Day 15: May 24th; Port Orford – Brookings OR; 50 miles

We didn’t make it to California today… and that’s okay! We’re only a few miles from the border so we’ll get there super early in the morning! Plus with everyone we run into saying to get through California as quickly as possible because traffic is horrible, there aren’t any shoulders, you’ll get everything stolen, and you’ll end up murdered (seriously… we need to stop talking to people) we are in no rush.

Today started with a very misty morning along the coast. Got to see more of the coastal beauty, but with all the rocks shrouded in fog, it added an eerie mystical vibe to the atmosphere… I loved it! Out of the mist, however, we ran into a garden of dinosaurs… the T Rex was not happy to have us there!

We rode another unscenic few miles where I don’t remember anything to Gold Beach. We had coffee and muffins and mentally prepared ourselves for a monster of a hill we knew was waiting for us.

And so we climbed it. Both of us agreed it wasn’t nearly as bad as we anticipated. Plus we were rewarded with an amazing downhill… which at the very last turn dumped us out into sparkling blue water with gorgeous rocks which we just had to stop at to snap some pictures.

We had some more considerable climbs in Samual H Boardman State Scenic Corridor where we didn’t stop for anything scenic. Except at lunch we got stuck talking to an ex-Californian for entirely too long… Sheena got to hear all about my frustrations of the situation for the rest of the ride.

But alas we got out of the conversation and faced some headwinds heading into Brookings. We decided to get some Subway (courtesy of Matt, an old co-worker… thanks Matt you rock!) to do some planning. We figured with headwinds, hills, and it already being pretty late we were going to stay in a hotel and do some planning for the next few days over some Mexican food. So California, you’re just gonna have to wait till the morning for our joyous arrival!

Day 14: May 23rd;North Bend – Humbug Mountain State Park OR; 63 miles

This morning was a doozy. Thank God we started it out with coffee at the motel. We should’ve known that starting the day out on a road named “Seven Devils Road” would be pretty darn close to hell. On the elevation maps it showed only two hills that we were mentally prepared for. Turns out it was nothing but up and down for miles on end. Paired with the misty fog and no services for miles, it was like we were stuck in the twilight zone. But after 30 miles of this, we finally found ourselves in Bandon and had a great cup of coffee, breakfast, and a much needed 1.5 hour break.

One thing that’s been super annoying this trip is never knowing what clothes to wear. The nights and mornings are freezing so we bundle up for winter’s worst. We peel off layers as we go, but that’s where it gets confusing. We sweat like crazy going up hill, but later that sweat freezes on downhills. We’re constantly stopping to take off layers only to put them back on 10 minutes later. I gotta say, I kinda miss that heat wave in Washington.

Another thing of note is today all traffic stopped when two deer crossed the road. They show more respect for those two deer than they do for two cyclists – us!

Not much today in the way of scenery. We were stuck in the boonies for most of the ride so once again I zoned out and don’t remember the majority of it. In fact, I passed time by trying to remember what I was zoned out thinking about for 10 minutes. It’s enough to make you crazy.

But we did catch some good coastal scenery our last 6 miles of the ride. Was absolutely gorgeous! Before we started those miles, however, we ran into a couple hitchhiking their way across America. We stuck around to see how long it would take for them to land a ride. Sure enough they got a ride in less than 5 minutes. Needless to say, sheena was not pleased that we couldn’t hitch a ride to our destination.

We’re staying at Humbug State Park tonight. It’s very misty out and looks like typical Pacific Northwest, so I love it. Once again we ran into the Norwegians, who will now be renamed The Germans, who had similar thoughts on the horrors of Seven Devils Road. They had a much tougher day than us… a raccoon stole all their food last night, she got a flat tire, and their tent poles broke. But they still have a positive attitude and are nothing but smiles!

Tomorrow we have another hilly day… but it looks like we’ll have tailwinds (they were lacking today). Hopefully they’ll push us through to California!

Day 14: May 22; Florence – North Bend OR; 60 miles

We made our return to Florence! Apparently Florence is pretty big because technically we stayed there last night, but we rode through the 15 miles to Florence proper pretty quickly. But not before taking in some gorgeous views! Below is atop Heceta Head just past a tunnel. The view was stunning and there were tons of sea lions swimming down below. (I’ll get back to the sea lions later)

After doing some research, we decided to stop at a cafe for breakfast in Florence. The cafe we chose was right next to a subway we camped out for a few hours the last day of the Transam. Reminiscing about the good old days and the yelp reviews of how good their bacon is made it a must stop. And holy moly was their bacon good. Perfectly cooked thick cut bacon the likes of which I have never had at any diner before. I daydreamed about that bacon for miles after we left.

The route deviated from the coast the entire rest of the ride. We were riding next to Oregon dunes national recreational area the entire stretch which blocked out the ocean and we caught very few glimpses of the dunes. Because we were stuck in the woods all day, nothing worth taking a picture of.

At first we had headwinds. Which was super disappointing and disheartening following yesterday. BUT after noon, the winds again were in our favor and pushed us forward. We blew through 30+ miles without a break. Needless to say I zoned way out and can’t really remember anything about that part of the ride.

One thought sheena and I both share is our feelings about semis and shoulders. Because they are so obnoxious and huge, we can usually hear the behemoths coming from pretty far off. How we feel about them is entirely dependent on the amount of shoulder we have. When there is barely a shoulder, we hold our breath and think, “oh god oh god please don’t hit us”. When there is a nice big shoulder, we welcome them passing us because it means catching a huge draft to push us along for a good 5 seconds. When paired with a good tail wind gust, it feels like we are in Mario Kart and just passed over a turbo boost. It’s actually a lot of fun.

Along today’s ride, we ran into a couple we saw in San Juan Islands. We don’t remember where they’re from, but we call them the Norwegians anyway. They’re really nice and we feel as though they might be our “Monica” for this trip. During the transam we continually ran into Monica during the trail during different stretches. We will probably have similar run ins do with the Norwegians! Unfortunately, they were intrigued by the advertised Sea Lion Caves and were suckered into paying an exorbitant fee to see them. After they already paid, the owner said it’s a bad time to see the sea lions cause they’re all in the water with their pups. Talk about getting swindled! We were warned by the Canadian couple yesterday to not go down to the caves because you can just see them from the road. Wish the Norwegians got the same advice!

After crossing the bridge into North Bend with them (we got honked at for a good solid 10 seconds… so Sheena gave her a piece of her mind) we split off. We could’ve gone further to take advantage of the obnoxious tailwinds, but I was exhausted from the constant wind and cars passing that I needed to stop. Just listening to noise like that takes more out of you than you’d think. We decided to not deal with the wind anymore and instead opted for a motel in town. Awesome decision. We had a very filling dinner and now are watching Netflix! Great way to end the day. Plus in 2 days we’ll be in California!

Day 13: May 21st; Lincoln City – Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park (Florence…?) OR; 65 miles

Today we found out why it is more popular to ride southbound on the pacific coast. Today we got very well acquainted with tailwinds and they were fantastic.

We headed out early as per usual and went through the usual coffee routine. The sun was shining which could only mean one thing… wind was coming. I learned this during the Transam. The sunnier the day, the windier the afternoon. Whereas it was usually unpredictable on the Transam whether or not the winds would be in our favor, the prevailing winds of the pacific tend to go south. Just like us.

We were cruising along at a pretty substantial clip passing absolutely beautiful coastal landscapes. They sure weren’t lying when they said the Oregon coast is some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

Oh! And we saw whales! Finally!! Doug was adamant about us riding Otter Crest Loop – he guaranteed us we’d see whales. Doug did not lead us astray – as soon as we pulled in, I saw one breaching, spouting and everything. Unfortunately, Sheena just missed it. We cycled a little more up the road to the final lookout, and sure enough there was one lone whale swimming around in the kelp. Now that she can cross “seeing a whale” off her list, Sheena’s only “must do’s” of the trip is not getting hit by a car.

We made a couple stops in some of the coastal towns – boy are they cute. We made it to our original destination, Yachats around 1:30pm, plenty of time to do some more riding. We stayed in town for a while, where we ran into a couple from Canada cycling from San Diego to Victoria. The winds were not in their favor, unfortunately and their mood reflected that. We saw a few more cyclists pass by. Definitely a record for the most cyclists seen in one day!

We decided to go another 9 or so miles to Searose when the wind was still kicking. We rode up some pretty substantial hills, but with the wind blowing us up as hard as it was, they were relatively easy. And apparently distracting because we blew (pun intended) right past Searose without even noticing. Maybe it was during the time I was experimenting with how far the wind alone could push me up a small grade hill without pedaling. 3/4 of the way in case you were wondering – it was that strong.

Because backtracking 1 mile against wind to Searose sounded like cruel and unusual punishment for missing it, we decided that 4 miles to Carl G. Washburn State Park was the more appealing option. And we flew there. It’s a nice park with pretty moss covered trees everywhere. But the wind is still kicking so we’re praying one doesn’t crash into our tents tonight! There are also bears in the area, so everything scented has to be placed in a bear box overnight. Should sleep well tonight!

We’re sharing the biker/biker site with a fellow biker who is cycling all over. Alan, a retired British bloke, is hiking and biking until “I’m in a wheelchair”. He’s hiked the John Muir Trail 3x in his lifetime and has loads of experience in the Sierras. I picked his brain a little to see his thoughts on the JMT. I guess since he did it 3x, he must really love it!

Another early night. No service so this’ll have to be posted tomorrow! Probably will get a bunch of frantic texts from my parents whenever we get service tomorrow… Fingers crossed we’ll have the same luck with winds!

Day 12: May 20; Rockaway Beach – Lincoln City OR; 60 miles

Today wasn’t our favorite. The first 17 miles were a bit of a blur because of our desperate search for coffee. McDonalds to the rescue again! After we got all caffeinated we were ready to tackle the day.

Now that we have an elevation map, we can see what’s in store for us with regards to hills. Most of them are pretty small with little elevation gain. Some of them however look absolutely daunting and we climbed 2 of them today. They were a lot steeper and longer than we anticipated and they took a lot out of us mentally. Just like the Appalachians, you think you’re at the top, but you turn the corner and there’s more! I’ve gotten good at using road signs to figure out what to expect. If there’s a “Passing lane 2 miles”, you know you’re in for one heck of a hill. And there is no sweeter sign than, “right lane ends” to know you finally reached the terminus and are about to reap the reward of a splendid downhill.

Going up the first hill we came across some hand glide and paragliding folks. Really neat to see them just launch themselves down from a cliff.

Also going up a hill, we noticed that to the left was a barren field, likely decimated by fire while the right side was lush and beautiful. Crazy to see the complete contrast.

And one last tidbit about this first hill (seriously so much happened on this hill… I mean it was 2 miles). As we were trudging along, a pickup truck pulled up right next to us driving slowly. In the passengers seat was a lady wagging her finger at us telling us, “you are crazy for riding on this road. You shouldn’t be on it” before driving off. Because she drove off before either of us could register the situation (and also because we were focused on not getting hit by the car her husband was driving entirely too close to us), we couldn’t react. I mean, the road we were on had a bike lane with frequent signs that bicycles were on the road… we’re not quite sure why she thought we shouldn’t be on it. But some people just want an excuse to wag that finger. Sheena was hoping she would be at the top of the hill so she could give her a taste of finger wagging medicine, but we must’ve been too slow because she was never seen of again.

Once again, rural Oregon reminds me more of Kentucky than Kentucky reminds me of Kentucky. Trucks with ATVs in the bed were heading out in droves to go mudding and we heard our first gunshots. We were looking at a map near someone’s driveway, and not two minutes later we heard a gunshot followed by a pump and a second gunshot. Taking it as a warning shot to get off their property, we high tailed it out of there immediately, not caring at all if we were going the wrong way.

We continued to follow 101 and today kept going from coast to further inland. We wish we would just stay by the coast! But it looks like our wish is coming true soon.

We’re staying at Devil’s Lake Recreation Park which has an awesome biker/hiker section. In fact, we met our first hiker using the site! Doug is hiking up the coast for a few days. He started Thursday and is ending tomorrow. He has been retired for 8 years and has been doing hiking trips ever since. He has already section hiked the PCT.

we talked to him for a while which is why this post is being written fairly quickly because I am ready for bed! We had 2 days logging truck free (they don’t operate on the weekends) but we get to contend with them again tomorrow. I am not thrilled with that, but we’ll get through it!

Day 11: May 19th; Astoria – Rockaway Beach, 51 miles

Today started with another bang! This time I successfully made it down any flight of stairs I encountered undeterred, but had trouble negotiating a bike path. Not even a mile into the ride, I was looking at a sign showing a stick figure of a guy on a bike flying off said bike due to getting his tire stuck in a railroad tie. Obviously serving as a warning, I took special care to avoid the ties. But all the care in the world sometimes isn’t enough for my clumsiness, and I felt myself become the stick figure man as my wheels got caught in a tie and I went flying over my handlebars. As violent as that sounds, I got up alright. I think after years of dealing with falls, I’ve learned how to do it the right way. And besides, what’re a few more bumps and bruises at this point?

We made our way out of Astoria and through some really cute towns on our way towards the coast. We stopped 17 miles into the ride in Seaside for coffee. Our coffee stops in the morning are pivotal. Sets the mood for the whole day. Neither of us weened ourselves off coffee prior to this trip like we did the Transam, so let’s just say we’re less than jovial in the morning. The only reason we ride those first 10-20 miles in the morning so quickly is because we’re itching for a cup o’ joe to perk us up. Today we sought refuge in a McDonalds. We both agree they have great coffee.

Not long after our caffeine fix, we finally made it to highway 101 and the Oregon coast! Anyone we encounter tells us about how beautiful the Oregon coast is and how it’s arguably the most spectacular portion of the ride. We can’t wait to see if that’s an accurate description.

We had a pit stop at Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock. After the Transam, my friends met me on Portland and we took a day trip to Cannon Beach. We drove a small portion of 101 to the beach, and I remember thinking “one of these days I’ll be riding my bike on this road”, and here I am! Didn’t think it would be this soon, but when opportunity knocks, right?

After Cannon Beach, we knew we had a few hills coming our way because we FINALLY have an elevation map! Granted at this point we’re used to being surprised with hills, but it’s still nice to know anyway. Unfortunately, though these hills were totally manageable, it started to rain and fog up as we ascended. This made us both a little nervous because we knew there was limited visibility and the roads were busy, being a Saturday. But nonetheless we trudged on. We encountered a tunnel which at first was a little scary, but we saw a button for cyclists to push that lit up the tunnel warning vehicles to be aware of cyclists. Awesome!

As we continued to ascend, we encountered more rain and fog. We could barely even see down to the water, which was only a couple hundred feet below us. Again, this unnerved us a bit.

What comes up must come down. Which made for a terrifying descending journey. The rain was pelting us in the face, making it hard to keep our eyes open as we sped down the hill. I think you can come up with a thousand reasons why riding 35 mph down a wet road with cars wizzing by with your eyes half shut is a dangerous situation, so I won’t bore you with details.

But alas, we made it down fine and just as we did, the rain ended. Like our ride out of Washington, we were pretty close to hypothermia range (or at least I was shivering enough to think that), so we warmed up and took lunch.

We rode an easy 15 miles through some more cute coastal towns to our destination, Rockaway Beach. We’re camping in Barview Jetty Park and though we had some trouble finding it, we’re all set up and ready for bed. Hopefully the weather is less temperamental so we can actually see this gorgeous Oregon coast everyone has been hyping up!

Addie is never going to want to come home… living the life of luxury with her best friend!

Day 10: May 18th; Astoria rest day, 0 miles!

What an interesting city. And with its close proximity to Portland, it’s no wonder why. Astoria has a lot of parallels with Portland, including culture and interesting ways of life. In fact, Astoria has been attempting to become competitive with Portland with good food and fun festivals, so maybe it’s working!

Because my body is so accustomed to waking up early, I decided to do a light jog around town. I ran along the river walk and found all the sea lions. Not really difficult to do, just had to follow the obnoxiously loud barking. I spent about 15 minutes just watching them. I soon grew weary of their barking and left. There must’ve been a hundred of them there!

While Sheena got her zen on at a yoga class, I set up camp at a coffee shop and tried to plan out the next couple of days. We have a lot of climbs in our future and have been warned about limited shoulders, which makes planning difficult. Hard to predict if we’ll be too mentally wiped out from dealing with traffic to add on additional miles, but we have a rough plan of getting through Oregon.

We had lunch at a place that everyone told us we just have to try, it’s an Astoria staple. We passed by a tiny boat food truck with a huge line. When we asked Steve about it he gushed that it served the world’s best fish and chips. He recommended that it’s a must try. So we just had to try it! We waiting in line for a while, but totally worth it. I’m not a big fish person, but it was worth the hype! They make the fish out of tuna which really takes it the extra mile.

We did some shopping and grabbed some pizza for dinner before coming back to Steve’s for the evening. We came back to find he’s hosting 3 additional cyclists from Canada! They’re riding from Vancouver to Portland. Didn’t get to talk to them too much cause we were tired and went to bed early. Have to wake up early to check out the beautiful Oregon coast!