Gravel Grinding in the Willamette Valley

Occasionally when riding in the Willamette Valley, near McMinnvile, the pavement turns to gravel. This happened to us after taking a wrong turn, riding 8 miles on 47, and deciding we wanted get off the highway. There were foothills to the left of us with much less traffic.

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Checked Google Maps on the phone and NW Olson to Canyon View got us to Yamhill where we’d get back on course and climb Meadow Lake Rd to the Reservoir. NW Olson is a steady, rising, rolling climb with a slight tailwind. We didn’t see a car for miles and then abruptly hit gravel.


I wasn’t planning on testing the Stinger 5s on dirt until September and Cross season, but they performed as well as expected. Stiff, double-wall carbon with tubies plowed right through the gravel. My only concern was over-heating the brake pads on the descent back to Yamhill. I found a groove in the gravel and braked occasionally.

Pam’s tubeless tires, with a tread as soft as a pencil eraser for road racing, did puncture on the gravel and we used a can of Hutchinson Fast’Air. We’re riding tubular or tubeless now and carrying a can of sealant. As the instructions on the can say, I checked the tire for any debris, flicked out some gravel pieces, connected the hose to the valve, and pressed the button. The sealant looks like shaving cream and worked. We finished the ride and will replace the tire when we’re back home.

We’re riding in the Willamette Valley all week and expect to find ourselves on more gravel. Meadow Lake Rd is on our all-time favs rides list now and we’ll climb it again later. Tonight we’re racing the Tuesday Worlds in Portland.


I will be there in a couple of weeks and am looking for some good routes with wine stops on the way & in the 20-40 mile range. We’ll probably start around Newberg, any recommendations? Bonus points for staying off 99W!

There are good routes and we’ll post more as we ride them. Also check Strava for routes. We drove to Carlton to avoid 99 and careful with other no-shoulder farm roads that motorists use to bypass the highways.

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