Pacific Coast Tour: Day 6
Day 6: Cape Lookout State Park, Tillamook, OR to Carl G Washburne Memorial State Park, Florence, OR
Approximate daily mileage ~ 101 miles
Approximate total mileage ~ 526 miles
Approximate daily elevation gain ~ 4,500 feet
Approximate total elevation gain ~ 16,400 feet
Day 6 began around 6 am after a cold night with intermittent sleep on the mossy forest ground with towering trees above. I had learned long ago that the best thing to do when you’re cold is to quickly get moving to increase blood flow. So I packed a few things in preparation for the day, grabbed the layers to be worn for the day, and started quickly moving toward the showers. Yesterday, I had taken note that there were hand dryers in the shower shelters and thought they would be the perfect tool to dry my gear and warm up at the same time. It does take some time to dry all your gear with a hand dryer but it works quite well – socks, shirts, shorts, shoes, everything! Then once everything is dry the shelter makes a nice place to don all the freshly warm and dry gear to start the day. As mentioned in a previous post, comfort is paramount on days like these.
After getting all warmed up it was time to repack all my gear which was quickly becoming a systematic ritual. Everything had its specific location, direction, and style of being packed in order to properly distribute weight and make for the best ride. Another important detail I came to appreciate was the amount of water I needed to refill for the day. My Camelbak backpack held 3 liters of water. However, I found that if I filled it completely full it became significantly more uncomfortable for a long ride, and I rarely needed that much water. Fortunately, there were usually places I could easily refill if needed so filling the container about half-way seemed to be best. While packing everything it was also important to get some calories. I had no stove like most people on this type of a trip so I counted on things like nuts of all kinds, Clif bars, salted nut rolls, bread, and peanut butter for sustenance.
All the preparation and calories from the peanuts came in handy very early in the day as there was a serious 1000 foot climb immediately upon starting. The climb coursed slightly inland through more dense forest then through a small town named Sandlake before returning to the coast on a downhill trend. About 16 miles into the ride was the small town of Pacific City. By this time a supreme hunger had set in, and it was time for breakfast. In Pacific City there is a wonderful small coffee and breakfast place, Village Coffee Shoppe. It has a limited number of tables, and it is well known for a great breakfast and coffee. I had what was becoming a standard breakfast of 3 pancakes, 2 eggs, hash browns, and coffee.
With a full belly it was time to forge onward. The route again turned inland for a portion then back toward the coast near Neskowin. Then there were more beautiful forests. Eventually the Oregon Coast Highway returned to the beach in Lincoln City which was about 22 miles after Pacific City. This was a great location for a break, and it was also one of the few beaches I encountered which allowed vehicles to drive right out on the beach! By this time it was a bright and sunny day with warming temperatures, a welcome feeling. The soreness in my legs had also lessened after being thoroughly warmed up. I also noticed the breeze had turned to come from a northwesterly direction which was a most glorious tailwind for riding south along the coast. This combination made for an exceptionally wonderful day of cycling as this stretch was some of the most beautiful of the entire trip. I continued on in glee soaking up the stunning vistas rolling through Depoe Bay and Otter Rock for about 25 miles until stopping in Newport at a great local bike shop called Bike Newport. This bike shop is well known for its knowledgeable and friendly staff. Here, I aired up my tires and spoke with the gentlemen working. They provided very helpful information about possible places to stay for the night and suggested stocking up on groceries before leaving town as there were few other places to do so for the day. Not one to go hungry, I heeded their advice and made a stop at the JC Market Thriftway. The goods of this stop included a quart of chocolate milk, a loaf of sourdough bread, a pound of sliced turkey, a half-pound of Colby jack cheese, and roasted chick peas. The chocolate milk was briskly chugged outside the grocery store while I packed the bread, meat, and cheese hastily into and upon my gear with the loaf of sourdough prominently strapped to the top of my saddle pack.
Upon departing Newport the most heavenly spin continued as I felt wonderful, had a gentle tailwind, rolling hills, smooth wide shoulders, and some of the very best views of the entire tour. There were multiple small towns along the way and a few intermittent stops to take time to enjoy the views and snap a couple quick photos. The town of Yachats was especially intriguing and stood out as a place to return in the future. It is a town situated directly overlooking the coast with a friendly feel containing interesting parks, trails, cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, and inns. By the time I stopped and enjoyed the sights of Yachats for a few minutes the day was growing old, and it was only about 12 miles to my tentatively planned stop for the night at Carl G Washburne Memorial State Park. The way the day had gone I could have ridden onward in bliss indefinitely. Grateful for such a perfect day of riding the only thing I could do to pay homage was savor each second. In what seemed like an instant on a quiet stretch of Oregon Highway 101 a sign for Carl G Washburne State Park appeared out of nowhere. On the western side of the road is a day-use park where I stopped and climbed on a picnic table to get a glimpse of the ocean peaking over the shrubbery. On the other side of the road is the campground. Again, the Oregon park system proved to be top notch.
The campground was quiet and probably half full on this Monday night surrounded by trees with the hiker/biker area on the top of a hill still enshrouded in greenery. There were only three other people at this site – a mother and son cycling a portion of the Oregon coast and Karl, who had started biking from his home in LA and was heading toward a friend’s place which was scheduled to be a prime location for viewing the upcoming total solar eclipse. Karl and I conversed for some time. He was a retired electrician from Long Beach and an experienced bike tourist who had done multiple trips along the Pacific coast as well as a trip across Vietnam. He had hosted many cyclists at his place in Long Beach on their journeys along the coast and offered the same for me provided he was back in town in time.
The sun quickly lowered in the sky. This triggered the sequence of showering, setting up a place to stay, and preparing some food. All of these activities were tasks that during routine life would likely be menial. However, during this trip at the end of the day they became absolute joys. It made no difference that the shower was down the hill in a chilly shelter, that I was going to be cold sleeping on a picnic table with no pad, or that I would be eating a hastily made cold sandwich. After 100+ miles of sheer beauty and awe in a single day, these were icing on the cake.