Cycling the Oregon Coast: Whales, winds and dunes!

Willow and Roberto

Willow and Roberto

Cycling the Oregon Coast: Whales, winds and dunes!

Country: USA

From Portland to Crescent City

Lesson learned: 50 miles strong headwinds is a good excuse for laziness

Laughed about: Fruit Buffet at the California Border

Most wonderful miracle: Whales and Dunes

Greatest challenge: A persistent flat

Days on the bike: 8

Kilometers cycled: 607

Average Kilometers per day: 75.88

Total Kilometers cycled till Portland: 24,165

Cycling the Oregon Coast. Missed the last entry? Here it comes: So many bike paths! Cycling Washington State from Vancouver to Portland

Blog auf deutsch: Oregon Küste per Fahrrad: Von Walen, Wind und Dünen

Portland kept us busy for nearly a week. There was lots to see and do, but to be honest it mostly had to do with our friends and Carolyn’s cooking. We got ready just in time for the first rainy day in over a week of sunshine.

Great visit at Roberto's family friends' place

Great visit at Roberto’s family friends’ place

Having learned our lesson from the 90 km of city traffic leaving Seattle, we dragged those heavy bikes into the tram and got off at the last station. The traffic was easy and the shoulder quite wide.

Bike friendly tourist information in Oregon (McInnes)

Bike friendly tourist information in Oregon

The ladies in McInnes‘ tourist information were happy to see cyclists. We were allowed to use the bathroom and the Wi-Fi and given lots of free high quality maps. I fell in love with cycling Oregon immediately. It was a bit of a tough ride from there on because we learned that the next campground allowing camp was too far away to make it before sunset, so we hurried up.

McInnes Tourist Information for cyclists

So many maps!

As we were rushing through the highway, a car stopped and a man came out. He yelled over the traffic from the other side of the road, asking whether we already had a place to stay for tonight. We hardly understood each other and he came running over.

Legal weed in Oregon

By the way, we visited Oregon at a historical date: legalization of marihuana! Now instead of “don’t smoke it”, they say “don’t smoke and then drive”

His name was Stuart and he told us that his wife and he had picked up so many travel cyclists that they started a bit of a competition to see who brought more bike travelers home.

Weed sale in Portland, Oregon

Weed sale in Portland, Oregon. By the way, these pictures have nothing to do with our encounter with Stuart and Sue!

“I’m on my way to yoga class now, I’ll draw you a map to our home, the door is always open, and the yoga room will be yours tonight. Shower is right next to it and you’ll find the kitchen at the end of the hall. We’ll be back in two hours, just make yourselves at home!”

Roberto met another cyclist

Roberto met another cyclist

What did just happen? This was absolutely unexpected. Now that we had some more time left, we took it easier and even stopped at a farm sale to buy some walnuts (there were walnut trees all over all day) and two corn cobs. Stuart and Sue lived in a beautiful big house in the countryside, some three kilometers from the highway. Wow, what a great surprise! We were so hungry that we just didn’t manage to wait for Stuart and Sue, moreover we didn’t even know if they would have already eaten when they came home. But we shared a beer and great talks.

Ranch Sale

Ranch Sale

Next morning Stuart was called into work earlier than expected and we would ourselves in the empty house. They had left us coffee, a filter and a letter. “It was great to meet you. If you’re short on money take this with you. Otherwise just leave it”. And another piece of paper stating that they would love to accept our invitation to Tijuana!

Pumpkins Wallpaper

Fall means pumpkin time

We left the far too big note. What we have will be enough to reach Tijuana, where we could go back to work.

Along the way we saw more road kill than usual. Mostly badgers, skunks, raccoons, deer, a coyote and two elks. It was so sad to see them flat on the road instead of alive between the trees.

Cycling a calm countryside road in Oregon

Not too much traffic

The highway led us through a forest with many mossy trees and we felt like in fairytale country. It felt all mystical every time the sun found its way through the clouds and the treetops.

The sun shines through the branches in the forest

So pretty

We climbed a hill and reached the Highway 101. Completely unexpectedly a woman yelled at us out of her car. “…. side by side …..” was all we heard. Funny how people don’t seem to understand that we can only hear them while they are right next to us. Funnier even that we had been cycling behind each other.

Our first USA Westcoast beach!

Our first USA Westcoast beach!

I don’t know what the matter with this place is. We met some 100 awesome, friendly, polite, extremely helpful, generous and hospitable people and then out of the blue on average once a day some random lady would yell at us.

Beautifully shaped house in Oregon

I love the shapes of these houses

Yesterday it was a woman in the tram who loudly declined my request to park my bike next to hers in the bike area so that people behind me could take a seat (maybe by asking too friendly she thought I was being sarcastic?).

Cyclist's rest stop in Oregon

Oregon is certainly one of the most bicycle (touring) friendly places I have ever seen!

The day before it was the lady in the post office who was very impolite with most of her clients though, and the day before that, a young woman overtook us in her car and screamed really loud, while taking a video of how I nearly jumped out of my skin.

Seagull at the Pacific Ocean, Oregon

We made it to the Pacific Ocean!

But pretty much everybody else is extremely friendly. Roberto compared it to being cuddled and hugged all day, being slapped in the face once and then being cuddled again.

This lady decided to turn her car around for us strangers!

This lady decided to turn her car around for us strangers!

We stopped at a viewpoint, where a woman approached us. She had seen us biking with all our bags and decided to turn her car around to prepare us for the road. There was going to be a steep and narrow hill on the highway, but she explained us a very bike friendly detour. While we chatted, a few whales entered the bay and we saw their backs and a lot of water being spouted out of the blowholes.

"Oregon Coast Bike Route"

The “Oregon Coast Bike Route” signs led us straight into the little detour

Cycling the Oregon Coast

Cycling the beautiful Oregon Coast

The little detour was a great idea, it was a very scenic ride and we met two other cyclists. We reached the campground just after sunset. Cycling the Oregon Coast, we would see quite some of these. Many state campgrounds had a piece of land reserved especially for hikers and bikers.

Scenic stop on Highway 101 in Oregon

Scenic stop on Highway 101

Long Oregon beach seen from the Devil's Punch Bowl viewpoint

Long Oregon beach seen from the Devil’s Punch Bowl viewpoint

They were only $5-6 per night and person and they were always available, no matter if everything else was reserved. Here we met those other two cyclists again, plus another four. All of them were headed south.

Hiker biker with electricity and a kettle

Our first hiker biker campground was supplied with electricity! And somebody had left a kettle! I wish this was standard on campgrounds!

Jesse and Jeff, two tattoo artists from San Francisco, started a campfire and we all enjoyed the mild evening. We were all absolutely stunned when we saw that Josh from near Orbost, Australia (we really enjoyed cycling there back in 2014), had brought a cheese grinder, and I have to say the extra grams f weight were not wasted. I’ve yet to see somebody cooking more delicious meals every single day on his Trangia, than Josh.

This is Josh from Orbost, Australia.

This is Josh from Orbost, Australia. You might want to get used to his name, this wasn’t the last we’ve heard of him!

Short stop on the way

Short stop on the way

An adventurous and fast Czech cyclist told us the story of how he went to visit the original bus from book and movie “Into the wild”. Long story short: trying to cross the river (with his bike over his shoulders) he was about to repeat Jon’s fate, went back out, waited for a week for the water to go down, but it didn’t, so he tried again anyways, and this time crossed the river successfully by the second attempt.

At the Devil's Punch Bowl viewpoint

At the Devil’s Punch Bowl viewpoint

Being asked why he didn’t just leave bike and stuff on his side of the river, he replied “And walk all the way through the forest to the bus?”

Cycling the Oregon Coast

The view down from the hill

It was a dry morning with dark clouds and we got going quite early. Only half an hour later we were soaking wet. It was raining cats and dogs and the headwind got so heavy, we had to push our bikes over the bridges.

Wet Roberto and Annika

Lovely cycling weather

At a gas station I asked for the weather forecast: more rain and far heavier (head)wind tomorrow. Up to 50 miles an hour! In Yachats we called it a day and booked two nights in the cheapest motel.

Yachats beach

Yachats on a calmer day

When the rain paused next day, we went out for a stroll through town. The wind blew so strong I could have let myself fall into some of the gusts. Cycling wouldn’t have been much fun today.

Departure day we enjoyed blue skies and a light tailwind. Yeah! It was a very scenic ride and one of those that you wouldn’t want to force yourself through bad-tempered in a storm. After we crossed the town of Florence, we found ourselves in dunes land.

Yachats beach, Oregon

There was a severe weather warning out for the area, but the waves were quite calm

Not much going on in Yachats. But they print their own T-Shirts!

Not much going on in Yachats. But they print their own T-Shirts!

It seems to me that Oregon is good for another scenic surprise every single day. There were quads and boards and some tourists who surfed the dunes. We parked the bikes a couple of times just to walk up and have a closer look. It was absolutely beautiful.

Rough sea

Rough sea

Yellow house

Yachats is colorful

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

We pitched the tent in a fishing village and then biked through to Coos Bay, where we finally enjoyed my favorite West Coast specialty: Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread.

Oregon Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread

Yummi Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread

What's the Hurry? Go slow, enjoy!

Yachats Widesom

Cycling the Oregon Coast

Blue skies next morning

The most delicious bowl. Leaving Coos Bay, we biked on the Seven Devils Road, a countryside road with eight instead of seven mean and steep hills. This was where we met 18-year old Willow from Toronto.

Cycling Oregon

Cycling Oregon

Beach detour

Beach detour

Her hands and legs were black of grease, as she sat there in the grass trying to fix a flat. We have her a hand and continued together. This was Willow’s first solo bike tour. She rode about double our speed, but seemed to enjoy our company, because she waited for us every couple of kilometers.

Cycle slow!

Cycle slow!

View Point on the Highway 101

One of the view points

Willow stayed at the campground, while Roberto and I continued cycling till we reached Amy’s and Steve’s home.

These two were warmshowers members and lived in a beautiful and big countryside home some three kilometers from the highway.

Roberto climbs the dunes

Climbing the dunes

Dunes in Oregon

Dunes in Oregon

Ever since they opened their profile, they have received about 60 visitors. They said that there were times that they received a request every day. I had a look at their cyclists wall and found a picture of Claudia and Peter, whom we have met a few times cycling in Canada.

Peaceful sand dunes

Peaceful sand dunes

Sand Dunes Oregon

We made sure not to step on any vegetation

We had a great time together and I believe that by the end we left Steve wanting to plan a bike travel through Germany.

In Bandon we met Willow and another Canadian couple in a bike shop. We spent half the day searching for Wi-Fi to find my brother’s new postal code to send a wedding gift.

Sand Dunes

Another dune view

Sand Dunes around Dune City, Oregon

So much sand!

It was 2pm when we left town and we biked real fast to make good for all the lost time. After Oxford the ride turned real scenic again, we biked right next to the sea. I felt just like on holiday at the German island Spiekeroog in between the rough sea and the long beach full of marram grass. The main difference was that there were high waves here and no waves (sometimes even no water) at all there.

Darlingtonia Californica, a carnivorous plant

Darlingtonia Californica, a carnivorous plant from around here. As we found out later, Willow got lost on her way here and surprised a bear family in the woods.

Cycling the Oregon Coast

Cycling the beautiful Oregon Coast

At the campground we ran into Willow again. She had arrived just after Jesse and Jeff, whom we had met at our very first hiker biker camping. We thought that due to the storm break we had lost them all.

Willow and Roberto

Willow and Roberto

Lonesome beaches of Oregon

Lonesome beaches remind me a bit of home in fall

On the way in, we also met Zach, a young long distance skateboarder who travelled with a huge backpack from San Diego to Seattle. Zack was promoted to “today’s hero” and we all shared our dinner with him and Willow, who didn’t bring a stove. She shared her cliff bards for dessert, prepared in such a creative way that they looked like gourmet food.

We had a great evening and decided to camp together again tonight. It was a beautiful day and the views were stunning. Willow, Roberto and I decided to make our (steep) way up to a viewpoint and on the way back down, Roberto’s tire was flat.

A really steep climb

A really steep climb

Yet another viewpoint

But it was worth the effort

The cut was far bigger than our biggest patch, so we changed the tire. After a few meters the tire was flat again, but the cut was smaller, so we fixed it, only to stop again some 20 meters further and fix it for a third time.

Teamwork bike fixing

Fixing the tube. Thanks Willow for the picture!

Cycling Oregon really is a lot of fun

Cycling Oregon really is a lot of fun

We might not have done a great patching job, but we formed a great teamwork between the three of us. There was not a single “See, I told you, you should have…” or “Now look what you have done…” or “You’re doing this all wrong, let me have a look” to be heard. Nope, all peaceful, productive and calm behavior. We’ve learned from the past, that arguing doesn’t fix a flat.

Willow's cliffbar work or art

Willow’s cliffbar work of art

Beach in Oregon, USA

Beach in Oregon, USA

Unfortunately the entire procedure took so much time that we had to speed up to maximum in order to reach our meeting point before sunset. To our right we passed view point after view point without even stopping. Especially with the pink sky they were probably one prettier than the other, but we had no time for stopping.

Teaming up

Teaming up

Mit dem Rad die Oregon Küste entlang

If you ever find yourself cycling the Oregon Coast: make sure you bring plenty of time. It would be such a waste to ride this road on a rainy day, in a hurry or while being grumpy.

It was only ten minutes after sunset when we reached the hiker biker campground. Jeff and Jesse had already been waiting for us with firewood. It was another fun evening with the team.

Denmark, Oregon, USA

And then in the middle of Oregon we reached Denmark

Oregon beach

Cool beach. It’s a pity the water is so cold.

It was a real cold morning and it took me ages to get warm. We stopped for food and as usual my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Few kilometers later we stopped when the Californian border came in sight.

Willow picks berries

Willow has a great eye for berries and we had a great second breakfast

Welcome to California!

Welcome to California!

Fruit and vegetables were not allowed on the other side, so we ate pretty much everything right there. We weren’t even stopped for inspection. Probably because the officers had observed us enjoying our little fruit buffet.

Picnic on the way to Crescent City

We’re taking a slow day today

Beautiful Oregon Coast

Beautiful Oregon Coast

It was a calm and easy ride through fields and alongside farms. People were friendly, they smiled at us a lot and waved back. We all decided to have a lazy one and called it a day in Crescent City, where we took advantage of being a big group and got an affordable room for the five of us. Now we were curious how good old California was going to treat us.

Roberto loves cycling Oregon

Roberto loves cycling Oregon

Oregon Beach Cycling

Another beach

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  2. Jesse Tuesday says:

    Nicely told! What a beautiful stretch of road and so many memorable experiences!

  3. Pingback: Cycling California Part 1: Redwoods and dreadlocks - Tasting Travels

  4. Pingback: Hiker Biker Camping - Tasting Travels

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