We had enjoyed a Motel rest day in Gold Beach after a long series of hard rides. We were enjoying the slightly cheaper rates that had come with crossing the border into Oregon. Two Dave Yates touring bikes awaited us. We pushed them out from their hiding place in the laundry, strapped the bags on, and threw a leg casually over the top tube. I reached down to the handle bar to zero the meter. Minus 279 ft read the altimeter, clearly wrong by about 290 ft. A weather front had come in over night, it was breezy alright.
If you are planning on doing the Pacific Coast bike route, do it North to South and not the way we are doing it. It is popular and that day and for a few more days we got cheerful waves and shouts of “hello” and “hi” from touring cyclists going South. To a man, and quite often, woman, they were hardly touching the pedals as they sped past us South. Down on the drops, we cursed the wind.
The wind coincided with an over night blooming of hundreds of flags. Usually numerous, it was now overwhelming. Flag Day had dawned. No idea what it is about at all.
We detoured off the HWY 101 along the banks of Rogue River. This is the suggested route of our Adventure Cycling Association map, and is not the way shown on other guides, which is a great shame. It is a perfect touring road that was a highlight of the day. So, take a tip. Apple trees and a perfect sheltered tree lined road make Cedar Valley Road a treat.
As soon as we got back on HWY 101, the North wind got it’s revenge. The rest of a very long hard day is a blur. We camped at a KOA campground, or as they put it Kampground, near Langlois.
We decided to get up and on the road much earlier in an attempt to put some miles in before the wind really gets going. We did a good, high tempo 15 miles and stopped at Bandon for coffee, which was nice enough, but only just.
There are a series of rivers that reach the coast from high up in mountains inland. Over the next few hundred miles of the Oregon coast they must historically have made travel difficult. Now, they are spanned by impressive bridges of up to a mile and are a source of enormous civic pride. Provision for art deco towers was on the plans, but a bike path for cycle touring was not. There is a button you can push and a light warns traffic of your presence on the bridge. I might try it on my road bike with the wind behind me. It would be foolhardy and possibly suicidal on a touring bike. Time to walk.
Another early start to avoid the worst of the wind and back on the 101. Early miles done, we turned into Winchester Bay for a coffee and possibly second breakfast. This is a working harbour and it was not trying in the slightest to hide the working bit. We loved it. It had a number of slightly odd shops, one of which was a Christmas themed coffee shop and store. We sat and drank the cheapest drinks of our entire journey surrounded by everything Christmas. Any spare shelf space had the most kitsch gifts such as row upon row of puppies and kittens in baskets. The boxes that these were sold in had air holes for goodness sake.
Every few minutes one of the two dozen or more clocks would chime an electronic Christmas tune. The lady who served us was a gem. ” You have both got red noses” was an opener waiting for a punchline. ” Like Rudolph” we both replied. She looked blankly at us. Scanning her face and even looking deep into her watery, cheerful eyes gave not a single hope of any connections being made any time soon.
The 101 decided to go undulated for a while. It gave great views off to the sides for the slow moving touring cyclist to enjoy Oregon at it’s very best. With the early start we had time on our hands and pulled off to Old Town Florence. A bit of multi tasking of coffee, cake and haircut all in twenty minutes. I needed comforting after an R.V. driver had given both of us a close call on the undulating bits earlier. I explained to the lady as she cut my hair, “two inches he gave us”. Then I thought about the most stupid thing he could be doing at the time, “I bet he had his dog on his lap and was stroking it!” “Well they are trying to make that illegal”. She left me speechless.
Hair cut done and back on the 101 we had some climbing to do. It was beautiful and yes sea lions are great, but the 101 was getting me down. Poor surface, looney dog petting myopic drivers and tight bends with no shoulder. Not good at all and I wanted to pack it in and get a bus or something.
We got up even earlier, trying to beat the wind and the R.V.’s and restore my spirit. Even the 101 did it’s best for a few early morning miles and even a bridge bike push failed to depress. Time away from the 101 in the rather nice town of Newport was good for it and us.
We ended the day at Carl G. Washburn Memorial State Park. Free showers in Oregon are a highpoint of such campgrounds and so are the $5 hiker biker fees. Worn out, we slept early until woken by the sound of someone hack sawing through our bike bags and making a poor job of it. Driven delirious by the smell of the cheese a Racoon was trying to bite his way in ,or at least pull the pannier off the bike. I hate raccoons. This was a mean spirited fighting machines with a dark past and nothing to live for. The Ortlieb pannier is no longer water proof.
Yet another early start on the 101 and coffee, this time at Newport. With a detour away to quiet streets. Our 44 miles done we stopped at Beverly Beach state park, which was just perfect.
Overnight it rained, which is fine. It kept on raining, which is not. An early start as is our custom and then out onto the 101, this time with lights blinking brightly. Somehow drivers are afraid and give you more room away from the flashing red tail lights.
We enjoyed the first part of the day and were going well. A little detour on to the old 101 for a bit of hill climbing was good fun and rewarded with great views of moss heavy trees and old barns. The rain did eventually get through to the Merino baselayer and the miles got colder. Never did my meter climb above the 50’s and we decided to celebrate 100,000 ft of climbing in the USA with a hotel.
Pacific City is nice. The Pacific City Inn were nice enough to do us a deal and that is where we ended the day. Galleries, coffee houses and bakery treats after a hard ride. We’re worth it.