There is a bit of mystery to these dirt roads, as they apparently lead all the way to Tillamook near the coast. But yet, I've never met or read about anybody who has actually done it.
The plan was to ride Old Railroad Grade Road to Trask Road until I hit the snow levels. Mapping this ride in advance, the elevations were going to be above 3,000 feet. On last weeks ride in the same coast range area SW of Portland, we found snow in the 2,000+ range, but it was actually pre-plowed until 2,900 ft for the logging trucks.
These 24- hour overnights should be simple excursions. But sometimes, the first of the season takes you a bit longer to plan and get out of the house. I was using some new equipment, and hadn't slept in my tent for several months, so there was some scrambling around to make sure I had everything.
Perhaps we all go through this routine- lay everything out, make sure you have food, clothes, water tablets, tools and shelter.
The Old Railroad Grade Road is true to it's name for the first few miles with a gradual uphill grade. But gets steep as soon you you turn onto Trask Rd.
Look closely at the left side of the photo, see the Elks Club? This was the 2nd herd I saw, each containing about 15 members. They scared away as soon as I got a little closer, but I could smell their musky scent rolling through this spot.
It was all uphill. This was the first sign of snow in the distance, and I could feel the wind temperatures getting cooler.
Gravel hog sees his shadow.
More snow with the rising elevation. This was approximately the 2,000 feet level.
Snow tracks at 2,400 feet. I rode a little further up and it went from 1 to 3 inches quickly. End of the road for me. I tried a few other roads that split off from here, but they also went uphill into the snow. So camping had to be a bit lower, which meant I got to go downhill for the first time in over two hours.
This looks like a good spot amongst the 5-10 year old pine trees. In Oregon, you see a lot of managed forest land like this. Or in other words, massive tree farms. If you feel this is wrong, think twice about the paper products you use, where they come from, and how much post-consumer content is in it.
A little bit of the scrambling to get out of the house paid off with a nice chicken, rice and veggie soup meal I mixed together. Practically anything tastes good while camping, but a well-planned meal is an extra bonus.
Not shown well here is the Esbit stove I used for the first time. It worked REALLY well and will likely be my fuel/stove of choice for these shorter trips. Easy to light, no flare ups, compact and lightweight fuel tabs and stove. The only downside would be running out of Esbit tabs and not being able to find them in remote parts of your trip. So perhaps not so good for longer trips.
When I was brushing my teeth last night, snow flakes were coming down. A warm front moved in, along with rain and clouds. Despite raining all night and being damp, it was pretty nice waking up inside a cloud.
Side note to scent engineers that develop smells like "Mountain Fresh" or "Pine Breeze", you should do your research out here because this is the real deal.
After a short climb out of camp, I was looking forward to the 7-mile downhill back to Old Railroad Grade Road.
In the midst of mist. Face full of cloud.
Perhaps equally perplexed about each others last 20 hours.
Flattening out again on the Old RR Rd. That 7-mile downhill had just a minute or two of pedaling, about 20 seconds of braking, and made for a good caffeine substitute.
With another two weeks or so of warm weather, perhaps the snow will be gone at the 3,000 foot level and Trask Road will be passable all the way to Tillamook, Oregon near the coast.
Ride profile here.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
It has been a soggier than normal spring here in Oregon. Despite my Karate Monkey being packed and ready to camp for the last 6 weeks, the snow levels have been too low to ride through the mountains. But the last few days have been warm and the rain has melted all the low-level snow that could be seen from town, so a few of us ventured out the try finishing the 50+ mile Timbuktu recon loop we tried back in January.
Velodirt Donnie and friend Nick contemplate walking or riding the gravel climbs. The roads had been freshly graded with rock gravel. While this is probably good for the logging trucks, it changed the game with tire choice. Last time I ran 700c x 32mm (Panaracer T-Serv) tires on the Travelers-Check, and this time I switched to fatter 700 x 35 T- Servs. The rock gravel sections were enough for me to want even bigger tires next time.
We started seeing snow was pretty widespread above the 2,000 foot elevation mark.
Topping the climb to Timbuktu, where we had been on January 22nd, there was quite a bit of snow.
Underneath the 1-2 feet of snow is the road we planned on riding. Nope. Turn around and bomb the hill we just climbed.
I still don't understand why there are just a couple trees left over after a clear cut. Perhaps it's because there was a bird nest in it. But if I were a bird and they chopped down all the trees around my nest, I'd be pretty pissed.
Here is a close-up photo of the freshly laid gravel that make the 700x35 tire look pretty small. While it was still rideable with this tire size, it made it super sketchy on the downhills, created a rough ride and finally caused a pinch flat. For the next day trip I'll either find a fatter tire that still fits in the Travelers-Check frame or just ride my Karate Monkey.
29 miles in a casual 3 1/2 hours. It was so good!
Ride profile here