August 26th, 2022

Simple Pleasures on a Bike

A cyclist in a helmet sits on a white outdoor chair with their bike propped up against a tree.
A resident near the southern end of Muddy Valley Road provides chairs, shade, and a water faucet for bike riders looking to take a break. Photo by Dan Shryock.

These are simple pleasures.  

I crave that exceedingly smooth stretch of pavement where my rolling rubber bicycle tires seem almost silent as if to glide across the surface. I relish the ice cream shop discovered many miles into a long ride on a warm day. Nothing matters; time seems to stop as a spoon lightly slices into two scoops of cold, creamy sweetness. 

I anticipate the cold beverage that quenches once the bike is racked on the car after a good ride. 

The simplest bicycling pleasure, of course, is the ride itself. Cycling is a solitary activity one experiences with friends. There’s plenty of time for discovery, thought, and introspection. The backroads of Yamhill County deliver all this and more. 

Muddy Valley Road, for example, is exquisite in its natural beauty. The road itself is silky and the sight lines exhibit vineyards, hills, and farmed fields few travelers ever detour to see. A well-timed ride in July may lead you through a kaleidoscope of butterflies along this road. How do they instinctively veer out of the bicycle’s path at the last moment? 

Another peaceful, flat ride east of McMinnville leads to Grand Island, a quiet farming enclave where rich river soils produce lush crops. A turn around the island takes little time. Perhaps another lap is in order. 

Then push ahead to Dayton where ice cream is served in generous portions at Juanita’s Cafe y Neveria. Take those scoops across the street to Courthouse Square Park and forget about everything except what is right in front of you. 

Bicycling is exercise and dessert is a well-earned reward. So is a replenishing meal in downtown McMinnville. Calories have been burned and the body needs to recover. Food and a cold drink are in order. 

Are you looking for your simple pleasure on a bike? The easy wine country ride is just that, a comfortable, pleasurable ride into the vineyards south of town. It passes Youngberg Hill winery. Be aware that getting to the Youngberg Hill driveway is the easy part. Riding up to the winery is an epic challenge for even the most skilled riders. So, walk the bike. It’s worth it. 

The moderate wine country route, meanwhile, adds a few miles and only a few more hills. Maysara winery is easy to spot on this outing. 

Youngberg Hill and Maysara dot the Muddy Valley Wine Route, by the way. Yamhill Valley Vineyards, Coeur de Terre, and Coleman Vineyards are short, nearby detours. 

If you seek a test, consider the challenging wine country route. Only the most committed cyclists embrace the 3-mile uphill effort on this tour and call it a pleasure. Once at the top of what some locals call Mt. Amity, a wide view of valley, hills and distant mountains await. Brooks Wine, Grochau Cellars, and Mystic Wines are there, too. 

Simple pleasures. It doesn’t matter what road you follow, riding from downtown McMinnville into wine country is the best pleasure of all. 

Dan Shryock

Dan Shryock regularly writes about McMinnville, travel, and cycle tourism.