|Newsletter - 2013 Archive|
Oregon Coast 1000 - Day 2
I awoke to find Eric's pizza uneaten and the beverages still in the fridge. I'd heard him come in but rolled over and waited for my alarm. It came at 5am and as I dressed and loaded my bike in the dark I wondered how tired he must have been to not have eaten before falling asleep. Since I still had a few slices and one of my 'recovery drinks' leftover I decided to have a cold pizza breakfast.
As I was pushing my bike out Eric rolled over and said he'd gotten in late after eating...pizza(!) at the local Italian place on the way into town. He said he was going to sleep until 7 and then get going. I ate (and drank) my Breakfast of Champions in the hallway and headed to the office/gas station to fill my mug with coffee and hand in the key. It began to rain as I walked across the parking lot. It was a bit cold and I figured the rain was going to get heavy so I put on all my rain gear--big mistake.
With yesterday's solid effort in my legs, extra heat from the rain gear and a constant uphill grade I was extremely uncomfortable for the first hour of the ride. Fortunately the rain began to let up by the time I caught sight of some other riders up the hill. They turned out to be the Keith and Ross Nichol and we began to discuss our previous days' experiences. There had been an accident on the Alex Fraser bridge and the Japanese couple who'd started the ride DNF'd when one of them crashed and had to be taken to the hospital.
Keith and Ross had been part of the group who'd assisted and had thus arrived in Montesano late. As I peeled off my layers we rolled over the hills towards Raymond and I vowed that I would be more conservative in my use of rain gear for the rest of the ride. I would take Will Danicek's advice and just ride through all but the heaviest rain in BC Randonneurs wool jersey and arm warmers since it was relatively warm. As we continued to search for our Day 2 legs, I lost Keith and Ross on the last big hill and coasted into town alone.
While rolling through the first main intersection I realized I'd been here before...Raymond was the first town of substance (Read: it had commercial establishments that served hot food) my friend Paul and I encountered after leaving Port Angeles on our Oregon Coast years ago. I had my head on a swivel looking at landmarks from my last visit before stocking up on Gatorade at the 24hour gas station and meeting the Nichols and Colin Fingler at the McDonalds.
The woman at the counter was extremely overwhelmed by the 'rush' of four cyclists. Since the rest of town appeared to be using the drive thru, the other staff were pre-occupied and had clearly hidden her at the counter where she could do the least damage. I had to order, pay and receive food three times before she got my whole meal correct. I think she botched Keith and Colin's orders as well.
It is always interesting to sit down at a fast food place with randos and comment on each other's meal choices--I seem to remember Colin saying he stays away from the hash browns. All that hard won individual experience with which foods work (and don't work) is actually fascinating. I don't seem to have any issues with fast food, for example, but I can't seem to stomach Boost, Ensure and other meal replacement drinks on brevets whereas a famous randonneur (oxymoron?) and Andrew Hartline seem to favour them. I also saw many people drink cokes on the Cascade 1200 but when I tried it, short sugar rush aside, the lasting effect for me was gut rot.
At any rate, having skipped the hash browns, Colin got away a bit ahed of the rest of us. After riding through what appeared to be a former fishing village south of Raymond, we got back together and traded pulls until the significant rollers kicked in. I remembered this section from my Pacific Coast tour and it had some great views of flat shoreline through the trees. Fortified with a McDonald's breakfast I was moving pretty good now and made some good time on the run through to Long Beach. At the turn south I saw another randonneur in the distance. It turned out to be Roy Neifer. We chatted for a while--he said he had to get an early start because he was so slow but he was pulling a pretty good pace as we talked.
Roy took a nature break and I began the gradual climb up to the edge of the Columbia River Valley. This was a new route for me and I appreciated the wide shoulder and the gradual grade that allowed me to maintain a 20km/hr pace and gain altitude.
It was a really cool rush to catch sight of the mighty Columbia and and smell the ocean on the descent. I have positive memories of Astoria--it had a bike shop and good coffee both of which are seriously lacking on the Olympic Peninsula--but today was all business and I would just be passing through. When I got to the bridge I sprinted to make a left turn at the light ahead of a batch of RV's waiting to turn right onto 6.6km span.
Anyone who has ridden across the Astoria Bridge knows what happened next...a gritted teeth, white knuckle balancing act in the 10.72cm of pavement between the white line and deep drainage holes while pickups and people who drive hybrids 351 days of the year but think renting an a RV for a two week vacation is a good idea rumbled past. After the light changed I had a good 2 minutes of silence when I had the bridge to myself. It was pretty cool to smell the water, see the gulls circling above the river and hear the wind. The brief respite from motorized reminders of the frailty of human life also allowed me to contemplate having to fix a flat on the bridge. What would I do?
There was a bit of a curb so I figured I might lean my bike in one alcove between posts, sit in another and hope no other cyclists came along! I think that would have been safer than tying to walk off the bridge or flag down a pickup truck. Fortunately, it didn't come to that!
The ride to Fort Clatsop involved a couple of narrow drawbridges that were neat to ride across in the absence of motor traffic and as the rain picked up again I pulled into a gas station to replenish supplies. Continuing to the fort--where Lewis and Clark over-wintered in 1805-06--I rejoined a road I was familiar with and I remembered visiting the fort and riding a trail back out to the coast. This time I followed the road past the fort to an information control.
After the control the skies opened and I had to pull over and put on all the rain gear again. After my vow earlier in the ride, I'd been riding through showers with nothing more than a vest but now that it was bucketing down I had no choice but to submit. The road was the first side trip off Hwy 101 and rolled upward past little cabins in the woods until it dropped into the next valley and morphed into a John Denver, "Country Road," past hay farms. There was another climb up to some power lines followed by a wet and wild descent to Seaside.
Since I was summarily unimpressed with Seaside's, 'charms' on my last visit I had already decided to continue to the control at Cannon Beach. The rain was still coming in torrents as I pulled onto the highway and came upon a pair of riders on fender-less carbon road bikes who appeared to be caught out in a storm during their day ride. It turns out they were a French couple who'd been living in Missouri (now there's a step backwards) who were up for 10 days to ride the Oregon Coast. I hoped the vehicle they had following them had some rain gear--all they had was a couple of highlighter vests over white lycra Euro-Fred cycling kit. Bonne chance mes amis!
They disappeared in the distance over the hill to Cannon Beach where I met Will Danicek at the recommended grocery store for the control. Will was enjoying his customary soup and as I departed I was pretty sure that I was now the pointy edge of the arrow on the ride.
The tunnels of Hwy 101 occupy a special place (alongside logging trucks) in the ghost storiestold around hiker/biker campfires in State Parks up and down the Pacific Coast. The truth is logging truck drivers are some of the most skilled in the world and always give a wide enoughberth (1-800-RV's are way more dangerous!) and the tunnels have nothing on the ones in the Fraser Canyon. The first tunnel on our route was only notable because it was the Gateway to Oswald West State Park. Oswald West was an Oregon politician who was instrumental in the decision to preserve the coastline for public use and who is lauded for his vision on roadside plaques today (although I'msure that, at the time, people were calling him Oswald Moonbeam for not selling it for profit and his complicating of commercial operations by limiting parking in the area...).
Above Manzanita is a great view of the next 50km or so of coastline and I was excited to see the sun shining on it and I removed the rain gear and opted for a vest for the the descent into town. After dropping back to sea level, speeding through town and getting off onto another side road, I immediately flatted.Unlike my misadventures with finding the source of the flat last year in the Cascade 1200, I was back on the rode in 10 minutes--Bob Goodison please note: I have a full sized frame pump now!
The side route rolled past farms in a snug valley and I decided celebrate with the blueberries I'd saved from Cannon Beach. Unfortunately the blueberries had decided to become somewhat crunched under my hastily stowed rain gear and I had to pull over and use a whole water bottle to rinse blueberry juice off everything. Awesome! I then found myself wishing the time away on a road I should have been savouring.
Back on Hwy 101 I passed a seafood warehouse (I remembered the aroma of its massive shell pile) and Tillamook's famous beef jerky and cheese factories before pulling into its less famous (but no less important) Safeway for the now customary corn dog and Starbucks Frappuchino. While consuming this gourmet meal standing up in the entrance alcove I listened to two guys (who I imagined to be dairy farmers) discuss the older one's new retired life and then speculate how many years the younger one had left. I was captivated by the conversation for two reasons: 1) As a single teacher I get a taste of what I imagine retirement to be like every summer. 2) As an engaged guy looking at paying a small fortune for a large wedding in the fall retirement, seems a long, long ways away...
The ride out to the control was complicated by the closure of the Three Capes Scenic Route so we were routed overland on an out-and-back to Oceanside. There was some serious steeps and I tried to use everything I'd learned about maintaining momentum from doing the spring series on a tandem to get me up and over those spikes. After Oceaside we took Netarts Bay Road to Cape Lookout and I have to say that this was the most poorly maintained paved road I've ridden as a Randonneur. I follow bikeportland.org and I know that bicycle tourism is a State-wide initiative in Oregon and for a road in that condition to be part of the world famous Oregon Coast Bicycle Route is an embarrassment. When the road began to climb it was apparent that the state had done some work on that section (maybe they were going to get to Netarts Bay Road soon) but the descent was pretty bumpy.
Our route continued to follow Coastal Bike Route to Pacific City. It was was with great regret that I bypassed the beachfront Pelican Brewery in favour of a Shell Station in search of a V-8. After finally locating the small can of tomato-flavoured salt, I waited at the counter for two minutes while three employees wandered about pretending to stock shelves in an effort not to sell me something. I know I come from the rat race in the big city but between the bumbling woman at the McDonalds in the morning and these zombies--3 people staffing a gas station after 5pm?!?--this small town pace of life was starting to shock me. I had to put on my reflectors and turn on my lights for the run to Lincoln City and the overnight control.
Shortly before the final climb of the day our route sheet diverged from the official Oregon Coast Bicyle Route (which utilizes the original Hwy) so I was now in unexplored territory again. The road climbed interminably into the growing darkness. It was one of those climbs that keeps going around a bend but when you round it all you see is another bend. It felt like I'd been going around the bend long enough to make three complete corkscrew circuits of the cape by the time I finally reached the top. I did pass two cars on the way down though...
It was then just a short burst into the 'city' (really more of a collection of strip malls, gas stations and motels lining the highway for several miles) where I atoned for my grave error of passing up a brew pub in Pacific City by dining at McMenamin's. I had the Stout Cheese burger and two of their darkest brews before they shut it all down at 10pm. I had made arrangements with the Nichol's to have beer and sandwiches waiting at the motel so I got a bottle of Hammerhead to go and stopped by a gas station to get something a little less ambitious in order to appeal to a variety of tastes. Once inside it seemed that a Ted Nugent convention was in town as there was a lineup six parties deep and chock full of moustaches, cheap beer and orders for cigarettes. I asked the guy at the counter and he confirmed that,"...a show had just got out at the Casino." Right.
I checked in at the hotel just as it started to pour rain and I left word for the Nichol's to come get their rewards when they got in. I knew that Subway closed at midnight so I showered and waited to see if anyone would come in before that. No one did. I had washed all my riding clothes and they were hanging to dry so I put on my rain gear to walk back to the Way of Subs. In the lobby I ran into Will looking like a drowned rat. We walked back to Subway and I got a sandwich for Eric, Keith and Ross. I invited Will up for a beer but he never made it. I drifted off to sleep.
Eric came in at 4:30am. He'd ridden all that way himself in the rain and dark and really appreciated both the sandwich and the beer. By that time, I'd slept a couple of hours and was hungry again so I ate one of the other sandwiches. Eric said he'd been having mechanicals all day and that another rider had broken an collarbone; this time on the descent from Cape Lookout. Deidre had dropped out to take him to the hospital. I remembered how bumpy that section was and was grateful I'd gotten over it in the fading daylight. I felt awful that more people would not get to finish the ride under trying circumstances. We hit the lights at 5am. I would be on the road an hour later.
Go to: Day 3
September 7, 2013