
5 years ago
Reply to  Carrie

I don’t disagree with you. I just have a preference for far fewer than 2500 people.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

Ok, since you asked… I am aware of Cycle Oregon. The website gives little info in regards to amenities. By my searching it appeared meals were extra, along with little other info pertaining to what is open to the event along the way.
My statement certainly wasn’t meant to shade things in a bad light. I for one am all for tourism to Oregon for cycling. I read the post over twice, and went to the website out of curiosity.
As expected your reply was a bit condescending .
I’ve been cycling for 50 years. I’ve enjoyed thousands of club rides, centuries, double centuries and races. I’ve organized events, been a race official for USCF, mechanical support on RAAM, Spenco 500′ countless MS 150s, etc…ad nauseam… So, yeah I’m aware of Cycle Oregon.
I would love to take my child on this ride. In my opinion the entry fees are too high.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago
Reply to  Monkeysee

Others here state meals are provided… I’m not seeing that on the site. If I am mistaken about that, I’m certainly sorry.. I’m still looking.

Cycle Oregon
Cycle Oregon
5 years ago
Reply to  Monkeysee

We just revamped our website and perhaps we could be clearer about what is included. Feel free to follow up with me at info@cycleoregon.com with any questions/suggestions.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

Thank you sir. No harm no foul. I want hating on anything. Insert smiley face.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago
Reply to  Monkeysee

…wasn’t…

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
5 years ago

No argument – they do phenomenal work in that regard…and as a guy with a background in Lean/Six Sigma, CO’s logistics are amazing.

I’d love to see the Continual Quality Improvement process they use. How they process complaints, resolve them, improve hiccups, etc…It’s an amazing endeavor – that was my takeaway from taking part in it.

Jon
Jon
5 years ago

There are many people that enjoy the community of riding with a group of like Cycle Oregon. Hanging out after the ride and enjoying the company of old and new friends who shared in a common experience can be a lot of fun. Events like this are not for everyone. Organizing such an event is not simple or free. Riding with a large group on a defined course is also a lot more approachable and safer for some riders, particularly with the signage and police presence.

Cycle Oregon
Cycle Oregon
5 years ago
Reply to  Jon

Thanks Jon!

Jonathan Gordon
Jonathan Gordon
5 years ago

$300 for an adult plus a child is dirt cheap for what you’re getting! In addition to on-course support, that’s 12 meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner for two days for two people!), camping with showers, yoga, entertainment, bike support, and likely a dozen other things. I have no idea how they are able to provide it so cost-effectively! Being a non-profit helps. Having volunteer support helps. But damn, if folks can complain about the state treasure that is Cycle Oregon they can complain about anything!

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

Curious where you see meals and showers are provided… When I click on the links on the office site page, nothing opens. On the page for the grand Cycle Oregon ride, it gives all the details. I must be missing something…

Jonathan Gordon
Jonathan Gordon
5 years ago
Reply to  Monkeysee

http://www.cycleoregon.com/ride/weekender/

Ride Logistics

-> Camp Services

“Hot showers and any other amenities you might need will be provided at the overnight site.”

-> Food, Drink & Entertainment

“Cycle Oregon will provide dinner at the overnight site on Friday and Saturday, and breakfast at the overnight site on Saturday and Sunday. Lunch will be served Saturday and Sunday on the course, or in camp for short-route riders and Kids’ Camp participants.”

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago

…yeah, my iPad won’t open up those links on the Weekender event page. I does however open them on the Cycle Oregon ride page. Weird. Thanks to you guys for clearing this up for me. Didn’t mean to cause waves.

Cycle Oregon
Cycle Oregon
5 years ago

Thanks Jonathan!

Doug
Doug
5 years ago

I went in 2011 but never again. Look how many one time Cycle Oregon riders there are, one time only. It’s not for everybody condescending Jonathon. Maybe if Cycle Oregon would listen to the criticism they might cut that number of one time only riders. I’ve never eaten worse food and the camp conditions are awfully crowded. Well just awful. Awful lines for everything, Awful rude fellow campers. It’s not my thing at all. But I guess disagreeing on Cycle Oregon is sacrilegious and is unacceptable heresy. After all it’s a state treasure, I could complain about anything.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
5 years ago
Reply to  Doug

It was my experience there were many multiple time riders, including some people who had done it over 10 times. Even one guy over 20 times.

Still, not my thing. But given the difficulties in administering services to that many people, it will never be completely perfect or seamless. There will always be issues with ANY project like that.

Trikeguy
Trikeguy
5 years ago

lol – I soaked up enough of the local rural culture growing up in Sheridan /snicker

The event itself actually sounds fun though, those are beautiful areas that I do miss a bit sometimes. I remember rafting from above Willamina down the river for several hours then hauling the raft out and getting picked up in the afternoon – we were maybe 13 at the time.

Of course, without knowing exactly what food wil be served (and therefore if I can eat it) I wouldn’t plunk down $200 + lodging fee.

Cycle Oregon
Cycle Oregon
5 years ago
Reply to  Trikeguy

The good folks at Linfield Dining have been incredibly accommodating in the past. While we don’t currently have the menu in hand, we can certainly work with you on any dietary restrictions. Reach out to us at info@cycleoregon.com if you have questions.

Monkeysee
Monkeysee
5 years ago
Reply to  Cycle Oregon

Thanks for all the updates. I truly desire to take my child, just gotta drum up some dough.