Ride Report: Seven Days in the Saddle

The Biking Trap has been hanging out on the featured section of our homepage for a little while now, as a non-car-owning bike commuter it’s a personal favorite of mine.

Big news in the bike trap today is the fact that NYC is set to launch a public bike sharing program on the same scale as those that exist in Paris and London. This is good news for the Oregon economy as well, since Portland’s own Alta Bicycle Share has been selected to provide the system.

Also in The Biking Trap I discovered that the folks over at the blog Lovely Bicycle! are giving away a refurbished ladies touring cycle to the writer of a winning ride report. While the giveaway bike is a little too large for me I’ve decided to use their prompt as justification for hijacking the daily trap for my own ride report.

While blog readers may not have noticed my absence thanks to the beauty of autopost scheduling, I spent the past week biking from Portland to the redwoods of California along the Oregon Coast bike route (which was a highlight of this year’s popular Cycle Oregon ride). All told I clocked in a grand total of 399.6 miles in 7 days. The following is my report.

Day 1: (90.8 miles): My first day was my hottest and longest. I chose the route to the coast with least climbingbecause I wanted to get to the coast in just one day. While a fairly high traffic road, highway 18 has been recently redone with a large shoulder (6 feet in most places!) and is bound for Oregon state bike route designation.

About a 1/3 of the way into the day I learned via cellphone that my article on browsing was going to be featured in Mashable and I pulled into Devil’s Lake state park an hour or so before sunset and had a meal of crab flavored fish protein on rice crackers with a tallboy of Hamms (it’s funny the things you will impulse buy when *bonking and in a funky, small-town grocery store).

Day 2: (63.8 miles) Day two was planned on the fly to be a short day to Beachside State Park, a mere 44.8 miles away. But when I got to Newport the sight of an older solo touring gentleman turning around and climbing down from the highly trafficked Yaquina Bay Bridge coupled with a bike route sign leading under the bridge and towards the bay lead me on a 19 mile detour

Shamefully it was 9.5 miles before I realized that the back of the bay was not in sight and I was instead heading back towards the valley. The trek back to the bridge found me uttering explatives into a hot headwind.

The nice ranger who ushered me into the most private, ocean view having hiker biker site in Beachside cheered me up. As did a shower and meal of beans, zuchinni and quinoa.

Day 3: (76 miles) Day three’s early morning riding out of Yachats had me winding up cliffs on 101 with the iciest fog I’d ever met blowing up off the ocean. But as this narrow stretch would have been downright terrifying when traffic started to pick up, I made peace with the early morning weather.

I had a lunch of fried Oysters in Florence and this, the roaring sounds of ATVs all through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area, and an amazing late in the day tailwind had me far (and unthinkingly) overshooting my most ambitious goals for the day.

I rode into North Bend as a thick cold fog was rolling in and the sun starting to set. A ways away from the next park, I ponied up for a room in a dingy hotel to a man who asked me to, “please save him some work and only use one of the beds in the room.”

I did as I was told and fell asleep listening to a man loudly proclaiming his belief in the lord in the motel parking lot.

Day 4: (39.7) I awoke to the same thick fog and a sore knee. I’ve had knee issues in the past, and this was my major trip concern. So I decided to make the day an easy one.

Sadly the world did not cooperate with me. The road between North Bend and Bandon is named 7 Devils and each of the Devils are, maybe you guessed it, the steepest freaking hills I’d hit so far making a modest day in mileage the most hellish I’d encountered.

I pulled into Bullards Beach State Park in the early afternoon feeling worse for the wear and tried to make up for it by treating myself to a Crab sandwich in the city of Bandon.

That night I met a party of mid 50s tourers from Seattle, donning an arsenal of heavy glass liquor bottles (carried over 7 devils in the trailer of a bike friday). They shared their fire with me and another girl from Bellingham who was biking to San Francisco then proceeded to keep me up well past when I retired to my tent.

Day 5: (58.5 miles) I woke up tired and knew that my knee was mad. After enthusiastic stretching and sheepish apologies from the Seattle party I took off on what I presumed would be a short day.

I made a bad decision of overshooting the gorgeous Humbug Mountain State park and by the time I rolled into Gold Beach I was riding pretty much one-legged.

Again 20+ miles from the next state park, I noticed a sign on a hotel that said “hiker/biker” rooms. I rolled up and rented a solid room with all the amenities for a mere $20 from Kurt, a hotelier for over 30 years. He proudly showed me the other hostel like rooms he’d created for larger parties (where he charged $10 per rider) and got me thinking about an article about bike touring economics I’d read before leaving.

Day 6: (27.2 miles) My knee killing me but I was unwilling to take a rest day if I wasn’t paying hiker/biker camping rates (and I really, really wanted to make it to CA).

This day was a sad, limping one and I was too focused on knee pain to really enjoy the scenery (which included Oregon’s highest bridge). I was close to giving up when I rolled into Harris Beach State Park when I realized I was only 7 miles from the California border.

Day 7: (43.7 miles). Psychologically prepared for pain, knowing my Dad was going to pick me up where ever I landed that day I figured I’d limp to California and if the mood struck me (and my knee help up) I’d try for the redwoods (my original goal). It was flat, nice riding and I hit California with a knee that seemed willing to work with me (or the painkillers I was feeding it).

I shot my dad a text that I’d meet him in Del Norte Coast Redwoods state park but when I got there it was closed (oh California budget woes). After hugging a redwood I noticed that my phone was nearly out of batteries and had no service so I headed back down the hill and met my dad on the side of 101 and headed for beer and some redwood camping.

Now I’m back in the office, dilegently reading the biking trap, letting my knee heal, and with fodder like this filling the Biking Trap, sure to be planning another trip soon.


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