(January 24, 2022 – written by Dave)
Long time no blog! Yes, we are alive and well. It’s been a while since we posted mostly because we haven’t had a proper bike trip since Tassie at the start of 2021. We survived the Aussie Covid waves and wet Oz winter, then for some reason I can’t remember, came to the USA for another winter spell. While it’s been fun catching up with American friends and family, the fall and winter weather here have not been overly conducive to a bike tour.
In February we’re heading to a couple national parks in southern California for a proper fancy bike ride, as a treat to ourselves for passing the big 60. We are out of practice riding in cold and rainy weather, so training has been a bit sparse. After endless days of rain and cold temperatures we finally had a clear weekend forecast this past weekend. We decided to ride from our current temporary ‘home’ in Manzanita up the northern Oregon coast to Fort Stevens State Park. And to make the trip even more fun, we decided to try out something we had been wanting to do – we booked a yurt (all that rain is making us soft!). As a bonus, doing a quick trip gave me a chance to dust off my blogging skills before the pressure is really on in February.
We loaded our bikes in a minimal “bike-packing” style and headed out on Highway 101 – right into the Sunday midday traffic. Highway 101 is very scenic, especially the opening 500 foot climb up Neahkahnie Mountain. Nancy looked bedazzling with her lovely Bunnings safety flag and the views were even nicer. Traffic was heavy, being a rare sunny winter day on the Oregon Coast. We stopped at the Neahkahnie Mountain look-out for photos and then a few more times along the route towards Cannon Beach.
We planned on stopping in Cannon Beach for lunch and coffee but we were having so much fun riding in the dry weather that we decided to keep rolling. We made it to Seaside a little late but still in time to enjoy a great sandwich at Ruby’s, a roadside burger and beer joint. We’ve driven by the converted gas station many times but never managed to stop. So this time we took the opportunity for a late lunch to try it out. The food was worth the stop but we passed on the beer, being mid-ride and all. Some of our fellow customers at Rudy’s were “interesting” but we avoided political discussions.
After lunch we decided to detour off 101 and up onto Lewis and Clark Road. The last time we were on that road it was probably 1995. I don’t think that it’s changed in the last 30 years – very sleepy, you’d never know that the crazy coast scene was just over the hill. We had a few navigational challenges but enjoyed the quiet roads and managed to work our way mostly directly back out across 101 and into Fort Stevens State Park.
Even though we’ve ridden the Oregon Coast a couple times we can’t remember ever staying at Fort Stevens. It’s a nice park and the yurts are great. On arrival it was cooling quickly as the sun was starting to set but the nice wardens had started the electric heater in our yurt before we arrived. It was warm and toasty. Surprisingly hot showers and dinner soon followed. The yurt is pretty basic but not having a TV or Wi-Fi worked out fine, we were tired from the long day in the saddle. It was lights out early.
The following morning we slept in, mostly waiting for it to warm up – forecast was for more sun, but a little cooler. Unfortunately we had too far to ride to stay until the 1PM checkout. Our first stop out of the yurt was riding 2.5k the wrong direction to check out the famous 1906 shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. While the wreck was interesting, it was nowhere near as big as the photos made it look. Plus the end of the road was all loose sand, kind of hard riding. Oh well we can tick off Peter Iredale, finally.
From the wreck, we headed the more direct route back south towards Seaside generally following Highway 101. To get off the busy 101, we took as many side roads through southern Warrenton and Gearhart as we could find. We had to stop and check the phone a few times but getting off the busy road was worth it. We were thinking of stopping for lunch in Seaside but ended up on the malecon (boardwalk) where there was no traffic and fewer cafes – definitely worth it. We blasted through to the far side of town and further south to Cannon Beach for a proper coffee and lunch. All of the normal cafes were out of food or closed (it was Monday) but we managed to score two of the last ciabatta roll sandwiches at the last cafe in town. We enjoyed a lovely sunny lunch on a bench in nearby Tolovana Park.
From Cannon Beach we had two climbs, an uphill tunnel and a very narrow uphill bridge. Traffic wasn’t too bad but there is no getting around the two hazards. The tunnel has a light activation button that cyclists are supposed to push at both ends. The button turns on lights to warn cars to speed up and pass cyclists as dangerously as possible – or at least that’s what a couple yabos that passed us thought the lights meant. To be fair, they may not have increased their speed that much. However, all “niceness” points were lost by the overly close passes with an empty on-coming lane. We survived. I yelled at them but promise that my hand wave was a full handed, all-fingers-up wave – no point in getting agro.
The hills were fine. Nice even. The narrow bridge was hard, like the tunnel. Nancy loves these uphill sprinting-all-out pinchy bits, honest. I had to hold my position at the back because only my rear flashing light was working, safety first, honest again. On a bright sunny day actually, our flashy flags do more than the lights anyway.
We stopped at the Neahkahnie Mountain viewpoint to calm our nerves and look out at the gorgeous sunny day. It wasn’t as warm today but it was still pretty stunning for a day in January on the Oregon Coast. If you’ve read this far, thanks for reading. And best of all, you also know that I still know how to blog. See you February from the hopefully warm and sunny Southern California.