The Willamette Valley wine country is an national darling—a well earned status, no doubt. But the bike tourist/oenophile in me thought it was about time to turn my ‘eye of Sauron’ to the lesser known Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon, a place that my touring partner and co-conspirator Julianna calls the “Wild West of Oregon wine.”
Our mini-bike tour loop from Ashland multi-tasked several things: I held a fabulous book event at Standing Stone Brewery (thanks, SSB!); I scouted a tour for the second edition of Cycling Sojourner (fingers crossed!); and I answered the demand of my devilish accomplice and virgin cycle tourist, Julianna, when she exclaimed, “Take me on a tour!” (Princesa!)
I will share the tour highlights with you.
Found: Beginner’s Tour in Oregon
Oregon has an inordinate amount of luscious cycling opportunities. Yet, beautiful beginner tours are less abundant. The Southern Oregon tour where I dragged Julianna was cherry: low mileages, pastoral landscapes occasionally punctuated with snow-capped mountains in the distance, interesting wine tasting stops, orchards, and options for overnight lodging. If you’re trying to seduce someone on the fence to come bike touring with you, this is a stellar option.
Don’t get me started. I love Ashland. Between the Shakespeare Festival, outdoor fanatics, great food, and stellar cycling, this town shines. Plus, the bicycle university, the United Bicycle Institute, is there. As an alum, it was awesome to get a chance to see their fabulous new set up. They are rocking it!
It was a pleasure to stay in this historic hamlet that totally overindulges in outdoor activities, wine, B&B’s, summer festivals, and tasty vittles. You won’t need to twist my arm to go back to Jacksonville. The Touvelle House was generous enough to host the Cycling Sojourner crew. This was fortuitous for Julianna, a Craftsman era junky. She ooed and awed over each architectural flare and antique splendor (there were many). Staying at the Touvelle House was a boon for me because 1) their beds were pillowy euphoria and 2) the owners let me play with Lewis and Clark, their ADORABLE pugs. Gary and Tim were hosts with the most.
I heart the Bear Creek Greenway. This 21-mile multi-use path that connects Ashland to Central Point is a huge benefit to the communities it touches, both from the transportation and recreation perspective. You can take the BCG partway when cycling towards Jacksonville from Ashland. Otherwise, you can take scenic, roller coastery backroads that wind you past grazing horses, farm properties adorned with rose bushes, and a patchwork of forested lands.
After talking to a number of weathered Ashland cyclists, we were convinced into doing a day ride from Jacksonville instead of moving on each day of our three-day tour. The Ashlandites were right on. The loop from Jacksonville around Woodrat Mountain was a dollop of cycling ambrosia with low traffic roads surrounded by sylvan canopies, mountain vistas, wineries along the way, and enough up and downs to make it interesting without handing you your toosh. The last bit on Hwy 238 was more trafficked, but that was a quick blip in the day.
More to come on this in the second edition of Cycling Sojourner. I know you’re on the edge of your seat. For now, get you the first one. Hawt.