Oregon: A Yelp Review of my Experience
First off, let me preface the post with this: many of the pictures you are about to see are beautiful and breath-taking and will make you say “Wow Tim! That looks amazing!”. But it’s all a lie. A huge, huge lie. People will tell you that the Pacific Northwest is this magical place full of beauty and wonder and joy and that there is no better place to go on a bike tour. And that’s also a lie (at least in April). The only reason you won’t be seeing all of the rain and headwinds and all-around misery that we’ve been battling for the last 4 days is I am in absolutely no mood to stop and pull out a phone for a picture as I’m pedaling up a 7% grade, fighting 10-15mph headwinds, as rain pelts my face, and yelling at the sky. But I’ll gladly do it at the top of a hill on a beautiful, sunny day! So while I may be acting slightly dramatic with my brief view of Oregon, it has been an extremely tough stretch. And here’s why:
We had just hit Astoria, the most northwestern part of Oregon, and began pedaling down the coast. Rex and I loaded our bikes and started pedaling over the 2nd-largest (but still massive) bridge in Astoria, and it just starts downpouring. It was actually pretty laughable, because we tried to time the rains and just failed miserably. We’re riding across this relatively narrow bridge at 8:00 in the morning and just getting soaked with rain and fighting the wind. And that would be completely indicative of the remainder of the ride down the coast. It was brutal. But the craziest thing about this weather is how hot-and-cold it can be. The skies could look like a hurricane is about to hit and ten minutes later, completely clear. It’s kind of wild and extremely misleading. Trust nothing. And I am riding without fenders (the little things that go over your tires that prevent mud and water from spewing off the tires), so I am just getting soaked. I guarantee my mother, who still has no idea what fenders are, mind you, is screaming to herself “He needs fenders…why doesnt he have fenders!? He’s going to catch a cold!” Needlesstosay, my panniers have seen better days. The weather has also forced us to stay in motels a couple of nights. Setting up camp in the rain is not very enjoyable. So we would cram 5 of us into a cheap motel room and whip up some dinner with a stove cook. You’d be surprised the meals that Eric can whip up with some hot water and ramen noodles. They’re pretty awesome. Also, curious how we dry our clothes and shoes? Hair dryers. And you do not want to be within 100 feet of those shoes when they’re being dried out because the smell may actually kill somebody.
In Yachats, after another day of riding in rainy-then-clear weather, the skies cleared up and we decided to camp. We found this absolutely beautiful campsite on the beach and were able to watch the sunset from out camp. On top of that, I have a lifelong friend, Bob, who I used to umpire with who now lives in Coos Bay. And by shear coincidence, he also works at the same company. Bob took us out for drinks and dinner at the local brewery (who would have thought that a town of 1-2,000 people would have a brewery), which was much needed after the day’s ride. He also put us in touch with Dennis, who also works for the same company, who was gracious enough to put us up for the following night. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a roof over my head, so thank you big time to those guys!
The days of riding aren’t terrible. Body-wise, I feel fantastic. Some minor saddle soreness and my pinky finger was starting to irritate me, until Rex helped me raise my handlebars. But other than that, the mileage (about 85/day) has really not been bad. Even with the hills. I actually kind of enjoy the hills. It’s extremely satisfying to get to the top and realize just how high you have climbed. And if for nothing else, the views and the downhills on the other side are pretty awesome. I mean, you absolutely fly down some of these hills. Like 40mph, which feels insanely fast on a bike. And although lugging all of my gear up those hills makes it even harder, that same gear causes me to become a bowling ball on the way down. The most heart-breaking thing for me to see on a ride is a “passing lane ahead” sign, because you know a hill is coming. On the other hand, the sign from God is the “right lane ending sign”, which means you are about to reap the rewards of that climb you just crawled up. We’ve also ridden over a handful of bridges and through some pretty sweet tunnels, which makes the rides really interesting.
On Saturday, we had absolutely stunning weather. Like it was an anomaly for the Northwest this time of year. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing from the north. And there wasn’t a rain cloud in sight. So naturally, we knocked out the first century of this trip, with Eric completing his first one ever. I also met a fellow bike tourer, Paul, when I was eating lunch. He’s from Belgium and is riding the same route as I am down to LA to visit some family. We rode with him the rest of the day, and we were planning on riding with him the next, but he got a broken spoke and was forced to stay another day in Bandon. Something tells me we’ll see him again!
Today was Easter, and we made it to the southern tip of Oregon. We also had arguably the best Easter dinner of my life at Taco Bell (no offense Sandy and family). Nothing makes me pedal faster to a destination then the thought of a quesarito, triple double crunchwrap, nachos belgrande, cheesy fiesta potatoes, and Doritos locos taco. And yes that was my exact order (I wasn’t that hungry, so I took it easy…one of these days I’ll calculate how many calories I’ve been consuming). I can not tell you how excited I am to get out of this state. I was telling Rex how I was frustrated that there wasn’t a passive-aggressive (but mostly aggressive) “Yelp” review I could write about my awful experience in Oregon. For what it’s worth, that review would be 1/5 stars, with that lone star being earned by that one, gorgeous day. Otherwise, would never visit again (I’m being dramatic, I know). I realize that there isn’t some magic weather genie that’s going to say “oh, they’re officially in California…let me turn off that rain for them”, and that it’ll probably rain just as much these next 4 days (foreshadow: we are scheduled for rain every single day this upcoming week). But the thought of getting out of the state that hit me in the face with that flat tire when we rode in and proceeded to rain all over our parade (literally) makes me extremely excited. Onward to Cali!