Winter Ride Around Canby, Oregon

For the past several years, I have been drawn south to Canby from my Portland home base for winter cycling.

The Willamette River bends in a sharp s-curve at Canby before heading north toward its confluence with the mighty Columbia River.  Its beauty calls to me.  Fall colors, winter which promises spring, and the mesmerizing quiet of the ride offer a compelling contrast to cycling in Portland.

Today, I followed this little town’s cycling loop, rather accidentally.  I’ve ridden here a lot, and have ventured east of town up onto the plateau that sits above the river, and boasts the best of Oregon farm country – hazelnut groves, vegetable crops, and horses, cattle, sheep, and llamas a-plenty.  The basic route depicted above is a totally flat 11 mile loop.  It’s easy to add side trips to your journey, as there’s lots to explore around this sweet little town.

I’ve recently converted my 1980’s custom Meral 650b bicycle to more upright style handlebars.  On today’s ride one of my goals was to evaluate the bike’s ergonomics with the new Velo-Orange Tourist handlebars.

I wasn’t sure how to think about the brake levers for this bike – I wanted to stay true to its French heritage, and resisted purchasing new brake levers for the upright bar.  I finally settled on these black vintage Mafac levers.  I also removed 3 cm of bar material from each bar end of the V-O tourist bars.  I have found that modern upright style bars are generally too wide and long, and without cutting them down can give your bike an out of balance appearance, not to mention being uncomfortable.

To keep the bars free for additional hand positions I opted for stem mounted shifters.  These SunTour ratcheting shifters performed just fine, but I did have to adjust the position of the rear derailleur on down-shifts, whereas upshifts were near perfect.  I may replace these with some stem mounted Simplex Retrofriction shifters once I have a mounting option identified.

Oregon City Falls

The City of Canby sits along the Willamette River, upstream from the falls and locks at the historic town of Oregon City.  Today, the river was swift moving.  Maybe, I was too.

My 1980’s Meral is built with Reynolds 531 tubing, with a fully chromed fork (and with chromed main tubes underneath the dark lavender paint). That, plus converting the bike to 650b has made it one of my most treasured bicycles.  Happy riding in 2019!

Cycling around Canby, Oregon

If you are looking for a peaceful, nature-filled cycling adventure, look no further than Canby, Oregon.  The site of this little town was once a gathering place for Native Americans who enjoyed the local crop of strawberries and used the area as a meeting place.  Canby sits on a plateau above the east bank of the Willamette River.  The Canby Ferry, on the outskirts of the town, is one of those rare cable ferries, and will take you across the river on a tiny conveyance whose maximum load allows for 6 cars and 49 passengers, plus a bicycle or two.

Cycling around Canby is mostly flat, but if you venture out east of Highway 99E you will begin to climb up to another plateau that sits at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range.  For today’s ride, I stayed close to town, and was able to use mostly my highest gears.  In fact, as I was blasting away in my top gear I thought:  Uh oh!  What will it be like on the return trip?  As it turned out, I seemed to have a slightly downhill grade the whole way, and enjoyed spinning leisurely on my Meral.  Many of the town’s back roads have 25 mph speed limits.  I kind of worried about exceeding them!

The town’s website has several bike route maps which you can download.  I printed out all of them for my trip today, but actually ended up just riding where my instincts took me.  One route not to be missed is the Logging Road Trail which leads down to the river.  I took an inviting unmarked path off this trail and ended up at the banks of the Willamette River, after walking the bike through a very muddy section.  I was rewarded with a lovely view of the river, quietly meandering northward toward Portland.

On the way back, I encountered lovely pastures, crop fields at rest, and big horizons.  Seeing these irrigation wheels reminded me of my childhood.  My grandfather was an enthusiast of this “new” technology back in the 1950’s.  Wheel line irrigation is in use today, but was developed many decades earlier.

If you have the opportunity to cycle here, I think you will be delighted by the roads, friendly residents, and the enticing call of the wild.