Nehalem 400


Ride:Nehalem 400
Organizers: Michael Wolfe
Date: Saturday, Aug 23
Who's Riding?: Registered Riders
Start Time: 6:00 AM
Registration Time: 5:20-5:45AM
Start Location: Forest Grove Inn
Address: 4433 Pacific Ave, Forest Grove, OR
Entry Fee: $20 Checks should be payable to "Oregon Randonneurs", also, Oregon Randonneurs membership is required for this event. You can download a membership form and bring it with you. Register Now!
Medals: ACP brevet medals will not be sold. You will be able to purchase these directly from RUSA.
Worker's Ride Report: Michael's Blog
The Cuesheet: XLS


The Nehalem 400 starts from Oregon Randonneurs' old workhorse, Forest Grove, and leaves town in exactly the same way that the Birkenfeld 200 does. The course heads west out of town along Gales Creek, up to Timber, and along the Nehalem River to Vernonia. The change in seasons should give riders of the earlier brevet a new look at this familiar countryside. Beyond Vernonia, the route continues along OR 47 past Pittsburgh. A few miles later, the 400 turns off of OR 47 onto its first new road, Apiary Road. Apiary features a long, gradual climb up into the hills above the Columbia River. The road is quiet and arboreal, and should provide good riding in any kind of weather. The road peaks and descends twice, after which riders will find themselves taking a left onto Old US 30. Old Highway 30 parallels its younger sibling before crossing it at Alston. Alston features a little country store, if you're in need of provisions.

From Alston, the course goes north over a few rollers on Alston-Mayger Road before achieving a spectacular and rare view of the lower Columbia River. Then it descends steeply to Mayger (the 2nd control), crosses some more rolling terrain to Quincy, and flattens out as it ambles into Clatskanie. Clatskanie is a fairly sizeable town, with a couple restaurants and a Safeway. Heading out of Clatskanie, the Nehalem 400 follows OR 47 up a fairly major climb. Not too steep, and again, nicely shaded, but several miles long. Clearcuts at the top afford riders views of southwest Washington's volcanoes before the road tilts downward again for a fast but technical descent to Mist. From Mist, riders will rejoin the Birkenfeld 200 route for a few miles into the eponymous town but continue past it into new territory.

The road beyond Birkenfeld is quite similar to the rest of the Nehalem River Highway, actually. A couple more hills, but the same charmingly disheveled pastoral landscape. At Jewell, riders will turn south onto the Fishhawk Falls Highway, following the Nehalem River as it insinuates itself into a small gap between a couple pretty major hills in the coast range. The road stays blissfully flat, however.

At the other end of the Fishhawk Falls Highway, the course puts riders onto Highway 26. This is probably the least pleasant section of the ride. The traffic is high and the shoulder comes and goes. I wish I could have quickly put you onto the Lower Nehalem Road at Elsie, but that road has 9 miles of rim-busting gravel in the middle and a recently washed out bridge. At least the scenery is nice. You're on 26 for 12 miles, including a 4 mile climb in the middle. The climb has a good shoulder for most of its length, at least, and is followed by an awesome descent to Necanicum Junction. At the junction is a store/gas station, the ride's 3rd control. Once riders have gotten their cards signed, they will proceed south on OR 53. This quiet road features a short climb and then a long downhill along the North Fork Nehalem River to Mohler. But just before hitting the coast, the route makes a left turn onto the Miami River Road. The Miami River Road climbs ever so gradually for the first 6 miles before descending just as gradually for the second 6 miles, depositing you on 101, just outside Garibaldi.

Riders take 101 south, and Tillamook comes quickly. It'll be getting on in the day here; the Fred Meyer is open until 11, and the Subway until midnight. Beyond Tillamook, 101 starts climbing into the hills a little bit. Finally, at the bottom of a downhill, you'll find yourself in Beaver next to a gas station, and at the 4th control. The route turns left here, onto Blaine Road. This is the start of your long, long climb up into the coast range along the Nestucca River. The grade is almost imperceptible, and the navigation could not be easier. There's a sub-two mile section of gravel about 3/4 of the way up. It's well packed and pretty flat, and you'll have no trouble if you back off on your speed a little bit. At the top, you'll go around the north edge of McGuire Reservoir, and then the descent to Carlton (control #5) goes fast and furious. Out of Carlton, riders will follow OR 47 briefly before taking familiar backroads including Laughlin, Spring Hill, and Fern Hill back to Forest Grove.

I rode this route originally for a fleche in 2006 ("The Spirit is Willing"). Ed Felker's pictures from that ride are here.