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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