I occaisionally have the chance to ride with the Oregon Randonneurs and this event fit into my schedule pretty well this year. I think this ride may have at one time been called the Covered Bridges 400 which is a good name as there were many covered bridges on this ride. I am not exactly sure what the name “Eden’s Gate” is in reference to.


The ride started in Wilsonville Oregon and headed south along the foothills on the east side of the Willamette River Valley. Green rolling terrain, farms, flowers and covered bridges would pretty well describe the scenery we rode through. The pavement was mostly excellent and there was very little traffic on the roads. The southbound controls were mostly informational, at the bridges which were also good photo-ops! The cool morning was calm and the forecast high temps were expected to be about 70 degrees! After some of the miserable weather I’ve had on rides this year I was hoping for something a little nicer. Today just might be the day!

The group stayed together on this ride for only 10 miles or so before splitting into pairs and trios. Typical for Oregon, most of the bikes today had full fenders inspite of the near zero chance of rain. Being a desert guy myself I saw no point in riding with fenders today so I took mine off before the ride.

My Oregon rando bike is my “B” bike. It is a Surly Pacer which is a fine bike but a little low budget on its spec. It rides nice but I have only used it on 200k events or less. This will be a good test of its suitability for longer distances. I have upgraded a few things so it is not stock but it retains a few low end parts in the brakes & drivetrain. I did put a spare dyno-hub on it so lighting is not one of it’s problems. It is also Shimano equipped, the only Shimano bike in my stable in fact! This changes the riding experience from the Campy stuff I am used to, but I ride a variety of different bikes from vintage to modern so I am pretty adaptable in function. This one has an upright riding position so I think it will work fine for this distance.

After the first couple of controls, riders were pretty spread out. I found myself riding much of the out-leg with local rider John from Keizer (wherever that is). We chatted our way through the rollers and before I knew it we were at the high point of the ride. I must comment that this outbound leg had some of the most wonderful quiet rural roads that I have ridden in some time, along with it being very scenic as well! After a gentle but long descent we took a turn up the MacKenzie River to our turn-around point in Walterville. I had never heard of Walterville but I was glad to be here. After some groceries and brief rest I was headed off again.

 This ride has most of it’s climbing in the first half so in addition to being over halfway done mileage wise, I had also done most of the climbing. With the gentle terrain and insignificant winds it was an easy cruise on the way back. The inbound route generally follows the route of the Willamette River, but not each circuitous bend of the rivers course. John was ahead of me at this point and I was riding alone, but I would still see him at some of the controls. I pulled into Independence before 10 pm and was able to find something to eat, but by the time I left town they had rolled up the sidewalks. I don’t know what other riders would have done for food after that! The route took me through downtown Salem and all was quite. What I remember of Salem is that there were many traffic lights!

The next leg, beginning in Keizer is where things started to go astray a little and I got a flat tire. No problem, even though it was a very dark night I found a well lit driveway and had it fixed in under 10 minutes. Back under way with 25 miles or so to go I was feeling good and picked up the pace a little. 5 miles later I was sitting on the side of the road again in the dark fixing another flat, only this time it was a little annoying. I just did this! No problem, I had lights, spare tubes, CO2 inflators, I could handle a little adversity. On my last flat I had checked the tire for anything which might have caused the flat, but this time I checked it very thoroughly. Nothing! Then when I tried to inflate the tire, the inflator failed and I only got about 50 psi in it. It was my last cartridge so I decided to just ride it in. Guess what, 5 miles later the pressure was gone. I had a slow leak now. With a good inflator I could have just ridden it in with a good fill, but I had no more. I pulled out my pump and tried to get some air in but it seemed like I was letting as much out as I got in. I decided then and there that my pump was a POS and it would get replaced tomorrow. For now however, POS or not it was all I had! It took 100 strokes or to get 30 or 40 psi in the tire and then I would ride like hell! 4 or 5 miles later I would repeat the process, then again, and then again! Finally in the last 1/2 mile as I was crossing the Willamette River Bridge I could feel the rim bumping on the pavement but I was not to be denied this time. I rode it in, nearly flat to the final control. I took  a few minutes to deal with the details of finishing the ride, and I had to put air in it one more time to get back to my car, but I was done.

My finish time was 19 hrs 43 minutes overall but I wasted several minutes at the end dealing with my “issues”. In spite of the difficulties near then end it was a good ride for me and one of my better 400 k’s. Especially since it was on a bike that is essentially new to me for this distance. Thanks again to Susan and the Oregon Randonneurs for researching such a fine route and taking the time to offer this event to us.