This Space for Rent

It’s cold and wet – it must be western Oregon in the fall

On the line (Strohmayer Road)

Yesterday was exactly one week before the last organized ORRando event of the year, and, since I ended up as one of the organizers for this event (look for me at the start, looking tired and cold as I juggle sheets of paper while trying to sign everybody in before the 9am starting bell) I was one of the people out on the line doing a preride to set up info controls and check to see if any bridges or parts of the road were washed out.

They weren’t, so it was a fairly straightforward ride (except for the rain, and it being really cold as a bank of rain moved in from what I guess was the north. But that’s Oregon in the fall, so I can be thankful that it didn’t dump down rain in the same enthusiastic manner as it did during last year’s loop) and instead of a trip report I’ll just describe some of what the ride is going to be like:

It starts in what would I would normally consider wayoutintheboonies™ in Forest Grove (except that Verboort is about 2 miles north of the Grand Lodge, so it’s wayoutintheboonies™ by design), and the loop takes you north and into the countryside in a fairly straightforward manner in no time flat. The only possible surprise on the route is that it takes you around a couple of roundabouts on Verboort Road, and the second one has two exits onto the Cornelius Schefflin road. And that first exit will take you the wrong way (the fine print on that exit is “TO PORTLAND”, which is somewhat strange in that it will eventually dump you onto Baseline, which is a long stop-sign ridden way into town. The FAST route into Portland would be to take the second exit, which may also say “TO PORTLAND”, but in either case it’s not accurate) so you need to keep wrapping 270° around the roundabout where you can head NORTH towards the first bridge over Dairy Creek and the turnoff to Wren, which will take you across some very flat farmland towards Hillsboro and, eventually, the long run east on Evergreen to reach the first control at Longbottom’s Coffee. There are three railroad crossings along this leg of the ride that come across the road at varying angles and in varying degrees of bumpiness, so take some care when crossing over, particularly if it’s been raining.

There will be someone at Longbottoms to sign brevet cards. But not on the preride; to get our (Ed Groth, Theo Roffe, and me) brevet cards signed we went inside out of the cold and spent about 40 minutes planning and warming up (did I mention it was fairly cold? It was fairly cold. But not inside) before finally dragging ourselves out to the bicycles and onward into the exceptionally chilly morning air. And then back east along Evergreen, then north on Sewell to take the scenic route up to Jackson School road just south of the highway 26 overpass (we’d split up a bit along here – Theo was moving along pretty sharply and had vanished into the distance, and then I stopped to shed one layer of windbreaker and ended up spending a good chunk of time riding well behind Ed) then up(ish) along Jackson School Road to the first info control just shy of where the road deadends into Shadybrook Road (which is what Glencoe Road becomes north of North Plains. And then we turned back south and took Shadybrook Road all the way down to North Plains, which doesn’t have any controls, but does have a nice city park with a porta-potty and a coke machine (it allegedly has water as well, but we weren’t able to find any signs of it when we stopped there) and a bar & convenience store, both of which were open when we rolled into town at ~10am.

North Plains isn’t really that big, so if you don’t stop to take advantage of the modern conveniences there you end up back in the country in almost no time, heading north and west on Mountaindale Road to the don'tblinkoryou'llmissit junction with Dairy Creek Road, which takes you back up north towards another manned control up at the end of pavement in what used to be the industrial section of Snooseville.

Dairy Creek Road is deceptively uphill. It starts up in a nice wide flat farm-filled valley, but the road and the valley slowly pitch uphill as you go. And as you go up the valley, it narrows and the farmland dwindles in favor of steep wooded hillsides and abandoned fields.

And up at the top of Dairy Creek Road, it crosses Dairy Creek one last time just before you turn off onto Fern Flat Road and bounce uphill on indifferent-at-best (but at least some asphalt has been put into some of the more impressively bicycle eating potholes since my last ride up there last month) pavement to where the Snooseville lumbermill used to be 70-or-so years ago. You’ll find no signs of the mill, but you will find coffee, snacks, and possibly vegan sausages if the weather holds.

And hopefully you won’t find rain. When Theo, Ed, and I reached Snooseville, the clouds had lowered to the point where they were covering the tops of the bluffsides, but in the 10 minutes we stopped there they decided that this was the time to pounce and we retraced our steps down Fern Flat & Dairy Creek through first a light fog, then drizzle, and then honest to g-d rain (which continued until we reached Mountaindale, and then stopped until our next leg into the foothills.) And at Mountaindale, we turned back onto Mountaindale Road (but not back the way we came; Banks was the next town on the loop, so we went off to the right and followed it down to highway 26 and the amusingly-named Frogger Junction, which provided a little bit of excitement before we were back into the country for a few miles before we crossed even more railroad tracks (better maintained crossings here) then deadended onto highway 47 just south of the Wilson River Highway and the south end of Banks.

There aren’t any controls in Banks, but there is a Thriftway just north of the Wilson River Highway, and it has a nice canopy out front that you can park your bicycle under if you need to wring yourself out from the rain. And if you go a mile further north, you reach the junction with Cedar Canyon Road, where there’s a nice gas station just across the street from it (and just across the street from the just-finished new trailhead for the Banks-Vernonia trail.) And then it’s west along Cedar Canyon Road, which hugs the side of Cedar Canyon and alternates between going through farmland and going through the woods for about 3 miles to the final info control, which has nobody there, but is conveniently located about 9 miles away from the end of the loop.

Some of the potentially more unpleasant part of the ride comes just past this info control, because you need to ride along the Wilson River Highway for about ¾ths mile before you reach Stafford Road, which takes you up (half a mile or so of 6%(?) grade; I took my xtracycle up it last year in a ~30 inch gear with a mainly flat rear tire and didn’t end up dead at the top. ) and deposits you on Strohmayer Road (which becomes Kansas City Road, and eventually Thatcher Road, but if you get that far you’ve gone too far because you needed to turn left at the old schoolhouse on Kemper Road,) which swoopily takes you up and down (but generally down; the ramp on Stafford Road is basically it for climbs of any consequence) through hazelnut orchards, nursery fields, and croplands until you turn left one last time and head towards Verboort and the end of the line. (It’s basically a direct run into Verboort along Kemper/Osterman/Visitation, because Osterman ceases to be a road and becomes a gravel track at the turn onto Visitation; if you follow the paved road you’re going the right direction.)

One thing of note along Kansas City Road (about halfway between where Strohmayer becomes Kansas City and where you turn onto Kemper) is Love’s barn, which is just an old barn except that it’s got several hundred pairs of antlers nailed to it. It’s an impressive sight even if you pass it at speed (guilty; the first time I rode this loop I was too wet and annoyed with my stupid rear wheel to see it, but the last two times I just turned my head and thought “yup, that’s a lot of antlers!” as I sailed by.)

But, anyway, once you reach Verboort there’s allegedly a bike corral somewhere around the church. We’re going to try to set up the final control there; it might be some sort of RUSA/ORR banner, or it might just be a sign saying “Randonneurs stop here!” We’re not sure yet, but your friendly cold sleep-deprived organizer will tell you what to look for at ~8:45am saturday morning.

And the weather forecast claims that there’s only a “chance” of rain. A low of about 39°F, but only a “chance” of rain. So if you dress warmly, there’s a good chance it will be a pleasant ride with no surprises except for maybe a secret control or two.


  1. I didn’t take many (I took two) pictures this time because of the rain and cold, but I took a bunch when I pre-prerode the loop at the end of September. We can’t promise the weather will be this nice, but this is what the line looks like when it’s not cloudy and/or rainy.
  2. We’ve (and by we, I mean Ed) updated the cuesheet, which I then converted to pdf for people who have web access but don’t have MS-Office and/or OpenOffice.