Monday, September 2, 2013

The Lost Weekend

Sorry I've been out of touch. Pictures from the three days since last we met begin here.

First, why I've been missing: Saturday night, I thought that I didn't have cellular signal at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Sunday, I found that I did have signal after all, it was just my iPhone that was on the fritz. Unfortunately, my signal at the state park (Bullard's Beach, just north of Bandon) was so bad that I couldn't post. Tonight, I'm at a Motel 6 in Gold Beach, and the wifi is excellent!

So, you ask, how's it going? Pretty good, really. Saturday was a rough day for cycling, with a nasty headwind that made my 77 miles with 2500 feet of climbing a bit of a chore. I left the hotel in Newport about 7:30 so that I could quickly get across the bridge over Yaquina Bay.

The first few miles were dreary and foggy, as you can tell from the pictures ... such as they are. There's only so much you can say about a picture of fog. "Oh, look -- fog." And, "Supposedly, there's something cool there ... behind the fog."

Past Yachats there was a series of climbs, starting with Cape Perpetua and on to Haceta Head. I stopped for lunch in Florence, and then moved inland from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The wind continued to strengthen as I went over climbs to Dunes City and beyond Reedsport, then picked up groceries in Winchester Bay before entering Umpqua Lighthouse State Park.

The park had a few nasty climbs of its own, but soon I was at my campsite and set up for the night. It was still foggy and chilly, but I felt better after a hot shower and changing into non-cycling clothes. Another rider came in then, a fellow from Norway named Bjorn, and then Matt and Julie and their dog, Jet. We had met on the road a few days back heading into Tillamook -- for more on them, see their blog at A Pink Frame of Mind.

Four more young tourists from Vancouver came in then, setting up in the next site up, and another young lady cyclist named Kerri. We all ended up talking until after dark, when I finally trudged off to my tent for sleep.

The morning looked better, but I dawdled through breakfast and packing up. Bjorn had a long day planned, and he left early. Everyone else was still there when I finally rolled out at 9 am.

The breeze was still out of the south, and I had a few good climbs early on. It was almost noon when I got to the bridge to North Bend, and traffic was nuts so I walked the bicycle up the narrow sidewalk running along the side of this very long high bridge. Another touring cyclist came riding up halfway to the top, and I apologized for holding him up. When we got to the top, there was an opening in the traffic so I quickly put my bike back on the road to coast down.

A few miles on, I stopped for a quick lunch at Taco Bell and tried my phone again. This was when I discovered that the phone wasn't working right. As I walked back to my bike, however, I looked over towards the mall next to the restaurant and saw that there was an AT&T store. I went in, and they tried to fix my phone. When they couldn't, they called Apple and tried to work through the problem. When Apple got to the "Tell him to plug the phone into his computer and resynch it with iTunes step," we were at a stalemate.

Leaving the mall, I found that the wind had stiffened while I was wasting time with Apple. I fought it out to Cape Arago Hwy and on into Charleston, then turned on Seven Devils Road. This road is apparently popular with the local cyclists, but is extraordinarily tough in a headwind. It pitches up into the teens at a number of places, and I was very glad to finally be off it and back on Hwy 101 about 5 pm.

It wasn't much further to my evening's destination, Bullard's Beach State Park. There, I found Matt and Julie (and Jet) had just arrived and were setting up camp. Also there were Tim and Kim McAllister from Leftbridge, in Canada (just south of Calgary, they said).

I set up my tent as quickly as I could, having to pause regularly to swat mosquitoes until I finally doused myself with Deet. After stowing my gear, I quickly rode into Bandon and bought groceries (as well as some Off wipes for me and Julie), then rode back to fix dinner. Only after eating did I allow myself to grab a shower and then jump into my tent (where the mosquitoes couldn't find me).

It rained during the night, but I slept fairly well regardless and awoke at dawn. After the previous day, I had decided that the key to dealing with the wind was to ride as early as I could, since it seemed to get fierce the later the day got. I packed up, put on more Deet, broke down my tent, loaded up, got dressed, and was rolling out at 7:30 am.

Kim and Tim had the same idea, and we stopped in Bandon to eat breakfast together. They were very nice, and had done a number of interesting tours. I really enjoyed talking with them.

The three of us headed out of town on the Beach Loop Road, including a harsh little climb up a 100-yard multi-use trail. The day was gorgeous, with just a bit of offshore fog but plenty of sunshine as we rolled along back to Hwy 101. The three of us would separate and then regroup, but ended up together again at Port Orford when we stopped for lunch at a fish and chips place.

Along the way, I ran into another touring cyclist pulling a trailer. He was touring full-time, having recently retrired, and was living out of his trailer. I also ran into Matt and Leslie, who I had last seen on the road in to Tillamook last week. They are due to fly out of San Francisco the same day as I am.

I left Tim and Kim just past Port Orford, getting back into my "git 'er done" mode. There was a climb around Humbug Mountain, and then a return to the coast for more miles of great views and harsh headwinds. At Ophir, the route turned inland on to Cedar Valley Road, which was gently rolling and fairly calm. At the Rogue River, the wind returned as I headed back towards the ocean, and I was spent when I finally saw the bridge over the river at Wedderburn.

Although I could see my hotel from there, there was a deli that looked inviting. I went inside and got a pint of chocolate milk and a slice of cheesecake that brought me back to life. Half an hour later, I was checked into my hotel and doing laundry.

Tomorrow is my last day in Oregon. I'll ride over 60 miles with (supposedly) 4000 feet of climbing. Since I'm in a hotel tonight, I should be able to get an early start. The weather forecast is for a little less wind, but still out of the south. Oh, well ...

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