The Oregon Coast

An Auspicious Beginning

July 10th, 1994

I got up around 7am, packed my panniers and cleared up my room. I brought everything downstairs, and dragged my touring bike outside. Gathering my bungee cords together, I pondered my problem: the springs on my Cannondale Overland panniers had stretched inelastically last year early in my trip, and I had relied on the weight of my tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag on the panniers to keep them on the bike. I was not willing to put up with this again, I reflected...

I eventually simulated a spring system on the overland by using the second hook on the overland panniers. Then I laid on the tent, sleeping bag, and pad, whose arrangement I had perfected last year. Then came on the front panniers. The bike looked ready to go. I said goodbye to Christina, my landlady, rolled my bike out onto the road, got on it, and rode out. Foolishly, I had not practiced riding my bike around in a fully loaded configuration, but this didn't bother me. Last year, when I started out, my bike felt heavy, handled sluggishly, and I felt like sending all my stuff home. This time, it felt as though my panniers had never left my bike all this time --- the ride was smooth, the balance damn near perfect --- in fact, I thought that my bike rode better with all the weight on it! Probably a combination of reduced weight and another year of bike handling lessons.

It was bright and sunny outside, with barely a cloud in the sky. Rolling towards downtown and the waterfront, everything felt good. I meshed in with the traffic perfectly, everyone treated me like they saw fully loaded bicycles every day of the year, and many drivers waved at me or at least smiled at me. At the ferry, I got directed to the proper ferry terminal after a bit of meandering, and stood around breathing the fresh salt air. I had my sunscreen on, so it didn't bother me to be standing in the sun, and things were so cool that I had a windbreaker on anyway. Boarding the ferry to Bremerton made me feel like I embarking on a long trip --- symbolic, perhaps, crossing water being the first thing I do.

I quickly rode onto the front of the ferry and tied my bike to the sides with extra bungee cords (don't leave home without those!), and went upstairs with a book. I sat down and read for about half an hour before the ferry dived into the fog, which had me by surprise. I looked around and kept my fingers crossed and sure enough, we emerged into the sun not less than 15 minutes later, within sight of land. The ferry did a bit of maneuvering in the channel, and we eventually arrived at Bremerton. I'd been in Bremerton before, but in a car on the way to a mountain bike experience, and I once again experienced the old cliche that everything looks different on a bicycle. I rode up to the information office and asked around for directions to Twanoh state park (I was carrying a map, but I wanted to know the distance to various parks), but got nothing for my efforts except for directions to the nearest public restrooms.

I rolled down back to the ferry terminal for that, and was accosted by a bunch of tourists wielding video-cameras. I put on my deep voice and obliged them with an interview.

"Where are you from?"
"Where did you start?"
"Where are you going?"
"San Francisco."
"How far is that?"
"Oh, about a thousand miles."

They wished me well, and I went on to lose some weight, with that auspicious beginning behind me.

I rode my way out of city, and headed onto Highway 3, an ugly, busy throughfare with little to recommend it except wide shoulders. Rolling hills and timber-harvested land greeted me, and I made decent time --- I discovered that standing on my bike caused it to sway horribly and gave me an "I'm going to die" kind of feeling. Oh, well, I'll just sit and spin --- that's probably better for my knees anyway.

I soon got to 106, however, and what a difference! Shade from trees, and the road's in an elevated position looking over the hood canal. You can look out, and on the other side, see hills, buildings, and beyond those hills the purple mountains that form the snow-capped Olympics. The road is perfect --- smooth with rolling curves, and next to no traffic. A true gem.

I rolled for about 9 miles before getting to Twanoh state park, where I stopped and asked the ranger where Scahefer state park was. I felt really good, and if it had been pretty close, I would have gone for it. But he told me it was about 45 miles or so, and I decided to stay at Twanoh for the night.

I unpacked my tent, set up everything, and proceeded to take a shower and a walk.

Twanoh state park is a pretty park, with lots of evergreen trees, and a beach nearby. Everyone there was camping for more than a night --- it was so pretty. I spent time talking to various people. The hike to the top gave me a nice and different workout from the ride there.

I had done 29 miles today. A wimpy ride by anybody's standards, but I'm taking care of my knees. I applied a patch of Chinese medicine, made dinner (freeze dried food --- what a luxury!), and curiously looked at what others were doing.

I then sat near the beach and watched the sun set down behind the Olympics, turning the sky pink, gold, and purple...

I finished the book.

Almost to The Coast

July 11th, 1994, Saturday

I got up to an overcast sky, and set about riding. 106 was as pretty as ever, and it wasn't 10 minutes later when unexpected sunshine stopped me and had me doff my jacket, put on sunscreen, and sunglasses.

I rode into the first little town I ran into, and walked into the grocery store. The shopkeeper immediately jumped in and helped with the selection of pasta, pasta sauce, and tried to persuade me to buy some french bread. Too bad I'd already had breakfast!

106 ended way too quickly, and I turned down purdy cutoff drive, which took me through rain-forest like surroundings, a stream, and a bracingly fresh smell in the air. I love this. Even now, I can smell the forest, sitting in front of a computer.

Purdy cutoff went on for a few miles and then turned onto 101. At last! Last year, I'd abandoned the ride about 10 miles north of where purdy cutoff intersects with 101, and I was finally leaving that behind. I went along 101 for quite aways, following, once again, Kirkendall and Spring's book. I then stopped at some little residential area trying to figure out some directions --- I wanted to get to Schaefer State Park, which was not anywhere in the book. A helpful local came along, and gave me directions that saved maybe 5 miles off the obvious route. I immediately turned around for about a quarter mile and turned left on Dayton Airport road, which took me past a building that looked suspiciously like a prison, causing me to turn on the speed a little. Dayton Airport road eventually joins up with Shelton-Matlock road, which takes you past Nahwatzel Lake, which looks like a good place to be near on the map, but turns out to be surrounded entirely by private property, which means no Lake access whatsoever --- a total loss.

I pushed on, and downed a hill, and climbed back up. This area would be prettier, if not for the clear cutting --- I saw lots of signs involving Tree farms and such. I could see how this is a great idea, but still, it wasn't pretty. I eventually got to Matlock, where I mailed the book home, and there, I was told that Schaefer was about 12 miles away. It turned out to be about 10 miles down a straight road. It was quite windy, so I rode it like a time trial, got into the park, and proceeded to make lunch, and then make camp. The hiker-biker site in Schaefer is a sunken area that's quite pretty.

I walked around, exploring some trails (I'm sorry, but I'm getting bored with rainforests... :-), and the river. I met a couple of people, some of which gave me contradictory directions, and made comments on whether I really intended to go that far. I smiled and went on to cook dinner.

The Pacific Coast at Last!

June 12th, 1994

The best thing about hiker biker sites is that they're so quiet --- especially when I'm alone in them. I slept soundly and well, and woke up to no rain but an overcast sky. I quickly made breakfast using my second MSR fuel bottle (I'd ran out the day before on my first bottle), and packed and left.

I was barely out of the park before the rain started. I quickly put on my rain cape and kept riding on Middle Satsop road towards Brady. Ahead of me, the defunct nuclear power station rose up. I rode past farmland, and the drizzle slowed. "Come on, you can do better than that!" I shook my fist at the sky. I would regret that later.

The sky obligingly closed up, and I got rid of the rain gear and cycled along the empty road listening to the sound of birds singing, passing cows and horses. I eventually got onto Brady, and linked up once again with Kirkendall and Spring's route. I was forced to get onto 12 at Montesano, and rolled merrily along on the freeway, trying to turn a deaf ear to the roar of engines and high speed vehicles.

Lots of rolling hills but still air kept me going quite fast towards Aberdeen, when that dreaded "right lane closed, construction ahead" sign loomed up. I quickly decided to take my bike through the construction instead of along the narrowed roadway. This was my first off-pavement experience with my fully loaded touring bike, and things went surprisingly well. I slowed down a bit, and had to take a bit of care, but maneuvering around the construction crew was surprisingly easy, and my fenders didn't get quite stuck in mud.

I was forced to get back on to the road for the final 200 yards of construction, but fortunately that was downhill, and I quickly zipped into Aberdeen. A metal grate bridge loomed up, however, and forced me to dismount and walk along the sidewalk to negotiate that section --- no Eric House heroics for me. :-)

I caught the eye of a pretty woman driving a nice car, and asked for directions to Westport. She kindly told me, and then asked me to get in in front of her when the light changed, and she'd block traffic for me as I climbed the on-ramp to 105. I rode onto 105 with ease thanks to that support, and headed for Westport. The first few miles were fine, but a headwind quickly built up, and rain came down with it in big heavy droplets. I put on my raincape again, and peddled along in low gear on the flats at about 6 mph.

Agony. The miles felt eternal --- this is the kind of weather that caused my knee injury a few months ago, and I was losing patience, an easy way to get injured. Bridges took forever, hills took forever, and I had to pedal down hills to keep moving.

I eventually got to Twin Harbors state park, and found that among other things, there was no shelter for cooking. I'd reached the Pacific Coast on my own power, but felt no sense of triumph, just a resigned weariness. I found out about the bus schedule and set up my tent and locked up my bike. I took the bus into town, looking for a good restaurant. The bus is a nice flexible-schedule one, and the bus driver dropped me in front of Sourdoug Lil's, a restaurant that he promised was excellent. I had a huge dinner to the amused stares of the waitresses, and got out to walk around. The town looked dreary to my eyes, and the wind only got stronger. I walked into a second hand book store in order to buy a couple of books to tide what was sure to be a horribly wet night over.

When I stepped out of the store there was easily a full gale going on. After talking to a couple of sailors who'd docked because of the gale warning, I resolved that if I could get a motel owner to drive all my stuff back from the state park, I would happily pay the premium for a room. I walked into the first motel I saw when I stepped out of Sourdoug Lil's --- the Westport Candy Shoppe Motel. Roxie Stiles was in there, and she told me that her husband would be returning shortly, and would be willing to give my stuff a lift from Twin Harbors state park. I quickly agreed, and when Don got in, got into the van, got to my tent, packed up everything, and got back to the motel, where Don and Roxie gave me a discount on the rates. (I won't tell you what their rates are, but they're incredibly reasonable, especially for a single person)

I gratefully got into my motel room, took a nice hot shower, and washed everything that needed washing and hung everything out to dry. I was delighed to find a stove and pots and pans among the other features of the rooms, and took advantage of that. Roxie gave me some hot chocolate, and soon I was happily in bed, dreaming of a good start the next day.

Can you believe I spent a day watching MTV?

June 13th, 1994

I got up at 3am, turned on the TV (cable included), and switched to the marine forecast channel. "20 foot waves, 25mph south wind on the coast... Small craft advisory... " I groaned and went back to sleep.

A howling wind outside my window at 9am woke me up for real. I stepped outside to mail some postcards and promptly decided I wasn't going anywhere today. I had breakfast, went out onto the docks during a lull, and ran into another bunch of sailors. They invited me onto their boat, and we started discussing the weather and the wind.

"Did you sail in? Where's your boat?"
"No, no. I'm just a cyclist."

Amazing how the two different sports are united (and stuck in dock, so to speak) during poor weather like this.

We talked about technology, society, and sailing. We had a great time, with wind and waves knocking the boat around on the dock while we chatted. Eventually, I went back to the motel room and made dinner and ate it, all the while finishing the rest of my second book.

Wimped out and hitched a ride

June 14th, 1994

A 15mph south wind blew into my face as I stepped out. But I was running out of time, and was determined to go on. Just then, Roxie poked her head in, and asked if I wanted a ride as far as Astoria. I wanted to cross the Oregon border under my own power, but I was more than happy to accept a ride to Fort Columbia youth hostel.

They asked me if they could take me out to lunch, too! On the drive down, I discovered that Don used to be the regional director of the Oregon Coast state parks. He still gave classes on park management, on occassion, and spoke with the voice of authority.

"Those alders behind the campsites in Twin Harbors are a really bad idea," he said, "Alders last maybe 10 years and then collapse all of a sudden and break up."

He was clearly unhappy at how much ignorance there was in public lands management today.

"The new generation is into conservation, and tries to discourage use, but I think that's short sighted, as the tax payers won't support parks if they don't use them!"

He taught me how to distinguish between Alders, Spruce, Douglas Fir, and some other trees that I promptly forgot. Roxie taught me about Hemlock and Foxgloves, and I felt really fortunate to have experienced tour guides on that drive down the rugged Washington coast.

How can I express how nice people have been to me? How can I tell you about people I've met, favors that have been given me just out of kindness --- all I can do is just pass it on.

If you're ever worried about how dangerous a bicycle tour could be for a single traveller, I can allay all your fears now --- it feels so much safer than walking alone in a city that I'd happily tour a year alone than live alone in New York City for a year.

We had lunch at Long Beach, and then it was on to Fort Columbia. There were lots of sights and pretty places, but the weather was ugly, and a motor vehicle's not the best way to see the country, however convenient and unexposed to the weather it is, so I won't describe it.

The hostel was nice but cold! I explored the area for a bit, and eventually sat down next to the heater in the living room with a cat on my lap to listen to music and work on the next book I was reading. Other than the management, I was alone in that hostel that night.

With Noxzema in my Shorts...

June 15th, 1994

I left the hostel at 9, and proceeded to ride across the bridge to Astoria. There was a wind in my face, making the Bridge crossing slow and scary, but it wasn't a strong wind. The overcast eliminated any need for sunscreen. I raised my hand in victory as I crossed into Oregon, as undeserved as that might be.

I rode the 10 miles or so to the Fort Clatsop memorial, where I watched a slide show, a film, and a live demonstration of musket loading. I explored the replica of the fort, and heard statistics about the Lewis and Clark expedition like: "Of the 106 days they spent on the Oregon Coast, it did not rain on 12 days. Of those 12 days, only 6 were sunny. In other words, they were wet and miserable most of the time." Real heartening for a bicycle tourist just heading out of a thunderstorm.

But it was sunny at noon, when I left Fort Clatsop after putting on sunscreen. I rode south on a fairly windless condition, and climbed a few hills and saw the coast in its glory for the first time heading down towards Cannon Beach. (It is here that I really must say that downhill speed is the great downfall of bicycle touring --- once you get going really fast, there's no way you're going to slow down to look at scenery or take photographs --- at least, I don't know any bicycle tourists who do... Fortunately, I've gotten into the habit of enjoying the scenery uphill...)

I swept into Cannon Beach down a fast hill, and stopped at Mike's Bike shop to borrow a floor pump to top up my tires. Not that it was stricly necessary, but I felt that prevention was better than cure. I searched a bit for a place that sold white gas in less than gallon amounts, but couldn't find one --- the salesperson at the place I was in went out of his way to ask his customers if any of them could spare white gas --- another example of the generosity of many people towards cyclists.

I climbed out of Cannon Beach towards Oswald West State park, which was highly praised enough by Don that I'd decided to spend the night there and travel further the next day and forgo a hot shower. I stopped at the first scenic view point, got a photograph taken, had a bunch of people ask me questions, and there, someone volunteered to give me some of his white gas.

I rode on down towards Short Sands campground. After a wrong turn and some misexplorations of the state park, I found the campsite, and spent an hour getting setup, and helping someone move camping equipment from their car to the site. The site was indeed beautiful, though the crows and racoons were pretty aggressive about getting food from you (I kept everything locked up when I could), and the site was expensive ($9). I took a cold shower by dumping pots of cold water over my body and went down the beach.

The campsite was filled with younger people. I chatted with them, and discovered that everyone else was going to the Grateful Dead concert in Eugene in a couple of days, and most had come from the Grateful Dead concert in Seattle. I was probably one of 5 people not going to the concert camping out on the Oregon coast. There wasn't much of a sunset, as it was pretty cloudy, and when I talked to one of the guys and found that he was sleeping outside tonight, I told him that he was welcome to sleep in my tent that night.

3 hours later, it started drizzling as I was chatting to another group of campers, and I went back to my tent and packed all my panniers into garbage bags, clearing out room for Mark, who had decided that he would come out of the rain after all. (Dead fans are pretty special people, I guess... :-)

Who put that ^#$@* mountain on my road?

June 16th, 1994

I had a good sleep, as I was pretty tired, and next morning left late. I climbed up towards Nehalem, took a couple of pictures, and headed down the hill. There I encountered the first bicycle tourists I'd seen on this trip. It was a couple of women on heavy bikes riding wrong way up the hill towards Portland. I chatted to them, and they told me to avoid Cape Lookout because of "bad roads, lousy traffic, and steepness." I might have listened to them if I hadn't caught them riding wrong way, and it would have been my big loss.

There was a sudden downpour that came on me when I got to Tillamook, and I pulled into a gas station to put on my rain gear. Someone came up to me, and said, "It's raining." Like I was supposed to stop for that! Besides, it didn't look like it would last, and I pushed into Tillamook. The Fort Columbia hostel had an ad for a hospice in Tillamook that supposedly had a hot tub. A hot tub felt like a good thing to me, so I sailed down 1st St looking for it. A truck drove up with a fellow in it who told me, "One block to the left" before I even opened my mouth. I spent a few minutes looking for a non-existent hostel (it reputedly had a hot-tub), before realizing that he meant the 3 capes scenic route and deciding that the weather was nice enough for me to push onto Cape Lookout.

A couple of hours later, I was cursing my way up Cape Meares in my granny gear. First, there was a headwind going towards the climb, and secondly, it wasn't particularly pretty, since there were too many trees blocking the view. It was also incredibly hot, and I almost wished for my rain back. The descent was nice, but my legs were pretty dead by then, and I didn't enjoy the headwind into the park at all.

I rode into the park, found the hiker biker site, and there found a German couple already camped out. They were going North, and their bikes were set up with Aerobars. I took a shower, and talked to them. Funny how it is that everyone asks you about Michael Fay when they find out that you grew up in Singapore. Look --- just because I grew up there doesn't mean I'm a big fan of the government there. After all, I left that country for the USA, and I would not return to Singapore for the world. The Michael Fay case is probably a much better display of President Clinton's (lack of) grasp of relations with a Chinese government than anything else.

The beach at Cape Lookout is gorgeous, and firm enough to walk on with no problems. I strolled along the beach, and came back to find yet another cycle tourist had come in. This time, it was a Swiss guy named Martin, who'd come in from Garibaldi that day. When I found that he was going South, I asked if he wanted to ride with me for a while tommorrow, and he agreed.

We had much the same equipment, and exchanged questions about our tents and such. I showed him a thing or two, and he showed me a thing or two.

Skies of grey are not today...

June 17th, 1994

Woke up to the sound of crows squawking. What a racket! Woke up Martin, made breakfast, and broke camp. Put on a damp jersey. Yeow! It stinks, it's cold, and I resolve never to do that again!

Martin and I left early, and proceeded to climb towards Cape Kiwanis. Martin was having shifting problems, so on top of the hill, we stopped and I maxed out the tension on his rear deraileur adjustment, and that helped a bit, but decided that a bike shop would have better luck. Martin had rapidFire on his Cannondale, so he didn't even have a friction option to switch to while his bike was screwed up. He made even more noise shifting than I did.

We came down the hill, and plunged right alongside some sand dunes, where we stopped and took moving bike pictures of each other. You know how you always see those in touring books and such? It takes an amazing amount of set up to take one of these, and it's not something easily done spontaneously. I'm just impressed that we can get decent pictures doing this balancing act, saying cheese and getting in the scenery at all.

We rode together towards Cape Kiwanis and drafted off each other, going at a pretty good clip in spite of the headwind. We took photographs near Cape Kiwanis, and proceeded up the sideroute into the experimental forest. I found out that though Martin's a much better climber than I was (probably because of all that loaded touring he's done in the Swiss Alps), he was much slower than I downhill, because of the aerodynamics of his bike. The forest was really nice and shady, giving us gentle descents, and thrilling hairpin descents. Then we headed towards Lincoln city, and hit a bike shop about 5 miles away from Devil's Lake State Park. We stopped there to get Martin's bike fixed.

We discovered several things: first of all, there was not a drop of lubricant anywhere on the external parts of the bike. Second, there was nothing to indicate that any adjustment had been made in anticipation of stretching. Unfortunately, the Vancouver bike shop that Martin bought his bike from probably ripped him off in any number of ways. The bike shop owner cursed at them while putting the bike through its paces and lubricating it. "Yeah, it's those B.C. and Seattle bike shops --- they can smell an European tourist from a mile away..."

I had a sudden insane craving for Chinese food and asked the bike shop owner about Chinese food in the area. I was tired, and had already decided on staying at Devil's Lake State Park. Martin wanted to push on, so we stopped at a shopping mall, where I bought postcards and a book, and he bought groceries, then we broke up.

I got my Chinese food after a shower and making camp. Not ideal, but still, it was undeniably Chinese food and filled my stomach.

It was a really good day, with all the climbing in the shade, and all the warm exposure when descending. I spent a half hour talking to a boy who was fishing at the lake. I then retired to my tent to do some reading, though not before calling the Newport hostel to make a reservation, and calling my mom, who was leaving on the 27th, and so wanted me back in Saratoga by then. I scaled down my ambitions at that point, and decided to do just the Oregon Coast.

I didn't sleep all that well, having been used to quiet campsites the last couple of days, and having to get used to a hiker biker site too close to a road. But still, tired cyclists don't generally have trouble sleeping.

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

June 18th, 1994

I woke up to the sound of crows squawking and drizzle-drops on my tent. I stayed in until the rain stopped, and then proceeded to ride to the Newport Hostel.

It was only a 26 mile ride, but what a ride. First, a stop at a wildlife observation area near Bay Cove allowed me to spot no less than 3 whales --- a resident pod. The area was beautiful, and the sun was up, bringing a brightness and freshness to everything.

A further ride brought me to the North end of the Otter Crest Loop. I saw the "closed to cars" sign, and immediately decided that I had to take it. Turns out that the Bridge was closed for mainteneance, but kindly enough, the barricades were arranged such that a loaded bicycle would have no problem negotiating it.

It didn't take long for the climb to get to a beautiful spot, where I took a photograph of my stuffed animal. Resuming the ride brought me through beautifully cool and shaded spots with nothing but birdsongs and cricket noises. Another steep climb took me to Cape Foulweather, and then it was a fast steep descent that brought be back to 101.

Barely a few miles later, I was in Newport, which looked pretty deserted to me. It was about 12:00 when I arrived, and so I went down to the Bay Front for lunch, cotton candy, groceries and some look-see. I ran into some other people I'd met while whale-watching, and we greeted each other again.

Back at the Hostel, I dried out my tent, my cycling clothes, and threw all my other clothes into the laundry machine and dryer, wearing nothing but a towel in the mean time. I did some reading while doing all that, and got everything dry (what a nice feeling!).

A lovely day!

Sidetrips, sidetrips, sidetrips...

June 19th, 1994

I woke up feeling lousy, made breakfast, and tried to sleep again. By 9:00am, however, I felt ready for the road again, and thus packed everything and left. I rode the scenic route out of Newport, and promptly ran into the Sea Gulch, a place with beautifully carved chainsaw statues that, while quite remarkable, left me feeling like I'd gotten less than my $4 worth.

I rode on, stopping at Smelt Sands State Beach, where the sand was black --- nobody was Smelt fishing, however. Entering the park, however, I ran over a bump on the gravel road that bounced the sleeping bag and mattress off my rear rack. I resolved to pack my rolls more carefully, and turned the packing into a ritual.

Tailwinds brought me into the Cape Perpetua area. How could I describe how pretty everything looked? Words cannot tell you of the ragged steep coasts falling off to both sides of the viewpoint, the sea stacks, the curving road. I hiked the 1.5 mile hike to the top of the viewpoint, getting my calves scraped up in the mean time, and caught my breath at the top, looking at the gorgeous scenery, and hitched a ride back down.

Tailwinds pushed me along at 25 miles per hour. It was incredible --- I barely had to work. I climbed up and through Cape Arch, which, according to my map, was half way down the Oregon coast, and the last tunnel I'd have to deal with. I stopped at the Sea Lion caves, but the place looked way to commercial and I was tired, so I kept going.

Past the Sea Lion caves, the coast highway archs down, and you get a beautiful 30 mile view of the Oregon dunes. This was gorgeous, but with a 37mph descent, I didn't want to stop, even for beautiful pictures that this would have brought me. Lunch at "The Blue Hen" at Florence. Florence was a non-descript, suburby kind of town that wasn't particularly interesting.

I rode on to Jessie Honeyman State Park, where the hiker biker site has been moved to be much closer to the rest rooms. (So those of you who have Kirkendall & Spring can update that!) I arrived at the site to see 3 other cyclists already there. They kindly took care of my stuff while I took a shower and came back. Robert and Carleen were from Portland, and were returning to there from Coos Bay. Philip, who was travelling with a big plastic sheet, a bunch of blankets, and a ton of cigarettes was from Sacramento, and was headed down to Coos Bay.

As we were chatting, another couple rode in. They turned out to be British, and were on the 12th month of an 18 month round the world tour. "We saved for a couple of years, saved everything, and then left!" she said. I fielded the usual Michael Fay questions, and took good note of their setup.

Travelling as a pair certainly made things easy for them --- they had a pannier full of books, for instance. They also had an European style-tent, which sets up the rainfly first, and has the advantage that you can take down the interior first in a rain. They were also hyper-efficient. For instance, everything was packed in their panniers at nightfall, which stayed on their bikes with raincovers on. In the morning, after breakfast, everything gets taken down and mounted on the bikes, and then they're gone in less time than it takes me to eat my breakfast, drink my orange juice, and finish off my morning ablutions (sp?). It always takes me an embarrasingly long time, I feel, to get set up and get going again.

Boredom strikes when you least expect it...

June 20th, 1994

I got up in the morning to grey skies and no tail wind. Everyone left before I did, and I felt something scratchy in my throat, in spite of all the orange juice that I had imbibed. But I didn't want to stay at Honeyman, so I packed up and sped on to the Oregon Dunes lookout, where I spent a good half hour walking around and getting photographs.

Getting back on the bike again, I faced utter boredom in the next 30 miles or so to Coos Bay. Highway 101 turns off the coast, and what I was left with was playing dodge with logging trucks and an individual Time Trial that went on and on and on. I never felt the desire for aerobars more.

Even North Bend and Coos Bay were boring as I rode through them. My knees started bothering me (and I'm sure part of it was psychological), and I rode on towards the Sunset Bay State Park. I resolved that I would get a regular tent site rather than climb 2 more miles to Cape Arago, but it turns out that they've moved the hiker biker site to Sunset Bay Camping Area. (Another welcome change from Kirkendall and Spring)

I was once again the lone cyclist at the camp site, and I was too tired for small talk, so I set up everything, had dinner, and slept.

Galleries, a good restaurant, and no sun.

June 21st, 1994

There's nothing more pleasant than waking up to the sound of birds singing. Unfortunately, that's usually punctuated by squawking crows as they try to steal your food.

The time had come, I decided, for another half day --- everything was wet, and a ride to Bandon would be short and merciful.

The ride to Bandon was steep, however, and I was slow. The day was too cold and misty for me to be able to see much, though I could see how the area would be gorgeous if only the sun was up. I did manage to stop at the Estruary information center, where I looked at the exhibits and watched a video --- I was quite impressed, and wished I had more time to spend hiking or canoeing around the area.

The rest of the ride into Bandon was non-descript, and I found the Hostel with little trouble. There, I had lunch and chatted with various people. There were 2 women cyclists who were using the Hostel to implement a rest day, and after I'd taken my shower, 2 more cyclists showed up. Liz and Claire were doing light touring, just carrying their clothes and staying at motels and hostels. Larry and Jeremy were camping tourists who'd just started from Florence a couple of days ago.

Jeremy was the funniest cycle tourist I'd ever met, since he hates cycling (or at least claims to). "I hate it." "Then why are you doing this?" "Because it's a good way to travel. It's cheap, you get to be intimate with the country, and you can stop whenever you want, and you see so much more!"

Jeremy had already done a cross country trip last year, so he was pretty experienced.

Liz and Claire were taking the day off, and were doing about 30 miles a day. You really meet all types of people on the coast. They kindly provided me with a list of cheap places to stay for the benefit of netters.

I walked around, bought a book, and sent a book home, and wandered into various galleries. I found that I really really liked Richard Hazelton's washes a lot, but couldn't afford them, and he doesn't do prints or postcards. If any of you ever pass by Cannon Beach, look for his main gallery there. Unfortunately, I'd already zoomed past Cannon Beach, and wasn't about to turn around and head North. Next time, I resolved. I also saw a kind of art involving Beeswax (see appendix) that would make BOBs happy.

I had dinner at Harp's easily made it the best restaurant I've wandered in at the coast yet. The halibut was done just right, tender, and when you stick a fork into it, you can see all the juice oozing right out of the meat, and the aroma reaches out and grabs you. I ate and ate and ate and startled the waiters. I then asked for a few rolls of their bread for the road the next day. (Yep, excellent bread too!)

I asked Jeremy and Larry if they wanted to head over to Humbug the next day together, and they said yes.

Why wear cycling shorts with underwear?

June 22nd, 1994

It started out cloudy, and the weather didn't seem so good, except that there was a North wind, which made me happy. We left at around 9, and it was then that I noticed that Jeremy and Larry were wearing underwear under their shorts. I asked them why, and they said, "You mean, you're not supposed to wear underwear under this?" "Yeah, the chamois for chafing, you know..." "And I thought it was just for padding."

No wonder they could get away with a pair of shorts each for a 3 week tour! And there I was thinking that they must have had iron constitutions, to be able to put on a wet pair of shorts every morning.

It's really amazing how much less weight each person has to carry when you're travelling as a team --- everything both of them had fit into their panniers --- none of that huge tent, sleeping bag and pad roll that I had was in evidence among them.

We sailed by seastacks that morning, taking photographs, and then it was a long rolling ride to Humbug Mountain. If anything indicated how comfortable I was on a bike by now, this was it. I'd roll down a hill on my drops, switch back to the tops after slowing on the way up the next one, shifting as I did so, and before cresting the hill, would have reached back to my jersey pockets, picked up a roll of bread, and taken a big bite out of it and put it back, and gotten some water into my body while I was at it. I felt like I'd been doing this for ages!

The countryside around us was beautiful. Farmland punctuated by green, undeveloped land, and the cloudy sky occasionally let in a ray of sunlight, spotlighting places on the road, or a patch of trees, or a few blades of grass. Wildflowers lined the side of the road, and the tail wind picked us up and pushed us along. Life is sweet.

Jeremy collects pressed flowers, so twice we stopped and took photos while he collected some flora. I taught Larry and Jeremy how to draft off each other, and they got pretty good at it.

And then we were at Port Orford. We bought supplies for dinner (since we were camping together, we decided we'd share the food and stuff), and had lunch outside a pastry shop.

We then headed on South, stopping at the South end of Port Orford for some gorgeous views of the upcoming Humbug Mountain. Seastacks aplenty and rolling coastlines. I should be tired of it by now, but I'm not.

"By this time last year, I was too busy trying to push 100 miles a day or so to stop and enjoy the scenery," said Jeremy. "I'm glad I'm here again to pick up what I missed last time..."

We proceeded out of Port Orford and started up Humbug Mountain. The mountain reared up to the left of us, a big brooding mass. But to the right was a sheer dropoff, and further out were scattered rocks like marbles left in a sandbox. The traffic wasn't bad at all, and though there was some construction going on on the road, the crew happily waved us past every time.

The long fast descent into Humbug Mountain Campground led us right into the camping area and hiker biker camp. Another update to Kirkendall and Spring: The hiker biker site is no longer in the Forest, and is no longer full of bugs. Stay there with pleasure.

I set up camp, impressing a couple of spectators with the NHP pitching system while Jeremy and Larry played chess. I then took a shower. (That's the difference between them and I --- I look for a shower the moment I'm done with my tent, and they worry about food) We then made dinner. Jeremy used unleaded gas in his Whisperlite International (which, by the way, probably viods the warranty). "It's cheap, you don't have to run around looking for people to give you white gas or find it in quart bottles, but you have to clean it more often." Jeremy cleaned his once a week. I have yet to clean my Whisperlite. But at 22 cents per bottle, I might just try it. (No conversion necessary, and the new Whisperlite International 600 burns unleaded gas)

We made a huge dinner and ate most of it when another cyclist showed up. We gave the rest of the dinner to Jain, who was a German tourist riding up the coast. When Larry asked Jain what he thought of America, he pointed to a loaf of bread.

"You see this thing? It's incredible. You can crush it, you can bash it, you can roll it up, you can bounce it, you can play basketball with it... But are human beings actually supposed to eat this stuff?"

We laughed. It's so true, though.

"Also, everything's `biggest', `tallest', `shortest', `smallest'... You see all those signs on the road telling you about this stuff. You'll never see such blatant advertising in Germany."

Jain also told us about the Grand Canyon and other places he'd visited on his bike, which sounded like a great trip. "2 weeks?" he said to me, "I could never get used to vacations this short."

Larry, Jeremy and I then walked to the beach. It's very secluded and very pretty, though Larry and Jeremy stayed enamored of it longer than I did. I came back to camp and soon enough, another cycle tourist showed up. His name was Cole, he was from Berkeley, and was full of opinions and himself.

For instance, he rode 90 miles a day, never stopped, and didn't carry a camera because it would slow him down. "If you could kick in those 20 miles before breakfast, then another 40 before lunch, and then the rest before dinner, you can do it. Breakfast is a very important meal, you know." Did he stop or take any sidetrips? "No. What for?" He broke his frame in Florence and spent a week laid up in Eugene while waiting for a replacement. What a guy.

After Jeremy and Larry got back, Jeremy, Larry, Jain and I sat around and played cards while Cole chain-smoked and set up camp. Then we chatted till about 10pm and gradually everyone turned in.

They're Americans... Who knows why they do this stuff?

June 23rd, 1994

Got up to the sound of Jain's MSR X-GK pumping away. Boy, that thing sure sounds like a blowtorch. Jain was running out of gas, so I gave him all of mine, reasoning that I'd be travelling with Jeremy and Larry for the last day of my tour and wouldn't have to use my gas anyway.

He boiled water and I took advantage of that to make some instant oatmeal. Jain looked interested in it, so I gave him a couple of packets to try. He liked it and thought it was a pretty neat concept. He watched Jeremy and Larry unpack... "Why are they wearing underwear under their shorts?" I shrugged. "Do they not get chafing and abrasion?" "Beats the hell out of me, they're American... It certainly saves having to wash your shorts!"

Then everyone else was up and we were off. The climb up Humbug Mountain was gentle and scenic, with the best scenery coming on the descents. The clouds burned off before we were a couple of miles down the road, and we stopped at a scenic spot to take some photos, and I put on my sunscreen. I had one photo left, and was determined to save it for the California Border.

The ride really picked up, however, after we got to Gold Beach and started to climb Cape Sebastian. The climb was long (about 45 minutes) and I set the pace, pushing up the hill at about 7mph. My knees felt it after that one. Fortunately, a long steep 40mph descent followed after that, and I really enjoyed it. This was my top speed throughout the entire coast tour.

And then it was down a long flat patch with a bit of headwind, and another climb to Cape Arch, which was pretty. We had lunch there, and the blue water sparkled in the bright sunlight. Cole caught up with us, then and stopped too to look around.

We hadn't left Cape Arch for more than 20 minutes, however, when he zoomed past us, shouting, "See ya in town!"

We rolled past several attractions and scenic sidetrips after that, not because we were trying to catch Cole, but because we were running out of water, and who could slow down to a zero after having built up a momentum to about 35mph? That is the great fault of bicycle touring, I feel.

The roll into Brookings was then done under a strong tailwind, and we soared into Harris Beach State Park, set up camp, and then unloaded our bikes and rode into town for groceries, bike shop, and the Greyhound station. I found out where everything was. (The bike shop is right across the street from Greyhound, and more than happy to supply bike boxes to cyclists --- by the way, both of these have moved, and are no longer accurately described by Kirkendall and Spring. The street to look for is "Railroad", and it's a right turn from downtown Brookings on 101. Ask around.)

Then it was a shower and dinner. Larry and Jeremy wanted to see a movie (Cops and Robbersons) and I declined, and joined up with other cyclists who'd just rolled in (Andy from the East Coast, Alan from Wales by way of San Francisco). Alan was a real character, down to his tent (a $40 deal from K-mart that looks like it'll blow away and fall over any time a strong wind blew), his attitude, ("Can I borrow your stove?" he says, "My camping partner will be joining me tommorrow, and in the mean time, I gotta eat something.") and his constant use of "bloody" and "bleedin'".

Andy and I walked down to the beach after helping Alan with his tent, and there we talked and watched the sunset, which was so beautiful that I had to take a photograph, and used up my last photo with no regrets.

Back to camp, I read a bit and then slept. I called my family to ensure that I had a pick up in San Francisco.

We mean business!

June 24th, 1994.

I got up in the morning depressed. My trip was over, effectively. I still had to ride to the California border, but that was something I could do anytime. I eventually had breakfast with Jeremy and Larry, who left right after that, and sat around some more waiting for the weather (which was foggy) to get better. When the fog started rolling in, I packed everything up and got onto my bike and rolled out.

South of Brookings, the place easily became more recognizably countryside. I could still see to the Ocean a fair distance away, but until the weather got better (which happened as I neared the California border), I wouldn't really get to see to the horizon.

I watched the mileposts instead... 394, 395, 396, 397, and then...

"Thank you for visiting Oregon, Come back soon!"

(Yeah, you wouldn't believe how soon!)


"Welcome to California... We mean business."

I made a U-turn, hit the other side of the road, and ate a little and draink a little. And then, lacking some rain to mark the occassion, raised my water bottle and made some. Droplets of water filled the air for a while and came down on me.

I looked once more at the state line, took my feet off the ground and pushed...

The sun came out as I rolled back into Oregon.

July 1st, 1994.

Sunnyvale, California.

It doesn't take strength or endurance, just a lot of patience


I managed to take apart my bike with just a Ritchey CPR-14 and the adjustable wrench, after which I loaded it into a bike box, and took the Greyhound to San Francisco. It was a long ride, and I slept badly. Hours after my family picked me up, I was in a Dim Sum place gobbling huge amounts of food down and scaring everyone in my family and all the waiters, etc.

My doctor has told me not to climb mountains or do any long rides for a week or 10 days, so I can commute and do flat rides but not much more. I'm icing my knee every night now.


Appendix A


  • Miles Traveled: 520
  • Days on Road: 15
  • Days Travelling: 13
  • Miles Per Rolling Day: 40
  • Max Miles per Day: 57.5
  • Min Miles per Day: 24
  • Days Rain: 5

    No Photographs: 27 (see below)

    Days Camping: 9

    No Technical Problems: 1 (chain suck at Arch Rock)

    Average Speed: 6-8mph

    Average Rolling Speed: 13mph

    Books Read:

  • SnowCrash, Neal Stephenson
  • The Uplift War, David Brin
  • Alien Speedway (name forgotten)
  • Glory Season, David Brin
  • Imajica, Clive Barker
  • Appendix B

    Equipment List

  • 1992 Bianchi Eros
  • 2 Water Bottle Cages
  • 2 BOB Waterbottles
  • Cateye Micro Bike Computer
  • Bar end shifters
  • Blackburn low rider front and MTN rear racks
  • Blackburn front panniers
  • Cannondale rear panniers
  • North face Tadpole Tent
  • North face Blue Kazoo Sleeping Bag
  • Thermarest Ultralite Long
  • REI camping pillow
  • 1 stuffed toy
  • Lots of plastic bags (Reynolds Oven Cooking Bags preferred)
  • Clothing:

  • 1 long sleeved Jersey (synthetic)
  • 1 short sleeved Jersey (synthetic)
  • 1 cycling jacket
  • 1 crushable windbreaker
  • 3 pairs cycling shorts
  • 1 T-shirt
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair leg warmers
  • 1 pair tights
  • 2 pairs underwear
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 1 towel
  • 1 pair "sport sandal"
  • 1 pair cycling shoes
  • 1 raincape + spats + helmet cover
  • Medical:

  • First aid kit
  • iodine + cotton balls
  • Tissue
  • chemical ice packs (for knees)
  • chinese medicine patches (for knees)
  • Noxzema (coat the inner lining of your shorts with it and ride!)
  • Books:

  • Kirkendall & Spring, "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" (useful)
  • Bikecentenial Maps (useless)
  • 1 novel (see above)
  • 1 Oregon Coast Bike Route map (useful)
  • 1 writing pad
  • Misc:

  • 1 BOB musette (*very* useful)
  • Thread+clothes pegs
  • 1 hunk beeswax (of course!)
  • Wallet, money, pen, assorted cards
  • Candle Lantern
  • Extra Candles
  • Matches
  • Bar of Soap
  • Twine (for clotheslines)
  • Clothes pegs (for clotheslines)
  • 1 throwaway camera
  • Tools:

  • 1 pedal/headset wrench
  • 10mm/8mm wrench
  • 1 adjustable wrench
  • 1 Ritchey CPR-14 tool (very useful --- includes chaintool)
  • Tire Levers
  • 1 spare tube
  • patch kit
  • bottom bracket wrench
  • freewheel tool
  • spoke wrench
  • allen keys
  • Cooking:

  • MSR Alpine Cookset
  • MSR International
  • 2 MSR 22Oz Fuel Bottles
  • Detergent + Scouring pad
  • Misc:

  • Toilet tissue
  • Soap
  • Wallet with credit cards & money
  • Paper clip (to clip maps to bike)
  • Est. Total Weight: 75 pounds

    Appendix C

    Liz & Claire's List of Cheap Motels

    (prices are for 2)


    Guest House by the Sea


    P.O. Box 222 Gardiner, OR 97441.

    (503) 271-4005

    twin beds/hot tub/breakfast

    North Bend

    Itty Bitty Inn


    (503) 756-3496


    Port Orford

    The Castaway



    Seevue Inn

  • $46
  • Gold Beach

    Ireland Ocean View Rustic Lodges


    ocean view/fire places/shower


    Chetco Inn


    (503) 469-5347

    Queen Bed, Shower, TV

    Appendix D


    It's nice to be in good shape to do a tour, but not necessary. I'm a lot weaker this year than I was last year, but I enjoyed this tour considerably more because of better weather and more experience in bad weather.

    Having one extra person along seems to help so much that I'll go to great lengths to get just one extra person along. It reduces weight, speeds up setting up camp and breaking camp, and on windy days, you travel faster and with less fatigue. With an extra person, you can prepare more elaborate meals and eat better.

    My favorite days were less than 30 miles each, when I just roll along and stop and made every sidetrip I could. The sidetrips in Kirkendall and Spring are often well worth taking if you have the strength and energy left.

    Best time down the coast appears to be September, with relatively dry weather, and not too many camper-type vehicles, but doing it in June is also nice because you get treated like a celebrity. Apparently the celebrity effects disappear as the summer progresses.

    I love touring: my experience with it seems to get better and better, and my only problem now is deciding which to do next: California Coast, Europe, or Cross Country.

    I'll never take Greyhound again if I can help it.

    Credit card touring seems like a useful option, especially for short tours. Don't know whether I'd do it for long tours. Also, you miss the hiker biker sites. Hiker biker sites are the best, because no bikers bring noisy kids, so it's very quiet. Everyone sleeps at around 10pm, and few people smoke. Everyone leaves early, and I never met a biker I hated. It got so much so I had trouble sleeping in a real building when I got back.

    Appendix E

    Equipment Recommendations

    The Bob Musette was very useful. I used it to carry flashlight, lanterns, books, etc when I was walking around campsites. I also used it to carry stuff back from town to the campsite. For the $3 price, it was definitely worth the cash.

    I didn't even get a single flat this time. I'm swearing by Conti tires from now on.

    The camping pillow was a luxury, but I find that I can't sleep on a plastic bag, nor can I sleep on a stuff sack stuffed with clothing. (Not to mention that most of my clothing gets hung out on a clothesline overnight)

    Next time, I'd like to experiment with different panniers, especially if I'm going off-pavement a bit --- bungee cords just don't hold things down as well.

    The throwaway type cameras seem to work well.

    Appendix F

    Places I visited

    Westport Candy Shooppe

    320 Dock St.

    P.O. Box 758

    Westport, WA 98595-0758

    (206) 268-0320

    Nice big room with Queen bed, showers, stove, pots, friendly and knowledgeable owners. (The Stiles) The only big disadvantages are the huge candy shop downstairs and the temptation to stay another day.

  • 2nd Street Gallery
  • Post Office Box 1736,
  • Bandon, Oregon 97411
  • (503) 347-4133
  • Twanoh State Park, WA
  • Scahefer State Park, WA
  • Twin Harbors State Park, WA
  • Oswald West State Park, Short Sands Campground, OR
  • Cape Lookout State Park, OR
  • Devils Lake State Park, Lincon, OR
  • Jessie Honeyman Memorial State Park, OR
  • Sunset Bay State Park, OR
  • Humbug Mountain State Park, OR
  • Harris Beach State Park, OR
  • Fort Columbia State Park Youth Hostel, Washington.
  • Sourdoug Lil's, Westport
  • The Blue Hen, Florence, Oregon
  • Fort Clatsop Memorial Park, Oregon.
  • Newport AYH, Newport.
  • Whale's Tale, Newport (restaurant).
  • Sea Star Hostel, Bandon.
  • Harp's, Bandon.
  • Appendix G

    Encaustic Painting (Courtesy of 2nd Street Gallery)

    Encaustic is one of the oldest methods of painting. It was used in ancient Greece and Egypt. The best preserved examples can be seen in the Louvre and at the museum at Volos, Greece. Some of the best examples date back to the fourteenth century B.C.

    Encaustic is a form of painting with pigmented beeswax which is melted and painted onto a firm surface and then burned with a torch. The burn-in process makes the wax more resistant to heat and abrasion. When properly applied and burned-in, encaustic is among the most permanent techniques, for the painted film is impervious to the kinds of deterioation commonly found in work done in water based or oil based mediums.

    Maintenance of encaustic paintings: To maintain luster of painting a quick buff from time to time with a soft cotton cloth is all that is needed. Do not hang in direct sunlight, but if encaustic gets overheated simply cool, then rebuff to the original luster. Do not use scouring pads or powder.

    Appendix H

    In case you're wondering. I took 5 lines of notes a day. So yes, most of this was from memory.