Eugene to Corvallis
Up early, I grabbed some coffee and did some work (the beauty of being a web designer) that had arrived in my inbox. Hearing the V-Twin start up amidst a conversation out front I grabbed my coffee and headed to the porch because, you know, motorcycle. The Canadian with the Strom was packed and heading off. Over the next hour, I came outside a few times keeping my eyes to the sky hoping for the sun to do it's job and warm things up enough for me to head out.
The beauty of bringing only summer clothes is lack of luggage necessary to haul it around. The downside is being that your life is half lizard needed the air and sun to keep you warm.
On the Road Again
Heading west out of town it took a few traffic lights, but soon I found myself in a much more country setting with large open areas. I grabbed some gas and after a few more miles, I found my turn off to begin heading north to a very familiar Hwy 36. A construction zone later and quickly dispatching a couple trucks to give myself some nice clear road I found myself enjoying the Suzuki's feel on these largely smooth roads. Hwy 36 winds around through farmland, a small lake (Triangle lake) and into the hills. It's actually a nice road with some good corners that one can really carve. I've always ridden it West to East (heading home from the coast) so today was a new look.
As I rolled up to the Hwy 126 junction, I had the thought that 36 went by a lot more quickly than I expected, which is a good sign. I headed West to Florence and hit a McD's to take a quick break and do some more work as needed.
Break Time Over
I put everything away and hopped back onto Hwy 101 north out of town. This section, from here to Lincoln City, is some of the best of the Oregon coast both in the views and road itself. Just South of Cannon Beach is also very good, but I'm not going that far today. Other places along 101 can be through town and away from the beach, but along here you can find some pretty nice places to stop.
Trying to not be a spoiled brat (it's easy to think "seen it" and to keep riding if you get to come to the coast regularly), I pull over a couple of times and hop off a minute and soak it in.
Say Goodbye to the Nice Coastline
At Waldport I head inland along Hwy 34, which is one of the best all around Hwys in Western Oregon. It zips in and out among the trees, small towns and farms as it follows the contours of the land. Pavement is fantastic for the most part and I've never had a ton of vehicles to ruin the experience for me. It is also home to the best (not exaggerating) 2-3 minutes of road I've ever ridden. I'm not saying only 2-3 minutes is good, I am saying there is a section (much closer to Philomath just East of Mary's Peak that is the BEST section of road I've ridden bar none...
Of course that brings up a lot of questions of how one judges a road and which aspects have what weight in the voting process (corners vs length vs road surface vs traffic vs overall speed, etc). This section is just a joy to ride. Hit it as hard as you dare for the level of thrill/risk you're ready to accept. The road will return it to you with interest.
But I Digress
Before we get to that section there is a lot of great riding to come. I turn south at 5 Rivers Rd which will continue 9 miles to one of Oregon's covered bridges if you stay on it. If you're keep count that would be the third one this trip, but today I am going to turn off before I get there.
NOTE: If you're interested in the bridge, here is a video I did a while back:
Why didn't I fill up?
I head south along the twisting road until I come to Lobster Valley Rd. About a mile down the road, I start to have that nagging, "Why didn't you get gas when you could?" feeling. There is nothing back here and I was hitting a brand new road so didn't really know where I was going and how far it might be to the next gas station let alone if I make a wrong turn. I was pretty sure I have enough mileage left based upon the trip meter, but the first bars disappear quickly and I haven't ridden the Suzuki on a trip like this for a very long time so in the back of my mind I start to wonder if I should start to ride a little more eco mode than I normally prefer. I don't ride super slowly, mind you, but rather more smoothly and keep it up a gear while cruising the straight bits.
This new road, Lobster Valley Rd, treated me to some really great farms, fields and winding curves along with some elevation changes. Road was good to pretty good, but it's not perfect nor is is so bad you need to slow down to survive it. Better than expected for a road less traveled like this one is. Absolutely coming back to this road next time I'm down here.
After I start into the hills again, I start to see a few more cars and after a while I pop back out onto Hwy 34 and continue East so I know where I am which always brings a certain amount of comfort. I'm still not sure where gas is precisely, but I am sure I'll make it at this point because the gas gauge still has a couple bars.
I find the first little town with gas but the station looked closed. I pulled in anyway and saw a little sign (no, I was not smart enough to take a pic of it) that said, inquire across the street (at the general store). I walked across the street and a nice young woman brought me back across and started the pump for me.
We chat about her husband wanting a sporty bike, but how she wants something with a better pillion seat and I tell her what to say to try and convince him to make the switch to something more "sensible."
As I fill up, she informs me of the upcoming twisty section of road. That done, I mount up and continue on my way. It always feel good to be fueled up knowing you got a couple hundred miles if you need it.
Finally got Here
For a while I've been looking at Mary's Peak on my map. I just haven't made the right loop to get here until now. Mary's peak is a paid park at the top, but there are miles of winding curvy road before then. Tally ho!
It reminds me a lot of the Windy Ridge access off NF-25 (on the skirts of Mt St Helens). Good road surface, great curves but a bit of gravel where longer vehicles cut the corners.
I climb up away from the hwy until I see a gate ahead sign where I pull off into a parking area to take in the view and eat a snack.
Pure Riding Bliss
Back down to 34 I realize what's next up for the day and get a big grin on my face. I'm heading toward the best 2-3 minutes of road I've every ridden bar none. I'm not joking. It's the most glorious complex of corners matched with perfect pavement you can find anywhere. I only wish it was a lot longer, but beggars and choosing and all that. It's the kind of section (especially heading East/downhill) that demands your attention, but rewards you for every correct thing you do. Miss your braking point, turn in late or early and you know it. Get it all put together and you feel like the wannabe king.
I'm a sporty speed touring kind of guy, so I ride hard, but never over the limit. I can imagine the locals with sport bikes tear through here and turn around and do again a few times every weekend as this section of road is only a handful of miles outside Philomath.
I wasn't all setup to film, but had my camera. Forgive the sound. I have another full review of 34 that has more of the road I did a while back on my Rockster.
Another Day Done
I rolled through Philomath into Corvallis to try and find a cheaper hotel (I could only find one the same price as the one in Philomath). I was hot and tired so took it thinking the whole time I could have stayed closer to where I was going tomorrow, but it was just down the street from a pretty good restaurant and was clean enough. I walked down and had a pretty good burger for a lot less money than I expected, so I'll call it a win.