Thursday, April 4, 2013
Ride the Pipeline
Southeast of Portland, Pipeline Road splits off of 224 shortly before the Alder Flats Campground and makes for a short way to link up sections of 224, or just get a short taste of dirt detour before you head off to more exciting locales. If you hang a right when you encounter Forest Service Road 4630 it'll put you back on 224 near the Ranger Station and away you go. On top of that there's this crazy-ass pipeline weaving through the mountainside that you ride alongside. I'm amazed that it exists in the first place given the natural beauty of the area... And in a way it's a shame the pipe cuts through the forest at all, but there it is nevertheless.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of sharing this little side-route with my friend, Ben, who rode with me on his Ural. A sweet little airhead (the bike, not Ben) and a lot of fun to ride along-side. No, he did not buy one with a sidecar. Get over it.
This was Ben's first taste of dirt (ever) and he did well. Pipeline road isn't overly challenging which makes it a nice warm-up/intro to dirt. There's some loose gravel in spots and a few short decents. It's also a short enough of a detour that if you get into trouble you're not too far off the beaten path that you can't get help (helpful for the beginners). We were following a rainstorm so some of the gravel was still wet and more on the slippery side. A good chance for Ben to get his Ural dirty (hmmm that sounds bad...)
Alternatively the Pipeline road serves as a gateway to a longer detour via 4630 over to reconnect with NF-57 which heads out towards Timothy Lake. I had a camping trip last summer near Timothy when I found out about the longer detour.
In an unfortunate twist to my otherwise lovely weekend I came upon a motorcycle fatality on the drive back. A rider had gone down right where 224 makes a hard turn South and becomes NF-46 (red circle). With as much fun as 224 is it's easy to get ahead of yourself and not take this corner seriously. It's sharp, hard, and oncoming cars are very likely to be in your lane. I've had several close calls there myself, and I was ready for it. I don't know specifically what happened in this instance, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the downed motorcyclist. No one wants to go out like that.
With the paramedics were en route already I didn't want to be a gawker I backtracked up 57 towards Timothy Lake to find where 4630 intersects it and took that up and around to the Pipeline Road link-up. It's a good chance to extend your dirt riding, and provides and enjoyable alternative route over to 57 and beyond.
This summer I'll be back there finding out what the "Hideaway Lake" on the map is all about. Details to follow... In the meantime, Happy Riding, and be safe out there.