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Vancouver to San Francisco by bike. Days 6-10

This is part 2 of my trip down the Pacific Coast, read Part 1 here.

Day 6 – Lake Quinault to Twin Harbors. 133km

I am not sure where I went wrong today, it rained last night so I packed up a wet tent and started off with some light rain falling. The rain offered a bit of a respite after a hot day yesterday. I made fast progress through the first 30 miles and then missed a turn and had to back track 2 miles along the alternate off season route when the ferry isn’t running. I headed towards Grays Harbour and the 50 plus miles was fine, things seemed to be getting into a groove plus the sun came out.

Grays harbor is where it changed, the ferry hasn’t been running for around 4 years as the harbor has silted up, that meant a 40 mile detour to get back on to the correct route, the first 5 miles were against the wind and offered no shade, luckily that changed as I turned South again and the pine trees towered over me again. Towards Hoquiam the bike began to wobble, I looked down at a flat rear tire so had to pull up off the shoulder and throw in a new tube and chose to inflate to about 75%, just enough to get me to the camp site. At the site I tried to inflate to the correct pressure managed to tear the tube around the valve. No problem! I grabbed the repaired tube and threw it in place and pumped it up, 10 minutes later it had gone down, I guess I didn’t do a good job with the self adhesive patch. I removed the wheel again and set about repairing it, different brand of patch and different results….it went down again but the patch failed in a different manner. For the third time I took the wheel off and repaired the tube then I realized the nut and spring had come off the quick release skewer and I cannot find the spring, this could be troublesome tomorrow as the next bike shop is 70 miles away and I haven’t found the spring, I have some ideas to try tomorrow so we will see what happens.

On a side note, not many photos today but some nice scenery, there are some more tourers and I had some locally produced artisan sausages, tasty.

Day 7 Twin Harbors – Fort Canby. 132km

I woke up this morning feeling fine except my tire was flat again and I still had to figure out what to do about the missing quick release skewer spring. One problem was fixed in 5 minutes, I found the spring almost straight after getting out of the tent. The inner tube had other ideas, the self adhesive patch said apply pressure for 40 seconds, I applied pressure for a couple of minutes then inflated outside of the tire and reapplied minutes of pressure only to watch the edges of the patch curl up, so then I just put more pressure on and let the patch move around to kind of figure out it own thing, eventually it worked.

Part of my plan today was to decide if I wanted to see the sunset at Cape Disappointment, that would mean an Extra 35+ miles. I set off a little late due to the technical issues but made great progress covering a large part of the first 30 miles in 2 hours. On my way I passed through an estuary and found some roadkill, someone had dropped a six pack of Hershey chocolate bars, only 2 remained but they hadn’t been run over too badly, it made a tasty snack and I am still alive!

About 20 miles from my final destination I got a flat! This time the trailer tire was airless, I wasn’t 100% sure if it was a puncture so jut pumped some air into it. I got another 15/20 minutes down the road and had to repeat, I repeated again before changing it at the wildlife refuge, by this time I was getting tired of the wind blowing in my face and the heat from the mid day sun, think I got a bit of a tan coming. Finally, I arrived around 16:30, the board said camp ground full but I asked anyway, turns out I am the only hiker/biker so I set my tent, showered, cooked then hiked 5 or 6 miles looking around and going to Beacon Beach for the sunset. The wind never let’s up but the sunset was good.

Day 8 – Fort Canby to Nehalem Bay. 101km

Tuesday was always my hump day, today I don’t really feel like riding. It’s likely down to the long days of riding and the flat on the trailer…again, when I was taught how to change a bike tube by my Dad it was dead easy, so much for progress. Today I have to cover about 20 miles to get to Astoria, Oregon and then another 50 to the books suggested campsite plus there are two large hills to climb at the end of the day. The bonus – I found Starbucks locations are on my GPS, that means a coffee but also free internet access so I can check emails and post to the blog.

I was not looking forward to one section of the ride today, the Columbia river crossing into Astoria is 4 miles long, it has small shoulders for the bikes and strong cross winds. When I got to the bridge it seems I was lucky, no wind and roadworks so everything was slowed down and the workmen held the traffic for me to finish to 200 foot climb at the end of the bridge. After a few emails and phone calls I proceeded on my way to Seaside where I found the bike shop and stocked up on a tube and a repair kit, also I asked to see if they could straighten the bike wheel.

After I picked up the bike I headed back down the US101 looking at the buildings, coastline and cherry stands, I had to stop at one so got a bag of cherries and ate some at Cannon beach where I had a mid day, out of the sun break. It’s so windy at Cannon beach you can wear long sleeves and a hat to keep the sun off without getting too hot. Taking the extra breaks worked well, I ate and got to cycle in the shade while going up the two large hills, the tall trees with the sun moving over to the West in the afternoon means the right hand shoulder heading South gets partial shade. The other shade was offered by a long tunnel, you press the light at one end to make lights flash so vehicles know you are in there and to proceed slowly with caution, in the tunnel with a car passing in either direction is extremely noisy, kind of like standing next to a jet engine, you can hear the cars coming as soon as they hit the tunnel entrance. The hills were starting to look familiar, I have been to some of these spots before with my sister and now I have very similar photos again!

On the way into the camp site I found a large market so I stocked up on onion, peppers and mushrooms with a little sliced beef. Once settled into my site a few other people showed up so I had a quick chat with a guy from Portland doing a 5 day trip and someone from the UK riding North. The final part of the day was the hike around the beach for sunset.

Day 9 – Cape Disappointment to Cape Lookout. 64km

Up a little late today and slightly embarrassed as the raccoons decided to eat my cherries. I left my bag outside of my bike trailer and loosely done up, then around 1am I heard something enjoying a snack and found two raccoons chowing down on my sweet cherries. I know better than to leave items laying around and shooed them away without making too much noise and hoping no one noticed. I think I became complacent as the site had overflowing garbage bins and no food lockers for bikers/bikers, in Canada I would have hung the food without a second thought.

Whilst boiling up my morning water for oatmeal I had a chat with the English guy who was heading North and then we went up the road for a coffee, I figured there was no rush and he was similar to me, IT guy who had worked in banks, riding a thousand miles on a bike and interested in some of my other projects too. The riding today was easy going, wind on my back and flying through the small towns. Tillamook cheese factory, a must visit when on the Oregon coast (I passed by this time begrudgingly, no dairy for me). I did stop at Fred Meyer, the regions chain of very large grocery stores and being as sad as I am was excited to find more fresh fruit and vegetables and cheap energy bars and a new tub of chocolate peanut butter, another staple for the avid tourer.

Riding West out of Tillamook the wind was picking up and slowing me down by around 50%, these have been the strongest headwinds so far. I really wanted to see the Cape Mears lighthouse but the mist had enshrouded the cape so I went over the top in the sun. As I descended and took a few photos of the mist sitting on the sea and forest, I saw another rider coming my way. A teacher from Santa Cruz, we said “Hi” and I followed him into tonights site at Cape Lookout state park, whilst chatting and eating a few more guys came in, some going north, others south or in a circle. I may have some company on the road and at the sites for next few nights, I will still probably go to the Oregon state park programs at the amphitheaters, designed for juniors but today I learned how to tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion, very exciting now I just need to see some.

One of the rangers gave me some tips on career choices, suggesting I become an Oregon State Park Ranger and he may have a very good idea, something to look into. Other than that it been misty above the site, probably a cool, damp night.

Day 10 – Cape Lookout to Beverly Beach. 95km

I woke up in the mist at 7:00, hit the road around 8:30 and straight into a 700 foot climb. It’s hard to know when to don the rain jacket, on the uphill you sweat and can become wet inside the jacket and outside from the mist, remove it too early and you will just get wet. The downhill is a little easier, throw it on and zip it up! On the first hill I should have worn my waterproof pants as my shorts got totally soaked. On the way down I noticed a field that had a few trees dotted around it but the grass appeared to be sand so I stopped for some photos. Anyway the real story is that I clipped back in after pushing the bike carefully through the sandy car park, once clipped in I tried to pedal but nothing happened and I couldn’t unclip fast enough to prevent me from slowly collapsing into the sand. I had sand up my shorts, in my gloves, in the chain, around the hubs, dérailleur and every other hole possible. A few miles passed with some crunching and creaky and me trying to squirt water out of my bottle to clean everything but to little avail. By the time I hit Cape Kiwanda for coffee everything seemed to have resolved itself otherwise I would have been looking for a hose and spraying everything down.

The mist is good for riding and makes the scenery interesting. Three long climbs were broken up by a lot of stops and i saw hawks, vultures, seals and a humpback whale. Riding the bike gets you a lot closer than driving, hiking gets you closer still but takes too long. I saw a few more tourers, and a few I recognize at the site tonight so we sat around and had a chat. I also had a couple of conversations with random people at some of the stops along the way, a guy from Idaho, two fishermen, a flag person and a few other tourists. Tomorrows ride looks fairly easy with a lake at the end for swimming….time will tell how that goes.

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