From Wakonda Beach to Reedsport, A Long Day’s Ride
|Read about our ride from Lincoln City to Wakonda Beach|
22 July 2012 – Wakonda to Reedsport
Our seventh day on the Oregon Coast began with grey clouds. We were 125 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 180 air miles from Crescent City, our planned end point. We were approaching the less populated portions of the Oregon Coast. There were only two towns of any size within striking distance. Florence was 29 miles away. Reedsport was over 50 miles away.
Being retired, we were under few time constraints. We wanted to finish our Oregon Coast tour by the beginning of August. Our end date was a little soft. We had no other constraints. We were willing to stop in Florence, if necessary. But, we were also curious about whether we could ride longer distances. We also knew that, ahead of us, was the second tunnel in Oregon.
Our ride from Wakonda to Reedsport was one of the longer legs we rode. We used the ACA Route, with Vicky Spring as a guide. Our route was straightforward, using US-101 for the entire distance, with no diversions. here were few towns, or places to spend the night in between our start and stop. Our route was: 0.0 miles – Start on US-101 (Wakonda); 19 miles – tunnel; 30 miles – (FLORENCE); 51 miles – End (Reedsport).
On our long ride from Wakonda to Reedsport, we climbed about 4400 feet. We had many significant climbs, and two major climbs. Cape Perpetua, about 200 feet, was at about 7 miles. The climb through the tunnel was another 200 feet, and came at 19 miles. Immediately after came Devil’s Elbow, at 20 miles, with 300 feet of climbing. We climbed 100 foot rollers before Florence, and 200 foot rollers after Florence. Our last big climb of the day came at 45 miles, near Elbow Lake, and was 400 feet.
We awoke to grey skies. It was Sunday morning. We were eager to start, ahead of the weekend crowd. The bleary-eyed RV and car drivers would be sullenly returning to their homes, in dread anticipation of a new work week. As we ate breakfast and packed up, the homeless tent showed no signs of life. The Mongol Hoard snored on. The astonishing number of beer, wine and liquor bottles stood as mute monuments to conspicuous consumption.
We pedaled out of the campground, and turned south on US-101. We rode down a canyon of trees, rising above us to either side. The road was quiet. The shoulders were wide and clean. Within a short distance, we noticed road signs with names of states. Human nature being what it is, we waited to see if one of our states would appear. Shortly, the state we usually think of as home, Wyoming, popped up. That day, I was wearing my Wyoming jersey, and taking a photo seemed the right thing to do. California was further on.
We pedaled on, passing through the small community of Yachats and climbed Cape Perpetua into a wild stretch of coast. We saw exotic names like Devil’s Churn and Cook’s Churn. We also knew there was a tunnel ahead of us.
Out to sea, we saw a bi-plane flying serenely up the coast. Perhaps it was some flyer out for an early morning spin. The idea of a two-winged plane, designed in a different area, meshed well with the thought of bicycle touring. A random thought of picking up flying when I get to infirm for biking popped into my mind. The leap to the final scenes from the movie, Second Hand Lions, wasn’t difficult.
We worked our way up some serious slopes. These climbs came, complete with breath-taking scenery. Our roadway perched perilously on the sides of plunging cliffs. Jaw-dropping views were our reward, looking to the coast line far below.
As we crested one hill after another, I came to the unhappy conclusion that the ACA maps, showed only some elevation changes. Many significant climbs were missing. I confirmed this after the tour. Numerous sites offer mapping software that accurately plot elevation changes.. In the future, I will be able to correctly dread the hill I am on, or the big one to come.
We came to the second tunnel on the Oregon US-101. Until this tour, I had never given tunnels any particular thought. I had assumed they would be level. At least on US-101, this was not true. The engineers built both tunnels on a grade. For us, they both ran against us.. We had to climb ramps to get to the tunnels, continue on a steep grade through the deafening tunnels, and find no relief on the other end. The signal lights alert motorists to bikes in the tunnel.
The traffic continued to build through the morning. Oregon, as a rule, has generous shoulders. Climbs usually have reasonable shoulders on the sea-ward side. There were many pull-outs in the churns. While these were welcome rest stops, we were very careful about cars pulling in and out.
The Oregon Highway Department did a good job at keeping the shoulders free of debris. As important as a clean shoulder is to a motorist, pulling over, it is even more critical to a cyclist, especially on a hill. We were always thankful for motorists who gave us as much room as they could. Some would pull completely over into the other lane, ignoring the double yellow lines. In other cases, some drivers misunderstood the danger they presented. Sadly, some aggressively put their times over the white line and drove on the shoulder. There were times I wished I had a helmet cam, that I might have snapped their license plate number.
We worked our way through the churns, marveling at the incredible power of the ocean. The ocean pounds at small cracks in the volcanic rock. Over time, the cracks become fissures, and the fissures become gorges. The long, narrow channels opened up over time providing spectacular plumes of spray when waves roared into the openings. We took advantage of scenic pullouts to rest. While riding, we were warm enough. When we stopped, we chilled down.
We had easy pedaling down to Florence. As we crossed the Florence bridge, we met the rudest drivers on our tour. The roadway was generously wide. We stayed as far tot he right as we dared. There was ample room for motor vehicles and bikes to pass together, or “share the road.” Traffic was light, and we had ever wanted to keep our sharing time as short as possible.
For no reason that we could guess, three or four trucks in a row honked and yelled at us. We never understood the open hostility they displayed. Perhaps they thought driving 4000 pound environmentally impacting monsters made them lords of the road. If we are ever in Florence again, and we will resist spending our money there. We will keep our wallets safely tucked away.
Once past Florence, we entered US Forest Service land. The houses thinned and disappeared. We knew that, for the next thirty miles or so, we would find no refuge. The afternoon wore on. We knew there was little opportunity for food or camping before Reedsport. From time to time we wondered where the Mongolian Hoard was. We were certain the twenty-somethings would roar past us at some point, pedaling at speeds we could not match.
The highway crossed several rivers or streams. Each time, we would easily descend to the bridge. Depending on the bridge length and the width, we would share a constrained space with cars, moving away as quickly as we could. We would climb slowly away from the bridge, grudgingly dropping down, gear by gear, eventually finding the crest. Then we would descend again, and repeat the process. We finally reached our biggest climb of they day, near Elbow Lake. The 45 miles of riding had worn us down. We tried, hard, not to press. The lake offered a pleasant stopping point.
We finally reached the bridge to Reedsport. It was Sunday evening, with almost no traffic. I elected to ride the walkway, rather than the roadway. The way was narrow. Nearing the far end, one of my panniers scraped a bridge pillar. Fortunately, the railing was high. There was no chance of going over the side. I was fortunate to get out of it with a scraped shoulder, a jammed wrist, and a badly scarred pannier. I learned, again, the wisdom of caution on narrow walkways. In retrospect, no one would have known or cared had we used the roadway.
We reached Reedsport near suppertime. With no State Park nearby, we decided to spend the night in a motel. While we were at the local supermarket, we ran into some of the Mongol Hoard. They had started later than we had. And, for all their youth and speed, it took them all day to catch us. They explained their destination was a more southerly campground. We never saw them again.
We completed our most strenuous ride, up to that point, on the Oregon Coast. We had ridden over 50 miles, and climbed many steep slopes and rollers. The ride had worn us out. We congratulated each other on our perseverance. Still, I knew that we were on the upper limits of what we could reasonably expect to do.
|Read about our ride from Reedsport to North Bend|