Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Friday, February 10, 2012

A great bike ride in the Portland Oregon area - the Banks Vernonia State Trail

Originally posted 6-22-2011

Last Saturday we were in Oregon, and the greater Portland area really showed off for us.  The skies were mostly sunny, the weather was warm enough to bike in t-shirts, and we hit the Banks Vernonia State Trail.  It was fantastic!  

Here's link to a web page about the Banks-Vernonia State Trail from the Oregon State Parks Department:

Here's a link that will take you to a .PDF map of the entire route.

This is a rails to trails route, and it was a pleasure to ride.  The entire route was asphalt, with bark chip siding along some portions.  The route is open to all non-motorized users: bikes, hikers, horses...

Here's our crew as we got ready to set out.  We started at the Manning trail head, just off of Highway 26, northwest of Forest Grove, OR.

Our biking crew was (L-R) Grant, Matt, my nephew Ryan, Kat, and me.  Kat's twin sister, Katie was taking the photo.  So, I guess this was our "before" photo, because there was an "after" though there's no shot of that.  More on that later.

The route has a gentle uphill grade as you head northwest away from the Manning trail head.  About a mile after we started though, we ran into a snag.  It looked like a small bridge needed to be repaired, and there was a construction crew there working on the trail, so we had to turn around and head back to the vehicles.  We reloaded our bikes and drove to the Buxton rail head and continued our ride.

Here are Grant and Matt, with Kat in the background.  Note the chip-covered path alongside the asphalt trail.  We saw a number of people riding horses along the side track.

Coming from Idaho, this trail looked, and was, completely lush and green....even primordial!  The ferns covering the ground, and the lichens on the trees were awesome!

We also went over a couple of converted train trestles like this one.  The State Parks Department really outdid themselves on this one!

As the trail crosses the road you will sometimes be treated by scenes like this one near the Tophill trail head.  Oregon is beautiful (but if you live there you already knew that).  And I don't live there, but I already knew that, too!  

OK, now for the rest of the story...Kat and I were riding side-by-side while we were on our way back to the trail head where we started.  While I was pedaling, the chain missed a tooth on the front sprocket of my bike and slipped off.  Ka-CHUNG!  I was still doing OK, but Kat looked over, and I looked over at her, and our bikes accidentally drifted into each other.  My front tire got tangled up with something on her bike, and my handle bars and front tire flipped sideways.  I was pitched clear over the handle bars, landing in a heap on the asphalt.  

The palms of my hands hit first, then my chin (Wham!), and then my forehead (Bam!).  I thought for sure that I'd split my chin wide open and that I'd need a number of stitches.  

Luckily my bike was still rideable, so we went on down to the trail head.  I got patched up temporarily there, and once the entire crew made it back we drove back to town.  We went to an Emergi-Care/Doctors on Duty kind of place, and they took a look at me and told me that steri-strips would do the job - no need for stitches.  Luckily, I was wearing a bike helmet.  That apparently took the brunt of the force of impact when my head hit.  It certainly saved me a trip to the emergency room, and maybe even a stay in the hospital.

So, yes, we had a memorable ride with a memorable ending.  But even so, I'd be happy to go back there again sometime.

This is not a killer's one the whole family could enjoy.  You can go as far and as fast (or slow) as you want.  And the scenery is fantastic!  I highly recommend the Banks-Vernonia Trail.  Cheers!

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