Oregon touts over 900 miles of scenic bikeways. We also placed 6th in the 2015 LEAGUE OF AMERICAN BICYCLISTS bicycle friendliness ranking. In short, coupling beauty with safety, Oregon is a bicyclist’s dream. It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the nation’s first scenic bikeways can be found nestled between Oregon’s two mountain ranges.
The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway is a 120 mile long ride from Champoeg State Park to Armitage County Park in Eugene. This guides the rider through some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon. There are campsites on the route, bed and breakfasts, and inns. There are also two Ferry rides available along the route; both the Buena Vista and the Wheatland Ferry charge only $1 to take bike and rider across the Willamette.
For the curious at heart, this route lends itself to exploration, and though it is proclaimed to be a “moderate” ride by the Ride Oregon Ride website, I am sure that the distinction is purely relative to several factors. One such factor would be the fitness of the rider, another would be if the rider has a proper bike and a proper fit to the bike. Also, another important aspect to taking on a long ride is the experience of the rider. For instance, how comfortable is the rider on roads with no bike lane and that sort of thing.
Being new to bicycling as exercise, I decided to ride the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway in legs, or sections. Very small sections when compared to how many miles a day the more experienced bicyclist rides.
Also, I flub quite a bit, or take creative liberties with the route map, but all in all, if I keep at it, I will one day complete the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Some of the reasons for my deterrence:
- I thought of somewhere else I wanted to see besides what is expressly on the route map. (Seeking historic structures while pedaling can become an obsession).
- I have Limited time for biking.
- Colds, minor injuries, and others of those rather unfortunate reality things.
- Stopping to take photos slows me down quite a bit.
How much of the route have I ridden so far? With the handy-dandy cue sheet downloaded from the Ride Oregon Ride website, I have calculated that…I have a lot of riding left! The barn below was taken when I was on the Wheatland Ferry leg of the bikeway. I even came across a greenway. Willamette Greenway? Something new to ponder, but I think it is a collection of properties working together to promote a sustainable environment. This ride brought me South on 221 from Wheatland Ferry onto Wallace RD. Pretty much my first time on a highway and I will say that it was an eye opener. Huge trucks were zooming by within inches of me, in some places there was no shoulder, and it dawned on me that perhaps I shouldn’t be wearing all black! Well, I lived. I learned. I’m still learning.
Since I took up bicycling, I have ventured out on many Willamette Valley roads in search of historic barns and structures. The structures that I’ve photographed have inspired me to dig deeper into the Valley’s history and I have discovered a treasure trove of fascinating tidbits. All of these great discoveries have lead me to believe that the bikeway is THE ideal heritage tour for our region.