Friday, August 30, 2013

That May Have Been the Best Bike Ride Ever

Pictures are here.

Four miles into a six-mile climb today, I realized that I was having a great day. I mean, really GREAT!

So, that probably sounds crazy. It's a six-mile climb, right? But it was six miles at an average of just under five percent grade, and it was a super-quiet and shady road. The pavement was only so-so, but the views were incredible. Lush evergreen all around, with an undergrowth of fern. The lower mile or two had fields of cattle and corn and grain, with a few houses and barns with the usual west coast bucolic ex-hipy vibe.

And a lot of it was just because I felt great. The bike felt perfect for this kind of climb, and my legs felt remarkably fresh ... no problems from yesterday's unintentional dismount.

The weather was also about as good as it could get. Cool enough that I felt right with arm and knee warmers at the bottom, I pulled off the arm warmers pretty quickly and left the knee warmers for the duration. The dew and sweat beaded on my arms as it evaporated, keeping me cool as a climbing cucumber.

The climb got steeper for a bit, and then eased off to almost level when I ran into a group of four young touring cyclists. They were taking a break and eating a snack, and I stopped to ask how they were doing. "Good," one of the girls said. "We just hope we're at the top."

"It looks like it," I said, and thought unfortunately ...

Today was full of things like this. I slept a little late, then rode into Pacific City and had a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at a bakery. When I realized that I had forgotten my bottles at the hotel, I headed back and quickly retrieved them, then got back on the road with a nice tailwind.

I cruised through Oretown and Neskowin, and then up the aforementioned climb on Slab Creek Road. After a fun, easy descent, I considered breaking for an early lunch in Otis ("My man!"), but the cafe there was full of folks who beat me to it. So I headed on to Lincoln City instead.

The Adventure Cycling route avoided much of the town by going on the other side of Devil's Lake via Devil's Lake Road. This was a gently rolling, quiet street full of pretty houses with nice yards, and I enjoyed every inch of it. When it returned to Hwy 101 at an outlet mall, I was genuinely sad.

Going south again on Hwy 101, I started looking for somewhere to eat lunch. Instead, I saw a shop selling chocolate and went in for a quick snack. A milk chocolate coconut haystack and chocolate-covered Twinkee on a stick later, and I was full of energy once more.

The next few miles were a procession of riding on the ample shoulder of Hwy 101 and stopping regularly to take pictures of yet another incredible seascape. I ran into the young cyclists again, who had briefly teamed up with another young man from the Netherlands. There was also a group of 14 riders who were doing the Oregon coast down to Crescent City, but staying in hotels and supported by a couple of vans. Maybe someday I'll try that.

I had one other "incredible road" experience just past Depoe Bay, when the route turned on to the Otter Creek Loop near Otter Rock. The road shadowed Hwy 101, but only allowed one-way traffic going south; there was a lane for cars, and another for bikes. The grade was, again, nice and easy, and the views were splendid.

The few miles from there to Newport were a breeze ... helped greatly by the 10 mph wind at my back. I explored the city a bit, and then checked in to my hotel and called RandoGirl. After I got cleaned up and unloaded the bike a bit, I went down to Nye Beach for dinner at a funky restaurant there, and then came back to the room to do some laundry and write this blog.

When I checked in to the hotel, I told the clerk that the day had been beautiful. "Well, wait'll you get further south," he said. "That's the pretty part of the coast."

I may not be able to stand this.

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