Tuesday, 14 September 2010

All the way to Californ I A

Two nights at the Hostel in Seaside OR still hadn’t shifted my cold and with a dismal weather forecast for the Oregon coast I reluctantly donned my wet weather gear and headed out.

The term waterproof was turning into a misnomer where my jacket was concerned, for some reason the “Event” fabric was starting to leak like a sieve; the jacket had served me well and cost an arm and a leg so I wasn’t giving up on it. After putting it in the wash and applying a liberal application of Nik spray-on reproofer, it looked a bit more up for the job!

My jacket wasn’t the only garment that received a bit of work before venturing into the maelstrom, I had lugged waterproof trousers all the way across the states and used them twice and come close to ditching them on numerous occasions. I decided they may prove less sweaty and more wearer friendly if I turned them into shorts, so with some deft use of my Swiss Army knife I was sporting a natty pair of waterproof shorts.

With all my kit ready I donned my Goretex trappers hat and headed out. A few miles up the road I decided to put on my luminous sash as visibility was dire and the traffic busy. The slight problem being my sash wasn’t in my bar bag. I had become attached to my sash, although a bit Miss Universe in it’s style, I felt that the friendliness of the drivers in Washington State was somehow due to it’s magical luminous powers!

Stood by the side of the rode I was convinced the sash was in the bike shed at the hostel, so I turned round and cycled back down the road in the rain to try and find it. Not only is it tedious back tracking over ground you’ve just cycled, but finding the sash wasn’t there was a double dose of tedium.

I headed off again up the steep hill towards Cannon Beach and decided I’d drown the sorrows of my loss in a large latte, at a superb bakery \ cafe I had found on the way through on the Trans Am.. It was going to be one of those days, the place was closed so I back tracked again to another coffee shop a mile back up the road.
I had only been on the road an hour, but the chill had already got through to my bones, it was going to be a cold, long day.

Later I stopped in Tillamook to get some supplies in for that nights camp at the lovely Cape Lookout State Park. I arrived to find Clare and David were there, having only done a short day on my rest day. There where other new faces too, Bob 71 heading to the Oregon \ California border, and Carl heading down to San Diego.

I went over to chat with Carl as I was interested in his ultralight tarp and hammock rig that looked really comfy. The last I saw of Carl he was heading through the dark woods to find the shower block, even with a site map it took me 20 minutes, I think he was navigating by the stars! I never saw him again!

Just feet from our tents, the sun set over the ocean was stunning and the highlight of a grey and wet day.
It was another grey drizzly start the next day and Claire kindly dropped me over a bowl of porridge with honey and banana to warm me up. To make things even more fun the State Park was right at the bottom of a huge climb, so I was soon up out the saddle and getting my muscles working.

I would soon be arriving in Otis at the point where the Trans Am and Pacific Coast routes cross and riding on in to unknown territory. But that wasn’t before a visit to “The World Famous” Otis Cafe, stuck on a junction in the middle of nowhere, but attracting a huge clientele from far and wide. Feeling damp and cold I opted for the German potatoes, a cross between mash and hash browns with mushroom and bacon and grilled cheese, just the carb boost I needed!

I made it to Beverly Beach State Park that night to find I was the only one there and with fresh bear warning signs up I felt a bit lonely! I needn’t have worried, half an hour later Bob appeared towing his Bob trailer and preceded to hand me a cold beer.

We went about our evening duties, cook, wash kit, take a shower etc, occasionally stopping for a chat and just as it was getting dark five cyclists turned up. These young guys had cycled well over a hundred miles from Portland OR and were all from southern Ireland. Bob commented to one that he had an English accent, I quickly butted in that they were from the Emerald Isle and the Irish lad riley remarked that he’s never been called English before.

The group got a bonfire going and sat chatting, fresh on their first day they had boundless energy, me and Bob said our goodnights and called it a day. I never saw the Irish guys again, heading south down the coast, packed light, these guys where flying!

It seemed that most days were consisting of steep climbs up onto Capes, some with old lighthouses, followed by twisty fast descents into seaside tourist towns in varying states of disrepair. Cape Foulweather seemed to be aptly named, although there was a subtle hint of blue in the sky.

The Otter Crest Loop near Otter Rock, was a one way route with a bike lane hugging forested precipices into the sea, a great break from the the logging trucks and RVs up on the busy highway 101.
The other challenge on the 101 are the huge bridges over the various estuaries, rivers and ports along this coastline, many not having a shoulder to ride on. I was lucky on the Newport Bridge when a cycle friendly driver slowed up and followed me slowly over the bridge holding all the traffic back.

The Honeyman State Parks hiker biker area was deep in the woods and full of cyclists when I turned up, including David, Claire and Bob. The Park must hold the record for the longest walk to the toilet \ shower block, a bit scary at night that’s for sure.

The next day was full of natural delights including a Grey whale not far out to sea and a huge cave full of sea lions.

Between Florence and North Bend lies the Oregan Dunes Recreation Area, around 50 miles of huge dunes between the sea and the 101. The tourist trade has cashed in on these by renting out ATV’s and dune boards so people can go tare arsing around on them. Some areas are left for the wildlife and on a lookout over one of these areas I was joined by a coach load of “Blue Rinsers” (OAPs).

As they crowded around my bike the questions started flying and I immediately had to go into presentation mode followed by a Q&A, forgetting that as usual yesterdays cleaned cycling shorts where showing their gusset to the world on my back rack drying in the sun! Fortunately non of the crowd asked any laundry specific questions!

There are some long stretches of forested fast roads on the 101 with varying widths of shoulder to ride on and on one day it seems that that was all that was on offer. I found Claire and David stopped at Laundromat, they were a bit despondent with the route having had a few close shaves with trucks. At least the sun was starting to shine and we were soon rewarded with some amazing seascapes of rock stacks and rolling surf.

I pulled into a roadside grocery store and Deli (deep fried food store!) to get some lunch, the choice was a bit limited so I went for a Gatorade and some Potato Wedges, much to the amusement of the store owner. “Potato Wedges, Delores due hear that, the English boy wants ‘Potato Wedges’ “(in a bad English accent!), I protested at their light hearted banter. “So what do I call your deep fried potato products then?” “There JoJo’s” she insisted, “but as your English you can call them chips”. “Chips…., chips have four sides, those have three, hence wedge!” The banter continued until I had my polystyrene carton of JoJo’s, Wedges, Chips… whatever, firmly in my grasp. As usually the Deli produce was as dire as ever, but sometimes it’s any port in a storm!

Riding with David and Claire we passed a three wheeled recumbent with an old gentleman on it going up a hill, we said our hellos and pedalled passed. The next thing I see him racing up behind me rapidly, he asks if where heading for Humbug Mountain State Park, which we are…”It’s closed for a refit” he informs us, I complement him on his uphill riding speed, he smiles and advises me that the battery pack and motor helps a bit!! Might get one added to my bike for some of these hills!

We ended up at Arizona Beach instead and get a big camping area to ourselves set amongst some Pine trees in a field. With the Pacific waves crashing on the shore in the distance, I get one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in ages.

During the next days ride we get the rare chance to ride close to the beach with unhindered views. I spend the last day with David and Claire as there having a rest day, so I say my goodbyes at Brookings OR and head off on my own to cross the border into California and a night in Crescent City. Whilst unpacking this evening I spotted my lucky luminous sash hidden at the bottom of my pannier, maybe the lorries will be kinder to me again!

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  1. Some nice blue sky photos up there, can't be all bad! If it's any consolation, it's been pouring with rain back in Blighty, think of the poor guys in the Tour of Britain! I know the feeling with trucks on the coastal highway, not fun but what can you do? Stay safe!

  2. Phenomenal photos, Stu! So glad to visit your blog and read the very interesting posts!! Awesome!!

    Peace :)


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