Monday, September 01, 2014

I Sat On My Butt for Two and a Half Weeks Straight!

Since I've been back a few weeks and have had time to contemplate the trip, I have forgotten some of the knee pain and remembered the joys of seeing these sights along the coast. 

We did come inland a few miles along the Oregon coast where windswept dunes rise nearly 500 feet above sea level. For 40 miles we rode along with the dunes to our right. 

The tine dot on top is a person. This particular dune was a short hike from our campground. We were about 3 miles from the water and the dunes form huge hills all the way to the beach. We were passed by truck after truck with trailers hauling huge ATV's. Unfortunately, they are allowed to tear over these beautiful mounds, disturbing habitat and serenity.

A quiet time along the river.

Sue checking out our route, maybe looking for our next coffee stop. 

If I saw a yarn shop, I of course would have to stop in.

This one carried all local goods from the sheep and shepherds that live in the area. 

I have to say that this yarn shop outside of Florence was very unfriendly. There were four ladies knitting and I tried to strike up a conversation as we knitters like to talk about our knitting. But these four were crabby-dabby-do and barely looked up. Allrighty then, see ya. 

We passed the largest redwood mill in the world. So that's where all those logging trucks were going!

These signs were my favorite! Love that downhill grade! My least favorite signs were 'Slower Traffic Keep Right' which meant there was a steep hill coming up. Some of the climbs took an hour and a half of just putting your head down and pedaling. My speed was sometimes 3 mph which was about as slow as you could go without falling over. One time there was a cop on the other side of the highway checking car's speeds coming down the mountain. But I was of course climbing and looked over at him and asked if I was speeding. He laughed and said I was doing just fine. No ticket for me!

After this 1000' climb and nearly at the top, the campground we were staying at that night is 1000' down. To lost that much ground after working so hard made me frown a bit. Because the next morning we would climb the 1000' feet again to get back to where we started. Woe is me! 
But thanks to Sue, she walked around the campground until she spotted a likely suspect with a large enough truck to carry 4 extra people, 4 bikes and all our gear. We met our 'angels' at 9:00 the next morning and the wife of the team was wearing a shirt that read, "Here I am. What are your next two wishes?" How appropriate!

We loaded up bikes, gear and our very happy selves and they scooted us right up that hill.

And here we are, smiling and ready to bike without having to make that huge climb. 
Only 50 miles to go!

We were lucky enough to have our friend Tami, from Alaska join us for a couple days. She was driving from Portland to SF so I rode with her in the car for two days. Fortunately these were two days of not such pretty bike riding (along a freeway) so I was happy to be in the car for many reasons. Also Tami was a life saver as she brought us an entire cooler full of food, wine and beer to our campsite. So. much. food!!!

For not being much a beach/coast person, I have spent most of this summer seeing many different coasts. I choose woods and mountains over beaches and seasides any day. So when I entered the Avenue of Giants, I was in heaven!

I cranked up Lord Huron on my iPod and just coasted down the road taking in the beauty of the redwoods.

Sue looking a wee small. 
I wished I would have ridden the 5 miles back to the beginning of this stretch and done it all again. I think this was my favorite part of the entire trip. (except maybe the 6 mile downhill…it might be a tie).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ride of my Life

Well, this is what we saw day after day after day at the start of our trip. Miles of smiles! I can't say it was easy, but it sure was beautiful. Traffic along highway 101 along the Oregon coast can be busy. Logging trucks, semis and the bane of everything are the huge RV's. Why oh why do they have to be so big?! Nowhere in the world are they as big as they are here in the U.S. And they hate us bikers. I have to say most of the drivers of these monsters gave us room but some of the them had to prove a point as to who owns the road and they came WAY too close. I would automatically pull in my elbows and make a 'scrunchy' face. Scrunchy Face is when you squeeze your eyes tightly shut, tighten your lips and wrinkle your nose. Seemed to help. I'm still alive.

We crossed many bridges and even went through a couple of tunnels. Usually there was a button to push with blinking lights that warned vehicles that there were bikers on the bridge or in the tunnel. We still biked like hell to get across though. 

The first one I went over I rode on the walkway. But it was really too tight with panniers so from then on I just took my chances in the lane.

I'll intersperse gorgeous seascapes every now and then because we just can't get enough of them. Funny thing though, it took us four days to even get down to the beach. Riding 50 miles can wear you out and sometimes we weren't camped that close.

We camped almost every night. Houston rode on ahead as he is focused on getting to the destination. But Sue and I liked to take our time, enjoying the journey. Well, to be honest, I really wanted time to recover from the climbs. And I'm not sure if we passed a coffee shop without stopping. Any pull off for a scenic view was a mandatory stop. So this is what our campsite usually looked like. 

or this. So beautiful. We'd roll into camp and my tent would have already been set up by Houston (thx!). I'd just have to blow up Big Aggie (my awesome 'mattress' for the night), take a shower and have dinner. We'd go out if there was a restaurant close by but often we'd cook our own.

The first night camping we awoke to emergency vehicles everywhere. Apparently the man next to us had a heart attack and collapsed onto someone's tent as he was coming back from the bathroom. Another camper administered CPR until the medics arrived. In typical over doing it attitude, eight vehicles showed up. they whisked him off to a nearby hospital and we heard he survived.

It was misty a lot of the time. Except for when we went inland, the temperatures hovered around the low 60's in the day and low 50's at night. Perfect riding and sleeping weather. On the chilliest nights I work both my fleece top and jacket. The best thing I brought along (which I'm pretty proud of) were leg/arm warmers. These are sold at bike stores and cost a bit but I thought I could just cut the feet off a pair of my black tights. Well, Bob's your uncle, they worked perfectly, especially for arm warmers. I wore them nearly every day and was so happy I had them. So back to the mist/fog. We had decided before the trip that we wouldn't ride if it was really foggy, but that really didn't happen. It did get foggy, but it was slightly above our heads so cars could see us. And we wore very bright clothes and had blinking lights on our bikes.

Something wonderful about bike touring is the people you meet. The Pacific Coast Highway route isn't the most popular bike route in the country. The traffic scares most folks away. But we did see maybe 40 others in all. Almost all of us rode north to south as the winds blow that way. And wind at your back is a very good thing! We see the same riders at the same campsites if they are riding at our pace. The three of us were by far the oldest riders out there, except for Marie, who we met our first day out. More on Marie later. Most were in their 20's or early 30's from all over the world on many different journeys. Martin, (in the green jacket above) is from Yorkshire, riding for a few weeks along the coast. He would finish a long ride, set up camp and go for a run. I was lucky to make it to the shower!

All the campgrounds set aside an area for hiker/bikers so we always assured of a campsite. It's a great way to meet other bikers.

The Oregon coast is less populated than I thought. We had a hard time finding fuel for our camp stove. We rode into camp one night with not much fuel so our neighbors, John, Hannah and Cody were happy to boil water for us. They were on their delayed honeymoon, traveling up the coast from San Diego in their reasonable sized RV. Aren't they cute?!

Sue and I met Phillip after a very long climb over a mountain. He had a Ranger truck like mine with an empty pickup bed and I asked him where he was when we were climbing up that long hill? He laughed and we ended up talking to him for 20 minutes. He had been an extreme mountaineer and paddler, climbing and kayaking all over the world, all the highest peaks and dangerous rivers. He met his wife while climbing Kilimanjaro and she was just as tough as he. He had been a surveyor for the National Forest and would save up a month's vacation every year to travel the world. 

I stopped in a small farmer's/artist's market in the seaside town of Bandon.  I found a vintage furniture dealer whose things looked so much like Krista's and my furniture. They picked that wonderful robin's egg blue with accents of pale yellow and creamy white. There were two women partners and one made pillows and table runners and they both painted. We instantly bonded and I showed them pix of our booths that we had set up in the past. 

She even matched her booth!

Walking on the beach.

This was so amazing. Took this little hike down to the beach from our campsite. Waves funneled through the slit in the rock. I was mesmerized. If you feel frazzled and need to calm down, watch this  little video.

A sunny day!

Got a quick shot of the Amish on the beach. 

One of the many coffee breaks Sue and I took. So glad she's a coffee achiever like me.

This was the cutest coffee shop, all full of vintage goodness.

The owner has been in business for 27 years and loves her job.

We hung out here for over an hour enjoying her company and of course the great coffee.

I stopped to take a lot of photos. And when I did, I got a bit behind but Sue always waited. There were times when I didn't stop (especially if there was a long, fun downhill or climbing uphill when stopping would mean having to walk the rest of the way uphill). 

But who couldn't stop for this?!!!! Love those sea stacks!

Eating was always near and dear to our hearts. Fuel is needed to get up those hills! But it is just a fallacy that you can eat whatever you want when biking. Well, maybe Sue can as she is no bigger than a bird. She said she purposely gained 5 lbs. before the trip so we wouldn't lose too much weight. I guess I've been getting ready for this trip for a couple decades! 
In doing this trip, I really wanted to get fitter, build muscle and lose weight. But apparently one can bike over 700 miles, eat reasonably well and not lose any weight! True confessions: we were able to find wine along the way, put it on our bikes, and take it back to camp. One can only suffer so much! (I only lost weight when I quit biking! Go figure!) But I am stronger and can bike up those damn hills quicker than when I started. 

We had dungeness crab cakes (wow! look at the size of that crab!) for lunch one day. And cole slaw. Sue really likes cole slaw so we taste tested cole slaw at every restaurant that served it.  "Too vinegary, too runny, too sweet or perfectly crunchy, just a bite of spiciness, or simply mmmmmm."

After one arduous day of riding (up, a little bit down, way up, tiny bit down, up, up, up), we pulled into camp with no food for dinner, just bars and jels and I really didn't want more of those for dinner, uggh. Town was just another 2 miles, but I for one was beat and didn't want to get in that saddle again. So we ordered pizza, beer and wine! It was delivered to our camp and we were some happy campers that night! This is the beer they brought us, how appropriate.

We stopped for water at this way off the beaten track golf course. We walked into the clubhouse to fill up our water bottles and a woman behind the counter was making egg salad sandwiches. It was only 10:00 in the morning but an egg salad sandwich sounded so good that we just sat down awhile and scarfed up a couple. 

Had to get a photo of the wallpaper in the bathroom.

 We saw many beautiful sunsets. Not many sunrises. We were usually in bed by 8:30 - 9:00 and didn't crawl out of our tents until sometimes 8:00 in the morning! Recharging takes time I guess. 
Next up, finishing up the Oregon coast and entering the mega climbs of Northern California.