Same great Joyride vibes from a brand new venue.
Three Saturdays ago, 550 cyclists made the short drive down to the friendly town of Independence, Oregon to ride bikes and explore the countryside. The weather was perfect (unless you like riding in the hot, hot sun or the pouring rain) and the mostly flat routes were idyllic. All ages of riders on all types of bikes pedaled their way through the valley past vineyards, orchards, hop farms, and crop fields. And for those who like a little dirt under their tires, there were even gravel options on the medium and long routes.
After relaxing among the hops fields at Rogue, watching the swallows dart in and out of the brightly painted birdhouses at Jon Banson’s farm, and enjoying local goodies and possibly even sampling some local wines along the way riders crossed the finish line, cheered on by hooting volunteers and clanging cowbells. Judging by all the joy-filled faces along the route, Polk county brought out its best in the form of peaceful back roads and truly colorful country for riders to experience.
The wide-open Riverview Park was the perfect staging area for Saturday’s festivities. Sandwiched between the banks of the Willamette River on one side and the dueling farmers markets and the shops and restaurants of Main Street Independence on the other were all the Cycle Oregon festivities. There were massages, a corn-hole game, physical therapy, Joyride and CO merchandise for sale, and of course a beer and wine garden. Riders had plenty of time and space to relax, enjoy some of the delicious locally sourced food with friends, and listen to the bands play. And speaking of bands, Karyn Ann, and later The Colin Trio rocked groove infused sets all afternoon. It was the perfect backdrop for sitting in the grass and digging into a mountain of fresh local berries and whipped cream from a Joyride favorite – Lauretta Jean’s Biscuit Bar. Why not have seconds? You earned it.
Independence proved to be a gracious community and a great destination for cyclists. With the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway leading right to the biking and boating campground at Riverview Park (built with help from the Cycle Oregon Fund), the miles and miles of quiet, scenic roads to explore, and the eclectic mix of shops and eateries, it’s tough to beat Polk county.