Looking southeast across the Wilson River at Highway 6
This last weekend I braved the inclement weather along with the Hymanator to explore a portion of the Wilson River Trail. The forecast called for rain, so we packed up our mountain bikes and hit the road early in an attempt to avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately, we failed in that task. We did, however succeed in having a good ride and a good time.
The Wilson River runs west along Highway 6 to Tillamook, starting just below the crest of the Coast Range at Brown’s Camp. The trail runs for about 20 miles, starting at the Elk Creek campground and ending about 5 miles west of the Tillamook Forest Center. It’s mostly single track, with a few short road connections and there are some significant elevation gains where you swing high above the river to traverse rocky outcroppings.
We parked at the Footbridge trailhead, a few miles past the Forestry Center. This is a popular swimming hole in the summer months, but on a rainy day in March, we had it all to ourselves. One of the reasons I had picked this particular trail was that even though the Coast Range receives heavy rainfall, the WRT (yeah, that’s what I’m calling it now) has good drainage and is less susceptible to erosion and rutting making it a good option in winter and spring. We saddled up and rode a hundred feet down the highway shoulder to the actual Footbridge and crossed over.
The Hymanator warily modeling the spring selection of footbridges.
A short transverse trail connects the base of the bridge to the actual trail. A sign warned of a closure shortly down trail to the west, so we decided to head east and see how it went. It was already raining, but a fairly light drizzle that was barely noticeable under the trees. I had ridden a portion of the trail leading up to King’s Mountain before and it had been a steep ball buster, so I was hoping this portion would be a little more forgiving. My initial hopes were briefly confirmed, but soon dashed as the single track quickly grew steep and rocky, but fortunately mostly rideable. After crossing a ridge about 300 feet above the river we began to descend.
This is looking up at a waterfall that crossed the trail at the top of the first ridge.
The trail was in surprisingly good condition for early spring. No wash outs or big branches across the trail. There were, however many tight switchbacks. We switchbacked our way back down to just above the river where the terrain opened out into a fairly wide and flat bench that made for fun and fast riding. Another mile brought us to the aforementioned Tillamook Forest Center. I would have taken a picture of this and a number of other things, but I didn’t want to risk my new camera in the rain.
Apparently they have bats.
We passed the Forest Center, and another mile brought us to the Jones Creek campground, followed closely by another sharp climb over a ridge to the Diamond Mill OHV area. OHV is a fancy guvmint term for motorsickles and other sweet gasoline powered recreation devices. Fortunately, the area was closed to motorized traffic so it was quiet except for the increasingly heavy rain. At Diamond Mill the trail crosses back over the river and climbs toward Kings Mountain.
The bridge leading to King’s Mountain
We chose this as our turnaround point as the rain wasn’t showing any signs of letting up, and we still had 6 miles and a thousand feet of climbing before we were back at the car. After wolfing down a sandwich and snapping a couple of pictures we headed back.
The river underneath the Diamond Mill bridge.
On the return trip, the trail was noticeably wetter, especially on the parts closest to where we started. On the way out, we had passed through only a brief stretch of mud after Jones Creek, most of the trail was firm if a little wet. No longer. There were large patches of standing water, though little actual mud. I didn’t realize until we arrived back at the trailhead that I was completely soaked, and more than a little muddy. Ahh, mountain biking!
Wilson River Trail Map
So, this last Saturday was the 4th annual running of the Dalles Mountain 60. I had been planning on doing the ride and then writing up an awesome recap of all the wacky shenanigans, but I unfortunately became sick last week, and opted out of both the ride, and the recap. Props to Saminal, who is the only Metropoloid to follow through and actually do it. Everyone else had an array of lame excuses ranging from being “sick” to “being on vacation in Belize”. Yeah right, is that even a real country? Anyway, to make up for it, here are some similar bike related activities coming up, that I hope to attend.
First up this weekend is the inaugural Oregon Randonneurs ride of 2013, Ricky’s Populaire. In randonneur speak, a “populaire” is a ride that won’t be instantly fatal for a normal cyclist, ie 100K (or 62 miles if you live in ‘Merica).
A little further down the road on April 6th is this, in the same neck of the woods as the Perry Roubaix, only longer and with more climbing.
And of course, if you aren’t already planning on doing the Ronde Van Oest Portlandia, it’s coming up on April 20th.
Hope to see you out there!
Holy Crap, It’s Spring-like! (Ignore the fall color in the background.)
Don’t worry gang, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been slightly derailed by The Man., who mandates I file a “tax return” EVERY damn year! Back when I was a normal citizen who received tax documents from my employer, I loved doing my taxes. Well, maybe not “loved” exactly, but it was like getting free money! What’s not to like? Now that I’m my own boss, it’s slightly more complicated, and I’ve made a bad habit of letting it get down to the wire before I file. Not this year! I started early, and I figure as long as I keep completing between 2 and 5% per day (my current average) I will be done well before April 15th. Of course, that cuts into my precious blogging time. Plus, there hasn’t been much of excitement happening lately, so I figured I would just write a quick update and do something more awesome next week. Sound good? Okay, here’s what’s new at Metropolis.
- Taxes. See above.
- New guy! If you haven’t already met him, our new employee Kevin started 2 weeks ago. He looks a lot like a Viking, but he’s actually very friendly. He has worked at Velo Cult, River City, Coventry Cycles, and a half dozen other shops around the world, so he knows his way around a bike.
- New Hours! Starting March 3rd, we will be going back to Spring/Summer hours which means we’re open 7 days a week at 10 AM! We still close at 7 Monday through Thursday, 6 on Friday, and 5 on the weekends.
- Brad got a new cell phone! If you have ever been texted a picture by Brad, you will know how exciting this is. As much as I enjoyed getting a tiny, blurry, picture that looked like it was taken underwater, I couldn’t tell what the hell it was half the time.
- February March Fakeout! Holy crap, it’s 60 degrees out! Enjoy!
This past Sunday, four members of Team Metropolis (The Mayor, The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, Señor Chilidog was supposed to go, but he “forgot to set his alarm”) headed down to the outskirts of our state’s capital (Salem, in case you weren’t sure) to ride this. All the kids are crazy for this new “gravel” riding, I think they call it. Gravel, huh? Those kids are always thinking of weird new shit. But what the hey? We’re game. After an hours drive we arrived at the Oak Knoll Golf Course, between West Salem and Dallas, in the heart of Willamette Valley farm country.
The ride was supposed to roll out at 10, and we were there in plenty of time to get our shit together, offload excess coffee, and chat with some of the other riders. There was a pretty good turnout, between 50-70 riders in my estimation.
The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, the dancing robot.
After a short safety briefing from the ride leader, we were off. Of course, we had to immediately cross 4 lanes of traffic on busy Highway 22, so the group immediately fractured into 3 or 4 grupettos. (That’s pretentious for “little group”. Only race commentators and professional cyclists are allowed to use words like that unironically.) We were all towards the back, and the pace was high, so after the first five miles we couldn’t see the fast folks at the front any longer. The sun came out around this time, and I for one was stupidly optimistic. That was not to last.
The view from the back.
Of course, Johnny had just put together his new bike the day before, including Velo Orange alloy fenders, and a 50 mile ride on unpaved roads is going to highlight any imperfections in your build very quickly. The metal fenders especially, need a few rides before they’re dialed in. Needless to say, he and Utard stopped multiple times to tinker with the aforementioned fenders, which by the end of the day were rattling like a banshee.
The route wound down and through the Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge and was quite nice and pastoral overall. Something about unpaved roads leads to a lot of flat tires however. That said, most of the gravel was fairly smooth and well packed, at least in places. Line choice is important.
Flat fix part 1. We passed this group about 15 miles in. They returned the favor shortly thereafter.
The ride organizers hadn’t provided much information besides a map and a cue sheet, and the directions on the cue sheet proved to be somewhere between misleading and useless. Fortunately, we had the Hymanator on our side, who is a full time educator and a part time navigator. He steered us true through the many twists and turns on the route. We heard many stories throughout the day of people getting lost due to the treacherous directions. Around the 20 mile mark we ran into Matt Case, who ended up riding with us for the rest of the day, and helped to keep thing interesting.
Where the hell are we? Shortly after he joined up with us, Case’s rear tire blew. Fortunately, he had a spare. Unfortunately, it was a tubular. For those not familiar, a tubular is the type of tire where the tube is sewn inside the tire and the whole thing is glued onto the rim. To his credit he swapped it out pretty quickly. Of course, quickly in this case is still about 20 minutes.
How many bike nerds DOES it take to change a flat?
The final step in any successful flat repair. After our unplanned break, we were chilled and anxious to make up some time. Nature called, however.
Shortly after this, the sheep all ran off. Go figure. After that, things were fairly uneventful for the next 20 miles. The route deviated off the gravel and onto pavement for a good 10 miles near Sheridan and a headwind started to blow. We put our heads down and got into a paceline to fight the wind. After crossing back over Highway 99 near Amity, we hit a short, steep, downhill through loose gravel that punctured Johnny’s rear tube. In the course of getting it fixed, Case reached into his jersey pocket and produced… a can of Pabst. One advantage to winter riding is that when you pull a can of beer out of your jersey after 45 miles, it’s still kind of cold. Kind of.
Utard found this guy crossing the road while Johnny was fixing his first flat. Unfortunately, Johnny’s fix didn’t take, and it went flat again after about five minutes of riding. Snake bite. He hadn’t put enough pressure in. I volunteered a CO2 cartridge to insure proper inflation this time. Success! At this point we were all tired and hungry, and just wanted to be done. A long straight shot on gravel awaited us after a short climb. It ended in an ominously steep hill, and as we grew closer I could see we weren’t going to turn away. We passed two kids on four wheelers (that’s how you know you’re in the country) and grunted our way up the hill. It’s not often I can beat Johnny and the Hymanator up a climb, and when Case and I were first to the top, and I knew the other guys were pretty cooked. I choked down the last of my food while we were waiting and prepared for the final 6 miles. One more mile of gravel, then it was back to pavement and one final climb. I went all out on that last hill, then it was a decent back to highway 22 and the van.
Packed and ready for home. Here are the numbers.