Lincoln City to Wakonda Beach, Riding Healthy and Strong
|Read about our rest day in Lincoln City|
Our seventh day on the Oregon Coast opened to grey skies. We were 85 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 221 air miles from our planned destination, Crescent City. Marian was biking for the first time since injuring her hip. We hoped we could continue our tour, but we were uncertain. We planned both a near term and a longer term destination. Our near-term destination was Newport, about 25 miles away. Our longer-term destination was Wakonda Beach, less than 50 miles away.
Our ride from Lincoln City to Wakonda used the ACA Route, with Vicky Spring as a guide. Our route included detours on to Otter Crest Loop, and through Newport: 0.0 miles – start on US-101 (LINCOLN CITY); 14.2 miles – RIGHT on Otter Crest Loop; 17.7 miles – RIGHT on US-101; 23.1 miles – RIGHT on Oceanview (Newport); 24.6 miles – LEFT on Spring; 24.6 miles – RIGHT on 11th; 24.7 miles – LEFT on Coast; 25.4 miles – RIGHT on 2nd; 25.5 miles – LEFT on Elizabeth; 26.1 miles – LEFT on Minnie; 26.2 miles – RIGHT on US-101; 35.9 miles – Seal Rock; 40.9 miles – Waldport; 44.4 miles – End – (Wakonda Beach – Beach Side State Park).
We climbed about 2600 feet from Lincoln City to Wakonda. The largest, climb, about 300 feet, came on Otter Crest loop, about 14 miles from the start. The remaining elevation change came from rollers both before and after Otter Crest Loop.
We rolled out of Lincoln City, our home for two days. Setting out, Marian paid close attention to her hip. We had already decided that we would do nothing that might injure her further. Happily, that proved unnecessary.
The morning started out grey. For a time there was a heavy mist, and I felt under-dressed, with my long-sleeve undershirt, bike jersey, and outer jersey. Our bail-out option was to call her sister Susan in Corvallis, to come rescue us. .
The central Oregon Coast is famous for whale sightings. We hoped to get some good pictures to add to our collection. We rolled over the gentle hills, and rejoiced when the sun came out. Our first extended stop was at Boiler Bay. Boiler Bay got its name as a result of a ship-wreck. A ship foundered. The rusted boiler is visible at low tide. The tide was high, and we could not see it.
In the parking lot, we saw a school bus, and many cars. It was early enough in the morning that this was unusual. Talking to some of the onlookers, we learned they were, indeed, whale watchers. We joined them, hoping to get a good view. We didn’t get a good view. In fact, we didn’t get any kind of view. We knew it was not quite the right time of year, but we were still hopeful.
We spent more than our allotted rest stop time looking out to sea, wishing we had budgeted binoculars into our weight allowances. We looked where others looked, and saw nothing. We paid attention to the offshore boats, including at least one Zodiac. We left the parking lot, hoping for whale sightings further down the coast.
Prior to our ride, Charlie Fautin urged us to put Otter Crest Loop on our itinerary. He warned us the climb was long and steep, but it would be worth it. The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) maps agreed. We discovered that Otter Crest Loop was a hiker / biker trail, running along the heights of the Pacific Ocean.
When we reached the turn-off, I had no idea what to expect. Two days earlier, we had not taken the turn-off to Slab Creek Road, and climbed a brutal stretch of US-101. Later, we took Devil’s Lake Road and suffered through steep rollers. This time, the side road worked, and we discovered the highlight of our tour of the Oregon Coast.
We sensed US-101 climb away from us. The trees were too closely packed together to see how high above us it was. The quiet, shaded two-lane road turned to a single lane, with a bike path. Eventually, the path barred cars altogether. We rode up the slope, a steady 5% grade. We suffered, a little, but the tranquil setting was worth it.
Much of our ride was in a tunnel of trees. The trees shaded the road. The ride was cool. The dense foliage muted the traffic noises. It seemed far away. Instead, we heard the wind, the ocean, and the birds. We kept hoping for whale sightings, eagerly peeking through the trees when we could. The trees of Otter Crest Loop seldom offer an unobstructed view of the Ocean. When the trees allowed, the panorama was spectacular.
A short time before we reached the top, we passed a hiker. We greeted him and he responded in a noncommittal fashion. We were due for a rest break, so we stopped. He warmed to us, and began talking. We asked about whales, and he told us an amazing story. He and a friend were in a Zodiac, fishing near some kelp beds. While there, a group of whales showed up. Over about an hour, the whales got closer and closer. Finally, a juvenile brushed the boat, hard. He tried to push it up out of the water. Fearing being dumped into the ocean, he started his engine and retreated to the safety of the shore. My irreverent thought was to wonder if whales laughed. We wished him well. He warmly hoped we would be safe and sound. With that, we pushed on to the top of the hill. The trees parted, and we found the million dollar view. Unfortunately, we could see no whales.
We glided down the hill, and eventually rejoined US-101 near the ocean. I could only shake my head. We saw amazing sights, and the best ride of the Oregon Coast. Motorists, trapped in their cars, had missed it all. As we approached Newport, we began passing places Marian and the kids had frequented on a long-ago visit to Oregon, to see Susan and Charlie. The Lighthouse at Yaquina Head beckoned us onward. We passed a campground Marian has stayed at, before turning off the highway and entered Newport.
We climbed and dropped through a series of hills. Breakfast had been much earlier in the day. And, as Marian would say, I became a little cranky. I tried to enjoy the ride, but was more focused on getting food. Marian remembered this part of Newport, even identifying the house she and some of her family had stayed at the Christmas of 2010. She steered us to an English-style pub, where we refueled and rehydrated. The waitresses, unfazed by cyclists, refilled our water bottles, including as much ice as they could pack into them. Some of the decorations included references to the Titanic. I would like to go back to that pub someday.
We had achieved our minimum goal of reaching Newport. Marian and I discussed her hip. We had three choices. We could spend the evening in Newport. We could call Susan and Charlie and ask them to drive us to Corvallis. Or, we could press on, to the south. She maintained she was fine, and wanted to continue. We knew, at this point that we were aiming for Wakonda Beach. We avoided heavy traffic, riding down side streets.
We pushed our bikes over the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport. The bridge has two narrow motor lanes, and a narrow walkway on the east side. After I concentrated on keeping my bike from falling two feet down to the roadway. We did meet a cyclist coming the other way. I was figuring out how to let him pass us. Instead, he graciously lowered his bike to the roadway, so we could pass.
We paused to look at the view. It seemed like we were always taking pictures of bridges. One of the biggest differences between California and Oregon are the number of rivers that run to the sea in Oregon. For every river, there is a bridge. And so it was at Newport. To the east of the Yaquina Bay Bridge was an anchorage for small boats, and the local Coast Guard Station. Once across the bridge, we left the local traffic behind.
Pushing south, we enjoyed the gently rolling hills, the sunshine, and the tailwind. Much of the time the ocean was hidden behind trees, or blocked by houses. At Seal Rock, we rode near the ocean. We were uncertain which rock was Seal Rock. We saw no seals. The afternoon was wearing on, and we decided not to tarry. This circumstance as was common for us. If we spent part of our morning being tourists, we didn’t have as much time in the afternoon. Alas, such is the penalty for being slow. Still, we enjoyed the view.
Later in the afternoon, we came to Waldport. We pedaled across the bridge, without incident. The bridge was relatively new, with a generous bike lane. Only a few feet above sea level, we didn’t have to climb to reach it. The few motorists who shared the bridge with us were polite, with no buzzing or honking.
We stopped at the Waldport Visitor Center. The Waldport Visitor Center on the south end of the Alsea Bay Bridge. A mosaic, showing bridge arches, covers the entire wall. We considered our options. The weather was mild, and we had no qualms about camping. But, it was clear that it was time to find a place to spend the night. Talking with one of the rangers in the Visitor Center, he enthusiastically endorsed Wakonda Beach. He told us words we wanted to hear – hot showers, no bikers turned away, and only a short distance down the road.
Outside, we met a local woman. She was gregarious, and we feared, for a time, she would insist that we come home to supper with her. She eventually brought herself up short, saying her husband would find it odd if she brought home two strangers. She was helpful in telling us where a local market was. As with most non-bikers, she had incorrectly estimated distances. The market was closer than she imagined. The Park was further than she thought.
We pedaled to the local market, and stocked up for the evening. We pushed on to the Park, a little further than we hoped, but easily manageable. The hiker / biker area was already pretty full when we showed up. And it got more full when a large group of cyclists, which we dubbed the Mongol Hoard, came rolling in about two hours later. There were about fifteen of them, mostly in their 20’s and 30’s. They had come south from Portland, with many of them vacationing from the Great Lakes.
They seemed to ride hard, and party hard. They were boisterous, and stayed up rather late. It didn’t matter to me, since I was very tired. I woke up several times in the night, but was able to go back to sleep with little trouble. When we left the next morning, they were sound asleep. And there were an amazing number of beer, wine and liquor bottles on their picnic tables and near their tents.
The ride from Lincoln City to Wakonda became my favorite ride on the Oregon Coast. Marian had recovered from her hip injury. We were strong, after a rest day. The sun came out early. The day was perfect for riding. Otter Crest Loop was beautiful, and everything I had imagined our tour could be.
We were in the saddle for a long time, but it was a pleasant ride. Other than Otter Crest Loop, our climbs were not overly long, or overly taxing. We felt a sense of accomplishment, reaching our campground for the night.
|Read about our ride from Wakonda Beach to Reedsport|