E-bike sale at Western Bikeworks

A Weekend(er) of friends and fun in McMinnville

Posted by on July 10th, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-24.jpg

Lars Larson with that, there’s-only-10-miles-to-the-finish-line, smile.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Cycle Oregon is many things. The organization — in the midst of its 30th year — is dedicated to helping all of Oregon reach its economic and cycling potential while putting on events that bring people closer to new places and faces.

Cycling is at the heart of what Cycle Oregon does; but they’re really in the people business. When you “do” a Cycle Oregon event it’s entirely possible to come away with more memories of the people you rode with than the roads you pedaled on. That’s especially true on their Weekender event. Without the physical challenge of the much more grueling Classic ride (the seven-day event they’re most known for), Weekender is much more accessible in both price ($199 versus $999) and pain (120 miles over two days versus 490 miles over seven days). This means it might be doable for friends who aren’t as nutty about cycling as you are.

This past weekend I invited a few friends to join me on the ride. We chose to ride 78 miles from Portland to the base camp at Linfield College in McMinnville on Friday (thankfully someone drove our bags down for us). We followed that up with 73 miles on Saturday and a 52-miler on Sunday. None of the days had a significant amount of climbing and we kept our average speed chill and conversational (13-15 mph). It’s also worth noting that we chose the longest of three possible routes both days. (This event would be great if you have friends that would rather ride just 15 or 40 miles a day.) In between miles in the saddle we relaxed, got to know each other a bit better (easier to do than at home where our kids and other responsibilities constantly loom), soaked up the small-town charms of McMinnville, and let Cycle Oregon’s legendary hospitality do the rest.

Friday’s ride was highlighted by a trip up Oregon City’s municipal elevator (and its companion view), a lunch stop at the Butteville Store in Champoeg State Park (their food is amazing for a State Park general store), a trip across the Willamette River on the Wheatland Ferry, and a final toast of seasonal blackberry cider at the rooftop bar of McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon with 360-degree views of McMinnville and beyond. “I think I’ve had a perma-grin for the past six hours,” my friend Jason Dotts said as our server snapped a quick photo of us.

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-3.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-4.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-2.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-5.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-6.jpg

Somehow this guy who only rides to four miles to work and back managed to ride about 200 miles in three days and always had a smile on his face.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-9.jpg

$1 to cross the river. Well worth it.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-11.jpg

Just before the climb up Walnut Hill Road.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-12.jpg

View of the Yamhill River Valley toward McMinnville from Walnut Hill Rd.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-13.jpg

Massive oak trees dotted our route all weekend.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-14.jpg

All smiles at rooftop bar above McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon in McMinnville.

As a bonus it just so happened to be the 57th annual Turkey Rama Summer Festival so McMinnville’s main street was carfree and full of vendors, food and entertainment (which included the annual Beard and Mustache Contest).

Advertise with BikePortland.

Cycle Oregon kicked off Weekender on Friday night with dinner (which we ate outside amid the trees and grass of the Lindfield campus) and music from a great Portland band called Ma Fondue, whose lead singer Nayibe Rojas infused the crowd with impressive energy and vocals.

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-22.jpg

We woke up Saturday with breakfast in the rising sun and then set out on a 73-mile loop that would take us southwest of McMinnville to just beyond the small timber town of Willamina. The expansive farms and forests had us contemplating the history of the American west. My riding mate Lars Larson is a professor of English who just so happens to be something of an expert on the myriad connections between physical spaces, geography, history and literature. Lars shared insights about the behaviors of the native tribes (did you know they set fire to forests?) and megafauna extinctions and migrations in our recent past (did you know camels originated in America?).

Saturday’s ride was highlighted by the short and punchy climb up Rock Creek Road just outside of Sheridan and the splendid descent of Buck Hollow Road that followed. The best rest stop of the weekend was at Blackwell County Park where we enjoyed cups of local blackberries and watched crystal clear Willamina Creek glide along at our feet. The last 20 miles of the loop were sort of a hot slog and weren’t nearly as interesting as the first 50.

After another post-ride stop at McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon for just one more blackberry cider and some tots, we rolled into camp, put on our swim trunks, and headed straight for the pool! The cool liquid immersion was just what the doctor ordered.

After dinner on Saturday night we kicked back on the grass and enjoyed more great live music. This time it was another Portland band, The Junebugs, that got us talking. Just when we thought this three-dude, two-beard trio would be all folksy, lead singer Moses Barrett started covering pop songs from Lorde and Katy Perry. And he pulled it off!

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-15.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-17.jpg

Jason works at the law firm Two & Oak, so I took this of him and a big oak just for fun.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-18.jpg

Lars sharing the road with another vulnerable road user (yes, farm equipment drivers are also legally defined as VRUs).
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-20.jpg

Mural in Sheridan harkens back to the timber era.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-21.jpg

Ultimate rest stop at Blackwell County Park in the hills above Willamina.

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-25.jpg

Post-ride iced coffee from thew new (and rentable!) Nossa Familia cargo bike. Yes please!

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-26.jpg

Kicking back in the shade and soaking up the Cycle Oregon camp vibes.

Sunday’s 52-mile loop went east then south from McMinnville and meandered through small towns surrounding Amity between the Yamhill and Willamette Rivers. We lunched at Hauer of the Dauen Winery, tasted a few of their bottles, then rolled into camp where we were greeted with cheers and free ice cream.

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-28.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-27.jpg

Good one Cycle Oregon sign volunteers.
Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-29.jpg

Weekender ride - Cycle Oregon-31.jpg

Lars got a lesson in soil types, wine marketing, and grape varieties along with his sips.

As with every Cycle Oregon ride I’ve done, I feel like I know my state a bit more now. And having friends along to enjoy this one with me had the added bonus of feeling like I know them a bit more too.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

8 Comments
  • bikeninja July 10, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Jonathan, I hope thats not the Lars Larson with the Radio Show.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Big Knobbies July 10, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Why? Have you ever listened to his show? That Lars is a good guy. He allows people with any view to call in and make their point. He’s fair, but if he disagrees he will tell you why, but he isn’t nasty about it. He’s on FM 101.1 right now. He mentioned the bike tax earlier. Call him up. Ask him what he thinks about the bike tax. Probably only on live until 3 pm.
      2:48 pm

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 10, 2017 at 2:52 pm

        hi Big Knobbies. Thanks for the comment. .. I hope this thread doesn’t turn into back-and-forth about the bike tax and radio host Lars Larson. Nothing against either of those topics… But could we please keep this thread focused on the story? Just this once?

        Love you guys,

        Thanks.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • meh July 11, 2017 at 8:25 am

          Why does bikeninja get a pass on this. Seems he’s the one who wanted to politicize it?

          Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 10, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      nope. Different one. Although I’d love to go on a ride with the other Lars Larson too.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Middle of the Road Guy July 11, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      If you think conservatives don’t ride bikes, I have a CRC to sell you.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Cycle Oregon July 10, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for the write up, Jonathan! One oversight – The Junebugs also covered Taylor Swift (and brought the house down).

    Big thanks to all the volunteers for all their help, the staff and students at Linfield for sharing their campus and the city of McMinnville for welcoming us. And a heartfelt thank you to all the riders – so many good vibes on the ride this year. Must have been all that sunshine!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Steve Campbell July 11, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Sorry to be a bummer, but does anyone have any information about the rider who crashed on the second day? It was still in town right before the bridge over the Yamhill River.

    Recommended Thumb up 0