Words: Guest Author | Date:
On August 18, 2007, we rode Nestucca in 6:01 hours, averaging 18.1 mph. The weather was fantastic, overcast and quiet in the morning, a little cool and foggy on the summit but sunny and clear by the afternoon. This route is rural and remote with little noise or distraction. There’s a welcome and palpable change in the air once you’re over the Coast Range and reeling in the beach.
Meet at the Stumptown in the Ace. Drink coffee. When the ride starts you immediately cross Burnside and roll quickly into and out of the Pearl, making your way to Lovejoy and Thompson for climb number one, a solid blue-collar climb that takes 25 minutes tops and rises about 800 feet through two tunnels, a number of turns and lots of green. The last 700 yards are a straight sprint finish with a consistent grade to measure. At the top, roll straight over Skyline and drop directly, and regretfully, into Beaverton. The descent is pleasant if you look straight ahead and zone-out on the shallow but driving S-turns. Thompson changes to West Union, a short, safe and straight shot through the suburbs.
At mile 18 everything improves suddenly and completely. The road begins to roll and twist and move. Llamas, cows and tractors follow your progress along roads with good shoulders and no traffic. The Coast Range is in front of you and the West Hills behind you, and the scenery is mostly green with squares of brown-on-brown plaid everywhere you look.
Hillsboro happens at 3o miles. The next five miles feature lowered Hondas, horse trailers, Mexican and Chinese restaurants, and mega marts. On the far side of town, you find Fern Hill Road which takes you to Spring Hill Road. Both are delicious and take you climbing, rolling, pulsing, twisting, skirting and soaring westward across the countryside. You see orchards, farms, wooded hillsides, defunct dairies, leaning houses, big barns and little barns.
Carlton is the last town for food, water and whatever until the coast. The Carlton Market and Deli has a bathroom, sandwiches, Fig Newtons and cold Coke. The road out of town begins with a dead-straight staircase roller. At the top you drop for the last time, in a long time, to the base of the second and far more impressive climb of the day. The road moves from rolling through brown and tan to grinding up the green and shaded. The Coast Range consistently gets snow, and you’re in logging country, so the road surface is a mess. Massive holes, loose rocks and something worse than chip seal entertain you. This world-class climb goes on forever, with numerous very false summits and double-digit grades. At the top you punch through the forest and confront a perfect view of the next mile-and-a-half climb to the horizon. Seriously.
The pass, one of the highest in the range, is pretty though clearcut in spots. The top rolls along but won’t go down for several miles before you reach the far side. Many miles of fast and blurry green eventually deliver you to the Nestucca River. You rush, mostly downhill, through the forest and along the river for miles, an exhilarating and private ride. The road changes for a minute to gravel and then quickly back again. At this point you level off and the steep hillsides open up to the odd house, farm and pasture as you drop into the Nestucca River Valley.
This almost perfect road takes you to Beaver where you make a left onto the 101 and head south through dairy farms and mobile homes. You ride through the town of Hebo before taking the final turn and last three miles to Pacific City.