Greetings all. I took the title above from an article my sister sent me about a guy who rode from California to Cape Cod. She was teasing that I was wimp for not riding all the way across the country. There is an element of truth to the title in that there is some obsession about the amount of space (or lack of) to the right of the white line on the road. The following pages describe an 18 day trip I took in the summer of 2001, which began in Florence, Oregon and ended in San Luis Obispo, Ca, a distance of 865 miles.
One question I heard a lot when I returned was "What was the best and worst parts of your trip"? I still haven't come up with an answer to this question yet. On the plus side there was an endless stream of state parks, empty beaches and beautiful views. On the minus side was the morning fog and cold, long miles of sometimes hard riding, and the stress of sometimes not existent shoulders on the road. Taken in total bicycle touring is very rewarding and I'll definitely do it again. But its also a lot of work and you need the right attitude.
One other thing I have to say is that amazingly I did not get a single flat tire or break a spoke the entire trip. My thanks to Cannondale, Black Mountain Cycles in San Diego and some good karma for making this aspect of the trip uneventful. Actually I did break a spoke as I pulled into the train station in San Luis Obispo, but since I didn't have to change it until I got home it doesn't count.
Like any day where plane travel is involved, this day started early in the morning. The plane out of San Diego was delayed because of fog in San Francisco (this should have been an omen), but I made all the connections and got to Eugene in one piece. The ride from Eugene to Florence was very pretty, it reminded me of driving through New Hampshire. Small roads with lakes streams running next to them. Hillsides covered with pine trees. This was actually a big logging area. There was a large river where logs were floated down to a mill.
Florence is a town on Rte 101 a couple of miles inland from the ocean. There's a river running to the sea that runs through one end of town. They have an Old Town section with shops, restaurants, and a marina on the river.
Living in Southern California, you don't generally see rivers or pine forests so this was a peaceful spot to spend the first nigh of the trip.
Well, this was the first day of actual riding. The bike is extremely heavy and a lot harder to ride than expected. The muscles are doing fine, but the weight is slowing down my pace (i.e. more time in the seat which is killing my butt). The morning started good, the sun was out and I went to do Tai-Chi along the river banks in Florence. After that I hung out until the bike shop opened and I could pick up my bike. I met a couple of guys from Germany that were riding the coast at the bike shop. They were traveling with friends that were driving a van so they were not carrying that much gear.
The ride started at the Florence bridge, but since the sidewalk was narrow and I couldn't control the bike yet, I had to start by walking across the bridge. From there I rode to the Oregon Dunes Rec. Area (40 miles of sand dunes along the coast). They had a boardwalk with some nice views and some trails that went out into the dunes. It was fun to jump off some of the dunes and ski barefooted down the hills.
I met two girls (Sonya and Laura) who were riding here. Sonya had been riding since Canada but Laura had just joined her in Florence. They said they were going to Sunset Bay, but I never saw them again (They hadn't done any training). This trip is definitely not for the feint of heart (or muscle).
The next stop was the Umpqua Lighthouse. The ride there had a major hill and the terrain was mostly rolling along Rte 101, there were lots of trucks on the road making for a noisy ride. The lighthouse was cool but then the fog rolled in and it got cold (glad I brought a wind breaker).
The ride from the lighthouse to Sunset Bay was pure endurance, miles and miles of rolling hills. You have to understand that this was my first day and all the training in the world couldn't have gotten me ready for 7 hours of riding. At this point I was wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. I got to Sunset Bay at 6:30 at night. The sun doesn't set until 9:30 or so in Oregon, so it was time for bed after sunset. At the campground there were two other couples in the hiker-biker site. One couple was a pair of school teacher from Oregon. They were saying they do at least the Oregon Coast every summer. The other couple was from Europe and they were going all the way to San Diego (I never saw them again).
I took this picture of Sunset Bay the next morning when the sun was shining.
Got up at 6:30 to get an early start on the day today. Everything was covered in dew. Had breakfast and was on the road by 7:30. The first part of the day was along a road called "Seven Devils road" (very aptly named). The road climbed away from the beach and onto a ridge above the South Slough National Estuarine Reserve. A slough is where a fresh water river crosses a tidal flats area, there is supposed to be some interesting wild life in the area. The ridge climbed up and down a series of peaks, 12 miles of hills, with views over large wooded areas (this was an active logging area). The down hill stretch was fun ending at Bullards Beach State Park. I took a break here and rode a few miles out to the lighthouse at the Coquille River.
Above :The beach at the mouth of the Coquille River. Below the Coquille River Lighthouse.
The beach here was very windy, the ride back to Rte 101 was brutal, 3 miles into a strong head wind. I took some time here and laid out in the sun in a picnic area and dried off some of my stuff. Next I rode through a seaport town called Brandon. There was a few touristy things, but for the most part this was a working fishing town. The ride along the coast here had some interesting rock formations.
After Brandon it was 25 miles of Rte 101 to Port Orford. This was an inland stretch so there were lots of views of pine covered hillsides. This area is very rural, 25 miles between towns on the ocean!! The ride to Port Orford was highlighted with a thunderstorm. It rained for about 45 minutes, enough time to soak me. I should have stopped and waited, but no, I kept riding. I got soaked and as soon as I got to Port Orford, you guessed it, the sun came out. Oh well, Port Orford was a nice sea coast town with some nice sandy beaches . I stayed in a hotel here to dry off. The sky cleared up and there was some great coloring at sunset.