Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oregon - Eugene

Know your Source!

One of the disadvantages of travelling without firm plans and reservations is that you may find that the place you'd really like to stay has no vacancy. For our time in Eugene, we had hoped to stay at Velo B&B for 3 nights while we explored the surrounding area. However, when I called for reservations, while they had a room free for the first and third nights, they were fully booked for the second night. Despite that, the lads couldn't resist the allure of staying on Bailey Hill Road, so we decided to bookend our stay in Eugene at Velo B&B and just find a motel in town for the middle night.

1 happy cow
And what a good decision that turned out to be. Almost as if a welcoming party was planned, we had a friendly encounter with one of the riders on the team that Rob sponsors as we spun our way up the aforementioned Bailey Hill Road. Next, Misha made us feel right at home when we finished our hillclimb and gave us the tour. The immaculate, thoughtfully laid out and well furnished rooms further cemented the feeling of a decision well made.

Misha next showed her culinary skills, as she gathered dinner ingredients from their garden and, in the blink of an eye, conjured up a delicious dinner. That led to a very memorable evening, as we chatted enjoyably with her and Rob, discussing recovery from serious injury, life in New Zealand, racing up Mt. Greylock, love (or hate) of Marmite and all sorts of other things that we found we had in common.

The next morning, we ogled some of Rob's wonderful machines and took advantage of his local knowledge. He told us about a loop heading out toward Wolf Creek Pass. And to make it really special, he sent us up Briggs Hill. I don't recall his exact words, but something he said suggested that Briggs Hill might get our attention.

Now, when seeking recommendations for anything, it's important to know your source. We've learned over time that when people recommend a restaurant or place to stay, to ask them what they think of some place we've been before. This lets us have an idea if our tastes align. Now if I had looked more closely at Rob English's cycling palmar├Ęs, I would have known to be very afraid when he said the climb would be challenging!

Don't get me wrong, we love to climb and we especially love to climb on dirt roads. Rob's suggested route was glorious and we will definitely seek his advice again for more routes. But let's just say that we were quite happy we'd left our gear back at the B&B with plans to pick it up at the end of the ride. And we had most definitely earned our reward by the time we reached the King Estate vineyard at lunch... where we had to earn it even more, as the restaurant sits atop yet another serious climb!

Rob had a serious crash in a bike race a few months before our visit, and was still enduring lots of pain from it. He suffered nerve damage in one of his arms and had been working very hard to regain its use. As a framebuilder, he is pretty dependent on having both arms working properly. At the time we stayed, he had rigged up a clever sling with an inner tube to provide some support for his arm while allowing him to move it a bit and had started working again. Progress was slow and painful though. Reading his blog, he is improving, but his road to recovery is an uphill one. Now having an even greater appreciation of his climbing ability, I have full confidence that he will do well.

The [climb to the] King Estate winery
While our stay at a motel in downtown Eugene on the middle night lacked the charm and hospitality of Velo B&B, it was nonetheless fun to be able to explore town. The - ahem! - highlight of our evening was another recommendation of Rob's, Pizza Research Institute. We tracked it down and selflessly devoted ourselves to pizza research for the night.

Our pizza fired legs took us around Fern Ridge Lake the next day, as we wound our way back to Bailey Hill Road via one of the plethora of scenic routes that the area offers.

Like Swiss trains... with precision, eh?

Rob and Misha proved to be fabulous hosts, and we definitely plan to return. I highly recommend paying them a visit when you are in the area. Indeed, I would say to go out of your way to stay at this very special place on the outskirts of Eugene.

There is no doubt that Velo B&B has been decorated by cyclists!

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