S: ORIDa Bicycle Tour July - August, 2013
BC: ... and they kept riding happily ever after.
FC: ORIDa Bicycle Tour July - August, 2013
1: ORIDa Bicycle Tour Leslie & Tom Eggers Joe Filardo John Moller with Help From Claire Filardo & Nadine Moller July 13 to August 3, 2013 | In Which We Followed Parts of the TransAmerica, Pacific Coast and Lewis & Clark Bike Routes Across Idaho and Oregon.
2: The ORIDa (Oregon/Idaho) tour was special for two reasons. One- The Bean Team would be generally following the TransAmerica Bicycle Route & two- we'd be joined by our dear friends the Filardos & Mollers for part of the trip. We were looking forward to having company (& staying in some nice motels) on this, our 8th cycling tour. Day 1: Kooskia to White Bird, ID. July 13th. 47 miles & 3,445' elev. gain. Sue Livingston & friend Judy dropped us off & we headed out HW 13 along the staggeringly lovely South Fork of Clearwater Creek. Despite the thumb's up, Tom's right knee (the "good" one) hurt dreadfully during the first 30 miles, & Leslie had to throttle back to keep him in sight. | A perfect day along the pristine river. | 1
3: The route went steadily upward passing through Harpster & the original target campground for Day 1 in Grangeville. It was only 26 miles downrange & we felt so good by our 3 PM arrival that we decided to press on. There was a bit more climbing to be done heading out of town. | 2
4: About 5 miles beyond Grangeville (& 1,000' of additional gain), the road began dropping away... the beginning of an exhilarating 2,500' descent on a virtually empty road. Tom wrote in the day's blog post: "A short way down, Leslie found our target route, Old Highway 95. It was like having our own, private road. And what a road it was- perhaps the most fun Tom has had on a bike in his 38 years of riding. Hairpin turns, twisting, winding... the road had to be taken slowly to get the full enjoyment (& security of not burning up the brake rotors & flying over an edge)." The serpentine nature of this old road made us think (again) about touring in Europe- it had that feel, but the wide open spaces were vintage American West. We were also quite happy to not be heading in the other direction. Our infatuation with this stretch of road might not have been so deep had we been pedaling uphill! | 3
5: White Bird, Idaho, pop. 106. Half of the town could probably fit into the church. The other half could (& did) absolutely fit into the saloon. | A 1956 Studebaker Commander. | 4
6: The plan in Whitebird was to stay at the nearby campground. When a local told us, “Everyone just stays at the park across the street”, it seemed like a good idea. So we set up camp in the center of town, such as it was, & walked across to the Silver Dollar Saloon for a quick rinse in the bathroom sink & a few beers. Leslie, as usual, had no trouble making friends & fitting right in- perhaps making some memories for Dallon & Mike. Tom told Mike, after he gave Les the smooch, that she'd be posting this picture on her Facebook page & he replied, “What's Facebook? I don't have a computer”. Should we believe him? The best food in town happened to be the only food in town- at Mac’s Family Restaurant. All you can eat BBQ ribs were the perfect topper to what had been a very good, albeit tiring, day. Of course, camping right across the street from the only bar in town made for quite a night, with karaoke singers’ voices keeping us up until about 11:30 PM. The last thing we remembered was some woman's rendition of the “Little Snowbird” song. It, & the good people of White Bird, will stay in our memories as some of the genuine joys (& trials) of cycle touring. | 5
7: Day 2: White Bird to Zimm's Hot Springs (near New Meadows), ID. July 14th. 61.4 miles & 3,346' elev. gain. | One of the guilt-free pleasures of cycle touring- high calorie breakfasts, like this one at Hoot's Restaurant. | 6
8: We planned to made significant miles this day so as to be well positioned for the run into Baker City. The early morning was clear enough, but as the day progressed & we rode farther to the southwest the hillsides & sky became increasingly obscured by smoke from the nearby Fiddle Creek fire. It had been started by a lightening strike two days before. This was a shame, as we passed through some of the most dramatic country we’d see (or in this case, glimpse) on any part of the tour. | The Salmon River | Visitors to Lucile can spend the night in a modern-day sheep herder's wagon. We encouraged the proprietor to contact the Adventure Cycling Association as her business (which included a small store) didn't appear on our map. | 7
9: The smoke was at its worst near the little town of Riggins. | 8
10: Highway 95 soon began heading decidedly uphill, & we spent the next 4 hours climbing over 2,000' in the increasingly hot air. We’d been refilling the water bottles at every opportunity, but there never seemed to be enough- even with 2 extra liters in the trailer. The good news was that the scenery, particularly the nearby Salmon River, continued to astound. After about 3 hours the heat, which reached 97 degrees, & the increasingly small shoulder, took its toll on Leslie. She dunked her jersey & feet in the cold river water, & that cooled her down a bit, as did frequent stops to rest under the shade of the trees. Still, she suffered a great deal, including one episode of the exercise-induced asthma that plagues her from time to time. | 9
11: Zim’s Hot Springs Campground, a commercial venture since 1889, was a most welcome destination. After a soak in the 102 degree pool, a little laundry in the bathroom & quick dinner, it was early to bed for Leslie & a chance to catch up on the posts for Tom (amped up on cold Diet Cokes). | Day 3: New Meadows to Cambridge, ID. July 15th. 52.1 miles & 1,575' of PUDular elev. gain. PUDs, incidentally, mean, "pointless ups & downs". Les got the very most out of a glorious 10 mile descent, & again had to slow down so Tom, with another gimpy knee, could keep pace. | The Weiser River, up on the high (4,400') plateau. | 10
12: Fire trucks, Plymouths & Pontiacs in Council. | 11
13: Much of the route was relatively flat, but there were still PUDs, including a 300' climb into Council. After 15 minutes of granny gear spinning we reached the top, Leslie counting pedal strokes & only allowing herself to look up after completed 100 rotations. 10 miles outside of Cambridge the road was under demolition/construction, leaving a dirt/gravel mix that often challenged the worst of washboard roads. It was 97 degrees & stressful, hard to control the bikes & keep an eye out for traffic. At one point, the workers insisted on hauling us & the gear through a 1 mile section that was particularly nasty. We wished they would have driven us all the way to Cambridge! There was nothing to do when a vehicle pod passed other than get off the road as best we could, all the dust leaving us looking & feeling like corn dogs as we bounced and shook our way into town. It was over 100 degrees when we arrived & time for a motel. The first encountered was booked-up with road crew workers. Fortunately, we scored the next to last room at Bucky’s- perhaps the best $50 we’ve ever spent. While the staff cleaned the room, we sat in the A/C cooled restaurant & downed gallons of cold drinks- tea, water & Diet Pepsi. Coming out to the bikes, which we’d parked in a sunny area near a white wall, Tom’s speedometer registered an impossible 134 degrees. | Day 4: Cambridge to Half Way, ID. July 16th. 58.2 miles & 3,202' elev. gain. The day began with perfect 73 degree weather & even a tailwind. Things were shaping up! Still, the road soon turned north into the wind, & the hills began in earnest (next page). We met Barbara & Jeff, who'd ridden from BOS to VA, then across country. The route went up over the pass & then a 7 mile descent down to a little store for cool drinks & snacks. Things continued to get more & more arid as we continued west.
15: Barren hillsides & remarkable topography along the Brownlee Reservoir, a genuine oasis in what increasingly resembled a desert.
16: Passing out of Idaho & into Oregon at the Brownlee Dam. | Plum & apricot trees, planted by early miners, along the Snake River. | 15
17: Oxbow, OR., with its staggering heat & a snippy shopkeeper who told us, when Tom touched something in the store, "You people have no idea how dirty your hands are!" | The route just nicked part of Hell's Canyon. | 16
18: Halfway, OR., pop. 337, & a quiet little private campground in the shade. | 17
19: Day 5: Halfway to Baker City, OR. July 17th. 56.3 miles & 3,530' elev. gain. Just outside Halfway, a lovely little farm in the early morning light of departure. | 18
20: One real plus about tent camping in such dry country is that there had been no dew in the mornings, so packing the tent & gear was a snap. In a pitiful attempt to avoid the worst of the heat, we were up at 5:30 & on the road by 6:30 AM. There was no traffic on Highway 86 as we headed out of town, past something Leslie called a “wigwam burner”. Evidently, back when people could do this sort of thing, the trash (like bark) associated with lumber manufacturing was burned in these silo-like structures. Few of these long-unused burners remain. The Wallowa Mountains served as a dramatic backdrop to the morning’s ride, the route passing into the arid, almost treeless high plateau of far eastern Oregon. The road was perfect, but the headwinds were reminiscent of what we had experienced last year in west Texas- strong & straight at us as the route turned due west. The temperature rose to 84 degrees by 7 AM (a bit alarming if the high today, at least in Baker City, was forecast to be in the “high 80s”). | 19
21: After stair-stepping up for several hundred feet over a distance of about 6 miles, the road went dramatically upward out of the valley, with a 5 mile, 1,050' climb that again tested our legs, lungs & endurance. Being a PUD, it was followed by a delicious 1,500' descent into the little town of Richland (where it was time for 2nd breakfast). | 20
23: After Richland there were no services for the next 35 miles, so we picked up an extra 2 liters of ice water, keeping it in reserve (it actually remained icy most of the day) tucked deep into the trailer. The route passed through lush (if you can get water to it) farmland that seemed to cool down the ambient air temperature, now well into the mid 90s. There was virtually no shade, so we took breaks wherever a tree could be found, drinking water like crazy. Tom took Les’ panniers, as we had 20 miles to go & the temps just kept rising. By the time we approached a desolate bit of sagebrush desert called “Flagstaff Hill”, Leslie was in trouble. She just couldn't get her core temp down, so we stopped every half mile to take in the ice water, rest & get ready for the next push. At one point, Tom rigged up the emergency space blanket to shield her from the sun. Later, Les read a sign by the side of the road advising, “someone died here”. Leslie said she, “felt their pain”. Tom even suggested she thumb a ride for the remaining miles into town, but Leslie kept pedaling, resting, drinking & fighting her way up & over the high point, in temps that ultimately reached 104 degrees. | 22
24: By afternoon, the water supply was getting critical, as we were down to about a quarter liter. The good news was that the route also passed by the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on the far east side of Baker City. Dick, an ex Forest Service field manager, welcomed us into his shop, where we got ice water, shade & a chance to sit down & eat a bagel for some quick energy. We owed Dick a real debt of gratitude for getting us back on the road for the final push into town. | Finally, Baker City & a nice, air-conditioned Knight’s Inn on Broadway, where the owners, Caleb & Sharon, made us feel right at home. We had met two sets of trail angels within the past hour! | 23
25: Baker City, OR., pop 9,860. | 24
26: July 18th was a rest day in Baker City. We left the bikes at the local shop- Flagstaff Bike, Skate & Snow, where Jared replaced Leslie’s cranky front dérailleur shifter cable & eliminated the constant squeak coming from Tom’s front disc brake pads. Jared really fell for Leslie’s beautiful Signal touring bike! | 25
27: By mid afternoon, our room was ready at the Geiser Grand Hotel, a beautiful old property originally constructed in 1889 during the gold mining boom. It closed soon after the cast & crew of the movie “Paint Your Wagon” stayed here in 1968 & was almost torn down to make room for a parking lot. Happily, the good people of Baker City & new investors came to the rescue, & a $7mm restoration project was undertaken from 1993 to 1998. Guests now fill this gem of a hotel property all year long. | 26
28: Later that day our Portland friends, John, Nadine, Joe & Claire joined us. Now the real fun part of the tour began! | Day 6: Baker City to Prairie City, OR. July 19th. 75.8 miles & 4,393' elev. gain for Tom. 52 miles & 3,186' elev. gain for Joe & 36 miles & 1,739' elev. gain for John. Leslie deserved a break after riding across Idaho in the 100 degree heat, so she sagged it with the DeBruyne Sisters as The Boys, all "slack-packing", headed out of Baker City at 8 AM. There was virtually no traffic on Highway 7 en route to Sumpter. | The farthest John had ever ridden was 30 miles, but he was up to the challenge. | This really beat camping in a tent! | 27
30: Sumpter & the valley where, in the late 19th C, dredging operations tore up the countryside in search of gold, leaving a path of mine tailings that still scar the land, 140 years later. The source of all this was the locally famous dredge, which floated, back in the day, in a pond of its own making, advancing by scooping out massive amounts of ground, processing the soil & extracting the gold within the dredge, then leaving the tailings behind. In this way, the dredge was able to advance across the entire valley floor. Such an environmentally destructive project wouldn't stand a chance of going into operation today! | 29
31: Outside Sumpter, the road went steeply upward, increasing to a 4% grade over 4 miles, gaining about 800'. Everyone hit the base of the hill & started powering towards the 5,082' summit. | 30
32: It was 94 degrees when we started up the first of this day's 3 big climbs. John got about half way to Sumpter Pass when he decided that 36 miles & 1,739' of gain was enough for one day. This was the farthest he’d ever ridden & the most elevation gain done in a day. Pretty impressive performance under some very challenging conditions. Nadine came along in sag car #1, while Tom & Joe continued on over the summit & down the 800' descent on the other side of the pass. | 31 | Joe made it to the top of 5,124' Tipton Pass, then declared victory & called it a day.
33: Tom took on the last climb, a 1,000' ascent up to 5,277' Dixie Pass while everyone else headed into Prairie City in the sag cars. The views of the Strawberry Mountains, to the south, were extraordinary as the route came over the top & down the dazzling, long & almost sensuous curves of Highway 26 into town. | 32
34: 33 | Claire had reserved some great accommodations at the Hotel Prairie. There was even room for Leslie & Tom, who had originally planned to spend the night in a local campground. The best restaurant & bar was right down the street from the hotel.
35: Day 7: Prairie City to Dayville, OR. July 20th. 46.7 miles & 584' elev. gain (all PUDs- we actually lost 900' of real elevation). All four cyclists would be part of this day's riding adventure. Mona, from New Plymouth, ID. & Wanda, from Seattle, were getting their Harley touring bikes ready for a women’s club ride into eastern OR. While we admired their style, they were impressed that we'd been pedaling bicycles in this hot & hilly country. Joe, the sprinter, made it into John Day in about 43 minutes, with John right behind. Claire & Nadine, in the sag vehicles, passed us on the road. Everyone arrived in town by 10 AM... just in time to catch the first tour of the locally famous Kam Wah Chung (next page), an Oregon State Park & museum. It honors the lives of Ing “Doc” Hay & Lung On, two Chinese immigrants who came to the area in 1887 & established themselves as the leading doctor & merchant in the region. The museum contains items left behind after Doc Hay died in 1952. The building was closed up for years, opened in 1967 & then restored as a museum reflecting how it looked in the 1940s. Amazingly, the contents had been rather miraculously preserved in the dry, high country air. | 34
37: It was 9 miles to Mount Vernon & lunch. | The next 23 miles into Dayville would provide a few surprises in the form of very, very hot temps (97+ degrees) & a steady, debilitating headwind. Joe rode off the front once again, while everyone else cruised along at a pace more in keeping with a bike tour & ... | ... enjoying the magnificent scenery. Was it our imagination, or were things greening up a bit? | 36
40: Dayville, OR. (where Tom once joked, "There is no nightlife in Dayville"). This part of Oregon had some of the most lovely farms around, but also was plagued with the highest unemployment in the State. | What a relief to arrive at the evening's destination, the Fish House Inn, built in 1908- a place Claire found on-line with room enough for everyone. The afternoon was spent cooling down, relaxing on the porch, re-hydrating & sharing war stories of today’s short but exhausting ride. | 39
41: Claire had to try a Keystone Light, the beverage & roadside litter of choice among country beer connoisseurs. | Tom stocked up at the little grocery across the street, watching Kristin ride the bronco & her brother Corbin cooling off with a nice kiddie cocktail. The adults, back in the house, cooled off with something more substantial. | John suffered a bit of heat stroke, but made it "home". | 40
42: There was, in point of fact, no nightlife in Dayville. So we created our own. Claire cooked a superb Italian dinner, Joe brought out the wiffleball gear & The Girls sat on the porch counting cars passing along on Highway 26 (there were 3 in an hour). Leslie may never want to do a loaded/camping tour again! This slack-pack travel with friends, beds & indoor conveniences (including a wheezing swamp cooler) was just too much fun. | 41
43: Day 8: Dayville to Mitchell, OR. July 21st. 38.2 miles & 2,375' elev. gain. The Girls enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Les & John decided to take the day off the bikes as Joe & Tom suited up for today's short but challenging ride. | The route along Highway 26 passed into Picture Gorge, created by uplifting & erosion from the waters of the John Day River, which was barely a trickle on this late July morning. At times, it looked like a giant had just torn the mountains apart, leaving a river at the bottom. | 42
45: The temperatures were holding in the high 70s. Joe & Tom found the road pretty easy (at one point, Joe thought we were heading down when the slope was actually about 2% upward), so we really put the hammers down & ripped up the hills on the way to the Keyes Creek Pass. | The support team was always there when needed. | Joe did very well on the 6 mile long, 7% downgrade into Mitchell (pop. 170), founded in 1873 when a post office was established at the request of a local blacksmith. | 44
47: It was, once again, over 100 degrees, so we cooled off as best we could, had a quick lunch at the only place open & then took off in the cars to explore the John Day Fossil Bed area. Leslie acted as tour guide, & everyone marveled at the colors of the volcanic ash that was deposited in the area about 38 MM years ago. Sheep Rock is the dominant peak, but the entire landscape is dramatically, staggeringly picturesque. Leslie then led a short hike up the Blue Grotto, where the blue/green ash colors predominated the hillsides. It was just too hot, & with very little shade, to do much more than a half mile on this trail (next page). We resolved to come back here when it’s cooler, as this area wants to be explored! | 46
48: Next on the itinerary was a fruit stand in nearby Kimberly &, a short time later, a cooling toe dip in the John Day River. The water was cold, clear & refreshing, even if we were only wet up to our calves! | 47
49: It was an early return to the Oregon Hotel, where everyone enjoyed relaxing on the porch, eating &... uh, drinking (we were pretty dehydrated by day’s end). The Girls spent the evening (as they did the prior evening in Dayville) counting cars passing along the street in front of the hotel. There were 4 in an hour, so John & Leslie relaxed on Main Street. It had been a long time since doing nothing felt so good. | Day 9: Mitchell to Prineville, OR. July 22nd. 49.5 miles & 2,562' elev. gain. | 48
50: The support team visited the Painted Hills... | ... while The Boys took on the superb mountains. | John tried out a new hill-climbing strategy wherein he’d stop to rest from time to time before getting very tired. Given his relatively high, lower range gearing, this was a good plan for making it up & over the top. | 2,200' of climbing brought us to Ochoco Pass...
51: ... followed by a 1,900' descent into Prineville. | With temps again approaching 100, cooling off in Ochoco Lake (next page) was like stepping into Woody Allen's "orgasmotron". | 50
53: The Prineville Best Western sure beat a night in the tent! | Day 10: Prineville to Sisters, OR. July 23rd. 40.6 miles & 1,417' elev. gain. | High traffic & a near miss (of Joe) on HWY 126 to Redmond. | 52
54: Mt. Jefferson (above) & the 3 Sisters (below). | 53
55: It was a relief to have a short day, cooler (low 90s) temps & no wind. Les & Tom were originally planning to stay at the campground in Sisters, but our friends & the Best Western kept calling us home! | Sadly for The Bean Team, Nadine, John, Claire & Joe left the tour here. Joe rode 227 miles/10,124' elev. gain (44.6'/mile), & John rode 173 miles/6,302' elev. gain (36.4'/mile), all in some very tough conditions (heat, headwinds, traffic & disappearing shoulders). Still, they never lost their enthusiasm for the trip or sense of humor when reaching our destinations. This was pretty impressive for a couple of fellows who don't spend a lot of time riding bicycles. In the meantime, Claire & Nadine had always been somewhere out ahead on the route, ready with a cold drink, sag service & words of encouragement that made it easier to take on the next hill. They would all be missed very much over the next 11 days. | 54
56: Mt. Washington (7,794') & the amazing lava flows. | 55
57: Day 11: Sisters to Vida, OR. July 24th. 71.3 miles & 2,664' elev. gain. Tom loaded up the trailer & headed towards McKenzie Pass, while John & Nadine drove Leslie's "ass to the pass". Another act of kindness, a parting gesture, from these generous friends. | North (10,085') & Middle (10,047') Sister. | The moon-scape around the "observatory". | 56
58: Mt. Jefferson (10,497', above). Nadine, John & Leslie arrived just after Tom reached the pass. We packed the panniers on Leslie's Signal & started down the gradual, serpentine descent. This was Les' idea of a good day on the bike! | It was decidedly chilly up at 5,325'... probably about 58 degrees. What a difference from eastern Oregon! | 57
59: Suddenly everything was green again! | The 4,000' descent lasted for 22 miles! | The McKenzie River | 58
60: . | The route reconnected with Highway 126 & we were joined by our old cycling buddy Roger (from Northern Tier tour fame)! He'd been following the blog & was staying at some cabins nearby with his family. It was a real kick to have Roger riding along with us once again & being escorted to this day's destination. | 59
62: Ron, Darlene Heniges & M. Doge | Dave & Carolyn Heniges cooked an incredible dinner, & we once again enjoyed good companionship & indoor plumbing (even though we slept that night on the deck atop Roger's huge blow-up mattress). | 61
63: Day 12: Vida to Fern Ridge Lake, OR. July 25th. 58.9 miles & 1,063' of PUD elev. gain. The route passed a fish hatchery along the McKenzie &, in Leaburg, the River Run Gallery, featuring unique sculptures & a little dog named Pixie. | 62
64: A 1950 Hudson Hornet, for sale at $11,500 ("runs good"). | Unfortunately, HWY 126 had, at times, very little shoulder &, at all times, very heavy traffic. | 63
65: It was a relief, therefore, to leave that road in Walterville & go onto the quiet, bucolic Camp Creek Road. | Hot, again, at 91 degrees when passing through Eugene & over the Willamette River. It seemed like a long time ago that we'd left our own bit of Riverfront back in Portland. | 64
66: The route headed west & out of town on that rare & wonderful thing- the dedicated bike path. The Fern Ridge Bike Path was perfectly smooth, with well-engineered underpasses going below the major cross streets. | Leslie scored her first Starbuck's in what seemed like ages. Riding along on a safe, empty bikeway, sucking down a frozen green tea frappichino... suddenly, the heat didn't seem so hot. | It didn't go through the best of neighborhoods, however. | 65
67: That evening, for the first time in over a week, it would be back to camping, this time at the Fern Ridge Lake CG, a popular place for boaters. | 66
68: Day 13: Fern Ridge Lake to Florence, OR. July 26th. 63 miles & 1,667' of PUDular elev. gain. As usual, the logging truck drivers gave us as much room as possible (& often a friendly waive) as they passed by. This day contained only one steep uphill climb- a 7% incline lasting several miles & taking us through the little village of Low Pass (we liked that name versus something that might have been called “Gigantic Pass” or “Killer Pass”). After everything we’d been through, this one was a ride in the park! | 67
69: Triangle Lake, where the fried food was filling & the local pastime was killing (dinner yourself). | 68
70: One sees a lot of motorcycles on country roads. What was unusual about this large group, encountered near Deadwood, OR., was that it included Harley riders, guys on BMW Euro-tourers & even a few Honda Goldwings. Ordinarily, these groups don’t mix it up a lot (but all seem very well-disposed towards cycling tourists, giving us a waive as they fly by). This group even had a support vehicle with supplies & refreshments. | 69
71: Highway 36 earned a scenic "best in class". | The last 14.5 miles from Mapleton to Florence were mixed, as the road surface was near perfect & the shoulder wide enough to ride 3 abreast, but a chilly headwind was coming off the coast & our progress slowed. Leslie led out, as usual, permitting Tom to draft as we approached Cushman, where the Siuslaw River really opened up as it neared the sea. | Florence, & a very nice campground at the “Port of Siuslaw”, where the tent was protected behind wooden barricades designed to break the considerable winds that blow here most of the time. 3 laundry pins (where 1 usually does the job) per item were needed to keep the laundry from being ripped off the line. | 70
72: It was downright chilly going into town for a little retail therapy & dinner at Mo's- a Leslie tradition. Next morning... | 71
75: Day 14: Florence to Wakonda Beach. July 27th. 34.7 miles & 1,824' of PUDular elev. gain. | The silent, gauzy fogged in early morning gave way to a chilly, but bright day. Sun, on the Oregon coast! Things were looking up as we prepared to leave Florence on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route. | After 754 miles (for Tom) we'd technically reached the Coast & the end (or beginning) of the TransAmerica Bike Route. Still, we didn't feel like celebrating as we couldn't get to the Pacific, out beyond the Oregon Dunes National Rec. Area | HWY 101 had a good shoulder leaving Florence, but, passing through Heceta Junction, signs warned of “Bikes in the Roadway- Next 7 Miles”. Nothing for it but to ride out in the traffic lane, as the shoulder shrank to a white line. In fact, there were places going around curves where we just waited for a break in the traffic before going on.
76: The wind gained strength all morning & soon began to affect our headway, forcing us to gear down to the small ring & a big cog just to keep moving forward on the flats. It really came on as we approached Heceta Head, & sometimes caught us unawares when coming around a headland. We later learned it was blowing at a steady 40 mph- enough to keep all the coastal fishing fleets in port. | Near Heceta Head it was necessary to pull over & get our heart rates down a bit. The winds knocked his hands around so violently here that Tom had to steady the camera on a wall to get this image of the lighthouse. As we pulled out & around a turn, Leslie was almost knocked off her bike by the cross winds. Tom thought he was going down, too & so unclipped in the middle of the road, almost brought to a complete stop despite the downhill slope. Later, Les did get blown into a shallow ditch by the roadside. Happily, it was not very deep, & she was able to keep control of the bike.
77: We shot through the tunnel with the help of a motorcyclist who held back while we were inside. | Bob Creek Bridge | We were exhausted by Cape Perpetua- nerves shot & Tom’s shoulder pain, something that was just a nagging irritant before, was in full flower. No matter how many times he'd remember to keep the shoulders down & relaxed, they'd still tense up in these challenging conditions. Getting off the bike might find him near nausea or yelling out in genuinely excruciating pain. It was a real pity, given how staggeringly exquisite this section of the Oregon coast was, made more so given the astonishingly clear day. | Leslie, by comparison, was holding up well (but still pretty miserable). Note how the wind is pressing the vest against her chest. | 76
78: Wakonda Beach SP, a nice, protected campsite. Tom conked out, baking his throbbing shoulder in the afternoon sun. | It had taken us 6 hours to ride less than 35 miles- a new record for slowness. Tom thought this the toughest day of the tour, while Leslie still held out that Day 5 into Baker City (in the heat) was the worst. Dinner was not to be, as the restaurant shown on our maps was closed, the closest places being back in Yachats or 3 miles ahead in Waldport, so it was jerky, almonds, crackers & cookies before Tom went in the bag at 6 PM- sleeping for the next 12 hours. | Day 15: Wakonda Beach to Nye Beach, OR. July 28th. 25.6 miles & 945' of PUDs. | 77
79: This day would be different. We resolved to depart as early as possible to avoid the winds, which (we were told) generally came up around 10 AM. We broke camp in a record 40 minutes & left by 6:45 AM, wearing everything we had, as it was 52 degrees & damp. Happily, Tom's shoulder felt fine, the road's shoulder was wide & the air calm as Leslie hammered along 101 towards Waldport (where there were seals). She set a strong pace when passing Seal Rock (where there were no seals), only two thoughts in her mind- get finished before the winds came up & get a hot breakfast! It was thrilling to make very good time into Newport (next page). The bridge was a bit of a challenge for Tom, as the trailer was about as wide as the sidewalk, but things could have been much, much worse. A sign warned of “High winds on bridge when flashing”. On this morning, at least, the lights were darkened. | 78
80: Rolling along into Newport, OR. | 79
81: Newport has about 10,000 people & is one of our favorite communities. It is a working fishing village, & feels a lot like towns along the New England coast. | 80
82: Yet all of that industry, with its hard characters & pungent aromas, co-exists side by side with gift shops & restaurants for city folks (& bike tourists) desiring a little taste of the sea. | 81
85: Yakina Head Lighthouse | The Sylvia Beach Hotel is just too good to leave after half a day & one evening, so we decided to stay an extra day. Nye Beach is an easy to miss little gem of a seaside community just off of Highway 101 & north of Newport. There is a small retail area, a few nice little shops, some good chowder houses, a few inns/motels, a bar or two (of course) and the SBH. This place attracts a very loyal & interesting following- some folks coming here year after year & staying in a different room each time or always coming back to their favorite. The hotel sits high on a bluff overlooking the | 1.5 rest days: July 28th & 29th. Nye Beach & the Sylvia Beach Hotel. | seemingly never calm Pacific. The main entrance goes past a few rooms without ocean views but, if they are situated on the ground floor, having splendid porches that get wonderful afternoon sun. This is where Leslie spent most of Sunday afternoon (in the company of Shelly, the resident cat). These rooms are also perfect for parking touring bikes. Tom spent his time in the Loft, reading & looking north along the attractive beach.
86: Our first room, Jules Verne, was one of the best. From the moment you enter & see the barnacle & starfish encrusted bed you feel like M. Aronnax aboard the Nautilus. From the bed you can go eye to eye with a giant squid or seek refuge in the bathroom, where a beautiful mural depicts Verne’s other works. | 85
87: Rooms are named after authors & decorated accordingly- Hemingway (our room for the 2nd night), Collette, Twain, Steinbeck, Melville, Jane Austin, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickenson, Ken Kesey, Tolkien & more. One comes here because of the charm, literary theme & the people who love such things. There are no phones, TVs or radios. The beach is a draw as well, but we’ve noticed, after several visits, that guests often look inward, spending much of their stay in the delightful library that looks out over the ocean, speaking in whispers, often falling asleep or just being contemplative. At breakfast & the optional 5 course dinners one meets & chats with fellow guests, so if your tastes run to eating in silence or while watching TV, the Holiday Inn Express down in Newport might be more to your liking. | Day 16: Nye Beach to Pacific City, OR. July 30th. 51.7 miles & 2,802' of PUDs. It was sooooo hard to leave the SBH. If you want to call yourself a bike tourist, however, you must occasionally ride the bike. So we had a hearty breakfast, put on all of our clothes & began spinning the cranks on this very grey, chilly morning out of Nye Beach. | 86
88: Along the empty Otter Crest Loop road, Otter Rock & looking north to the appropriately named (by Captain Cook) Cape Foulweather. | 87
89: The Rocky Creek Bridge. | Despite the chill, the winds had died along with the sunny skies (which seem to work in tandem, just to keep you alert). | All in all, it wasn't a bad trade-off. | 88
90: Off to the east, the Coast Range mountains provided a striking backdrop to the beaches. The Siletz Marshes & River were at full flow & the tide was out as we looped around Siletz Bay. Devil's Lake Road was a wonderful, low traffic alternative to riding through busy Lincoln City, but the bike tourist has to be prepared to run through some high water if taking this route. | 89
91: By late afternoon the sun came out (& still no wind!) | Neskowin Creek | Entering Pacific City & home for the evening. Pacific City is dominated by an offshore feature similar to Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock (& shares the same name). The campground was hopping with buns of all sizes & colors. | 90
92: It was only a short walk to one of the best beaches on the coast, where all sorts of beachy activities were taking place. The north end was dominated by a huge sand dune about 200' high, attracting people with stronger legs than we (at least at that point in the day). Leslie had been here before & knew the local history, which included over 100 years of dory boat fishing. The old boats were powered by oars, but the newer ones have flat bottoms & powerful outboards so they can be launched directly from trailers then run right onto the beach upon their return. It was fascinating watching some dorymen launching their boat amidst all the tourists taking in the sun. | 91
93: Day 17: Pacific City to Wheeler, OR. July 31st. 58.7 miles & 3,251' of PUDs | The morning started out well, dry with no dew to deal with, & the air temp seemed warmer than yesterday. We roused out early & climbed out of Pacific City feeling pretty frisky, enjoying the low traffic & good shoulder on Sand Lake Road. | The day's first challenge- the 620', 8% to 10% grade up past Cape Lookout. The temps seemed to be dropping, but it was hot work getting to the top, so we didn’t put on too many clothes. | 92
94: Once on top, however, at an elevation of about 840', we were almost in the clouds, soaked with perspiration & mist. It was time to put on rain jackets to keep out the chill on the 830' descent down the other side. The road came out at beach level near the Cape Lookout State Park & scenic Netarts Bay. The temps continued to drop as we ran along the Bay, riding up & down PUDs all the way. Despite the clothes, we were getting chilled & needed to find a warm place to recover. | 93
95: Happily, the next village was Oceanside, where we stopped to warm up & have second breakfast before taking on another big hill. | 94
96: We'd hoped that our restaurant in Oceanside had hot air hand blowers in the restrooms, as it would have been possible to dry our clothes out a bit. No such luck. The road leaving town started immediately rising about 500' up to the Cape Meares State Scenic area. Tom explored the lighthouse & looked back at the hill we had just climbed while Les took a short rest. The Cape Meares Loop Road out of the park was closed to vehicular traffic for reasons that soon became very apparent. Happily, it was open to cyclists. | 95
97: Back down at sea level & running along Tillamook Bay on Bay Ocean Road we passed a curious outhouse. The State had placed floating toilets in the Bay in an attempt to keep raw sewage from entering the ecosystem. | 96
98: This calf still couldn’t walk & mom, ever attentive, was licking the baby clean. It’s enough to make you go vegetarian. By 1 PM things went downhill (figuratively) in a hurry as we passed through Tillamook, fighting traffic, cold & stressed, along Highway 101. Then the road surface got very lumpy (almost like parts of east Texas), the shoulder disappeared at times, the temps continued to drop &, perhaps worst of all, a strong headwind came up. There was no sign of the afternoon sun/warming seen these past several days, & we became increasingly miserable. We were done tom & pea hen turkeys, so we abandoned the idea of camping & stayed at the Wheeler Lodge, right on the Nehalem River. | Day 18: Wheeler to Astoria, OR. Aug. 1st. 48 miles & 2,992' of PUDs. | Yesterday was difficult but at least it didn't rain. Today, it rained. | 97
99: This time we tried a different approach to keeping warm & dry(er)- wearing base layers normally reserved for nights in camp. It worked! Still, it was a chore to constantly put on then take off the rain jackets. | 98
100: Cannon Beach
101: Cannon Beach, pop. 1,690, is one of the more successful communities along the Oregon Coast. Being close to Portland/Salem, it gets a lot of traffic, drawn by fantastic Haystack Rock as well as the well developed, quaint shopping district with its many art galleries, boutiques & restaurants. Just outside town, there was yet another PUD, a little 300 footer which seemed harder than it should have been (perhaps due to the maple bar, bear claw & apple fritter with Coke/coffee that we shared while passing through town). | We roared into Seaside, a beach-front community that Leslie remembered with something less than fondness, dating from her many visits there in the 1960s & 1970s. It used to be a bit run down & very touristy. Now, it has a pleasing beach walk, with expensive, charming homes & a central park-like area featuring a statue of Lewis & Clark, the bronze being called, “End of the Trail”. The salt refinery was used by the Corps of Discovery. | 100
102: Seaside, OR. | Going over the bridge into Astoria. | Day 19: Astoria to Rainier, OR. August 2nd. 50.3 miles & 2,566' of PUDs. Now on the Lewis & Clark Bike Route, we left the nondescript motel on the west side of Astoria & rode along the plank road waterfront parkway. It was tough going as the gaps between the boards were perfectly spaced for eating bike tires. | 101
103: Astoria seemed to be a community with a long history (beginning with the Corps of Discovery, then fur trapping, logging, shipping, fishing & canning) of people & industries that had come & gone, leaving the city with the potential to tap into that heritage to attract tourism. The locals were trying, as the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria Column & other museums were all popular destinations. Everything had, however, a bit of a run down look, & the waterfront still showed many signs of wear. Perhaps they couldn't go totally in the direction of Cannon Beach, with its designer boutiques & galleries, but Newport, where the fishing industry lived side by side with tourism, seemed like a good model. Astoria wasn't quite there yet when The Bean Team passed through. | 102
104: Highway 30 is the only major road between Astoria & the Port of Longview, where there is easy access to Seattle & Portland. There were the occasional lovely scenes along the way, but for the most part, this day's ride was... | ... heads down, concentrating on staying in the shoulder, going up PUDs & dealing with the changing weather, which went from cloudy to misty to light rain to misty to cloudy & so on all day. At times, & usually when going uphill, the shoulder all but disappeared. At other times, it was as wide as a traffic lane. The one consistency was the traffic, which was high volume, fast, noisy & exhausting.
105: There was only one motel in Rainier (with a very nice proprietor but a room rate totally out of proportion to the quality of the property). They must know we don’t have many options when traveling by bike. | Dinner & service were excellent at El Tapatio, where some artist did a truly remarkable job on the murals. | Day 20: Rainier to Portland, OR. August 3rd. 51.4 miles & 1,253' of PUDs. This was it! The final push to home. By this time we were very ready to be off the road! | Happily, the route was, for the most part, flat with an outstanding shoulder. We also had a slight tail wind (!). Tom crossed the 1,000 mile mark about 4 miles west of Columbia City, the trailer flags pointing the way east. | 104
106: By mid-day we were climbing the little hill leading to the iconic (for Portland) St. John’s Bridge- built by the same fellow who constructed the Brooklyn Bridge. The skies turned blue, the sun came out & the temps warmed up, almost like the City was welcoming us home. The final leg, along Portland’s wonderful waterfront/bikeway, was one of the most outstanding stretches of urban cycling one can find anywhere in the country. | 105
107: The ORiDa tour, the 8th for the Bean Team, was a study in contradictions. The route went along some of the most stunning, magnificent country through which we had yet cycled. The mountains & high plateau of Idaho & eastern Oregon were astonishing, while the Oregon coast offered vistas rarely found anywhere else in the world. Riding with friends Joe & John was a joy. Their companionship, senses of humor & dedication were inspiring. Having the gear carried by Claire & Nadine in the sag vehicles was a luxury we've rarely enjoyed, & being with them in charming accommodations in the evenings (with good food) spoiled us for toughing it out in the tent. As always, there were kind & generous trail angels all along the route, as well as people reading the blog posts who passed along words of encouragement that made the hills a little less hilly, the heat a bit less hot. It was always comforting to know we really weren't alone after all. Unfortunately, this tour also featured some of the most extreme weather we've ever encountered, with 8 of the 20 days being in the high 90s to low 100s, followed by virtually every day along the coast cool, in the mid 50s to 60s, & often wet. The winds along the coast stopped us in our tracks, & the chilly, misty rain made for miserable riding conditions. At times, the traffic was so frighteningly close & fast that we tried not to look (but had to anyway, as the shoulder kept getting more & more narrow & soon we'd be riding out in traffic). You expect Idaho & eastern Oregon to be hilly, but not a coast road. Yet Highway 101 was just that, virtually every day. Tom rode a total of 1,037 miles/47,456' elev. gain & Leslie, who helped the sag team & served as tour guide in central Oregon rode 900 miles/39,333' of gain. At an average of 45.7' of gain/mile, this was the hilliest, most PUDular tour we'd ever attempted. By comparison, the Lewis & Clark tour in 2010 was 40.1'/mile, the Northern Tier in 2011 was 26.0'/mile & the Southern Tier in 2012 was 26.1'/mile. It was easy to exhaust yourself on this ride across Idaho & Oregon! As we knew, Leslie struggled in the heat out east, while Tom was challenged by the damp chill of the Coast. The good news was that someone was always strong & on-hand to take the lead, care for the other & generally keep the Bean Team's spirits up. That was certainly worth remembering as we contemplated the next tour. Despite the challenges, we love cycle touring & look forward to doing more in the future. One gets a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of one of these rides, a sense that you've just done something not everyone would care to do or, more to the point, be able to do. So stay tuned. We still have a few good hills to climb yet! | 106 | It felt great to get home, throw all the biking gear in the entry & go straight to the porch for a beer & cheese, sitting in the sun & watching people walk past our townhouse as if nothing remarkable had just happened.