Distance: 35-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 1980 ft
The network of roads southwest of Eugene is an amazing cycling resource. Anywhere south of Hwy 126, west of Hwy 5, almost every road is good riding.
It’s all pretty much the same sort of thing: rolling gently through open, postcard-pretty meadows and ranch-dotted valleys, along wooded streams, and over mellow hills, on moderate-sized, relatively untrafficked roads with excellent pavement. Not an ugly mile to be found. No killer climbs. Few busy highways to avoid. Courteous drivers. No litter. No broken glass. No drama.
It’s all so pleasant, and all so the same, it’s almost a waste of time to designate a particular route. But not quite. Some roads are duller than others. Some are busier. So here’s a lollipop that I consider the cream of the area’s roads, excluding Siuslaw River Road, which is on a whole other, higher, plane and which you should ride first.
It’s an easy ride—check that elevation gain-to-distance ratio. You will climb twice—a moderate, extended climb on Mcbeth Rd. and a short, easy climb up Briggs Hill Rd., which is a climb-and-descend inverted V. Not surprisingly, you also get two noticeable descents, a ripping descent on Fox Hollow Rd. and a very short drop on the back side of the Briggs Hill summit.
(To see the map in a more user-friendly format, clip on the drop-down menu in the RWGPS box in the upper R and select “map.”)
Begin in the tiny town of Lorane, which is a quaint country grocery store and a few houses. It’s also the start/end point of the Siuslaw River Rd. ride and the Cottage Grove-Lorane Rd. ride (in the Adding Miles section of the Siuslaw ride), which means you can do one of the three rides, then roll without interruption into either of the other two, or both.
Ride north on Territorial Hwy, which sounds like a grand thoroughfare but is in fact a small two-lane without shoulder. It’s the main north-south artery for travel west of Hwy 5, so some people find it too trafficky, but I’ve never had a problem and the contour is very sweet. Ride to the 3-way intersection called Gillespie Corners (actually signed that way on the other road, Lorane Hwy) and continue straight on to Briggs Hill Rd. on your R.
There are two kinds of terrain in this area, rolling, open farm/grassland and wooded hill, and this leg from Gillespie to Briggs is the former. Briggs Hill Rd. is the latter—a tidy, almost manicured road up to a small summit and down the other side through vineyards and pretty woods.
Turn R on Spencer Creek Rd., which is all more open grassland and the nearest thing to boring on the route. The next intersection is confusing because both roads change their names there—the crossing road is Bailey Hill Rd. to your L and Lorane Highway to your R, and straight ahead Spencer Creek becomes Lorane Hwy—but it doesn’t matter because I don’t think there’s any signage there anyway. Go straight onto Lorane, and turn R. on McBeth.
McBeth and Fox Hollow are my favorite part of the ride and the most exciting. McBeth is almost entirely up, 2+ miles of pretty woods and moderate climbing (5-7%) that you will notice. When McBeth dead-ends, take Fox Hollow Rd. to the R and discover an unexpectedly exhilarating descent as you give back all the elevation you gained on McBeth, then descend mildly to Lorane Hwy. Take Lorane to the L. back to Gillespie Corners. This leg is typically fairly busy shoulder riding, but it’s short and mostly a gentle downhill and it goes by what I think is the prettiest meadow in the area.
At Gillespie go L and retrace your steps back to Lorane.
Shortening the ride: Omit the lollipop stem. Super-short: Ride McBeth/Fox Hollow as an out-and-back.
Adding Miles: Obviously, do Siuslaw River Rd.,which begins where our ride ends. The Adding Miles section of that ride has extensive suggestions for additional riding in the area. The handiest of them: Cottage Grove-Lorane Road is a sweet jog that also begins in Lorane, where our ride ends.