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Beach the Reach
On August 19, 2007, we rode Beach the Reach, the reverse of a classic Portland area spring group ride, in 5:10 hours, averaging 19.1 mph. This ride is fast, and smooth, and rolls without issue for one-hundred miles straight. It’s a century’s century. The weather was clean and conducive to outdoor work. The mood matched the terrain – strong, quiet and honest like the farms and farmers we labored through all day. Flocks of swallows flew past us, lead us out and dropped us, demonstrating their superior speed and formation several times.
Start at Migrations Espresso & Books across the street from the Pacific Ocean. They open early and put too many shots in their drinks. Nod to the Pacific and move southeast through town and pick up Brooten, a three-mile long and mostly pleasant road that ends at the 101. Take the 101 south for less than a mile to Little Nestucca River Road. There you head east through the mouth of a river valley, now wide, flat and earthy, and covered by grass and cows. You roll alongside the river for several miles. Before long, you notice the hills, suddenly bigger and more serious than before, closing in on both sides of the valley. The hills meet at a woody apex ahead, where you, the road and the river disappear into the Coast Range.
It’s instantly cooler, shadier and wetter. The road begins to climb but you’re only just barely aware of it. You cross the river several times on big old-fashioned wooden and metal one-lane bridges. For several miles of fresh springs running down the hillside on your right, the river passing on your right and millions of trees everywhere else, you climb, if you can call it that, to the Pass. At 670 feet, the only thing that makes this a Pass is the elevation sign to your right that says it’s so. Your way down the east side of the range is a super fast, if you pedal, and impossibly long descent that almost never starts and only just barely ends – it feels like you drop more than you gained, which is unlikely knowing that you started at sea level.
Eventually you get to the 18 and the only unpleasant section of the ride, which lasts a little less than three miles. A continuous line of rectangular holes cut into the pavement (designed to wake wayward drivers with a jolt) make navigating and passing while in the shoulder brutal. In about a mile, you come upon the Fast Trip Gas Station, a favorite place to stop and check in with your water and food realities. The hot case is a fried wonder.
For the next 30 miles, you roll through a series of small rural townships, like Sheridan, that have gas stations, markets, post offices, high schools, Mexican restaurants, antique shops and not much else. The countryside is fairly flat and there’s little traffic. Everything arrives slowly from the eastern horizon—fields, big bends in the road, mile-plus straight-aways, dips, farms and big silos. You notice rows, rows of fields, crops, trees, poles. It’s as though everything here “comes” in rows.
Fifty miles in, you pass through Amity, home of the Amity Market and Deli. The deli features death metal, pizza and sandwiches. Eat lunch. Keep riding. Eventually, shortly after Amity and Dayton, the farms turn to orchards and the terrain begins to roll bigger and hillier. North Valley Road, Ribbon Ridge and Bell Road are noteworthy, offering big ups, downs and more views of rows.
Bell Road turns to Mountain Home Road and you climb for the first time. It’s short and sweet and steep, and at the top, you realize you’ve been gaining elevation for some time now. The view is that good. You can see down all the way into the massive valley that stretches from the north to the east. To the south is a mixture of rolling hills, orchards and vineyards—more rows. Start heading down and enjoy the nice views and turns before plummeting into the woods. The bottom feels secluded and private until you pop out into the weird suburban remix of farmland that continues almost all the way into town.
The next twenty miles are fast and roll by quickly enough. It’s still pretty in spots and the actual ride and road conditions stay solid for the duration, almost. Eventually you make your way to Scholls Ferry Road, which brings you into Beaverton over one last big-ass hill. On the other side are four or five miles of developments, strip malls and massive intersections. You make your way to the Beaverton Train Station where you wait for the light rail to take you into Portland for seventy-five cents. It takes less than twenty minutes to get to the Goose Hollow stop, the first in Portland proper. The train comes every fifteen minutes. You can easily ride, if you wish, all the way back to Portland in less than ten miles taking any number of routes. If you’re willing to climb.