PCH Tour: New Friends in Devil’s Lake State Park

Pacific City Coastal Highway

Day 24 – I woke up around 7:30am. There was actually some sun poking through the clouds. I lucked out and the fog didn’t come in over night. I did my routine of eating 2 PB&Js, cleaning up and packing all of my gear.

Overnight, Russ messaged me and said that he was planning on heading to Devil’s Lake State Park as well. It would be another 60 mile day, but I would be able to catch up with him and the rest of the group he was hanging with. On the way out, I ran into another touring cyclist named Frank. He said he was from Torrence and was biking from Victoria, BC on down to LA. We chatted for a bit and then parted ways.

The air was nice and cool and it looked like it could be sunny all day. I made my way into Tillamook, OR and rode past the big Tillamook Cheese factory. I was tempted to stop in, but I wanted to get at least half way through my day before I took a big break. I did, however, make a pit stop at Burger King, because I thought I was going to pee my pants. While I was there I grabbed some chicken fries.

I pushed on out of town down the 101. For a couple of miles all I could see on the horizon was a giant hanger with the words AIR MUSUEM panted across the roof. It was a massive building. I wanted to stop, but I knew I had a long day and a big climb ahead, so I took a rain check on that visit. There were several long stretches of road, and as I turned toward the mountains I got smacked with a strong head wind. I down shifted to push through. There were some slow climbs where the wind made it tough, but I eventually wound my way back to the coast.

Air Museum

I made it to Pacific City and pulled into the Pelican Pub and Brewery around 1:30pm. I was starving and I ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a turkey ruben with french fries. I sucked the food down and worked on my post for the day. As I was typing I looked out the window and saw Russ getting ready to leave. I hurried out and said hi. He just finished eating and having a beer with some of his friends that he met on the road. I introduced myself to a couple of them that were still there, before going back to finish my work.

They’d all be at Devil’s Lake State Park later tonight. My stomach was stuffed when I left the pub. I was hoping it would digest a little more before I got to the big climb. I had an easy 5 or 6 miles before I hit the base of the mountain. It was over 700ft. Probably my biggest climb yet. It started out well. I kept plugging along in my low gear and made great progress. It seemed like I had been going for a while when I finally burned out. I thought I could see the top, but my legs were on fire and I was out of breath. I pulled over and took a breather.

I jumped back on the bike expecting to be over the top in no time. But the hill kept going and going and going. It seemed to never end. I burned out again and took another breather. After a little snack I decided to push through and finish the climb. I made another turn or two and I burned out again. I was totally fried. Even in my lowest gear, my body gave out. I knew I had to be close. I got myself pumped up and jumped on the bike again. This time I finally made it to the top. I zoomed down the other side for what seemed like 20 mins of bliss. The cool air chilled my sweaty body. I reached the bottom and felt recharged again. I wasn’t far from camp and I took my time working my way into the town of Lincoln.

There I stopped at a Safeway and grabbed some chicken noodle soup and a 6 pack of beers to share with my new friends. I rolled into camp around 7pm. The State Park sites were way cheaper, only $6 for a hiker biker spot. And the showers were free! When I got to my site there was already a little city of tents. Frank, from earlier in the morning was there setting things up. Shortly after, Russ came riding up the hill. Then I met Cindy, Eiry and the Hammock Guys. It was a great group of people.

I set up my tent, took an amazing warm shower, and then sat at the picnic table with the gang. I pulled out my beers to share and I was instantly accepted into the group. We sat up until 11pm telling stories and making PopTart jokes. It was nice to have some fellow biker friends on the road. Most of us were going to the same camp the next day, so I’d get to hang with them again. All in all, it was a tough, but amazing day.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: Misty Cannon Beach to Barview Jetty

Cannon Beach

Day 23 – I woke up early, cleaned up and packed, and said my goodbyes to Trudi. She was an awesome host, and I owe my great Astoria experience to her.

I pedaled out into the damp morning air. It was foggy and a bit misty out. I gabbed a few provisions in town and then pedaled west and then south down the 101. I was officially on the Pacific coast for the first time during this trip. The first half of my 40 mile day was relatively flat. I made great time, but the air was cool and the mist picked up to a drizzle. My rain gear makes me sweat even more than I already do, so I held off putting that on and just took the damp air like a man. I figured this might be how the next 800 miles of my ride would be, so I’d have to get use to it.

I had about a 500 foot climb before I took my break in Cannon Beach. This was the last stop on my Goonies Pilgrimage. It was the beach with the big rock that was featured multiple times throughout the film. I took a couple pics and then stopped in a cafe for a sandwich and some coffee. I got all caught up on my posts and set out to look for more great photo ops of the amazing beach and rock formations. I found a few more lookout points and grabbed some good pics as the sun started to peek through.

Cannon Beach Rock

From there I had about two more 500 ft climbs. It seemed like I knocked them out one after the other without too much of a problem. I still took some little breather / water breaks, but they were totally doable. At the top of the last hill there was an amazing lookout point, where you could see for miles down the Oregon coast. I saw the park where I would be camping. But I was making such good time and feeling so good that I soon decided to go another 15 miles to the next park.

A part of me wondered if I’d be able to catch up with, Russ, the cyclist I met on the way to Astoria. I zoomed down the mountain and plugged along through some small towns. In less than an hour and a half I made it to camp. Although, Google maps did give me some bad directions and I had to backtrack a mile right at the end. Not cool Google!

The Barview Jetty County Campgrounds were $20 for a site, almost 4 times what a State Park charges for a biker. It sucked to pay that much, but I wasn’t going any further. I unpacked, showered, ate some black beans and bread, and turned in for the night. Hopefully I’d be able to keep up the pace tomorrow, and maybe catch up with Russ and some other bikers. This is a pic of the rocks on Cannon Beach

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: Getting My Goonies on in Astoria

Boon Docks

Day 22 – I wanted this to be a real day off. Not too much exploring, not too much cycling, not too much walking. Just a real day to relax a bit. I got up around 9am and took my time getting ready before cruising into town. I found a little cafe on 14th Street and grabbed a coffee and some oatmeal pancakes. I took my time eating and typing and catching up on the world and some work.

Afterword, I strolled around town a bit. I took my bike to get a checkup at the local shop – I was having trouble shifting into my highest gear. The tech made a quick adjustment and sent me off with no charge. Now I can go fast down hills again. I eventually meandered over to the Oregon Film Museum, which was inside of the old prison. It was a very small museum, but they had a bunch of The Goonies memorabilia, including the Fratelli’s Jeep that sat outside. The Goonies is one of those movies that instantly teleports me back to my childhood. I was filled with nostalgia as I looked around.

From there I decided to make the long walk over to The Goonies house. It was about 30 blocks away. I made a pit stop at the Safeway to grab a sandwich and some water. It was early afternoon when I tromped up to the front of that big old house on the hill. I felt like some kind of childhood pilgrimage had been completed. I snapped a bunch of photos and chatted with some other fans.

Goonies House

On the way down, I passed the middle school that was used in Kindergarten Cop. I never realized how many films were made in Astoria. There were also scenes from Free Willy, Short Circuit and a bunch of other classics that were shot in town. I found a bench by the riverwalk and took in the sun and the breeze next to the Columbia River. It was so nice to just zone out and completely relax for a bit. I felt like I was sitting at the end of the world.

I walked back into town and grabbed a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone that was too big to finish. That’s when Trudi messaged me and said she was off work and grabbing a drink before heading back to her place. I met up with her at Fort George and had a drink with her and her friends. They were telling me all about a big Wizard of OZ / Alice and Wonderland theme party that they were all going to later that night. Trudi said I could come. I was intrigued, but I didn’t want to start my day too late the next day. Then they mentioned that Seth, one of the hosts, was a local philosopher and professor. That was enough to seal the deal for me. Philosophy and a theme party. What more could I ask for?

We went home and got ready for the party. We showed up around 8:30pm. It was in a big 2 story home up on the hill above downtown. There was a rainbow of balloons that we walked under to enter the party. Inside we got a tour of the whole house. Every room had a different theme. The Wizard and the Emerald City were in the kitchen. There was a Tea Party on the back porch. Poppy fields lead to the 2nd floor where Seth had his library and work area. A bathroom was turned into a rabbit hole and the basement was a dark forest of rose bushes.

The costumes were just as amazing as all of the decorations. There were witches, and lions and a giant Mad Hatter. I met Seth and he told me all about how he got into philosophy and some of the amazing places he had taught. I learned about a terrible 3 day storm that hit Astoria in the late 2000s, which took the power out and ripped trees down all around town. Supposedly the wind meter on the bridge broke off at 140 miles per hour. Wow! I never realized how bad storms could get up in the Pacific Northwest.

I met a bunch of other great people and tried all of the amazing punches that were set out in each room. A bunch of us sat around the fire and talked for a while. Eventually, we decided to head back home for the night. Trudi had work in the morning and I needed to hit the road and head south. Little random things like that party are what make a trip like this so special. Can’t wait to see what surprises the coast holds.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: Meeting Russ & Birdbath in Astoria

Dock in Astoria

Day 21 – I woke up well rested and well fed. I hurried up and got ready, knowing that I’d have some of the biggest climbs that I had yet to experience. I thanked Mackenzie, Teresa and Ed again for their amazing hospitality. Then I rode off into the cool morning air.

It was mostly down hill at first. I got to the bottom of a hill and had a nice 300-400 ft climb back to the top. As I was pedaling up hill, Mackenzie and Teresa pulled along side me and asked if I wanted a ride to Astoria in their RV. It was tempting, but the bike ride was a big part of the challenge and adventure for me. I thanked them, but told them I’d bike in on my own power. They pulled away, and I soon regretted not taking them up on their kind offer.

The pace was tiring and the hill seemed to never end. But it did, and I was at the top. On the other side I flew down a good 600ft to some flat terrain. At that point I was making good time. Around, 20 miles in I decided to take a break at a little diner near Westport, OR. I knew there wouldn’t be too many stops left before Astoria, and I was getting hungry. There I got a giant 3 egg omelet with peppers, mushrooms, onion, tomato and sausage. It also came with 2 huge pancakes. I stuffed my face and checked my route on google. I was only a mile away from another 700ft climb. I was hoping to get into Astoria in time to shower before my Couch Surfer host, Trudi, had to go to work. But with all of the hills it was looking doubtful. I grabbed some supplies and hit the road.

It was an easy mile to the base of the hill. Then it was a steady up, up and away. I ran most of it in my granny gear, trying to keep a steady pace and just zone out. RVs and Semis zipped by as I struggled up the shoulder. I eventually found a turnout and took a 5 min break. I sipped some Gatorade and pushed on. I went for another good 15-20 mins before pulling over again. I was just not in shape to make it up a hill that size in one swoop. I checked my maps and realized I was almost to the top. I pushed on and made it!

Just after the summit there was a little national park overlook. I decided I deserved a real break and a good view so I checked it out. It was awesome to see how far up I hauled my load. I could see the Columbia river, Westport, OR and Washington State. There I met another touring cyclist, Russ. He had already been on the road for over 2 months, pedaling up from Albuquerque, New Mexico, deep into Canada and back down toward the coast. He’s got an awesome blog at www.manbikeworld.com. Check it out. He puts me to shame, but he was a very down-to-earth great guy.

From there I jumped back on the bike and rode all the way down the hill I had just climbed. The terrain had it’s little ups and downs, but nothing compared to what I just did. I made decent time, although I couldn’t seem to get comfortable in my saddle. I don’t think this bike fits me and I don’t have the greatest seat or bike shorts. I guess the pain is part of the extra challenge. Hope my body can hold up.

Around 4:30pm I made it into Astoria. I took a bike path along the river, where I saw big freight ships, and rocky islands lined with barking seals. I found a bench, made some calls home and relaxed in the sun. Astoria is a great little historical town. All of the buildings are in great condition, but looked like they came straight out of the 1800s.

Bridge in Astoria

I took a birdbath in the restroom of Baked Salmon restaurant. It was my first time washing myself in a sink, but I was covered in sweat and had to do something. I washed my face and then wetted paper towels and wiped down my body in a stall. I brought in a change of clothes and changed as well. Feeling a bit more normal I grabbed a pizza and some beer in the Northern Lights Lounge in the same restaurant. It was an awesome pepperoni pizza with huge chunks of melted fresh mozzarella cheese.

I walked around town, taking in the sunset and sea air. Eventually, I went over to the Fort George Brewery, where Trudi, my host, was bar tending. Every Sunday they have live music up stairs until 11pm. I had a couple of beers and listened to the music until she got off work. We loaded my bike into her car and went up to her place. I was exhausted, so after chatting a bit I passed out on the couch. Tomorrow I’ll explore the home of the Goonies.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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PCH Tour: Goodbye Portland & Hello Porkchops

Hawthorn Bridge Portland

Day 20 – I got up way too late, but it was expected after such a long night. It was slow going, getting ready and packing for the trip to Astoria. It was going to be a bit of back tracking. I had to ride back up the 30 to where I crossed over from Longview, WA. But I’m a huge Goonies fan and I couldn’t miss Astoria, being so close. I grabbed some supplies and said my goodbyes. I was on the road after 12:30pm.

I had 60 miles to go, with a big climb at the very end. It was going to be a long day. I crossed through the homes of Portlandia and made my way to the river. Over the Hawthorne bridge, and I was in downtown. I was going to really miss this place.

It took me about an hour before I was on 30 and making my way north. The ride wasn’t too bad coming out of town. Very few hills. I kept at it until I made it to St. Helens. There my stomach was growling and I needed a bit of a break. I stopped at the same McD’s that I did on the way down. I’m not a fan of fast food, but I needed to save some cash after my splurge in Portland.

I continued onward and slowly made my way to Rainier, OR. The sun was getting low and I knew that final 700ft climb was just ahead. I swigged some Gatorade and made the final push. The pace was slow and the incline was grueling. I stopped for a break and checked the map. I was less than a 3rd of the way up. I continued on up a winding back road in my lowest gear. My feet were spinning, but I was barely moving. Up and up and up. I had to stop again for a break. I was two thirds of the way to the top. When would it end! I hopped on my steed and resumed the endless pedaling. Eventually the ground leveled off and then I was going down hill. I passed a school and made the turn to a little campground.

Thankfully there were spots available. They were all $20 sites. I wasn’t excited to spend that much to camp, but glad to have a place to sleep. I decided to roll around and look for a good spot. As I was about to head back to the main board to pay for a site, an older woman and her daughter asked if I was looking for a spot. I said yeah, and they told me I could set up next to their RV and share their site for the night.

Mackenzie was the mother, Teresa was the daughter. Teresa’s husband was Ed and they had 3 kids running about. They were very friendly. I set up my tent and took a shower. When I got back they cooked dinner and offered me a plate. I couldn’t resist. They made pork chops, mashed potatoes and corn. The meat was perfectly tender. I devoured my plate and they gave me seconds. I sucked down two more chops and another serving of potatoes and corn.

We all sat up late talking and Mackenzie and Teresa reminisced about their days growing up in the mountains of Montana. I was so thankful to run into them. Camping on this trip can be lonely and I usually cook beans and eat PB&Js. This was a nice change. I went to bed with a full stomach and more great memories. – This is a photo of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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