Pacific Coast Tour: Day 8
Day 8: Bullards Beach State Park, Bandon, OR to Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, OR
Approximate daily mileage ~ 90 miles
Approximate total mileage ~ 704 miles
Approximate daily elevation gain ~ 4,400 feet
Approximate total elevation gain ~ 24,800 feet
Another night spent on the ground waking up before sunrise in a chill, yet this time it wasn’t nearly as cold as some of the other nights. It was a welcome feeling knowing that, however slow the progress, I had made it a significant distance south since departing Vancouver and crossing the Canadian/US border.
Once again, the Oregon State Park system did not disappoint as I was able to enjoy a hot shower after crawling to my feet and wandering in the dark to the heated shower shelter. Another pleasant surprise to start the day was a hand dryer! By this time all my gear had returned to a state of near saturation from a combination of sweat and condensation. It does take a little time in order to dry each individual article of clothing, but like I’ve said earlier, it’s well worth it for the reward of comfort the remainder of the day.
By this time about half of the cyclists in the completely full campsite were up and in the process of packing and getting on the road for the day. One man in his 70s had ridden his recumbent from his home in Seattle down to LA then to the Grand Canyon and finally was heading northward back home. He told me a few of his stories while I ate a banana and peanut butter sandwich. He described how much of the time he ended up camping in inconspicuous locations such as behind churches or on farmland. He had been met with nothing but kindness and not once did anyone have a problem with him staying on their land for a night. There was also a group of four French men who were riding south to San Francisco as a group. We both took time to admire each other’s bikes. Again, they were astonished at what little I had packed on my race bike while they rode heavy touring bikes with much more equipment. They left much earlier than I, but we later met again as I passed them down the road.
After all others who were awake had left and everything had been secured and packed in its proper location I departed. Outside the campground within the state park is Bullards Beach which is a calm area nestled in the bay near the town of Bandon. I then crossed the bridge on Highway 101 over the Coquille River which leads directly into Bandon. There I explored Old Town Bandon on the bay which has a number of shops, eateries, and a small marina. Then it was time for the ride to really start for the day. By this time the soreness in my knee seemed to have been increasing every morning only relenting after about 10 miles of gentle riding and warming up. This again seemed to do the trick as I pedaled on the 101 mostly passed a combination of farm and forest land about 17 miles to Langlois where I stopped for coffee at what appeared to be the only gas station in town. It was also the first place I saw in the small town. After departing I saw there were two other establishments, Floras Creek Coffee and Greasy Spoon Café, both of which appeared to be excellent and very busy. There’s always next time!
The very rural route continued for 13 more miles on roads in pretty good condition with minimal traffic until arriving in the town of Port Orford, Oregon. Port Orford appeared to be a somewhat larger town with nearby Port Orford Heads State Park and the historic Battle Rock. Here, I stopped for replenishment at a bakery and coffee shop, Tasty Kate’s, which had very colorful exterior as well as interior art all around. Best of all, they had enormous fresh cinnamon rolls and great coffee! Then, just before leaving town, is Battle Rock which is a beautiful site overlooking the beach with rock formations nearby in the water. The Battle Rock name comes from a historic battle between the Qua-to-mah Native Americans and Capt. William Tichenor’s men in 1851. Visitors are able to hike out on Battle Rock for even more of a view where whales are also known to be spotted.
After departing Port Orford, the welcome feeling of a gentle tailwind returned as did sunny skies and warm temperatures. These were the warm temperatures I had anticipated as the week prior to embarking on this journey there were record highs through much of my route. Along with the tailwind, sun, and warmth were more spectacular views and panoramas as Highway 101 closely followed the coast until reaching Humbug Mountain State Park where the route turned inland through the park riding with the shear edge of the mountain directly to right of the road. The route was tortuous for a short while. Luckily, there was little traffic during my pass through. What a grand site! From there it was another 23 miles of rolling hills and beauty passing through Nesika Beach before reaching Gold Beach, OR.
For anyone riding this route, Gold Beach is probably highlighted as it is well known that just after leaving Gold Beach there is a steep uphill climb of about 1000 feet. There was plenty of daylight left, and I was feeling reasonably well so I decided to press onward and upward. As experienced with many of the previous long climbs I was grateful to be carrying as little weight as possible and have a favorable gear setup on my ride. With this combination it was only a matter of time until reaching the top of the climb before enjoying the reward of coasting down at high speeds on the descent. On descents like this it is easy to reach high speeds for a bicycle and even as I took them calmly, speeds frequently rose to around 40 mph. There is a fine line of concentration required to maintain control while still trying to enjoy all the glorious scenery flying by!
By this time there were only about 20 miles left until reaching the Harris Beach State Park campground. Harris Beach State Park is situated directly on a cliff overlooking the Pacific just on the north edge of Brookings, OR. Consistent with the rest of Oregon this was another popular and clean campground with good facilities. I was one of the first few to arrive at the hiker/biker campsite. This was a nice change from previous nights as I could choose the best spot. The best spot happened to be directly in the middle with a place to lock up my bike and a large picnic table. Other than a place to sleep, the picnic table also functioned as a great spot to lay everything out to dry. This was definitely needed after 90 miles of riding in 90 degree heat. The miles were really starting to add up and my body felt each and every one at that point. In addition, the direct sun provided for some additional UV rays. My tan lines displayed obvious evidence that not enough sunscreen was used.
Since I hadn’t stocked up on groceries anywhere this day and only had a few nuts and an energy bar left, I was delighted to find the town of Brookings was only a couple miles away and had numerous restaurants. Mexican sounded especially good so I saddled back up on the bike for a ride to town. There was a great little restaurant which provided a delicious feast of chips, salsa, and a huge chimichanga. The best part was on the ride back to the campsite. The timing was absolutely perfect as I rode on a dedicated bike trail from town as the sun was setting. There was a man with a nice camera set up on a tripod overlooking the ocean. This was indeed the perfect spot to see it! Every sunset is spectacular in my mind. Although as the sun settled far beyond the horizon, this one appeared especially striking after many miles of warm temperatures, now a full belly, and the most beautiful scene overlooking the rock outcroppings scattered in the ocean.