South Salem Cycleworks, 4071 Liberty Road South
Salem, OR 97302-5752
(503) 399-9848
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM; Closed Sunday

2005 New Year's Eve Ride - By Michael Wolfe

Hi folks! Missed a little precipitation this morning, but only a little in proportion to the big picture of weather we're having right now!

News Year's Eve rideWe started out, Tom Stuck, Tom Mundal and myself, in wet pavement with patient overcast skies. Stuck predicted we'd get showered upon as he'd looked at "Noah" before he left this morning. We both had on new Showers Pass Elite jackets, and although I've tried it on several rides this month, it was only used as a wind shell in cold conditions, not wet. I was hoping that this would not be the test of its imperviousness to rain!

We were headed out this side of the Buena Vista Ferry, to see what kind of flooding was occurring. Once we got over the hump of Skyline, we began to see "High Water" signs, which has always surprised me because of the elevation. But the water just gushes down the hillsides on either side of the road, washing mud and gravel into the road. The downhill from Chinook Estates usually has a couple of sites where the gravel is washed from one side to the other, and that was true today. Plenty of evidence that water had really come down earlier. The vista from the backside of Skyline showed a maze of twists and turns of muddy brown water down below on the valley floor.

Tom Stuck had barely caught up with us at the bottom of the drop, when the German Shepherd suddenly appeared! Like a bad dream re-occuring, it was back and ready to plunge down the embankment upon us. A volley of "Hey!'s and "Down!'s greeted him, but only the shouted "Hey" from the back of the yard stopped him. Even though I knew the owners had been warned and cited twice, I guess that they didn't figure that cyclists would be out in this weather at this time of the year.

The sloughs along Riverdale were swollen and backed up into the adjoining fields, leaving us wondering what would greet us when we descended onto the plain beside the river. It had started to sprinkle by the time we reached the intersection with Buena Vista Road. The irrigation canal wasn't near the level of the road, but the fields around us had become lakes.

Leaving Sidney, we were soon greeted with the "High Water Road Closed" bar across the road. We merely rode around it in the opposing lane and continued on. The first couple of bridges had plenty of water rushing not too far beneath them, and the lakes on either side of the road showed plenty of evidence of flowing over the road. "Lakeside property!" was Stuck's description of the small house before you reach the Talbot intersection, not that we reached that point! We rode through a couple of inches cascading over the road adjacent to the last small bridge, but just around the bend, the water was much deeper and swifter, with flotillas of straw piles sailing through the rapids.

News Year's Eve waterMuch as I wished to continue, the thought of straw piles massing against the lower halves of my wheels caused me concern, with pictures of going topsy turvy into the current, deterred us. While we were enjoying the changing view, I was removing my shoes, socks and knee warmers, purposely worn for this opportunity. Both Tom's thought I was going to walk my bike through the current, with a few remarks about what else was spread on fields beside cut straw!

What I intended to do, was to leave my shoes and knee warmers behind as I waded out into the water, quickly turn around and kneel in the water with my bike hoisted on my shoulder, making the water appear much higher than it was! I'd done just that with some others some 20 years ago, but that picture went in the dumpster with the flood of '96. I seem to remember the water being very cold back then, but now, in December, it was too much! I only got 3-4 steps into the water and the thought of getting deep enough for the deception made me turn around immediately!

Trying to get wool socks on wet feet, I had to lean on Stuck as I struggled. Now that I knew how cold the water was, the remarks made earlier about the possibility of the water rising behind us, leaving us stranded, gained some weight. But we had no trouble on the return trip, except that the rain decided to test our jackets!