Sunday, November 11, 2012

Alsea loop permanent (from Eugene OR)

This 211k Randonneurs USA permanent brevet, #1726,  is a loop primarily north and west of Eugene with a fair amount of climbing (you cross the coast range twice) and some lovely views.  The highlight is  South Fork road from near Alsea past Alsea Falls to Alpine, which will be familiar to many local riders from the annual Alpine Century, but there are plenty of other nice views along the way.  The last 25 miles are flat.

Note: Logging trucks use some of these roads (Territorial Road in particular) on weekdays.  I have not encountered them on a Saturday, but I cannot rule that out.  The route is safest and most pleasant on a Sunday.   Consider carefully whether you feel safe sharing a rural road with logging trucks, and schedule your ride accordingly.  

Cues:  (or for plain html)
RUSA permanent reg form:

The Alsea loop begins in south-west Eugene (the shopping center at 29th and Willamette) and pops over the valley rim on Lorane Highway, on the way west/south-west way to the tiny town of Crow.  Stop at the tiny Crow Market for a bite and to have your brevet card signed or get a receipt.  There is a port-a-potty outside, and despite the sign you may be permitted to use the restroom inside (ask nicely).

From Crow it is almost a straight shot north on Territorial Road to Monroe.  You will pass through the conjoined towns of Veneta and Elmira as you cross Highway 26, and will find supermarkets and other services there if you need them.  The little stretch of Applegate Trail keeps your time on the busy Highway 36 to a minimum before you are back on Territorial.   Territorial Highway merges into Highway 99 just at the south end of Monroe, where your second control is.  The Dari Mart in Monroe has restrooms and hot as well as cold food.  This is your last store until mile 72, so fill those bottles.

Just north of Monroe, you turn left onto Alpine Cutoff Road (watch the tracks!) and work your way west to Bellfountain Road, where on a Saturday or Sunday morning you are likely to meet Corvallis area cyclists out for a weekend ride.  Left on Decker, a little south of Philomath, and soon the climbing fun begins.   There is more climbing in store as you turn west (left) on highway 34.  You'll summit at the turnoff to Mary's Peak, the highest point in the coast range, but on highway 34 the road summit is only 1200 feet.  Then it's a long, fast descent, followed by several miles of flat to Alsea.

Stop at John-Boy's Market in Alsea to have your brevet card signed and/or get a receipt.  There is a restroom in the back of the store, and they have hot food. You can sit at the table inside, or on the bench out front, where you're likely to strike up a conversation with an Alsea local.

Just beyond John-Boy's Market, at the Post Office, you'll turn left on Alsea-Deadwood highway, and just a mile south you'll turn left again onto South Fork Road, toward Alsea Falls.  One of the first sights on South Fork is the Alsea Acres goat farm, which makes wonderful chevre (goat cheese), available at the Eugene Farmers' Market on Saturdays in summer.   Then you'll start climbing back over the coast range, but it's not as steep as the climb from east to west.   Alsea Falls is worth a short stop.   When you summit, the road turns steeply downward.  This is a screaming descent ... do be careful in the curves.  When you level out again, you're almost to Alpine, and soon on you're way back to Monroe (not a control on the return).   The climbing is almost over.  Monroe is your last chance for restrooms with running water for quite a while, so use them if you can.

From Monroe you retrace your route  a few miles back on Territorial, but this time you'll turn right on Ferguson, and which will bend south and take you past the Long Tom Grange.  This is an active Grange that hosts the Daffodil Festival each spring, and is locally famous for  fund-raising with its "Men of the Long Tom Grange" calendar.  Stop at the grange for an information control.  Just a little beyond, you'll turn left on Turnbow, and do your last little bit of climbing for the day.  Are those llamas or alpacas on the right?

The descent on Turnbow takes you to High Pass road, where you turn left (east) toward Junction City.   Now it's flat and pretty straight and, frankly, pretty boring compared to what you've been through ... sorry, can't be helped.   Before Junction City you'll turn right on Dorsey Lane, which looks too small to possibly be on the way to anywhere, but it really is on the way to Alvadore. And maybe Alvadore isn't anywhere, but there are a couple convenience stores catering to visitors to Fern Ridge Reservoir, and you should stop at one of them to get a receipt.

More flat ... I've tried to avoid routing you much along the busy Clear Lake road, but you'll have to endure half a mile of that shoulder before you turn right again onto Fir Butte, which takes you to Royal, which takes you to the beginning of the Fern Ridge Bicycle Path, at the intersection of Royal with Greenhill Road (just several yards south on Greenhill).  Now this is more like it ... a nice separated multi-use path all the way back into Eugene.   Where the path to Roosevelt splits off to the left, you bear right (crossing the canal) toward down town.  Watch for pedestrians and runners, and keep an eye out for heron and cranes along the canal.

You come off the Fern Ridge path just past Chambers street, across the canal on a little bridge, and then across a larger bridge that crosses 18th Ave and through the disc golf course, ending in a school parking lot.  Work your way left through the parking lot to a path that takes you out to Polk Street, then follow cues to work your way back to the starting point at 29th and Willamette.  In addition to the food establishments in the shopping center, there are food and restrooms in Market of Choice, the large grocery store.