Raymond to Seaside, Oregon – Sept 21st …
Yes, after a brutal day in the saddle, welcome to Oregon.
Yesterday, 100 km seemed to fly by, yet today just 10 km more seemed like a lot more. Not because of hills, there were a few to deal with, but the headwinds today were very challenging. I left a little after Scott and Bob into a fairly stiff headwind from the southwest, a brief respite when I headed north to South Bend, but then the journey south was face first into a Sou’wester. I met up with the guys a little later and we leap-frogged each other throughout the day as we fought the wind coming off the coast onto 101.
Not much to say about the road as riding at first alongside the Willapa river delta was scenic and n on a good shoulder, but very little for services. We hoped to find something at Nemah, but that was just a dot on the map with a fish hatchery (closed) and a school. The wind decreased a little as we headed inland to the southeast turn onto SR4. Next stop ending up being lunch at a gas station in Naselle at the turn onto route 401 – 401 would take us to the 5 km long Astoria-Megler bridge, between Washington and Oregon States across the Columbia River.
By the time that 401 turned southwest, the wind had kicked up to about 40km/hr – very difficult to ride in and the bridge was getting closer. I’ve crossed this bridge twice before, but never with such strong winds blowing. As I started riding on the bridge, the wind was coming in as a head/crosswind and it was unforgiving. Keeping the bike straight was a real challenge in the very small shoulder allotted for cycling – vehicles for the most part were very considerate, but the bigger RV’s had not much space themselves to allow us that extra space that the wind dictated we deserved. Luckily, today being Sunday, traffic was fairly light and I was able to watch my mirror as waves of traffic went by and take the lane when it was empty. The mirror also allowed me to watch for something wide coming up behind and to pull over. Basil did a good job at giving the “evil eye” to anyone who came too close! He really wanted to close his eyes for the whole crossing, but I laid the law down and told him to keep a sharp lookout from the rear!
All went relatively well for the first 4 km, then the steep climb came at the Astoria end of the bridge.
That was a real bear! Not only is it very steep, but with a 40 km wind blowing in your face, it was barely rideable, especially at a very slow speed and trying to maintain a line.
But there was also construction almost at the crest of the hill and the bridge was down to one lane with one way traffic and flaggers controlling the flow. I reached the flag lady and she was genuinely concerned that I would have to negotiate the remainder of the hill in those conditions. When it was my lane’s turn to go, she let me go first to get a head start before the traffic. I almost made it to the top before my right knee told me to stop pushing so hard, so I pulled the bike to side as much as possible and waited for another cycle. After that I booted it to the top and coasted down the other side to Astoria.
Even going down the steep section to the city was a challenge, as the gusting wind would not allow me to let the bike go without constant corrections. Phew (that’s not exactly what I said), I was glad to be off that, but the 3 km Astoria-Warrenton Bridge was still a short distance ahead and although not as much of a challenge as what I had just ridden, it was still crazy windy.
I waited for the guys to show up after the second bridge, but they must have been held up too by the bridge traffic and flag lady. With it still blowing like stink, I elected to push on for the last 18 km to Seaside, my stop for the night. The guys showed up at the same motel a little while later as white-knuckled as I was after that brutal ride.
Dinner and a drink calmed our nerves as we made plans for tomorrow.
More pics at… Sept 21st
AdamK & (Now that was scary!) Basil
Seaside to Tillamook – Sept 22nd…
Today was a much easier day than yesterday with mild temperatures, overcast skies and a mild headwind to start the day.
We agreed to meet in Cannon Beach for breakfast as Seaside was still somewhat busy even though we are in the last throes of Summer. We didn’t plan a time though! But as I joined 101 from Seaside, there were the guys a few hundred metres ahead! Sixth sense? Maybe? After a the first good climb of the day just south of Seaside – a good wake up for the legs and precursor for fuel – read food – we filled our bellies at the Pig ‘n Pancake and forged on satiated.
Some good views of the rock outcrops as I was riding higher out of Cannon Beach. After that there were two good climbs of about 7% grade, the first of which started just before the Arch Cape Tunnel.
There is a cyclist activated flashing light to warn drivers of cyclists in the tunnel – and most drivers afford some much needed space for the uphill cycle traffic, but not all! After that climb, a short respite before the next longer climb to the summit of Neahkahnie Mountain where there were some spectacular views of the beachfront at Manzanita that the camera cannot truly replicate.
From there a great downhill run into Manzanita and Nehalem Bay. Manzanita was a lunch stop before carrying on through the seaside towns of Wheeler, Rockaway Beach, Garibaldi (no, the biscuits are not made here!), Bay City and then onto our stop of Tillamook for the night and a rest day too. The old body is due for a break and the weather is due to change tomorrow with some good rain in the forecast. Laundry is in the works too as some of my riding gear is starting a life of its own! As I am writing this, a thunderstorm has started and it is raining already, so a wise choice to hole up for a day before continuing south – plans to make too for the days ahead.
We were luck today as there were mild headwinds in the morning, but for the last 20 km we actually had a tailwind and the sun finally broke through the overcast skies.
Probably no update until Wednesday.
More pics at… Sept 22nd
AdamK & (can we go to the Cheese Factory tomorrow – please?) Basil
Tillamook to Depoe Bay – Sept 23rd & 24th…
Yesterday was a good day not to ride! As I mentioned on my last report, the rain started Monday evening and thunderstorms rolled around for quite a while. By morning, the rain had eased off considerably and we managed to get a walk down to the famous Tillamook Cheese factory. We had the tour there and sampled some cheese before heading back to the motel. Basil was happy, as he had been bugging me about visiting that place every time we went by on three previous occasions. Finally he is silent. I went downtown Tillamook for lunch, not much there really and by the time I started walking back, the rains started and it poured for hours after that, so it was a quiet afternoon and evening in the motel and a good opportunity to rest up and let the body relax.
This morning (Wednesday) the skies were still overcast and I left the motel in a slight drizzle. Bob and Scott took off a little before me as they want to ride the slightly longer Three Capes route down the Netarts Highway. I’ve done that route three times before and never 101 proper in this area, so I elected to travel my own route. They couldn’t ride the first section of the Three Capes due to a road closure because of a landslide and unstable conditions – too bad as I had told them then that was a very scenic portion of the Three Capes route. My route was quite flat and the south winds of previous days held off for about 40 km until I reached the coast again and even then they were very mild winds which allowed me to get some distance in today. I travelled through the small towns of Beaver (guess who was thrilled about that!), Hebo and Cloverdale, all farming and agricultural towns. Not much of note, other than the road was narrow in many places and logging trucks a plenty to deal with with very little shoulder space until I rejoined the Oregon Coast Bike Route. The portion of 101 that I rode from Tillamook is not part of the official Oregon Coast Bike Route, so I assume that cyclists’ space was not required!
After my flat riding for a long while this morning, I stopped in Neskowin for a snack, left there and had a monster of a hill to climb – about 3 km straight up to over 750 ft (231 metres) – no break in this hill, it was relentless, but what a ride down it was too!
From here to Lincoln City it was easy riding and when I arrived in Lincoln City about lunchtime and stopped for a break, I contacted the other two to let them know that I was continuing on to Depoe Bay and hoped that they would do the same – they got back to me and were about an hour behind me.
From here on I got some great ocean views in certain places where the waves were crashing onto shore. The south wind was picking up some good speed by this time which I’m sure was driving the wave action even more than usual.
But the time I got to Depoe Bay 90 km later, it was blowing steady and a good time to get off the road. I got a motel room and the guys showed up an hour later and we re-lived our day over a well earned beer.
More pics at… Sept 23rd & 24th
AdamK & (Beaver Service, indeed!) Basil
Depoe Bay to Florence – Sept 25th…
If someone told me that I would be riding for almost 8 hours to travel 102km I would not have set out this morning!
About 3 km of of Depoe Bay (where we had the slowest breakfast service to date at the only restaurant open), we turned off 10 onto the Otter Point Loop which avoids the steeper climb of 101. The culmination of the loop is Cape Foulweather, standing there and watching the waves below is something special.
Back on 101, the first 20 km into and out of Newport were not too bad, the sun was coming out and the headwind was certainly bearable. Once again, temperatures are still mild on this part of the coast even though we are in late September. Then, not too far out of Newport we got caught in a viscous rain squall that almost soaked me before I had time to get my all my rain gear on. Not even a tree to hide under while I was frantically trying to get my waterproofs on! Anyway, I lived through that and the rain eventually died down while I rode further south for the next 10km. I noticed then that the wind was gathering strength but still bearable. The riding pace was decreasing gradually as the headwind increased, but that’s normal and anyone who cycles can appreciate that fact.
By the time that we reached Waldport, the wind was getting up to full speed and we were only halfway to our destination by noon, but we really needed a break for a snack and to rest for a few minutes from fighting the wind.
Well, that wind from the South was relentless today and heightened as we climbed numerous grades to one Cape and another and also heightened by the fact that we were riding next to the ocean and exposed to the winds straight from there without many natural or man-made wind blocks. The grades in themselves would not have posed a problem on a normal day, but with the headwind, I was almost stopped dead in my tracks many times today and I wondered to myself if I would be able to make it for the whole distance to Florence. It’s hard to imagine and explain just how tough the riding was today with the wind blowing a steady 30 km/hr and gusting to about 50 km/hr! One of the toughest 100 km that I have ever ridden and I’ve ridden many.
The only shining light during the whole day was that we were wild wave watching from some of the best place in North America to do so. Even then, the thrill was dulled by the constant battle for the whole afternoon.
We met a couple of other tourers today who were struggling on par with us, a German fellow heading to San Diego and a younger chap from Seattle. Not much opportunity to chat with them as everyone was focused on making some headway in a challenging environment.
We arrived in Florence totally spent and barely mustered the energy to go and forage for food, but fuel is required even though tomorrow promises a shorter distance and milder headwinds – let’s hope so, because another day like today does not bear thinking about.
I can’t write anymore as I’ll just keep moaning about the damn headwind today and I’m really tired and need to close my eyes and body to today’s physical punishment.
Thanks to all for the positive comments that appear below my posts and in my email – great to hear that you are all “riding along!” and wishing me well. Tomorrow’s another day…
Some more pics at… Sept 25th
AdamK & (I pushed really hard today too!) Basil