2.3.09 – 23 July 2012: Reedsport to North Bend

From Reedsport to North Bend, Riding With A Tail Wind

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Read about our ride from Wakonda Beach to Reedsport
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 Our eighth day on the Oregon Coast opened to a strong wind blowing down from the north.  We were 172 air miles from Astoria, our starting point, and 133 air miles from Crescent City, or planned destination.

We ate our free breakfast at outdoor tables.  Although sheltered from the wind, we could tell it was blowing hard.  The clouds were gone.  We considered the goals for the day, we looked closely at the map.  North Bend was about 30 miles away, Bullards Beach was a little more than 50 miles away.  Beyond, Bandon was about 60 miles away.  The ride from the day before had worn us down.  We decided to make the call once we got to North Bend.

Our Route

500 aOur ride from Reedsport to North Bend used the ACA Route, with Vicky Spring as a guide.  Our route was down US-101 until we reached North Bend.  Our notes showed that we would be required to walk across the bridge to get to North Bend.  Our ride was straightforward0.0 miles – Start on US-101 (Reedsport);  23.3 miles – (North Bend);  23.5 miles – RIGHT on Union;  23.8 miles – RIGHT on Florida;  23.8 miles – LEFT on McPherson;  24.2 miles – RIGHT on Cape Argo;  24.5 miles – End (North Bend).

500 bWe climbed about 1700 feet to get from Reedsport to North Bend, but it was wind aided.  We climbed a sharp hill, departing Reedsport.  Our biggest climb of the day, up to the Umpqua Light House, started about 5 miles from the beginning of the ride, and was about 400 feet.  The rest of the climbing consisted of rollers leading to North Bend.

Our Ride

We pedaled out of the motel parking lot, about 08:00 on Monday morning.  We rode through Reedsport, another of the small towns on the Oregon Coast.  One nice thing about smaller towns, is that, early in the morning, there is often little traffic.  The rush hour was very modest.  We climbed up the usual hill from the river and out into the gently rolling hills until we neared the Umpqua Light House.  We climbed the hill to the viewing area.

502 503 504 505The view from the Umpqua scenic area is of a lush forest gently rolling down to the edge of the ocean. The view was far more tranquil than the usual steep cliffs and crashing waves.  Upqua, with its more restful ocean. affords commercial opportunities, unlike the dramatically steep cliffs of other parts of the coast. In this instance, the breakwaters form protected alcoves for oyster beds.

Once in the viewing area, we took an extended break.  We munched on dates, trying to energize our sluggish bodies.  A car pulled up, filled with four middle-aged tourists from Texas.  Our bikes and skimpy attire immediately drew them into conversation with us.  We chatted for a time.  One of the men, very overweight, offered that he was thinking of getting back into biking.  He thought touring sounded interesting.  We wished him well, knowing such an eventuality was unlikely.  They hopped back in their car and roared away.

We also saw several breakwaters, but no boats.  Only after we looked at the displays, did we realize that we were looking at an oyster farm.  This perfectly illustrated my complete lack of knowledge of the coast.  I have lived within 45 minutes of the ocean for almost 30 years.  Yet, I have little practical knowledge of this environment.  My mind-set probably will remain, forever, locked into Wyoming, with the views of a teenager, rather than the older guy that I am.

We rode on down US-101, from Umpqua toward North Bend.  The wind had picked up, and pushed us down the highway.  This ride was, in many ways, the easiest we did on our entire tour.  The roadway was good, and traffic was polite.  We moved through a region of dunes more extensive than ones we had biked through north of Pacific City.  From a distance, we could see the bridge leading to North Bend.

510We stopped before the bridge.  The rest stop included a memorial to fallen veterans of America’s wars.  There was another biker there, but he made no move to greet us, so we left him alone.  Perhaps, if he was north bound, he was steeling himself for the grim task of biking north into the headwind.  The flags flew at half-staff.  Being relatively out of touch with national and world events, we had no idea if this was a normal occurrence, or if it was special.

515 From a distance, we could get no idea of the size of the bridge.  Only as we got closer did we realize the scale of it.  It was easily the largest bridge we had seen since the Megler Bridge in Astoria.  The road-way hung, suspended by a fantastic superstructure.  The girders and beams reminded us of the Sci-Fi series, Galactica and resurrection ships for the toasters

When we got to the top of the ramp, we saw signs directing that cyclists push a button before riding across.  We looked down the long bridge, with traffic flying by.  There was only one lane in each direction.  The shoulders were almost non-existent  The ACA maps warned cyclists to walk over the bridge.  We elected to walk over the bridge, on an uncomfortably narrow walkway.

519 520The strong wind buffeted us as we crawled across the bridge.  The ramps were steep in both directions.  The very narrow walkway had no rail on the road-side.  We did meet one pedestrian and a commuter on a bike.  We never seriously entertained any notion of riding on it, as the wind was now quartering us.  The wind would have tried to blow us into traffic had we tried to ride in the roadway.

523We had made excellent time getting down to the bridge.  Crossing the bridge broke up our momentum.  The bridge, complete with ramps, is about one mile.  The bridge crossing seemed to last forever, but was actually about 25 minutes.  However, having to fight to keep control of 100 pounds of bike and gear on an unprotected walkway was exhausting.

On the south side of the bridge, US-101 enters North Bend.  The narrow road is only just wide enough for two car lanes in each direction.  Other than the sidewalk, or side streets, it is impractical to safely ride on it.  We took the ACA route, moving to the west, taking almost deserted streets through a commercial section of town.  The sun was bright.  The wind roared.

At a round-about, we came across a fellow cyclist, with a clip board.  He waved us down.  Curious, we stopped to see what he wanted.  We became part of a poll on ways of improving North Bend as a destination point for touring cyclists.  He looked blankly at our Surly’s, leading us realize he was an eager volunteer with no knowledge of touring.  He had never heard ACA, or it’s route through North Bend.  And he had never biked in Portland, perhaps the premier biking city in America.

What he lacked in knowledge, he made up in his earnest listening.  He seemed to write everything we said.  We told him the bridge was a major challenge.  We thought US-101, in town, seemed very dangerous.  And, if North Bend were serious, they would produce city maps which gave hints on elevation changes and expected traffic density.  We referred him to the Portland / Vancouver maps as an excellent model.  We have no idea if we helped or hindered him.

We cycled on to fast food at a mall on Virginia Street.  As we ate, we considered our options.  The wind blew down from the north, directly across our route, but would have become a tail wind again, in a mile or so.  Someone said it was blowing at 35 MPH.  Having grown up in Wyoming, I’m inclined to believe the gusts were far higher than that.

We considered our options.  Bullards State Beach, reputed to have a good hiker / biker site, was about 20 miles away.  Beyond that, Bandon was another 10 miles.  The wind was blowing so hard that we worried that, if our tent was in an open space, it might not fare well, so pushing on another 30 miles was a very real possibility.

Riding in the afternoon always required that we overcome a lunch-time let down, where our bodies wanted to end the day.  Our rest stop had broken our momentum.  The stroll over the bridge had disrupted our rhythm.  And a hard ride, the day, before, had taken its toll.  We decided to call it a day.

As with other towns, we had no clear idea of the possibilities around us.  We did not know what the shopping opportunities were, whether it be markets, motels, or other shops.  Near the bridge, we had no idea if something more appealing would have presented itself further along the route, or not.  There were, and they would have.  I wish we had taken advantage of them.  Instead, we picked a little motel on the ACA list.  Our pick was disappointing.  We discovered there was no ice machine, washing room, or workable wifi.  This is disappointing, as these essential to us on a rest day.

524We walked around the commercial area near US-101 and Virginia.  It was evening.   We saw a ship piled high with timber. While the logging industry has never recovered from the crash of the latter part of the 20th Century, it remains the dominant industry in southern Oregon. The crackling flags hint at the strong wind gusts.  The restaurants, such as they were, seemed unappealing, especially for the price.  Few shops were open.  We settled for buying food at a little market down the street.  We ate in our room.  We read, watched a little TV, and turned in early.  The wind continued to rattle the windows through the night.

Our Thoughts

 We paid the price for our long ride from Wakonda to Reedsport.  If the tail winds had not been so strong, I think this ride would have been a struggle.  The long walk over the bridge, nearly a half hour, allowed our bodies to shut down.  When it came time to ride on, after lunch, we were very sluggish.

Our lack of knowledge of the North Bend / Coos Bay area led us into a poor decision for our lodgings.  Had we ridden on, just a few miles further, we would have found ourselves in an area with plentiful shopping, and many options.  But, we had succumbed to the worry about having ridden too far, and not wanting to turn and go back.

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Read about our rest day in North Bend
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