Next Saturday, November 3, 2007, is the Oregon Randonneurs' Verboort Sausage Populaire. Our fearless leader, Susan France, had put out a call for volunteers to staff the first "control," which would be at Longbottom Coffee in Hillsboro, and to pre-ride the course.
I considered the following factors: (1) the weather on October 27, the day set for a pre-ride, was supposed to be sunny and dry; (2) it was not guaranteed the weather on November 3 would ALSO be sunny (last year the ride took place in monsoon conditions); (3) I don't eat sausage; and (4) I do eat scones, and those at Longbottom are gigantic and delicious. Let's just say the decision to volunteer was not a tough one.
Bill Alsup also volunteered, and he and I agreed to set out from the start point at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove at 8:30 AM on Saturday. My friend Steve asked if he could tag along.
The three of us got to the Grand Lodge in plenty of time for the 8:30 start, but then Steve starting having second thoughts about his rear tire. As well he should have:
After Bill and I stopped laughing, Bill offered Steve a tire off a spare wheel he had in his car. A new tire, some air (hurray for the Topeak Road Morph!) and we were ready to go and only 10 minutes behind schedule.
It was COLD COLD COLD at 8:40, but bright enough for sunglasses. I hadn't bothered to put on or bring sunscreen - I paid for that later. I started off the ride wearing tights under riding knickers, a wool jersey, arm warmers, my Showers Pass jacket, a wool skull cap, wool socks, and Descente "Wombat" gloves. That combination was just right until about 10 AM, at which point I stripped of the arm warmers. By the end of the ride I had unzipped my jacket, but was never too cold or too warm.
The first section of the ride took us from Forest Grove to Hillsboro. It's a left turn out of the parking lot onto Highway 47, which can sometimes take some time to negotiate - traffic there is a bit unpredictable. The route follows 47 for just a few blocks and then turns right onto Martin. Martin is a good road, but heavily traveled. There are two roundabouts on it, which are always fun. After the second roundabout, we ended up on Cornelius-Schefflin Road, which can also be pretty busy. There's a left turn off C-S into Long Road, which is not too difficult, but I get nervous making it now because a member of my cycling club was killed by a reckless driver making that turn last spring.
Long Road itself is quite pleasant. Pretty and quiet, especially in the early morning, with decent chip-seal. A few turns onto a couple more quiet roads, and then a fairly long stretch on Evergreen to the first control at Longbottom Coffee. Evergreen is busy, and there are a couple of intersections where I would advise taking the lane to avoid a right hook, but the bike lane is wide and usually pretty clean. I love Longbottom, but the counter service can be sort of slow when you are on a timed ride. Hence the value of a staffed control. On the other hand, the scones are well worth the wait in line . . . .
From Longbottom, we headed out toward the town of North Plains (if you haven't been to the North Plains market recently, it's worth a stop to just to see its amazing makeover), and then on to Dairy Creek Road. Dairy Creek Road is a really lovely cycling road. There's just the smallest of an uphill grade - just enough to make you wonder if you have a flat tire because the road LOOKS flat, but you sure are going slowly.
My only gripe about Dairy Creek is that for a road that eventually dead ends, there is an awful lot of large truck traffic on it. On Saturday, we were almost smooshed by a semi when its driver decided to swing out wide to pass the group of cyclists in his lane. It was nice of him to give them room, except for the fact that he almost killed us in the process of swinging into OUR lane.
At the end of Dairy Creek Road is Snoozeville, or "Snooseville" as a poster to one of my listservs insists. (See the comment below as well and let the debate begin!) The route goes left there onto Fern Flat Road for about half a mile, to the second control. There's a rumour that there will be hot drinks and edible goodies there on the 3rd . . . Fern Flat is also quite pretty.
After stopping for pictures at Fern Flat, we turned around and headed back down (and it really is down) Dairy Creek to Mountaindale, where we turned right and headed on to the town of Banks and the third control at Cedar Canyon, crossing Hwy 26 at "Frogger Junction" along the way. Heading into Banks, the route again follows Hwy 47 for a short stretch, but the shoulders are wide enough that the heavy traffic is not too scary. Turning left to get to Cedar Canyon can be a bit tricky, though.
Cedar Canyon is another one of my favorite cycling roads. A nice gentle climb, followed by some minor rollers for about 3 miles. The trees are in full leaf-peeper fall foliage mode.
The Cedar Canyon info control (and no, I am not giving away the answer) is the last one before the end. Question answered, riders will make a left turn onto Hwy 6, which again can be pretty tricky. Fortunately, the right turn onto Stafford is only about a mile away. After the turn onto Stafford, the route goes uphill for about half a mile, followed by a really fun (at least I think so) descent, with lots of wide corners and hairpins. In dry weather it's a hoot. In wet weather, not so much. Finally, the route once again crosses Hwy 47 and, less than a mile later, ends at Visitation Parish in Verboort, where it will be a sausage free-for-all (okay $15-for-all). Of course, a week before the festival, they were still busy stuffing the sausage so we didn't see any . . . .
Need more info about the Populaire?
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Verboort Sausage Mania