After a night in Salem we embarked on our final day of full bike touring (the rest of the trip would be more sporadic riding), but not before some awesome breakfast tacos (with vegan and gluten free options) from our host at the Century House of Salem, Jean. Our plan for the day, once again confirmed over breakfast, was to ride the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway south to Independence, then continue across rolling hills to Corvallis. As we got further south in the valley the wineries became less frequent, so on this day our goal was to ride a little faster to our final destination so that we could pick up a rental car and drive through the Deschutes National Forest to Bend before sunset.
Independence was a nice stopping point for a mid-morning second breakfast, some coffee and to resupply for a picnic lunch. And being known for its hop production from the late 19th to early 20th century – I was hoping to find some hidden gems in the town of 8,500. Our first coffee shop was quaint and had amazing sticky buns, which filled our tanks nicely, but they didn’t serve lunch food until later in the day. Our second option was frankly a little scary – ancient magazines, dusty furniture and a bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned since Bill Clinton was charming us with his saxophone. Fortunately the food looked edible, so we bought some and made our way out of town. The only other place that piqued my interest was a craft beer bottle shop, but I didn’t need to add more weight to my panniers!
It is hard to pick favorite, but I think this day had some of the consistently best vistas of the entire trip. And I barely took any pictures of them! I was either wrestling my handlebars on a climb, or holding on tight on a fast descent. It was great fun.
Just outside of Independence I came across signs for Chatoe Rouge, which is the Rogue brewery hop/barley/corn/etc. farm, tasting room and visitor center. Alas, I did not know of this place until I stumbled upon the first sign, so we did not detour over to stop in. Quite possibly the biggest mistake of the trip (other than not tightening the pedals). Oh well, we’ll have to come back another time!
Just a few miles outside of Corvallis we stopped for lunch in a local park that has been taken over by the radio controlled airplane enthusiast club. I wish they were there to show us their planes and how fun they could be – instead we were left wondering what types of folks fly big model planes? They probably wonder what type of folks load up their belongings on a bike and pedal across the horizon.
The last bit of the ride was uneventful, save for another cyclist who crept up behind me and then asked a question about our trip. I nearly fell over from the surprise! In Corvallis we picked up a rental vehicle, and wandered through the amazing farmers market downtown. Families on bikes everywhere, public pianos painted in fun colors waiting to be played, a few great bike shops. The town seemed to be a great blend of intellectual, young family college town mixed with salt of the earth farmers. I could have been convinced to stay longer, but we had a date with a ciderhouse that came highly recommended from one of our “friends” in McMinnville, and then onwards to Bend!
In Bend we spent a lot of our time off the bikes, opting to hike around many of the amazing volcanic lakes to the west of town, and to raft the rapids in the Deschutes river. When we were on bike, we were exploring the many breweries that the town is well known for.
Bend seems like an outdoor enthusiasts nirvana, amazing peaks offer snowy winters and rushing rivers after the melt, and the high desert summers offer ample road and mountain biking opportunities. Add in amazing beer. Mix. And you get some happy good times. If you are so inclined, there are two reportedly amazing bike rides to take near Bend, the Twin Bridges and Madras Mountain Views loops – both Oregon Scenic Bikeways. We waffled back and forth on riding the Twin Bridges loop, which starts in downtown Bend, but a rare rain storm stymied our chances.
Want to know more about Bend? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.