Splendid Cycles

The Ride: To the Oregon coast and back via Nestucca River Road

Posted by on August 30th, 2017 at 12:21 pm

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Nestucca River Road is a fantastic way to get from Portland to the coast.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Riding to the coast from the city is something of a rite of passage for many Portlanders. Getting there via Nestucca River Road is a privilege.

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to try it for the first time as part of the Dirty Sellwood ride. The ride was the fifth annual epic ride collaboration between two great bike shops and their owners: Erik Tonkin of Sellwood Cycle Repair in Portland and Mitchell Buck of Dirty Fingers Bikes in Hood River.

Dirty Sellwood V was billed as an overnighter with 200+ miles of riding from Portland to Cape Lookout State Park and back. (View and download routes at RideWithGPS.com.)

About 60 of us started from the shop in Sellwood and headed west via Lake Oswego en route to our designated lunch stop in the small town of Carlton. I can now highly recommend Farmers’ Plate and Pantry as an excellent stop between Portland the coast. At about the 40-mile mark we arrived just in time for lunch and the food was perfect. Big pizza slices, fresh salads, generous burgers and fries. And with plenty of hospitality to match (even for sweaty, lycra-clad hordes).

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Mielle Blomberg and her husband had something special to ride for.

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After Carlton the real fun began as we made our way into the hills and onto the Nestucca River National Backcountry Byway. This 48-mile road connects Carlton and Beaver and has very little auto traffic. It hugs the river most of the way and has a few gravel/dirt sections just to make things interesting. Another thing that makes Nestucca Road special for bicycle lovers are the several campsites along the way. They’d be perfect for overnight adventures and they have fresh water to refill your bottles. (One route option would be to take MAX to Hillsboro then bike about 50 miles to a campsite right on the river.)

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These two speed demons — Clara Honsinger and Peter Koonce — offered me much-needed aerodynamic assistance (a.k.a. pulled me through some tough miles).


At Beaver we swung north to the sandy dunes of the coast and into Cape Lookout State Park.

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The shops had reserved a group tent site right on the waterfront. After setting up camp we were treated to a hefty plate of pulled pork, rice, and coleslaw from Samurai Lunchbox, a local cart in Sellwood that made the trip just to feed us. We all marveled at the sunset and enjoyed each other’s company before settling in for the night.

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After fresh coffee and oatmeal Monday morning we did the route in reverse back to Portland.

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McGuire Reservoir.

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My tool for this job: A very racey Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi Mod with Ultegra DI2, disc brakes, and 32c tubeless tires. (And notice the USA flag I always ride with in rural areas these days.) It’s been a long time since I had a go-fast road bike and it’s pure joy. Thank you Western Bikeworks for getting me set up on it.

I loved exploring these new places — especially without having to carry my own gear! Huge thanks to the crews at Sellwood and Dirty Fingers for making this happen. Already looking forward to next year. Check out the routes and plan your own adventures here. (This route would make a killer loop by adding the Trask River Road out of Forest Grove/Hagg Lake.)

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

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Tried doing that last year. We dealt with a terrible rear tire slash (it ate many tubes, ended up getting a new tire) and a blown spoke on the other bike. Scariest drivers along the lonely Willamette Valley roads leading up to Carlton. Wow.

    Still, we made it to the top of the pass, then went and played in the Willamette Valley instead.

    Must be nice to have sag and advance notice to restaurants 🙂

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      oh dang. sorry to hear about your travails Ted. And yes, having some support for gear and a bit of organization on a ride like this sure does help… especially having the pizzas pre-made at Farmers’ Plate ;-). I could see more shops doing stuff like this in the future.

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    • BB August 30, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Agree with the sentiment regarding rural drivers and that this article is not representative of what it’s like to ride out on those roads.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Excuse me BB?

        This article “is not representative” of what’s like to ride out there? Have you ever considered that your experience is just that — your experience. And that the experience of other people might differ from you own?

        I’ve ridden 1000s of rural miles in Oregon and have had very very few bad interactions — certainly not enough to keep me from riding.

        I agree with you and others that there are certainly juvenile, disrespectful, poorly trained drivers out there and I have been passed closely more times than I’d care to report. But I’m not sure it’s any different in rural areas than in urban ones.

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        • Adam
          Adam August 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm

          “I ride it and it’s fine”

          Okay, dude, thanks for your opinion. So sick of that attitude – it’s a tactic to shut down others’ experiences.

          I for one am with BB. I will never ride in rural Oregon. It’s bad enough in inner Portland where there are plenty of other cyclists. No way in hell I’m risking my life out in the mountainous two-lane roads with no shoulders where there are hundreds of raised pickups for every cyclist.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            I disagree Adam. I am sharing my personal experience with BB. That’s all. How can say I’m trying to “shut down others’ experiences” when I run a website with one of the main stated goals of sharing people’s experiences? And I moderate a comments section that gives broad leeway to people like you and BB to share your experiences?

            Yes I might have been a little short with BB because I didn’t appreciate his tone. That was my mistake. But my comment is about my experience. I’m not trying to shut anyone down. Thanks.

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            • Adam
              Adam August 30, 2017 at 2:38 pm

              It’s your appeal to authority here that I find off-putting. “I’ve ridden 1000s of rural miles in Oregon and have had very very few bad interactions”. It comes off as dismissive and defensive. Surely not indicative of someone who values “goals of sharing people’s experiences”. I hear this attitude all the time used to shut down differing opinions in Portland.

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm

                I hear you Adam. Sorry for that. I know exactly what you are referring to and that type of thing bothers me too when others do it!

                In this case, my intent was to relay to BB that overall my experience on rural roads – over many miles — is not as harrowing as his.

                Thanks for your comments.

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              • abomb August 30, 2017 at 3:24 pm


                I visit this site almost everyday and really enjoy the wide range of topics discussed. I thought this was a very well done write up on what looked like a very fun ride with a lot of cool people. I would of loved to of done it myself if my schedule would of allowed.
                Your tone on the other hand is really off putting. I don’t know what kind of riding you do but you sound scared of nearly every type of riding situation. What kind of riding do you do? And why are you putting down people for their opinions just because they like to ride differently then yourself?

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              • Kyle Banerjee August 30, 2017 at 5:58 pm

                How is the way you’re expressing your ideas not an attempt to shut down Jonathan’s opinions?

                The reason he mentioned is mileage is to provide context for what informed his opinion which people thinking of starting this type of riding will want to know. He has much more experience than most cyclists with this type of riding. I’ve done quite a bit myself (pushing 100K rural miles in OR).

                I personally appreciate his ride reports. There are some routes that look great on a map but which are especially bad with loony drivers or other threats, so knowing what works and what doesn’t is highly valuable.

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              • Kyle Banerjee August 30, 2017 at 6:05 pm

                The other thing I like about people sharing their positive experiences on a bike is it helps remind me why I ride and gives me more ideas to try.

                Hearing that everyone sucks, the roads are terrible, and we’re all in perpetual danger is hardly a motivation to get out there.

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          • Zimmerman August 30, 2017 at 2:44 pm

            And what’s your goal Adam when you constantly post nothing but how scared you’d be of almost every single bicycle ride Mr. Maus posts? Aren’t you trying to “shut down” those that would consider riding these rural roads through scaremongering?

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          • B. Carfree August 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm

            Adam, I understand where you’re coming from. It took me over a year after arriving in Oregon before I dared trust riding on the road here (other than very, very rural roads where no one is, some lovely logging roads and inside of the cities), and I had nearly 400,000 miles of road riding experience in many cities/states under my belt at the time.

            That said, when I did finally get back in the saddle, here’s what I learned:
            1. Traffic inside the cities can be problematic, especially in Portland, largely because of the drivers who live outside the cities in the suburbs. (Note: I consider a place to be a suburb if the people living there commute by car to a nearby city, no matter how many trees are around their houses).
            2. In the ring around any city, those suburbanites generally treat cyclists poorly and greatly expand the risk of riding.
            3. But, get outside that ring and it’s a new world. Sure, there’s pick-ups and hunting rifles, but the people are almost always civil, polite, considerate and just plain nice to me when I’m riding.

            I call it the donut effect. The hole in the middle (the city) is okay to ride. The area outside the donut (true rural) is great to ride. The donut itself (the suburbs) is awful. Unfortunately, in order for you to ride outside the donut, you’ll have to pass through it. I hope you find a way to do so, and when you do, share the route with the rest of us.

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            • Jason H August 30, 2017 at 8:03 pm

              I would endorse this too. I live in Hillsboro near the UGB, so my ride choices are to head in to the suburban sprawl, or in less than 5 minutes be out in the western rural areas. 95% of the time I pick the latter, because the experience over the years has proven far superior. With beautiful scenery, quiet roads that can be discovered, and only occasional encounters with trucker idiots. The nearest miss I’ve had all year though was from a Honda Element with a Timbers sticker on it just as an anecdote not to judge too much by stereotypes.

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          • Pete S. August 30, 2017 at 3:08 pm

            You seem to be trying to shut down the opinion and experience of people who have spent time riding in rural areas.

            How much riding have you spent riding outside of the city? If the answer is little or none, then I would suggest that you are not in possession of enough experience to develop an informed opinion.

            Speaking as someone who has also ridden 1000’s of miles in rural parts of the greater Portland area, I have had some negative interactions riding in the sticks but certainly fewer than in the city- in total but also on a per-mile and per-interaction basis.

            If you’re truly scared to ride out of the city then I feel sorry for you since you are severely limiting your potential for having fun on a bicycle.

            I would encourage anyone considering expanding their range and going for a ride out in the country not to let wet-blanket attitudes deter you.

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          • BradWagon August 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm

            Between Portland and Newberg there are many routes that only have decent shoulders or roads small enough to not have any lane markings at all. Looking at the route they rode maybe 10-15 miles on roads that I note as caution spots when I ride.

            If anything I think Jonathan’s perspective is a good balance to… oh, maybe someone who hasn’t ridden this area at all that may have preconceived fears about it.

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          • Mike August 31, 2017 at 8:36 am

            Adam, you would get scared if a squirrel gave you a dirty look so I put much more weight in what Jonathan’s experience depicts. You seem to expect no real world problems when riding so give him a break. The ride looks awesome. Get a grip Adam and for crying out loud, toughen up

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        • Huey Lewis August 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

          This is a great route and I’ve done it many times. I don’t have a memory of being sketched out by traffic on Nestucca River road. In fact you hardly see anyone until you hit 101 in Beaver, and if coming back to Portland, it’s quiet until you creep up to Hillsboro. Riding in rural Oregon and Washington is the best. I would not prefer to ride anywhere else.

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        • Jason August 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm

          I agree with Jonathan, 99% of the time, I have excellent interaction here in Portland with drivers, yet today a driver with Oregon plates on N Williams called me an Assh***. Oh well, I guess I didn’t please his road etiquette critique. This doesn’t make every city driver a crazed roadrager.

          A ride in the country, with farms, forests, coastline, sunshine, and interesting interaction with people is worth the risk of possibly upsetting the rare disgruntled driver.

          Lovely photographs, I’ve got to get out and ride that route again. I’ll have to sign up next year.

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      • Chris I August 30, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        I wonder if it has changed in recent years? I did this ride about 6 years ago, via the MAX Hillsboro variation, and don’t recall any dangerous passes.

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      • BradWagon August 30, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        I ride the area between Beaverton and Newberg almost weekly year round and far prefer it to riding in town around traffic. I’ve had some bad experiences but far more bad experiences and my only wreck in urban settings.

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    • Jon August 30, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      I ride in Yamhill county about 4 times per week primarily on my lunch break. During low traffic times like lunch time during the work week almost any road is safe to ride. There are a lot more roads that I won’t ride during high traffic commute times. I have had very few bad or scary interaction with drivers in Yamhill county.

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      • Philip August 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        I concur w/ this. I live out in Yamhill CO wine country, non-peak commute hours are pretty car free, and even more so if you get off the pavement and on the gravel. I will say I limit my weekend afternoon rides simply because its wine country and people come here to winery hop.

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  • rainbike August 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for displaying the flag. Be aware that the rural citizens you encounter may recognize that you have it reversed. The US Flag Code says that when displayed vertically, the union should be in the upper left, from the perspective of the guy in the truck behind you. Also, it looks fairly tattered and should probably be retired and replaced.

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  • Donovan Caylor August 30, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do something like this but am wary of the unpredictability of rural Oregon drivers. Safety in number seems to be the key.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Jonathan – I am “shocked, just shocked” that this was your first time up and over to Beaver…it is such a nice route where you can count the passing cars on all your digits about once vs the other routes with thousands of cars. Glad you tried it out. 🙂

    The MAX and camping option definitely makes a nice failsafe for this coastal route, as I had to do it one summer when I left the office way too late / the rush hour and spent the dark night slowly climbing the mountain with camping gear and slept on a picnic table…I will have to try the sag wagon option some day. ;-)2

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  • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    PS. I did not recognize the photo of the gravel downhill section without trees…did the route get clear cut this year…or did you take a side route?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      ha! That’s actually a pretty steep uphill. And yes, it was a side route off of Meadowlark that then dropped us off onto Nestucca via an access road.

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      • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm


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  • Keviniano August 30, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I took this route solo ~15 years ago and really enjoyed it. I felt like I’d discovered a secret back door to the coast.

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    • 9watts August 30, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Same here, but it was 29 years ago. Done it several times. It is absolutely gorgeous, and Jonathan’s photos do it justice.

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  • rick August 30, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    very cool

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  • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Remember: Those who are interested in trying this route out and like to have a paper map…that PBoT (thanks Jeff!) has printable (sans phone) maps for these coast routes.

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    • Jeff S(egundo) August 31, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Thanks for posting that link, Todd. I created that map , and others, in response to all the requests for info. I would get on how to bike between Portland and the coast at a time when the only source of info. was the ODoT state bike map – a great resource, but not exactly the desired level of detail.

      The Nestucca Rd., which I first rode 23 years ago, seemed like a hidden gem of a route, especially compared to, say, Hwy. 30. I’ve ridden it a half-dozen times since in different seasons and it’s always been splendid – it was especially nice & quiet for a few years when the road was barricaded around Elk Creek…

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  • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    PS> I would love for others to share their experiences about some of the even less travelled side routes to the Nestucca road…I have heard a rumour that there is a side route that avoids much of the grade on the east side by the reservoir…any truth to that?

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  • Sukho Goff August 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    It’s interesting you mention the flag and riding in rural areas..I’ve thought about that quite a bit, being a cyclist that does do rural routes, usually NOT with a large group, AND not being white. Just sayin’..these thoughts run through my head quite a bit these days. I also noticed that if I had participated in this ride, I would (again) be the only non-white rider. Not trying to demean anything, this is just my reality in the sport/activity I’ve chosen, I guess.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 30, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Hi again Sukho,

      Want to go on a ride with me? I appreciate your comments lately and think it’d be cool to meet up off line. Get in touch if that sounds interesting to you maus.jonathan at Gmail.com.

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    • 9watts August 30, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      “the USA flag I always ride with in rural areas these days.”

      I need help with the flag thing. I think I’m missing something.

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      • Kyle Banerjee August 30, 2017 at 9:43 pm

        ***phrase deleted by moderator***. It works — i have jerseys for some areas. BTW, they go way easier on ‘bents as they’re interested in them from a technical perspective

        ***Hi Kyle, I don’t appreciate that type of stereotype-based insult. People who live in rural areas are not “rednecks” any more than people who live in the city are “liberals” or “elites”. Let’s not go down that dark path of using labels to diminish and divide. Thanks. – Jonathan***

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        • 9watts August 30, 2017 at 9:51 pm

          lycra provokes; flag cancels the damage?

          I ride without either so I guess this line of thinking never occurred to me. But I do like to carry pepper spray for untethered dogs.

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          • mran1984 August 31, 2017 at 12:05 am

            I simply speed up. It is never the dog’s fault. I would gladly confront the human that is responsible for the lack of tethering. Oh, the flag stuff works. Great ride, btw. I have always carried my gear, but eat out and get a room. Nothing like a clean chamois. At least most rural folk are not always on the phone.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2017 at 12:10 pm

            yeah pretty much. that’s my thinking.

            I just want people to remember that we’re all Americans and that I love my country too.

            And FWIW I wouldn’t carry pepper spray. Too militant for me. I’ve found dogs are easily repelled by water from my bottle (if they can catch me- which is very rare).

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            • Kyle Banerjee September 1, 2017 at 1:07 am

              A couple thoughts. First off, spray can be difficult to deploy when there are multiple dogs, unfavorable wind conditions, or you don’t get advance warning. Out speeding them doesn’t work so well uphill or against anything other than light headwinds. Even when it works, I believe it trains dogs to chase cyclists.

              Not that outrunning isn’t fun. When I’m on the trike, the teeth come at eyeball level which can produce some truly inspired sprints 🙂

              But I think it’s best to be as boring as possible, emotionally neutral, slow way down, even stopping if necessary with the bike between me and the dog if it comes to that.

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      • Glenn August 31, 2017 at 2:04 pm

        I can’t speak for Jonathan as to why he does it, or for rural drivers as to how they react to it, but I like the idea just for the simple fact that it reminds anyone looking that “Here I am, an American, traveling on an American road, in America.” Subtext: “My rights are the same as yours, and if you don’t believe in that, you’re shitty at being American.”

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        • Kyle Banerjee September 1, 2017 at 1:10 am

          In all honesty, I have very few problems of this sort. The tiny number that does this is typically just trying to get a rise out of you — i.e. they’re way less dangerous than someone who isn’t paying attention.

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  • Andrew Squirrel August 30, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I came down from Seattle a couple years ago and did this camping loop using Nestucca River Road. You guys have some really great routes out to the coast & should appreciate them. The Olympic mountains & Puget Sound really put some constraints on our coastal route possibilities from Seattle.

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  • philip higgins August 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Newberg / Yamhill County tends to be “shoulder free” / in the lane riding, but is largely car free during non-peak commute times. Also, if you stay off the main roads (say Hwy 219) traffic tends to drop off dramatically. Once you get off the pavement and on to the gravel, the cars all but disappear (tractors, less so…). Of Note – this is wine country and people / tourists come here on the weekends to drink wine / winery hop. I try to wrap my weekend rides PRIOR to noon. Just to be safe.

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  • bettie August 30, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I rode this once to the coast to go camping, and it was amazing, with the exception of a man in a pickup truck outside of Carlton, who stopped next to me when there was no shoulder, and hurled for me to “gtf off the road, bc these are MY roads and I live here” and blew black smoke in my face, and of course flats from the gravel. A man who lives in the mountains there even offered me fresh water. Once I got to the coast, I cried. Took HWY 6 back.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Give the route another try…its way better grade wise going eastward from the coast back to Carlton vs the westward direction (unless you have a sag wagon or ebike).

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  • Jim Lee August 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Great piece, JM! Wish I were strong enough to try it.

    Also, how many gears in that “go fast” roadie did you actually use?

    Great thanks to Eric, et. al., for years of heroic service to the cause in PDX.

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  • Kate August 30, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    This looks pretty fantastic. Definitely something worth putting some training miles in for next year. Thanks for the report Jonathan!

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  • terry keele August 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve done this ride a few times including this Sunday and back Monday. Yes. All rides can generally be improved and this one could have used a few different roads in it’s approach to Carlton, but Nestucca River road has little to no traffic and there’s certainly no reason to fear it. I did encounter a few very respectful log trucks and a couple other vehicles on the return trip Monday. I’ve ridden hundred of thousands of miles on Oregon rural roads and have had so few negative interactions that I can’t remember one specifically. If you don’t have two days and support to do this specific ride, you can make this into a great one day loop. Start at one of the wineries in Dundee and cut out the urban sections. After passing McGuire reservoir,turn left off of Nestucca River road onto Bald Mountain Access Road and Climb another 1,000 feet to Sheridan Peak. You can then descend the south side into Willamina and make your way back to Dundee through the valley. Using Balliston Road usually results in a substantial tail wind on the return trip.

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  • Mike Sanders August 30, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    A closeup of the map on that display would’ve been nice. Maybe it’ll have a national bike route designation someday. Great photos.

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  • caesar August 30, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Great photos, as usual – love your “off kilter” angled framing (really makes them “pop”).

    Quick techie question: there were off-road/unpaved/gravel section, yet you rode what appears to be a skinny-tire road-racer bike. What happened to your green Salsa Vaya? I recently bought a new Vaya GX (with the carbon fork) and am loving it as a commuter (22 miles a day, mostly on pavement). Did you outgrow it?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Hi caesar,

      I still have the Salsa Vaya.. But it’s a beast and it wasn’t the right tool for this job since I wasn’t carrying any gear. I wanted something that would be super light and fast. As for the tires and terrain… I’m very comfortable riding in the dirt and when i have smaller tires I just adjust my speed and style accordingly. Slick 32s are fine for most gravel roads.

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  • Dave August 30, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Coast Range=the Tuscany of North America.

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  • Drew August 30, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Hillsboro to cape lookout is my way of getting to camp at the beach. Cape lookout hiker/biker camp is second to none! Having done this ride maybe 8 times; I never had any negative interaction with any motorist. I usually take the bus from tillamook (the Wave) back to Portland the next day.

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  • Todd Fahrner August 30, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Back in 1999, 5 years before moving to Oregon, I was planning my first ride down the coast out of Portland. I asked on a listserv (remember?) the best route from PDX to the coast. Susan Otcenas of Team Estrogen suggested the Nestucca River route. 18 years later, a move to Portland, opening a bike shop, it’s still the only way I’ve ridden to the beach, always taking MAX first to Hillsboro and camping past the summit because I ride slow, always self-supported. Never an adverse encounter on rural roads. Maybe 16″ wheels and street clothes inspire more amusement/pity than rage? Thanks Susan!

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  • Sarah August 30, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Such an awesome SQUAD to ride with! A few years ago we did this as a team weekend and it was fantastic.

    I’ve ridden a lot in town and a lot out in the country. The bonehead driver rate seems very similar to me.

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  • Toadslick August 30, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I just learned about this ride and have been itching to do it! I’ll probably break it into a 4-day trip and camp mid-way.

    Two questions:

    1. For those of y’all that have done this route by taking the MAX to Hillsboro, by what roads do you prefer connecting to the route as described in this article?

    2. For those of y’all that ride with a visible USA flag, could you articulate the benefits? The thought of engaging in a patriotic display makes me uncomfortable, given the loathsome state of racism and inequality in this country. But I also understand that, as a vulnerable and exposed road user, it’s worth having as many tricks in the toolbox as you can.

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    • BradWagon August 31, 2017 at 9:31 am

      I would recommend TV HWY to Forest Grove and then HWY 47 all the way to Carlton for most people experienced enough to do this ride to begin with. It is a rural HWY and at times has fast and heavy traffic however the majority of it has a shoulder wide enough to bike safely on and in my experience the majority of motorists will make an effort to hedge away from you or still cross the centerline when passing. This is gonna be the most direct route for someone just looking to get there.

      For someone comfortable with less shoulder and ok with a bit longer route to avoid traffic I would recommend going south on 219 then using Tongue, Blooming Fern, Fern Hill to get to Springhill and then following that (which turns into North Valley Rd) to parallel HWY 47 and tie into the route Jonathan used East of Carlton. Springhill can be uncomfortable at times but I regularly see other cyclists on it and for the most part traffic is lighter and patient. Another fun road if you’re looking to get the gravel and hills started earlier to cut over South of the Blooming area on Dixon Mill Rd which drops into Springhill Rd just East of Gaston.

      If your top priority is to be away from cars and explore then I would suggest looking west of HWY 47 for small parallel roads like Old HWY47, Patton Valley Rd, Mt Richmond Rd, Rockyford Rd and Puddy Gulch Rd which meet up with Meadowlark West of Carlton.

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      • Jason H August 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm

        Better compromise between those if you prefer all pavement is turn off on Laughlin from Spring Hill and take it to Highway 240, then through Yamhill (refuel there since you will avoid Carlton) to Moores Valley Rd that turns to Westside, then right at Meadowlake.

        Also I seriously don’t get the gravel section they did at the top other than for the hell of it, the all paved Nestucca Access Rd. is quiet and scenic as well with views of McGuire Reservoir.

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        • Mike S August 31, 2017 at 2:46 pm

          “for the hell of it” is exactly why some chose the alternate routes. The past couple editions of The Dirty Sellwood included a fair amount of gravel, so there were several optional sections on the return route for those that have come to expect that from this ride. As much as I enjoy gravel, my main objective was simply to accomplish a second 100 mile day so I skipped them.

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        • BradWagon September 1, 2017 at 9:23 am

          Yes Laughlin is probably even better, less traffic and cuts some distance off.

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  • rachel b August 30, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    I can feel the giddiness right through the photos! Fun read and I love all the pictures. Thanks, Jonathan. 🙂

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    • rachel b August 30, 2017 at 11:55 pm

      Er… I think I meant ‘gleefulness.’ Cough. 😉

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  • Mike Quigley August 31, 2017 at 7:36 am

    I agree with other posters. You go out there outfitted with Lycra, a $5000 bike and attitude, you’re gonna get harassed. Wear street clothes, a hat rather than helmet, and panniers on your bike, you’re barely noticed.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Yep. That’s why I only throw bricks through the windshields of *trucks* and out-of-state cars who are in the city.

      You go into Portland with your expensive giant diesel truck, a hat with a political statement and attitude, you’ve got it coming. Drive a smartcar, have a PBS totebag, you’re barely noticed.

      (this is sarcasm.)

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  • JF August 31, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Love the ride reports Jonathan — very inspiring.

    I do almost all of my riding on rural roads. Most drivers are very kind and courteous. Some are dicks, but some people are like that no matter where you are.

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  • Mike S August 31, 2017 at 9:29 am

    The Dirty Sellwood once again proved to be one of my top rides of the year. Always a spectacular new route with some of the greatest folks on two wheels. It was great to meet you on the return trip, Jonathan! Thanks for all the pictures…I was too busy trying to keep up to take any. Although I don’t live in Portland, I very much enjoy the posts, discussion, and advocacy on BikePortland. Keep up the good work!

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  • Dan August 31, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Nice pictures and description of a route I’ve never heard of before.

    Like others, I’m interested/curious about the thinking that goes into flying a small US flag in rural areas. “***phrase deleted***” as another commenter called it?

    Placating ***word deleted*** seems like a slippery slope to me. But maybe there’s more to it?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Dan,

      I never think of my fellow Americans in those terms (I’ve deleted the insult you wrote. I hope you understand.).

      I use the flag so that people who don’t know me and might have the wrong feelings about me and/or who might be angry with my presence… perhaps realize in that split second that we are both patriots who love our country. And with that, maybe they’ll be a bit nicer as they pass.

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      • Pete September 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm

        You’re obviously not one, or it wouldn’t be an insult to you. Most of the *******s I know are quite proud of the term.

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  • Jason H August 31, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    The sad fact that the average MAGA will respect the flag more than your life and would be more afraid to desecrate it running over you, than well, running over you.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Jason, Please don’t talk like that here. “the average MAGA” is a really mean way to refer to people. I think you can express the same feelings without resorting to labels like that. Thanks.

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      • Jason H August 31, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        I didn’t think it worse than “redneck” Jonathan but I guess it’s political, so I’ll refrain from that specific a label in the future.

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    • Jason H August 31, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Actually, these would work even better than a small flag and be more visible from a distance and loath to admit it, but not that bad of designs too. https://www.primalwear.com/collections/patriotic-designs 25 years ago I had a ***Deleted*** cut me off and jump out of a truck threatening to kick my *ussy ass, I came up with the lie that I was training for Team USA and then I was suddenly ok and he left me alone.

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      • Dan A September 1, 2017 at 9:12 am

        Funny, I bet that guy has his own silly hobbies that could be belittled too. Why people choose to single out people riding bikes in the country is beyond me.

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  • Pat Lowell August 31, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Since there seems to be so much antipathy here towards people who live outside the city, I just want to contribute a couple of anecdotes.

    On a recent ride in the country (I think it was Clack county), my friends and I were pulled over resting, when a scary-looking lumberjack type in a giant truck pulled up to us.. ..and asked us if we were ok. He had passed us in the opposite direction, heard a loud sound, thought maybe one of us got run over, and pulled a U-turn to come back and check on us.

    On a prior ride out in the country, kind strangers – also in large pickup – went 20 miles out of their way to drive my friend and his broken bike back to his car.

    I’d also like to note that many members of the Cajun Navy, who have been volunteering their time and risking their lives to rescue stranded Houstonians, could also be considered “rednecks.”

    Both assholes and good people transcend labels.

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    • Jason H August 31, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      I’ll reply since the tone above got off-track from a civil discussion, which I regret – It is absolutely true that there are jerks and heroes everywhere no matter their creed.

      I have ridden enough around the PNW to have noticed though that in places where dramatically different demographics border each other, there is more cultural friction and antagonism all around. At the rural coast, in Eastern Or and Wa, In Idaho, also in Texas etc. I have received less (basically none) “punishment passes” and other harassment frequency than I have in the outer edges of the metro area.

      I think feeling culturally threatened drives antagonistic acting out. But that is a much wider symptom in our current society than just cycling. For my part I do try to stop at rural farm stands for mid-ride snacks and thank the locals, and also give a wave or thumbs up to anybody who gives me a respectful pass on rural roads. And as I said way up the thread I still VASTLY prefer rural riding over haired, distracted, entitled suburban mega roads that truly scare me. My life is much more at risk from someone too selfish to even notice me rather than being noticed but just not liked.

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      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 31, 2017 at 5:40 pm

        “punishment passes” is a great way to put it. Overall I have a safer experience (driver vs cyclist encounters, intentional or not) but the speed differential and intentionality make the occasional rural interaction stand out.

        My experiences are usually pleasant when riding rural, the major roads (you know, the ONLY roads) east of Carlton were a notable exception.

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    • Dan A September 1, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Some people are completely ignorant of the law, or are unwilling to follow it. Here’s a recent comment from a story about Tamar Monhait:

      “bicyclists…should also stay off of roads like Germantown Road as there is no shoulder and drivers like myself will not cross over the double yellow line into the oncoming lane, we won’t risk our lives to “share the road”. You choose to ride in a vehicle lane, you get to take the risk. I myself won’t ride a bicycle in a vehicle lane at all. If there is no shoulder, I ride on the sidewalk (illegal but safe) or go a different way because I don’t want to get hit by a vehicle. And for those who say “you have to wait until it’s safe to pass”, roads like Germantown don’t have those places and FYI it is illegal to impeed the flow of traffic. 2015 ORS 811.425¹ Failure of slower driver to yield to overtaking vehicle.”

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      • Kyle Banerjee September 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

        I occasionally encounter attitudes like that, or they may suggest they have no option other than to hit a cyclist when passing on blind curves.

        This is much more bark than bite — if people really were like this, cyclists would constantly get killed and there would be a lot more crashes in general. I ask them how they handle other slow moving things since middle aged posers are only one of many potential things they may encounter. I also remind them that regardless of how they feel, they would expose themselves to enormous legal liability if their actions contributed to the death or injury of others.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 1, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Many, many wonderful people and responsible drivers in Oregon’s rural, mountain, and farm areas. Far, far fewer cars on the roads, and usually much better sightlines. While I don’t have data, my sense from riding those roads is that you’re as safe, or safer, there as when riding in urban Portland. Looks like a really nice ride in the post.

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  • Kyle Banerjee September 2, 2017 at 11:21 am

    People fear the unfamiliar — it seems like the people who have less experience with rural riding have more fears surrounding that.

    I strongly prefer rural to urban riding. If there is any association between treatment of cyclists and vehicle type, the connection is more related to people who associate their identity with their vehicle than the actual vehicle. I personally see no reason to fear pickups more than any other vehicle type as the most dangerous drivers are the inattentive ones.

    I don’t know if it’s safer or not than urban riding, but I’ve never had safety concerns. But then again, I don’t worry about that much in town either. Btw, I’m in Moscow Russia right now. One of the cool things you can do here is rent a bike with your transport pass (though I haven’t done it yet). Penetration of bike share is amazing, though riding conditions overall are challenging except in touristy areas. If you think PDX is tough, you’d go out of your mind here.

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  • dmc September 3, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    By far the best route to the coast. Not much auto traffic compared to the other routes. I felt safe.

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