PCH Tour: Hello Portland, Oregon

Lewis and Clark Bridge

Day 17 – I woke up in my comfy Travelodge bed. I still wasn’t sure where I was going to stay in Portland, and I didn’t know if I would be pelted with rain or luck out. I got up and peeked out the window. It was gray and the ground was wet, but no rain. I checked the radar and it looked like the majority of the rain had passed and that I’d have a good window to make the 50 mile run to Portland. I ate some PB&Js and packed up all my gear.

I rode out of Longview, WA and right up to the Lewis and Clark Bridge. It was a small mountain of a climb and the shoulder was narrow. Logging trucks zoomed by as they tried to pick up enough speed to make it over with their loads. I had to drop down to one of my lowest gears and plug along at a snails pace. Chunks of wood and debris lined the shoulder, forming little obstacles for me to dodge. I made it to the top and shot down the other side. I was officially through Washington State and in Oregon.

I took 30 South and passed into Rainier, OR. It looked like a small logging community with old divey shops and taverns. That’s where I rode down to the waterfront and grabbed this shot of the bridge I’d just crossed. I didn’t want to waste much more time with the chance of rain floating about. I jumped back on Trixie (my bike) and returned to the grind.

Saw Mill

I had a couple of decent hills to start, but I kept a good pace. I even got used to the semis blowing past me at 60 miles per hour. Things were going well. I took a short break at 10 miles, ate some granola bars and checked my email for any responses from potential couch surfer hosts. I was in luck. Cayleigh had extra floor room where I could set up my sleeping bag. I hopped back on the bike and pedaled even faster.

It was close to 20 miles in, near a town called Deer Island, where I suddenly felt the road get squishy. I kept pedaling, but something wasn’t right. I looked down and my back tire was completely flat. Oh no… I thought I’d make the whole trip without a flat. I watched a video once, but never changed a tire. I thought I had all of the gear I’d need to make the fix, so I pulled over next to a tree and decided, now was a good time to learn.

I pulled off my rear panniers and unscrewed my rear wheel. I used some wedges in my repair kit to pry the tire and tube off of the rim. I found a nice pointy carpet tac stuck in my tire. I pulled that sucker out and flicked it away. Out came my new tube and I noticed that the valve was different. I didn’t even know that they made another type of valve stem. That’s when I realized that the spare tubes I bought were the wrong ones. I had a little patch kit, so I patched my old tube, put it and the tire back on the rim, and then pumped it with air from my CO2 pump. It filled up, and then drained out. I thought that maybe it was because I didn’t unscrew the pump fast enough. I tried it again with the same result. After all of the work I still had a limp, floppy tire.

There just so happened to be an old couple working on their boat across the street from me. I decided it was time to ask for help. I put my wheel and panniers back on my bike and went over to ask them if they could drive me 5 miles, to the town of St. Helens, where the nearest bike shop was located. They were a very kind couple, and Dolly, the wife, said she take me into town. On the ride there, Dolly told me that she was originally from Eastern Oregon. She grew up in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens. She even recalled watching the volcano blow it’s top in 1980, from her sons baseball game. They were in a safe zone, so they just stood back and watch the clouds and lightning from the field. She said it was an awesome sight.

We got to the bike shop and Dolly dropped me off. There, the young bicycle mechanic, John, helped me to get the correct tubes and showed me how to properly change the tire. He even found another tac that I missed, still stuck in the tire. Without Dolly and John, I’d still be stuck out on the road, not knowing what to do. I’ll be forever grateful for their help.

On the way out of town, I missed the good restaurants, so I just grabbed another McD’s meal of two cheeseburgers, fries, and a free McFlurry that they made wrong for someone else. My stomach full and my bike fixed, I pushed on through the last 30 miles of my ride. I made great time, and the terrain was relatively flat.

I rolled into Portland around 6pm and met up with Cayleigh and another Aussie couch surfer, Juan. We dropped our stuff off at Cayleigh’s, cleaned up a bit and then went out and ate some amazing Indian food at a place called the Bollywood Theater. After that we grabbed some drinks and then went home to pass out.

I made it to Portland and I had some new friends to explore the town with. What a day!

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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