Panorama of horses in a field along a bend in Dixie Mtn Road

The Teutonic Loop

Published 2023-06-25

In the Summer of My Divorce I discovered rambling aimlessly on the country roads between North Plains and Dixie Mountain. This was before I owned a cell phone, and GPS devices were bulky objects with sketchy accuracy — too expensive and heavy to bother with on a bike. Sometimes I had a map with me, but even if I did I found myself hopelessly turned around by the topography, which trends northwest to southeast in a way that turns right angles 90°, such that I thought I was going south when I was really going west (or vice versa, or the opposite of either.) I also had the tendency to turn back after a mile or two of gravel road, instead of closing a loop.

In the early 2010s many of my Team Oregon rides were on the flattish roads around here, but on a group ride I never had to pay strict attention to wayfinding; I just followed the ride leaders.

Two or three years ago I returned to this country, armed with GPS and a little more courage re: putting a road bike on a non-road surface. I concocted a figure-eight route that strung together a few of the routes I had long neglected. I call it the Teutonic Loop after the strongly Germanic character of this area’s place names:

  • Kaiser Road
  • Dutch Canyon
  • Otto Miller
  • Helvetia
  • Germantown Road
  • Leif Erickson Drive

These were familiar roads to me but not connected in this way. I also went out of my way to put all the suburban riding up front, and minimize mileage along highways.

Yesterday I rode out this way. It was still lush and green, thick with wildflowers like foxglove and lupines, in a way I haven’t seen this late in June since perhaps the 2000s. The morning was coolish and I overdressed; I took off my undershirt and arm warmers before I even hit the 20 mile mark, never to put them back on. The climbs were hot as was the pavement, but the shadows and descents and gravel were cool. I packed just enough food but not enough water; luckily there were places to refill at various taps e.g. the Skyline School. I downed a massive cinnamon roll and cup of coffee at the Brown Butter Bakery in Scappoose at the foot of Dutch canyon, which was perfect fuel for the longest climb of the day (Otto Miller Road)