Monday, July 1, 2013

THE Tour

I am very excited. THE Tour starts next month.

No, not that thing they do (mostly) in France in July. That's just "The Tour," with capital T's.

THE Tour is three weeks long, but shorter and slower and I think will be a heck of a lot more fun than racing and crashing and dodging stuck buses and all of the other stuff the professionals have to bother with. THE Tour is my Cycling Tour of the Northwest United States Coast.

Long-time readers are now saying, "Hmmm ... this sounds familiar." It should. This was going to be my Fall Trip last year, but was postponed because we were in the midst of moving back to Tennessee from south Florida. I promised myself then, however, that this was only going to be a postponement -- not a cancellation. At the end of August, I am making good on that promise.

Here's the plan ...

Day 1: Fly to Seattle

I'm going to get Gran Fondo (a.k.a., The Greatest Bike Shop in the Universe) to box up and ship Sparkletini to a bike shop in Seattle. Hopefully, they will have it ready, so I can catch a bus to the shop, strap on the panniers, and ride into town. I'll grab dinner, then catch the ferry to Bremerton and check into a hotel.

Day 2: Bremerton to Elma

I'm going to try to get out of town before commuter traffic starts up, getting out into the country quick. It's almost 70 miles today, with over 6000' of climbing, so I hope that everything on the bike (and my body) is working well. I will camp tonight at an R.V. Park just outside of town.

Day 3: Elma to Toledo

The first day had a lot of climbing because I was trying to get to the coast. Today, I am much closer to the ocean, heading south on quiet roads that follow I-5. It's still a long day at 64 miles, but a little flatter with just over 2500' of climbing. Most of that is in the second half of the day, after I go through Centralia. Tonight I will camp at the city park in Toledo (gateway to Mt. St. Helens).

Day 4: Toledo to Astoria (Oregon)

Route (Part 1) (Part 2)

My original plan for this trip was to start in Canada, catching the train up to Vancouver, British Columbia, and cycling south. Since I'm trying to keep this trip down to three weeks and avoid 100-mile days, I only get to spend three days on the Washington coast. As the guys in The Tour might say, "C'est la vie."

I start the day with some tough climbs as I head down to and then ride west along the Columbia River. The first section is almost 60 miles with over 2500' of climbing, and that's just to get to the ferry at Westport. I then take the ferry (the only one still operating on the lower Columbia River) across into Oregon, and ride another 25 miles with 2500' of climbing. Tonight, I will sleep well in a hotel in Astoria.

Day 5: Astoria to Garibaldi

Today, I finally get to the ocean.

It's a fairly average day, pace-wise, with about 60 miles and under 4000' of climbing. I hit the ocean at Seaside (appropriately enough) in time for lunch, then continue past a series of state parks. Expect a LOT of pictures from this stretch. I will camp tonight at Barview Jetty County Park, just north of the town of Garibaldi.

Day 6: Garibaldi to Portland

Okay, so today would be a very hard day ... except I'm going to catch a bus. It's only 12 flat miles from the campground to Tillamook, where there's a bus that makes the long trip in to Portland. My plan is to catch the early bus, explore Portland in the afternoon, check into a hotel, and mostly take the day off.

Day 7: Portland to Pacific City

Today's a pretty short day, too -- 35 miles and 2500' of climbing -- since I'm going to be on the bus coming back from Portland during most of the morning. I go by Three Arch Rocks and Cape Lookout, both of which have tough climbs, before camping for the night at Woods County Park.

Day 8: Pacific City to Newport

This is where I begin to ride in what I call "Sometimes a Great Notion" country. If you've never read Ken Kesey's second novel, it primarily takes place along this part of the coast, and is one of the reasons that I've dreamed of doing this tour for over 30 years.

I don't want to rush this part, so I'm going less than 55 miles with about 3500' of climbing today. A lot of the route is on Hwy 101, passing through a series of state parks. I anticipate a minimum of three episodes of just sitting on a picnic table looking at the world. I'll stay the night at the Comfort Inn in Newport.

Day 9: Newport to Reedsport

Today was a tough day to plan. When you stay in a hotel, you can go further the next day because you don't have to break down your camp that morning. Although 77 miles and over 5000' of climbing is more than I wanted to do, that's the way that things worked out with campgrounds and stuff. Fortunately, there's plenty to see and a couple of nice towns along the way, so it should still be a very pleasant ride. I'll stay the night at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park.

Day 10: Reedsport to Bandon

I'm making up for the long day here, going under 50 miles and about 2500' of climbing. It's Hwy 101 down to Coos Bay, then closer to the coast with more climbing and better views. Tonight I will camp at Bullard's Beach State Park.

Day 11: Bandon to Gold Beach

As I approach the southern end of the Oregon coast, the terrain becomes a trifle more jagged. Today's route is 62 miles with almost 4000' of climbing as I head down Hwy 101 to Port Orford, Humbug Mountain, and Sister's Rock. Tonight is my last night of camping in Oregon, at an R.V. Park near the river.

Day 12: Gold Beach to Crescent City (California)

Today starts with a long climb up to Cape Sebastian, followed by shorter stuff as I bump along 63 miles and through 4000' of climbing into California. I'll stay the night at a hotel in Crescent City (even if their website does break my rule about obnoxious music).

Day 13: Crescent City to Patrick's Point

Welcome to the redwoods. The 54-mile day starts with a five-mile climb up to 1000' before rolling down to the Klamath River. Then it's a climb and descent through Redwoods National Park, around a series of lagoons, and then camping at Patrick's Point State Park. Over 4500' of climbing make this a sufficiently challenging day.

Day 14: Patrick's Point to Ferndale

Today's a little easier -- 50 miles and under 2000' of climbing -- as I go through McKinleyville, Eureka, and Fortuna. Camping tonight in Ferndale, where I need to make sure that I get provisions for the next two very tough days.

Day 15: Ferndale to Arthur W. Way City Memorial Park

Only 36 miles, but almost 5000' of climbing. Got your head around that yet?

This is the first day of the Lost Coast Alternate section. The big climb comes early, with about eight miles of an average grade near 9%. I plan to spin Sparkletini's easiest gear, plus get off regularly to take pictures, stretch, and maybe even nap a bit. After a seven-mile descent, there's another 1000' climb for a mile and a half before the terrain calms down for the last 18 miles to my campground. Since there are no towns on this route, I'll carry lots of food and water.

Day 16: Arthur W. Way City Memorial Park to Myers Flat

Maybe today's easier, since it's under 39 miles and only 4500' of climbing. I hope it will seem like it.

After an eight-mile warm-up, there's another eight-mile climb -- pretty much exactly like the one from the day before -- followed by almost 10 miles of downhill (the first five fast, the second five much more gradual). I'll be passing through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, then getting on Avenue of the Giants (in the shadow of Hwy 100) for the last easy miles to a very nice hotel in Myers Flat.

Day 17: Myers Flat to Leggett

I'm probably going to be tired today. Too bad it's a long day.

The route rolls through the redwood trees to Redway, then begins a gradual climb through a series of parks. After 47 miles and almost 5000' of climbing, I'll camp near Drive-Thru Tree State Park.

Day 18: Leggett to Ft. Bragg

Remember all that climbing yesterday? Today kind of makes up for it.

There's another four-mile climb, then I'm descending for almost 13 miles (good thing I've got disc brakes). There's a bump at the bottom that takes me back to the coast, but then it's easy rolling on CA-1 through parks and towns. After 46 miles and over 4000' of climbing, I will be happy to sleep at a hotel in Fort Bragg tonight.

Day 19: Ft. Bragg to Gualala

As I get closer to San Francisco, the terrain becomes more sawtoothed. Today is 60 miles with over 6000' of climbing -- most of it the perpetual up-and-down variety -- as I roll past the coast of California.  There are plenty of small towns to stop in and grab a bite to eat, so I plan to take it easy down to my campsite at Gualala Point Regional Park.

Day 20: Gualala to Bodega Bay

Today is one last easy day, with only 50 miles and about 4000' of climbing, enabling me to enjoy one final day of peace before returning to civilization. It's almost all CA-1, through state parks and small towns, before passing through Bodega Bay to camp at Doran Regional Park.

Day 21: Bodega Bay to San Francisco

You gotta finish this kind of thing with a bang, so today's route is over 70 miles and almost 5000' of climbing.

After packing my tent away for the last time, I will head along the coast down to Point Reyes, then climb over the ridge towards George Lucas's house in San Rafael. Hopefully the roads won't be too busy as I roll down through Sausalito, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into The City. There's a bike shop over by Nob Hill that will ship Sparkletini back to Gran Fondo; from there, I'll get to a hotel and get a good dinner. Tomorrow, I fly home.

I hope to blog about this trip as I go. My posts have been kind of thin this year, so I hope stunning pictures and scintillating descriptions will make up for that.

1 comment:

  1. RB, sounds like an amazing trip. Suggest that you try to visit the McMenamins Pub in Centralia. The throne like urinal construct is not to be missed. And the burger is pretty good too.