Portland Days 9 and 10 – McMinnville

I had planned McMinnville as my informal end to my bike ride. The town is only 45 miles southwest from Portland. Gigi was going to meet me here and we were going to B&B it for two days before my final day of riding into Portland. Getting ahead of schedule and arriving in Portland 3 days early messed up these plans just a bit. I skipped McMinnville on my ride, it was a little too far west while I was aiming straight at Portland on my final, long day of riding. Ended up my friend Sheri drove me out to McMinnville from Beaverton. (The bike is back in Jordan’s dorm – I am done with biking for the rest of this trip). Gigi was driving up from Ashland, where she had spent the night with a friend.

Main Street USA town – McMinnville is easily the prettiest, most vibrant town I have seen on this trip. 3rd street is the downtown street. The town has a wine tasting walk, seems wineries like to have tasting rooms in town. Looks like some good restaurants – see Thistle, a farm to table restaurant – although we just ate veggie bowls at the Local Flow Health bar and cooked in at our Victorian on 10th B&B (see Gigi’s post). McMenamins runs the Oregon Hotel, Sheri and I had a drink in their 4th floor rooftop bar while waiting for Gigi to arrive. Lots of cute shops on 3rd street to window shop and visit.


Evergreen Aviation and Space museum – Another ‘seal the deal’ for visiting McMinnville was that the Spruce Goose was here. What the heck? The world’s largest wooden seaplane in a land locked air museum. The thing had sat in Long Beach for decades. Well, come and watch the video that explains the whole story behind this. We spend two hours here, soooooo much more to see than the Goose. I was


getting my WW2 history nerd on. A Spitfire and Messerschmitt side by side, around the corner the German’s WW2 jet fighter plane; in the space museum a V1 and V2 rocket. Also in the space museum building, a real Mercury 10 astronaut’s capsule, TWO titan rockets, an SR-71 blackbird, etc, etc, etc. This museum is truly first class.

More Pinot, Less Pain – I had looked at Oregon Wine maps before my trip and expected to see wineries along my route. If you look at the oregonwinecountry.org map explorer, the Willamette is just packed with wineries. I was going to slow down and only do 45 miles a day to allow wine tasting. Well, pretty much all I saw was grass. Maybe two small plots of vines over 140 miles. I literally saw one sign for a winery outside Newberg. I ended up choosing Pain to get to Portland in one hop from Corvallis. I would find these elusive 

Facetune_01-05-2018-16-09-06wineries by car. Gigi and visited one winery, and I think we picked a good one: Brooks. It is located in the Eola-Amity hills. Beautiful tasting room with views out over the Willamette valley; fun, friendly, easygoing staff; great pinot. Our B&B landlords have their own vineyard and make their own wine, so I had an unlabelled bottle of homebrew to sip from when we were back in the B&B. Pretty darn good.

Miller Woods Conservation Area – Did not see this advertised in any of McMinnville’s Things to Do, but we love hiking and I found this doing a ‘hikes’ search – oregonhikers.org. Beautiful 4 mile hike through forest and open pasture. The area was logged, but up on the hill there are a few old-growth Douglas Fir trees. Streams to cross on wooden bridges, wildflowers everywhere, even the occasional wild iris along the trail. Out in the pasture they have put bird houses on posts, and we saw blue swallows flying around and bringing grass into the boxes to make nests. This was a nice recovery exercise after a day of rest for me.IMG_7637IMG_7639

Portland Day 8 – Recovery in Portland

I’m staying in Beaverton with my friends Matt and Sheri. We were all Peace Corps volunteers in Mauritania in 1987. Yeah, no one knows where Mauritania is, so don’t worry. Its on the bulge of NW Africa. That was really a whatmeworryjustgo adventure. We were quite an incestuous bunch. Out of a group of 40 volunteers, I think there were 5 marriages, a 25% marriage rate within the group. Matt and Sheri are still going strong, raised their twin daughters in this house. Now, Beaverton is exploding in population and they are considering moving somewhere else in Oregon or Washington state where they can get a larger plot of land and enjoy less traffic, or staying put and making some considerable renovations to this house. Retirement is looming for them, so do they Love It or List It?

I took the Max blue line light rail into downtown Portland to make my necessary visit to Powell’s bookstore. Always my second stop when in Portland, after I have visited Jordan at Lewis and Clark. I had a specific book to look for Imperium by Robert Harris. Set in Rome circa time of Spartacus, Crassus, and Pompey. The hero is Cicero, a lawyer and orator. No wonder Aaron, ex-lawyer, loved the book. I love that it is set in ancient Rome. I love historical fiction. Powell’s delivered, as always. I also got Jordan a book, Foundation by Issac Asimov, sci-fi from the 1950′s. And just to go for a wild card off the Powell’s best seller non-fiction wall, I got The Evangelicals – the Struggle to Shape America by Frances Fitzgerald. I’ve been so annoyed and perplexed by the evangelical support for The Dumpster that I thought this book might fit the maxim ‘Know Thine Enemy.’ … enemy in the political arena. We always will be fellow Americans and should work to help each other, not fight. Otherwise we would be Syria and Afghanistan, and who wants that?

Odd observations of the Powell’s bestseller non-fiction wall: two books have octupuses on them; three have the word ‘F*ck’ in the title (Potty mouth Portland); four have Feminist titles; 2 seems to celebrate the superiority of Nordic civilzation (which is true); Fire and Fury is way down at #40, where it should be; Comey’s book is not even on the wall, where it should be: F*ck all this current White house b*llsh*t, they are more important things to read about than Dumpster squalor.c

Out and about in the Pearl District: Out of Powell’s and into the rain. So happy I am not riding in this today. Found Prasad vegetarian kitchen, which is in the same space as a Yoga Pearl. $7.00 Mighty Bowl with brown rice, black beans and kale and a miso dressing. Simple, healthy, yummy. Then off to find pints. Skunked at the Deschutes Brewery, place was packed, not a seat or standing bar space available. On to the Rogue/10 Barrels intersection. Looked up and noticed a second story rooftop patio on 10 Barrels. Decided to try 10 Barrels, since I have already been to the Rogue taproom in San Francisco. Bar area also packed in 10 Barrels, so I venture up the stairs to see what the patio is like. The bartender is wiping off the tables and seats, the sun is breaking through the clouds. Maybe 6 other people are up here. dI order a nitro stout, and by the time I finish my beer I have stripped off two layers of light jackets, the sun is warm, and there are about 50 people around me. This is urban Portland at its best! I order another pint, and before I’m halfway through it, both jacket layers are back on, I have moved under the small awning, it is raining again, and only about a dozen rain jacket hooded drinkers are defying the rain. “Oh Oregon, you never disappoint with your shitty weather,” – Chris M, Southern Oregonian.

Scooped up by Matt and Sheri and off across the willamette to East Portland and the Hawthorn District and SE Division street. Very attractive neighborhood obviously on the rise, so many building renovation projects in a short stretch of Division st. Mixed use buildings, commercial street level topped by apartments, a modern looking architecture. Get off on the lush, leafy  side streets and you see cute craftsman cottages with small, landscaped verges. bDinner at the Bollywood theater, Mumbai street style food on small metal plates. Packed here, too. Excellent food, spiced but very mild heat. Down the street to Salt and Straw, the uber-hip ice cream shop, the line going out the door. Man on cell phone walking by, ‘Hey this ice cream shop has a line going out the door, it must be good.’ It must be good. Self-reinforcing loop…Line creates chatter which eventually increases length of line. Ice cream itself is really just ice cream, but the flavor palette… I have a double scoop: Pear and Blue Cheese, Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper.a

With all this good food and beer today, I feel fat. I am not going for a bike ride, however.

Portland Day 7 – Corvallis to Portland

Portland Day 7: Corvallis to Lewis and Clark College

Length 91 miles
e Duration 8 hours
Riding time: 6.5 hoursFlat tires: 1

How far to ride today, or the real question could I make Portland in one day? I had been musing the tagline ‘more Pinot, less pain,’ for my tr

ip through the Willamette valley. I had thought I would ride the valley, covering about 45 miles a day and doing a bit of a zig zag on my way north. Once I got to Eugene, two things conspired against this plan. One, the weather was threatening to be crummy, col

d and rainy. Did I want to deal with wet riding, and soaked saddlebags? Two, sightseeing options are minimal, towns were small, and since I was alone, I might as well ride.

A little on the scenery. The Willamette valley was another new ecosystem. I call this ecosystem Lush Green. The southern Willam


ette below Salem is America’s Lawn. Right now, the grass is two feet high and collapsing on itself, fields to the horizon of it, a future billion bales of hay. Green, lush, boring. Nice to ride through, but why linger? I am also experiencing a second spring here. Flowering fruit trees, Lilac, azaleas… beautiful. New leaves and still budding leaves on the the deciduous trees. I noticed that the aspen over on the other side of the Cascades above Klamath Falls were still bare. Spring really had not reached that part of the land yet.

I left Corvallis at 8 am with a fog hanging over the land. I had a ridewithgps route to follow, but it started on those evil digit twins – 99W – that had so tormented me on Day. 2 of


my ride with semi truck traffic. Wearing my bifocals, I was able to read the tiny map screen and pick country roads that paralleled 99W. Nice, quiet roads. Into Salem, more traffic, then bike paths (thanks to ridewithgps), over the river and along the east side. No siteseeing the state capital, I was racing the afternoon thunderstorms forecast. Briefly caught by the evil digit twins, this time 99E, the harpy road that tried to steer me onto the beast I-5, but a bike path again appeared on my ride app and I was steered back into the countryside. I got a 5 minute sprinkle, but for the most part I had sunshine around Salem. Newberg was my bail out town – 65 miles from Corvallis – if the rain came, but it was holding off. There was a nasty dark grey mass to the southwest of me, so I knew it was

coming. I followed the river on its north bank to Wilsonville, an upscale looking suburbia, and then straight north to Lake Oswego and L&C. I was going to make it! Rain did come with only an hour to go, but it was not too bad. Rolled up to Jordan’s dorm room about 4:00, big hug and DONE!


PS – rain came down in buckets around 7:30. Writing this the day after in the coffee room of Powell’s book store. I made Portland 3 days ahead of schedule.

Eugene Amtrak Bathroom

Eugene Amtrak Bathroom

Remember that viral video about a month ago where the little kid crawls under the bathroom stall door and starts talking with the guy sitting on the toilet…

I was wearing my street clothes on the train, so I had to change for my ride. I took my bike into the bathroom. There was a long mirror on the wall above the 3 sinks, and the two toilet stalls did not have doors. I put my bike on the back wall and intended to change in the fall stall. I used the Koala baby changing table as a shelf to get my bike gear out of the bags. As I was about ready to change, a little boy comes strolling in alone into the bathroom. Just the two of us.
‘Why aren’t there doors on the toilet?” He asked me.
“I really don’t know.”
‘What are you doing?”
“I’m changing for my bike ride.”
“Why is your bike in here?”
“It has all my stuff.”
He goes into the next stall to do his business, I go into my stall and start undressing. I am down to my underwear.
‘I see you. I see you in the mirror.’ I look across the narrow room and the little dude is in the mirror, on the toilet, staring at me. I go deeper into the stall and press against the wall.
“I see your socks.” Good for you, little dude. I make a rapid change into my riding shorts and feel I am now in safer territory.
‘Hey, your bike has two water bottles. You drink while you ride?” “I can ride with no hands…with training wheels.” “Do motorcycles have water bottles?” “My name is Brian _____.” “I don’t know my telephone number. I try every day, but I don’t know it yet.” “I am good at climbing…”
Twice his mom calls into the bathroom.
‘Brian, answer your mother.’ He just keeps talking.
Finally, after 10 minutes we are both on our way out the door. I’m changed and my bike is packed.
‘I am six years old.”
‘Brian, I am 56 years old.’ Pause.
‘Hey, we both have sixes in our ages.”
See you Brian, have a nice trip.

Portland Day 6 – Klamath Falls to Eugene on Amtrak; ride Eugene to Corvallis

Portland Day 6IMG_7536
Amtrak Train from Klamath Falls to Eugene
Ride Eugene to Corvallis: 45 miles
Ride time 3 hrs
Duration: 3:30

“Oh Oregon, you never disappoint with your shitty weather”                                                     - Chris M, Southern Oregonian

Yesterday, it was 80 degrees in Eugene. Today, when I stepped off the Amtrak train it was 55 degrees and raining. When I started my ride last Sunday, the weather forecast for this weekend was one day of rain. Now I am being greeted by 3 days of rain. Perfect timing. 80 degrees and sunny yesterday…. Oh Oregon!

I woke up 6 am this morning in my monk’s cell of a motel room to the screeching plumbing of the neighbor’s shower. Overcast and a few raindrops on my 10 minute walk to the Amtrak station. Train left on time, bike stowed in baggage car. I was annoyed that the conductor assigned me a seat next to another person, even though there were many, IMG_7523 IMG_7518 IMG_7514many empty rows. It turned out to be a good thing. My seat mate, Chris M., was a young guy who had been on the train since Chicago, 4 days. He was getting off in Eugene to visit college friends. He was ultimately on his way to Hong Kong to be with his girlfriend and find work. We had a great time talking. He is an avid disc golf player, loves to read books, has travelled a lot. We had commonalities, like chasing a girl to another continent. He even got his disc bag out and showed me his discs. I taught a disc golf elective at my old Middle School.




As we crossed the Cascades, the weather was dreary looking – light rain, fog turning to whiteout, and snow on the ground. If I had biked this stretch on this day, I think I would have been hypothermic. The Amtrak was a good call.

I got off at the Eugene station and wished Chris good luck. I changed into my riding gear in the station bathroom, putting on just about everything I brought – rain gear booties and rain jacket, both neon crossing guard yellow. A McMenamin’s restaurant was just across the Willamette river, so I went there for lunch (if you don’t know IMG_7522McMenamin’s, you have never been to Portland most likely). When I came out of the restaurant, it was not raining, but it was really dark overcast. I followed a pre-loaded ridewithgps route to get me out of Eugene on bike paths. The first few miles were on a wide, smooth bike trail running along the Willamette. I had my phone in a plastic ziplock, which made the screen even much more difficult to read, even though today I was wearing my bifocals. Well, once out of town I did not need the gps because I was taking only two roads to get me to Corvallis – Coburg road and Peoria road. Easy peasy. Nicely paved and striped, wide shoulder, little traffic, NO SEMIS.IMG_7529

Coburg road and Peoria road. Easy peasy. Nicely paved and striped, wide shoulder, little traffic, NO SEMIS. After Coburg the sun actually came out and I to

ok off my rain jacket. Perfect riding weather actually. The roads has already dried out. I made my best average mph day of the whole trip. The last hour the skies darkened again and I had to put my phone back in its ziplock and put on my rain jacket, but the rain was so light the road just soaked it up. Into Corvallis by 6:00.

This is really the first town on the trip I have the energy to explore on foot

IMG_7542so I am out and about. Going to visit the two McMenamin’s here, and I have to finish at the Angry Beaver.


Portland Day 5 – Weed CA to Klamath Falls OR

Portland Day 5
Weed CA to Klamath Falls OR
Distance 74 mi
Duration 6 hours
Saddle time 5 hrs 30 min

Great Day. I did not sleep so well, got up at 6:00 to go across the street to the Hi Lo motel for breakfast. I ordered off the small menu and still got one of those oval plates filled 50-50 IMG_7464with hash browns and a Denver omelette. On the road at 7:30 with an extra layer of clothes because it was 50 degrees outside, Weed is at about 3500’ elevation. Within a half hour I stopped to change out of the long finger gloves and undershirt. I did keep my knee warmers on for the whole ride. Hwy 97 turned out to be just fine in relation to the traffic.

I had a 6 foot shoulder with a rumble strip whenever the road had one lane. I did lose a lot of shoulder when there were two lanes on my side, but there was so little traffic all the cars moved to the left lane as they passed me. A shout out to the Hwy 97 truckers, they were always considerate and moved left when passing me. Now, if you don’t like the idea of semi trucks period, then forget it, you would hate riding Hwy 97. Traffic aside, it was a beautiful ride.IMG_7467

IMG_7482I had Mt Shasta to my right for many miles, and vistas or pine trees all around me. I climbed about 1500 feet to the highest point of my biking part of the trip, and was rewarded with a 4 mile, 6% grade, 7 minute bomb down into butte valley, land of hay (alfalfa?). I’m surprised I was not sneezing, hay was blowing off the trucks and all over the road. The road cut an absolutely straight line through most of the valley.

IMG_7488I don’t know if there was a slight downward tilt to the road grade, or if the sideways, light wind was slightly behind and pushing me, but I flew through the valley averaging 19 mph. Dorris, the town with the big-ass flag, was at the far end of the valley. Some little rollers after that put me into Oregon…OREGON BABY!!!! Made it!



Klamath Falls was still about 15 miles away. The road became like an viaduct with water on both sides. Klamath Falls is known as a bird watchers paradise, big time flyway stopover for migratory birds. There were birds in the water canals (I saw a beaver, too, oh my!). The ducks seemed to universally distrust me, they were constantly taking to flight along side of me or in front of me.

This was a nice diversion, as I my legs were definitely tightening up and I really was getting tired. But Klamath Falls was so close! Thank the Earth I got a tailwind to blow me the rest of the way into town. I have begun riding standing up, pedaling for 30 strokes, then resting my leg on the seat, repeat, repeat, repeat, because my sit bone are taking this ride the hardest.IMG_7493

I pulled into town, found the Amtrak station so I knew where it was for tomorrow, .3 mile farther took my to the Maverick Hotel and OFF MY BIKE. This is the smallest room of all my hotel stays, but the sheets are clean. Hey, $55.00. I think I chose well. The Klamath Basin Brewing company is next door. Steak salad for lunch with a 4 – 4 0z sampler flight.IMG_7499


And I have a massage booked for 4:45. Rockin’ Day. Starting tomorrow, I have a new obsession: Rain forecast for the next 3 days, forget the wind.

Portland Day 4 – Rest Day in Redding, lift to Weed

Ride to Portland Day 4
Rest day in Redding

Felt nice to sleep in till 7:15. Busy day today. Aaron has an 8:00 dentist appointment and IMG_7451 (1)an 11:00 massage. Did I mention he is trying out early retirement too? 25 years as a trial defense lawyer, a life of arguing with people. Then 1 1/2 years ago severe chest pains and two stints to open a totally blocked blood vessel in his heart. Doctor told him of the five indicators of heart disease, he had one: stress from his job. Re-evaluation time, retirement, less stress, increased happiness. I have caught him at a good time. Speaking of heart disease, my Big John’s Redneck Benny breakfast plate just showed up. IMG_7432

At home I eat a small bowl of homemade granola for breakfast EVERY morning. On this trip I figure I can eat whatever I want, but I think this is definitely pushing the limit too far. Once in a lifetime experiences comes in many shapes and forms. Country music on, a functioning, running model train mounted from the ceiling circling the room….and I am the only male in the room not sporting a mustache. Aaron is a hard core democrat. He is clean shaven. Do all the men in this room already recognize me as an out of town, Bay Area liberal? I haven’t shaved this trip yet, but I don’t think my stubble provides enough camouflage.


This afternoon I am helping Aaron move a dead Jeep. He is going to tow it behind his truck While I sit in the Jeep holding the steering wheel to keep the tires straight.

Then we are going to DRIVE to Weed with my bike IN THE CAR. Back in the Caltrain on the first morning of this trip, the fellow cyclist sitting next to me said, ‘We bike for fun. Have a great time on your trip.” Once I decided weeks ago that I was going to take the Amtrak train from Klamath Falls to Eugene to shorten the trip by 170 miles and 3 days, the Iron Man-esque idea of I will ride the whole 700 miles disappeared. I have already achieved my feeling of cyclist awesomeness with my 3 day performance to get here.

The Redding to Klamath Falls leg of the trip – stage 2 for me – has always vexed me. The direct route requires riding on I-5, which is legal but probably suicidal. I called a local bike shop here and they told me there is a bridge over the lake at one point with no should to speak of and semis in the right lane. There is one yellow-green sign at the start of the bridge that says ‘Share the road’, the shoulder is literally one foot wide and full of road gravel and debris. No way!!! Burney to Klamath Falls straight included about 85 miles of nothingness between Burney Falls Campground and McLeod on hwy 97. Too isolated for a single rider in many peoples’ opinion (including my wife’s), plus the entire ride day would be 120 miles. Definitely too Iron Man-esque. I had settled on Redding-Burney-Weed-Klamath Falls, which would take 3 days after today’s rest day. But then another option occurred to me as I alluded to above. Just get a ride across Shasta lake and all would be well – 2 days of riding, 120 miles, 8700 feet of elevation skipped. “We do this for fun. Enjoy your ride.’ The mantra took hold. This adjustment of the route would give me more time to cruise the Willamette valley. Rain is forecast for the 3 days I will be riding from Eugene to McMinnville on my adjusted itinerary. Good thing I mailed my rain gear to Aaron so I would have to carry it only for the Oregon leg of the trip.
I’m up in Weed now at the Townhouse motel, the dull roar of I-5 permeating the walls. My sheets are clean. The I Love Weed t-shirt store is across the street. IMG_7460I am happy to have gotten a lift here. The Siskiyous are quite rugged. It would have been a rough, sunny, hot time riding here for two days. The car ride took one hour. Today was a day of chores for Aaron, lots of driving around. We crossed the Sacramento River 6 times going from the east side to the west side of town, back and forth. One way to see a city.

IMG_7441The Jeep was a rusted, broken down 1944 US Army Jeep that Aaron has owned for decades. Sitting in that Jeep crossing Redding was a bit Disneyland Indiana Jones ride and Hop On Hop Off city tourist bus, the ones that look like London double deckers with the roof chopped off. The ride was thrilling (without the fake poison darts) while I was completely just along for the ride, and scenic as I just watched everything passing by, unencumbered with the need to drive.

Tomorrow is a straight 70 mile stretch of road that quickly becomes high desert – another ecosystem change on this trip. I checked on Google street view and the road has a rumble strip at the white line and a good sized shoulder. I’m hoping the shoulder is not too rough, and I will have a nice space between me and the traffic. 4 to 5 hours riding time on 97 to reach Klamath Falls. What little wind there will be will be coming from the southeast, I am riding in a northeasterly direction, so I might get a little push. That would be welcome. Think good thoughts, think good thoughts.

Portland Day 3 – Orland to Redding

Portland Day 3IMG_7418
Orland to Redding
Distance 84 miles
Average speed 13,2 mph
Saddle time 6:23
Total ride time 8 hrs

Oh what a difference a day makes. Sayonara to Road 99W, never doing that again. Too many corporate agribusiness addresses on that street, making for too many semi trucks driving on it.

Today’s theme: stay on the road less travelled. Not that I planned it to be that way, but I got lucky and found some beautiful roads to ride. I was up and out the door by 5:30am, once again fearing that wind would come as the day progressed. At least this day there was light in the eastern sky when I got going. I did ride my last bit of straight 99-ish road out of Orland to Corning, but it was quiet. Saw some deep poverty along the way – fields with motor homes set up like mobile home camps, but I am sure there was no electricity or running water.

Corning – Corning has an Indian gaming casino, a serious truck stop center, and the most developed town I have seen since Woodland. On the north side of town I found quite old olive tree orchards, this has been an olive oil producing region for quite some time. I crossed to the west side of I-5 and found  lovely

IMG_7381quiet country roads to ride on. My pace slowed considerably as I was enjoying the surroundings. More old, old orchards, then open lush grassland filled with birdsong. Snow capped mountains to the West – the Trinity Alps. This was becoming seriously beautiful countryside. Then cattle started appearing as I approached Red Bluff.IMG_7394

Red Bluff - I was passing a middle school just as class was starting. Cars backed up at the intersection with a crossing guard shepherding the students. Down into the town, looking for a breakfast place and found one on Main Street. I had covered 30 miles before breakfast, about half what I had planned for the day. I was still waiting to see if the wind was coming. I told my friend Aaron that I would be arriving in Redding around 11 am. Turned out to be a small miscalculation.IMG_7414-2 IMG_7408

Aaron – Aaron is a friend from college who has been living in Redding for maybe 15 years. I called him last week to let him know I was coming through town. He told me he had a spare room, and that just that very morning he had a Frank Zappa song stuck in his head, which made him think, “I wonder what Bob is doing these days?’ On the same day we reached out to each other, myself with a phone call, Aaron with his query to the cosmos. Yes, I was the biggest Zappa fan on my dorm floor.

Highway 36 – Out of Red Bluff I was not paying close attention to my navigation screen and missed a turn. I was riding down hwy 36, which was wide, well paved, had little traffic and was transitioning into oak woodland. So many different environments I was moving through in such a short time! As I was cruising along enjoying myself, a mileage sign IMG_7402appeared – Fortuna 145 mi. That town is on the coast by Eureka. No mention of Redding. Stop. Check map. Far enough off course that doubling back would achieve nothing. I found Bowman road farther down that I could take back to Cottonwood and the I-5 corridor. The oops added at least 15 miles to my ride, but it was well worth it. Beautiful oak woodland, views of snow capped peaks in the distance, dropping down into horse ranch country, and finally back to Cottonwood. A brief hydration stop in Cottonwood and I rode the last hour into Redding. Hwy 273 was pretty yucky, two one-way divided hwy with 60 mph speed limit, at least had a wide shoulder to ride on and not terribly busy. Still, the yuckiest stretch of the day. Aaron lives on Hillcrest Road, and of course it is at the top of a 14% grade road, short but wicked. Not something to climb at mile 84, but I made it.

We had a late lunch of Hawaiian BBQ and beers at the Fall River Brewing taproom, located in the Safeway parking mall area. ‘Redding ambiance’ as Aaron put it. Lots of catching up to do with my friend Aaron, I’m glad I looked him up. Look up the lyrics to Dinah Moe Humm.

Portland Day 2 – Woodland to Orland CA

99w signPortland Day 2IMG_7368
Woodland to Orland 82 mi
Average speed 12 mph
Saddle time 6:48
Total ride time 9 hrs

3 am. Awake. Check weather app. 55 degrees and no wind. Perfect riding conditions. Drink excellent supercarb shake and eat a cliff bar for 3:30 am breakfast. Off I go. OK, so riding in the dark at 4am sounds crazy, but I was worried about the wind that was forecast for today, straight out of the north. I actually had a good ride in the dark. No cars to speak of until 6 am, around 5 the moisture in the atmosphere lifted and I could see the stars, the Big Dipper right in front of me and the North Star about 1:00 on my right. I was starting my ride on Road 99W, which was the historic route 99 before I-5. The road started off pretty crappy, but with no cars I could pick the most crack free riding line.

I got into Arbuckle at 6 am, but the town had not yet worked up, I even beat the Daily Grind coffee shop by 30 minutes. I had to go on to Williams for coffee and breakfast. I Granzellascould see the billboards on I-5 and one kept repeating – Granzella’s in Williams. They are the Anderson’s Split Pea Soup of Williams, except Italian. I was hungry, so I got tri-tip and eggs. I left there some time after 7:30. I had covered 38 miles before 7 am breakfast and was feeling pretty good. Halfway to Orland, the stop for the day.

Then the wind hit in Maxwell about 8:30. Flag snapping, birds flying like drunken sailors wind, right in my face. The road pointed 30 miles straight into that wind. My speed was knocked down to about 10 mph, and I had to work for it, crouched down in the drops, light gear and just keep on pedaling. It took me 4 hours to travel 30 miles. I kept having to take breaks about every 20 minutes. Still, I made my destination around 12:30. The beautiful Orland Inn motel situated in an anemic shopping center anchored by a Dollar Tree and a Strip mallGrocery Outlet. I just relaxed all afternoon and washed my riding clothes. It was in the mid 80’s outside.

On a fun note, I heard good music in the restaurants. Granzella’s was playing early 60’s tunes exclusively, and the mexican restaurant where I ate lunch was playing Cuban jazz. “Very good to dance to”, said the waitress.
I don’t have much to say about the scenery. Half of it was in the dark, The other half I was keeping my head down as much as possible. Some cool signage along the way: ‘Welcome to Glen County, Where we Honor Veterans’, ‘Duck Plucking’, ‘Glen County, Where 4H is a Family Affair’, ‘No God, No Hope, Know God, Know Hope,’ The last was spray painted on an abandoned building next to a decrepit motel that probably had its heyday when historic 99 was not yet historic.

Glenn County Line road Duck plucking
















Update: By 6:00pm it had cooled off enough to walk Bright Future Signthe 3/4 mile to ‘downtown’ Orland for dinner, The top restaurant on Yelp was the Farwood Bar and Grill. To get there I had to walk through a large corner lot with gravel and weeds, go past the defunct Bucke’s Seed and grain buildings, past the new sign that said ‘Proud History, Bright Future’, to a one block long Main Street. After all that dismal news, I had a great meal in a great room with a very interesting bartender. I may be staying in budget motels with clean sheets, but I have been eating well.

Dinner Day2Tonight I had the steak salad, medium rare tender grilled steak over a large salad with caramelized onions, heirloom cherry tomatoes and other goodies with a balsamic vinaigrette. Sierra Nevada DIPA to drink. I sat at the bar, watched the Giants game and talked with Cody the bartender. They have a crazy new beer dispensing system that was shown on Shark Tank – the bottom beer tap. Glass fills from the bottom using a magnet system. No spillage, He also turned me on to a Lagunitas special beer release: The Waldos’ Special.Lagunitas Waldos I have a bottle to share with my buddy in Redding. Strong stuff. So… two new beer experiences in one shot.We talked about Orland in a very positive way, which gave me a new appreciation for the place. Honestly, I wonder if this area is slowly dying. Aside from the corporate scale at factories down by Williams, I am seeing a lot of rusting sheet metal and fading or flaking signs on mid-sized industrial buildings. Williams is getting a new Starbucks that will open Fall this year. Is that a sign of progress? Here in Orland at the Main Street crossing a brand new Mitsubishi motors showroom is being built. Across the street is a new NAPA auto parts. So is the new enough to replace the old?

On another thought…Cody is a Dodgers fan and will go see them at PAC Bell. Trip time to get to the stadium? He says he can make it in 3 hours driving fast. IT TOOK ME TWO LONG DAYS TO GET HERE!! Oh well, I’m seeing California slowly. Tomorrow, the wind is supposed to be less, but I am taking no chances. Early to bed, early to rise. This fox is gonna beat ‘ol Man Wind. I plan to be in Redding by 10 am.IMG_7367

San Carlos to Portland Solo Cycling Trip: Day 1

Getting ready for the ride

Getting ready for the ride


Portland Day 1
San Carlos to Vallejo
Vallejo to Woodland: 68 mi
Average speed 14.5 mph
Saddle time 4:42
Total ride time 5:30

Overall, today was a great start to my ride. I left home a little after 9am to catch the 9:28 Caltrain to SF. In the bike car, I sat next to a fellow rider and got to tell him my story. The first of many people who will be surprised to hear that I am riding San Carlos to Portland. The short ride up the Embarcadero to the Ferry building was chilly, and I waited 20 minutes for the Vallejo ferry to arrive. Easy leash, by 12:30 I was at the Vallejo dock eating my yummy lunch: a cool mint chocolate Cliff bar and a super starch carb shake with some crystally stuff that makes my face tingle but is supposed to reduce muscle acidosis.

D87407EF-4767-4292-A29A-D38CBB6A6ECBFor today’s ride, I found a route from Vallejo to Winters posted on iRide GPS. It was excellent! All the bike paths and backroads were routed, I just had to follow the navigation, which for me can be tricky. My riding glasses are not bifocal – distance only – and I NEED bifocals to read the little screen. It is hard for me to try to focus on the little phone screen mounted on my handlebars when I am riding at pace. Oh well, it beeps at me when I get off course, so I never really got lost. I just had to do a few double backs.

Yes, I did have my share of riding frontage roads to I-80 and other busy highways, but I found two true gem biking stretches on the north side of 80. The places we never see because we are always bombing up 80 to get to Grass Valley or Tahoe.

Suisun Valley wine region

Suisun Valley wine region

Suisun Valley wine region – east of Fairfield – beautiful, quiet, flat. Like being in any wine region, but totally quiet, and this is a Sunday. I rode past a restaurant – Manka’s Corner – that looks to be a great restaurant for the area.






Pleasant Valley road

Pleasant Valley road

Pleasant Valley road – northeast of Vacaville. This was horse and cattle country. Small rollers, wildflowers, with all the green right now this was an awesome road to ride. Nice wide shoulder and again, QUIET. The road drops out to Putah Creek road and into Winters.





Comfort food!

Comfort food!

Preserve in winters

Preserve in winters

Winters- I ate a late lunch – 4:30 – in Winters at a place called Preserve. I saw it featured on a local food show, so I had always planned to stop here for eats. It did not disappoint. I had shrimp and grits with in house chunked bacon and sriracha remoulade sauce. A whole new meaning to COMFORT FOOOD. Yum. My friend Jenn will go there just to see the ridiculously well-tended succulent pots that adorn the front walkway

The Flats – Winters was the start of this terrain, but Winters is surrounded by walnut orchards, which are much prettier than what I found halfway up to Woodland: freshly plowed fields with baby plant shoots, roadside drainage ditches, and STRAIGHT, FLAT, FLAT roads. The only remarkable thing to comment on was my racing a bi-plane (see video). The road was so straight and flat I could see ahead a biplane doing ovals. At first, I thought it was a crop duster, but as I was riding past the Yolo county airfield, I saw that the pilot was practicing take offs and landings. I was parallel to him once when he was on the runway. Actually, I am very impressed I did not drop my phone while trying to shoot video.

Race a bi-plane video



Finally…Woodland. This day ended way too late – 6:30pm. The last hour was painful, but I was still riding about 16 mph, which is a strong pace. Nothing to say about Woodland past a shower, and air conditioned room, and a subway sandwich dinner.

Tomorrow will be an early start, it is 80 miles to Orland, my next stop. Unfortunately, looks like I will have a 10 mph headwind the entire way. Think good thoughts, think good thoughts…