After a restless night wimping out over an attack from Yogi Bear I left the campground at 7 am shouting “Hey-a Boo Boo” to escape the egregious toll from Ranger Smith. Now, normally I wouldn’t mind paying to camp. The fee goes to upkeeping the campgrounds and protecting the neighboring forests, but when a campsite costs a bicyclist $19 I put up my kickstand and boogie.
Because of the waterfalls in the area, when I left it was extremely foggy in the morning. After I climbed my way out of Silver Falls State Park I was situated on a peak overlooking hidden farmlands shrouded in mist. I bombed down a winding road to join the farms in the valley. Once down there I came upon a wondrous sight. Sorry about that last sentence. I am watching “Legend” with my friend, Lo, and Tom Cruise’s sparkling mail has got me all mixed up in the head. A blue sky peeked through clouds over yellow fields in the lower folds of the valley, green christmas tree farms on the sloping hills, clumps of fog trapped in pockets of the crests, and thick black patches of land speckled amongst the fields. Such a stark and contrasting landscape. It was pure joy to pedal through it all.
I dropped down into Scio, which is the covered bridge capital of the West. At least that’s what the signs say. Last year I tried to ride from Portland to Eugene in one day and got lost outside the town while looking at those damn, unnecessary pretty bridges and had to have a friend come rescue me with his car. This time, armed with a map I pedaled triumphantly atop Sir Norte and escaped the curious turns of Gilkey Road and rode on to Albany.
In Albany I pedaled about for a bit looking for a place to eat when I came upon a Pho restaurant. To those timid tasters out there, pho is a delicious Vietnamese beef noodle soup with a broth seasoned with coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, anise, fennel and clove. Bits of strange meat like soft tendon, well-done flank, fat brisket, or my personal favorite: tripe, are placed in the broth and cook while you sprinkle in fresh basil, bean sprouts, sliced jalapeno and lime juice. I have tried many restaurants’ take on the dish but none tops Pho Hung in Portland. Although it was not nearly as good as Pho Hung I was pleasantly shocked to find pho in Albany and so enjoyed a bowl.
In the middle of my meal a man approached me and asked how’s the soup. Before I could finish an honest answer he slapped his helmet on the table and and joined me. I’ve never had someone ask to join me, let alone do so but Ted Shredd and I was glad he did. He was a jovial man in his fifties who had more spunk and wit than most of my cleverest friends. He is on tour from Vancouver, BC on his way down to LA. He has got the coolest set-up to document his travels. With mirrors on both edges of his handlebars he positions one to check the road and the other to focus on himself. Its not that he is vain, but rather he has a video camera mounted onto his handlebars and pointed at the mirror so he can talk to it while he rides. This is pure genius. While on a tour you have innumerable zen moments where discover the secret of relationships, yourself, the universe, the full order of pi, aerodynamics, quantum physics, American politics, foreign languages, basketball statistics, cake baking, and haircuts. He also uses the camera to document all of the fun he is researching along his journey.
Although we were both headed to Eugene we split paths. He went on to ride 99 while I wanted to hunt for a more carfree route. And boy did I find it. On the west side of I-5 are the roads Tangent Loop, Powerline and Boundary. I was passed maybe three times from Albany all the way to Eugene. It was magnificent. While I was on these roads I came up with the name, Sir Norte. I kept seeing signs that said South. It made me realize that I won’t be heading North for awhile and should get used to seeing the word. But then, on my return trip I’ll see nothing but North. Hence, Sir Norte. The scenery of these roads was plain, but there was a crazy tailwind that helped me average around 20-25 mph. I left Silver Falls at 7 am and got into Eugene at 2:30 pm. With the extra time I had I took a massive two hour nap (after eating some ice cream, of course). I met up with my friend, KW Pluckett, who happened to be in town taking a hiatus from his West Coast busking tour. We went to play polo, which thankfully is finally revived.
In Eugene, I said goodbye to friends for two days by making cairns and swimming in the Willamette, jamming with pals, and watching the Ducks’ season-opener. It was the quintessential Eugene trip and the perfect way to say goodbye. It was strange to think that I won’t be returning for a very long time, for it is southward ho and nothing mo’!
Miles of the Day: 86.7 miles
Goals scored in Polo: 3
Dinner Eaten: 0
Beers Consumed: 8