Wednesday, August 16, 2006

7/9/2005 -- Longview Loop, 120 miles

I've done this ride twice, most recently on the first day of Seattle to Portland (StP) in 2005. After training hard all spring, my friend Dave was going to do StP in one day for the first time. My friend Carolyn and I wanted to give him some encouragement by riding the last 50 miles or so with him, or by at least saying hi to him at the Lexington rest stop. So on a cool July morning, we saddled up the Tour Easies and headed north.

The first half of this ride, the northbound leg to Longview, was another piece of map-inspiration. After a particularly unpleasant experience on Highway 30, I wondered if there was a reasonably direct alternate route between Portland and Longview. A little digging in Google maps gave me a good candidate on the Washington side, so in early spring of 2005, I checked it out. Then Carolyn and I refined it a little bit when we did this ride.

We started off by going across the I-5 bridge and straight up Columbia Street for a couple miles. Then we jogged over to Hazel Dell, and stayed on that for a while, and then finally over to highway 99. As you might guess, 99 isn't that great a road, but at least has a bike lane, and is pretty much par for the course for suburban riding.

Eventually, we cut over one more time to 29th St., zoomed down a big hill, and found ourselves out in the country. At this point the scenery took a big change for the better -- farmland, pastures, forests, and gently rolling hills all the way into La Center. In La Center, we pedaled past the tacky casinos, briefly got on the RACC route, but in reverse, and continued on the Old Pacific Highway towards Woodland.

That stretch of the Old Pacific Highway winds on the side of a hill through lush greenery, which reduces nearby I-5 to a mere rumor. Before we knew it, we had crossed the Lewis River and entered Woodland. We passed through Woodland efficiently, taking an I-5 frontage road, and then after a couple turns, found ourselves on Green Mountain Road.

Green Mountain Road is appropriately named. It goes up a mountain, and a fairly steep one at that. It's about 3 miles and change of tough grades to the top. Fortunately, the road was very quiet, and when we reached the summit, we were treated to a spectacular and unusual view of the lower Columbia River. The descent down the other side was quick and twisty, and deposited us onto Cloverdale Road. Cloverdale Road rolled into Kalama through some pretty tree-covered hillsides with small farms nestled in them, but we heard a bit more of I-5 in this stretch.

We stopped in Kalama for a short break, and learned about that town's Polynesian(!) origins. Then we pressed on for Longview on more low-traffic roads, and though the scenery wasn't quite as nice as before, we did cross an intriguing looking road a couple miles out of Kalama that seemed to follow the Kalama River up towards Mt. St. Helens, and which promised some potential bike-camping opportunities.

Traffic got gradually denser until the interchange with 432 and I-5. At that junction, we got on the on-ramp for I-5 to Seattle, but at the last minute turned off on Kelso Dr. From there, it was a fairly trivial matter to get into downtown Longview, and north to the big StP rest stop at Lexington.

At Lexington, we soon met up with our friends Bill Phillips, Rand Milam, and Rand's brother Kip, and had a great time socializing with them. Carolyn and I realized that Dave was probably still a good ways from Longview, and I had to get home to take a phone call that I was expecting from a friend who was living in New Zealand, so we left the rest stop with Bill and Rand.

The rest of the ride was just following the StP route home. Go through Longview, cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge, and get on Highway 30 all the way into town. Not a terrible ride -- pretty nice scenery, and certainly more fun and easier with 2000 other cyclists on the road, but also still more traffic than we had had to contend with for the first half of the trip.

Here is a link to the route on the gmaps pedometer.


Blogger John said...

I'm new to blogs I guess so not sure how this works. I have a question more than a comment. I would like to know why you would choose to change your fork to one that has a disk brake on it instead of just use a fork with the regular brakes on it plus your Son hub? Isn't there a possibility of having more trouble with disk ( I assume yours is mechanical) brakes than calipers? If the answer is already in your blog, I haven't found it thanks for taking the time.


2:55 PM  
Blogger John said...

Hi again... I forgot to leave an email in case you will answer my question...

Thank you!

7:15 PM  

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