LifeCycle Adventures offers custom cycling itineraries, making it ideal for families and groups. // © 2015 IStock
Feature image (above): The writer biked through Oregon’s Willamette Valley and in the shadow of Mount Hood. // © 2015 IStock
As an Oregon resident, I thought I knew my home state pretty well. My kids and I had driven across it enough times, camped in its campgrounds and hiked many of its trails. As it turns out, until I’d seen Northwest Oregon by hybrid bicycle, I didn’t know it at all.
In just three days with LifeCycle Adventures, my group and I pedaled past hills flowing with perfect lines of Oregon grapes, quaint red barns standing sentinel by farm stands, the majestic Columbia River rolling toward the Pacific and white-topped Mount Hood casting its shadow over the breweries of Hood River.
I’m no cycling buff, but with LifeCycle Adventures guiding me, I didn’t have to be. Families and adult groups alike are fully supported on the ground from the moment the trip begins. Every LifeCycle itinerary is fully customizable, from the type of lodging desired to the daily route, which means parents can plan a “grown-ups only” getaway, as we did, or can bring school-age children or teenagers.
Over the course of the three-day, three-night vacation, I clocked more than 80 miles —with plenty of extra time to relax, enjoy local culture and cuisine and socialize with the rest of the group. Because stops along the route are flexible, family groups can choose to stop at appropriate venues. My husband and I enjoyed a cider tasting at a roadside orchard, while cyclists with kids opted for a farm-stand experience. Another day, we opted for wine tasting while others toured a college campus. In the evenings, our group compared notes on our varying adventures.
Each morning, our guide presented us with multiple route options, ranging from easy to intense, as well as easy-to-follow route maps for our bikes. If family or group members needed bike adjustments or aid, LifeCycle was there. When we wanted extra snacks or water, our trusty support vehicle could be called. Should we want to cycle a particular section of the route but avoid others, we could be shuttled, while those in our group planning to cycle the entire route could do so at their discretion. This type of flexibility allows children or newbies to enjoy the sport without pressure or stress.
Potential cyclists can pick and choose from a wide variety of route options in Northwest Oregon. Because we wanted to get a taste of both wine country and Mount Hood, we decided to start in Portland and ride through the beautiful (and blissfully flat) Willamette Valley first. Our route consisted of a combination of car-free bike paths and scenic highways, with stops in the tiny towns of Banks and Forest Grove.
We plan to repeat this route with our school-age kids for an entry-level trip, as it provided perfect touring terrain, and we didn’t have to worry about traffic. Over the course of a few days, we explored wineries throughout McMinnville and Newberg, with lodging options ranging from award-winning The Allison Spa & Inn (ideal for kids) to the quaint but upscale A Tuscan Estate bed-and-breakfast (better for couples).
Families or groups with more time can linger longer in the valley or cycle their way up and around Mount Hood toward the scenic Hood River Gorge. We opted for a shuttle transfer to the downhill side of this spectacular peak (yes, we cheated). From this vista, we rolled into the Hood River region, passing cider stands and fruit stands.
Our route became more intense as we neared Hood River, and we were more than ready for our respite at Villa Columbia Bed and Breakfast. After a dinner among friends at one of Hood River’s many breweries and a full breakfast at our B&B, we caught our van shuttle back to Portland.
For those who want to to experience a LifeCycle Adventures’ tour, start planning your cycle adventure by using the customizable itinerary features on LifeCycle Adventures’ website. If you have special requests, needs or desires, pick up the phone and talk to the LifeCycle team directly.
In addition to Oregon, the company has tours in California, Hawaii, Washington and Tuscany, Italy — but it’s still a small business, with real experts answering the phone. They know precisely which routes will be best for families, teens and experienced riders. We recommend asking for bike path or rail trail sections to ride with kids in tow.