Route Talk with Ken Chichester — Weekend Edition
Designing a weekend route is much more difficult than designing a week ride because of the three route options offered each day on the weekend. Luckily there is an abundance of roads to choose from in the Willamette Valley.
The majority of roads used are county roads, with little to no traffic volume. Most of these roads are through agricultural fields, so everyone needs to be aware that we may be sharing the road with farm vehicles.
For the first seven miles, all three routes are together until the first rest stop. Then the Short Route (15 miles) travels only a half mile to join the long and mid routes seven miles from the finish. There are a couple of “bumps” in the road before the first stop, but the rest of the route is flat.
The Mid Route (42 miles) travels with the long route for 19 miles to Sheridan. Riders choosing this route will return to Linfield after lunch on generally very flat roads. There is one left turn across Highway 18 that will require caution when crossing this busy highway.
Those choosing to ride the Long Route (72 miles) will forgo lunch in Sheridan to ride a 30-mile loop through Willamina, Forth Hill and along the South Yamhill River before returning through Willamina to Sheridan for lunch. This loop goes through forested hills unlike the rest of the weekend’s agricultural fields. Nearly all the nearly 3,000 feet of climbing for the day occurs on the loop from Sheridan. After lunch in the city park, long-route and mid-route riders return to McMinnville, passing by the federal prison and through Ballston on roads with nary a foot or two of elevation gain.
To offer a safe and more pleasant ride for those choosing the short route, that route is separated from the other two options.
Short Route (10 miles) riders make a loop around the perimeter of McMinnville, using mainly lightly traveled city streets with bike lanes or wide shoulders. Most of the roads used have a speed limit of 35 MPH or less, so a Sunday morning ride should be pleasant without having to share the road with much vehicular traffic.
The mid and long routes leave town on Highway 18, traveling past the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum (home of the Spruce Goose and SR-71 Blackhawk) and adjacent Wings and Waves Waterpark.
After traveling together for the first 15 miles, the Mid Route (36 miles) turns and travels to Amity for a water stop. After leaving Amity, mid-route riders get the enjoyment of climbing the only hill of the day. This hill is just less than a mile in length, but the reward for the climb is a mile and a half of downhill bliss before joining long-route riders for lunch at Hauer of the Dauen Winery. After lunch, it is a flat 13 miles to the finish, with the long and mid routes sharing the last water stop of the weekend ride.
After saying “adieu” to mid-route riders, those on the Long Route (52 miles) continue south past a gravel access road to the Brigittine Monastery (0.8 miles of gravel to the monastery and chocolatier monks). Riders on this loop pass through Broadmead (did you blink and miss it?), stop in Perrydale (pop. 60), and then ride through Spring Valley at the base of the Eola Hills, known for its vineyards. After passing a few wineries, the route travels through Hopewell to join mid-route riders for lunch. Then the mid and long route riders travel together to the finish with a stop in the community of Dayton.
Routing everyone through Dayton was important because it allows riders to cross Highway 18 on an overpass, rather than dodging cars and trucks. But, the only option to return to Linfield is to use busy Highway 18 for nearly four miles. This road has very wide shoulders, and everyone needs to ride single file. After again passing by the Evergreen museum and water park, a finish celebration awaits at the Linfield campus.