Cycle Oregon Coast

Day 5 Yachats to North Bend

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Time:              5:57:43
Distance:        76.9 miles
AVS Speed:  12.9 mph
MXS Speed:  40 mph

As we headed out on day 5 we were
bolstered to see that at last the forecast had
been right and the winds and weather had
changed to our favor.  The morning was
crisp and bright.

 Heading out of Yachats we climbed a
small hill that took us around a rock
formation and then offered us some beautiful
views back at to Yachats and it’s bay, which
truth be told is little more than an inlet.

 The morning proceeded as expected with a
gentle tailwind.  As we were riding along we
came upon some construction where they
had the road down to one lane, and access
to that one lane was controlled by a traffic light. 
We were descending a gentle hill as we came
upon the traffic light, and I could not stop. 
I had full breaks applied and was not slowing
down at all!!  I had to put a foot down on the
ground to stop and Keith said that the cleat
in my show was throwing sparks as I finally
came to a stop.

 My breaks had been giving me some grief over the past few days, but it was not enough to worry about until now.  We decided that it was time to pull off and do some adjustments.  At the top of the next hill we pulled off at a nice vista spot and I proceeded to work on my breaks.  As we sat there we saw one of the most unusual sights we would see on the entire ride.  A lady went past us riding a scooter!  Now imagine this if you will.  Take a full sized road bike and remove the top tube seat tube, and drive train.  In place of the bottom bracket and crank put a platform for you to stand on and you have the scooter she was riding.  As it turned out she lived in Florence and her boyfriend would drive her out 20 or 30 miles and she would “scoot” home.

 After I adjusted my breaks we proceeded on enjoying the warm sunshine for a change.  I wondered if we would catch up with the scooter lady, but after 10 miles I figured she must have turned off to one of the little B&Bs or some campground.   This stretch of the road offered nice views of the ocean and also was the location for some of the nicest houses we would see during this days ride.

 About 12 or 15 miles after Yachats we ran into the scooter lady again taking a break by the side of the road.  We stopped to ask about the scooter and such and she explained that she used to work for the Burly bike company and they had built the scooter for her.  After a few minutes of polite conversation we continued on up the road. 

 As we climbed the hill leading to Hecata Head we passed a tandem.  Keith had gotten ahead of me, and as I descended a nice little hill I blew past him stopped by the side of the road.  I pulled up and he joined me and as he was asking if I wanted to go up to the Hecata Head light house here comes the scooter lady down the hill with a big smile on her face.  She said “that was fun” and asked if we had planned to wait for the tandem to go through the tunnel ahead.  We all decided not to wait for the tandem (going to the light house forgotten at this point) and headed around the corner and through the tunnel together.

 This was the first time we had ridden with the scooter lady and she could really move on that thing.  We were doing 8 to 9 mph up the hill and she was pulling away from us!  After the tunnel we climbed a steep short hill that offered us a beautiful view of the ocean and the light house.  We could also see several dozen Sea Lions floating in the waves below us.

 We had been riding a few hours by this time and decided to take a break at this wonderful vista and drink a Red Bull and have a snack.  We bid the scooter lady adieu as she continued on up the road.

 At our next stop, just a mile up the hill, we again ran into the scooter lady.  We stopped here because of the vista it offered off the other side of Hecata Head.  From here you could see probably 20 miles down the coast.  It was a fantastic view.  The place we stopped for this view was the Sea Lion Caves, which is a tourist trap, all be it a nice clean one.  I had lived in Oregon for 27 years before moving east and many time remember hearing about the Sea Lion Caves, but this is the first time I had been there.

 At this stop the scooter lady told us about the best burrito place in Florence and we resolved ourselves to stopping there for lunch.  I knew I did not want to eat an entire burrito because it would not sit well in my stomach, so I suggested to Keith that we split one.  I could tell right away form the change in his countenance that he did have designs on an entire burrito, so I left it at that.

 The ride into Florence was uneventful with the exception of the WONDERFUL tailwind that was developing.  After four days of headwinds, drizzle and gloom it was so nice to feel that wind pushing from behind.

 The scooter lady had told us that the burrito place was about two miles after Fred Meyer Super Store.  When we saw the “Friddies” we decided to stop and do a little shopping.  We got some Red Bulls, some Cliff Bars and water.  I also purchased a small bundle of shop towels so that we could clean the gunk off our bikes that had gathered on the previous days rain ride.

 As we coasted through Florence, and probably about a mile before we found the burrito place, I started to hear that dreaded fsst, fsst, fsst, as my wheel turned and rolled over something stuck in the tread.  We had to pull up and I found a nice large staple stuck in my tread.  After a pause to get that fixed we found the burrito place, and each ordered a full burrito.  I was only going to eat half of mine, but it was soooooo good that I ate the entire thing.  I knew this could be a mistake, but my hunger got the best of me.

 As it turned out the burrito did not have as adverse effect on my as I thought it would.  We pulled up at a nice little park with a beautiful lake and just sat there letting lunch digest, and doing a little lubing of the bikes and a bit of cleanup with the rags.

 We were now about 1/3 done with the day as we got back on the road.  The ride between Florence and Reedsport was uneventful.  The tailwind continued to grow as we rolled on towards our destination of North Bend.

 We stopped at Reedsport and stocked up again on a bit of water.  As we were rolling down the road again in the middle of town a guy driving a large RV made a left hand turn in front of us to pull into a Les Schwab tire store.  What he did not realize is that three feet of his RV was still sticking out in the road.  He was trying to wave us by, but we could not get by because he was blocking one lane, and there was traffic coming in the other lane.  I managed to squeeze by before the traffic came, but Keith got held up until the RV driver got a clue and pulled the rest of the way off the road.

 Shortly after Reedsport the route took us off of Hwy 101 at Winchester Bay.  We had to stop and double check the map to make sure we had taken the right turn.  By this time the North wind was really starting to kick up.  I would say it was blowing between 20 and 25 mph.

 The road we were now on wound around a small fishing port.  As the road wound back and forth we would some times have a tailwind that would push us along at 15mph, and other times have a cross wind which made us work to keep the bike upright.  This part of the route was very poorly marked.  After just a mile on the twisty blustery road we had to stop again and check the map.  The map was not clear as to where to turn, so we took our best guess based on where the road was going and headed up to the light house at the mouth of the Umpqua River.

 The road up to the light house was short but very steep, the steepest we had encountered so far.  The view from the light house was nice, partly because we did not know what was just a few hundred yards down the road.

 After the photo op at the light house the road went sharply down hill and to the left.  As we rounded the corner we could see that ahead of us was a hill that was as steep as, if not steeper then the road to the light house.  Keith and I both got onto our granny gears and just started trudging up the hill, which lasted for about two miles.  Keith said that it was so steep that he was having trouble keeping his front tire on the road.  It kept lifting up as he pulled on the handle bars to give him leverage to apply pressure on the peddles.

 Once we topped the hill and got back on Hwy 101 it was a nice downhill for several miles with what by that time was a screaming tailwind.  The ride into North Bend was unremarkable with a few notable exceptions.

 On the decent after the lighthouse hill we passed an older gentlemen on a “well loved” huffy bike with a wobbly back tire.  He was dressed in street clothes and had tennis shoes on that were each a different color.  My first reaction was that he was a local gentleman looking for cans and bottles along the roadside.  Oregon has a can refund policy of $.05 for each can or bottle, so you often see folks along the roadside looking to pick up some quick cash.  Little did I know at this point he was just headed south like us, and we would see him several more times along the ride all the way to the California boarder.

 A few miles out from North Bend I was ridding about 100 yards behind Keith and I hear a quick beep from a car.  I look up to see an SUV make a radical right hand turn in front of Keith.  The driver was so determined not to wait the extra 5 seconds it would take to get behind Keith and wait to make his right hand turn that he almost rolled his vehicle and almost ran over Keith in the process.

 Just outside of North Bend proper we stopped at a place where we could see the bridge over Coos Bay that would be our last hill for the day.  As we waited there we saw the SUV that almost smacked Keith go by, they waved at us, we glared at them.

 By this time the wind was like a giant hand pushing you on the back.  As we approached the bridge I stopped peddling for a little bit and was actually pushed up the hill to the bridge at 8mph with no effort from me.

 Bridges were one of our least favorite parts of the ride, and this bridge in particular was one of the worst.  It was about a mile long, and the sidewalk was to narrow to ride on, and the road had no shoulder, so our only course of action was to ride in the traffic lane, not a fun thing on a narrow, two lane, and heavily traveled bridge. We were fortunate that no semis or log trucks came along as we crossed the bridge, but we did get harassed by one large pickup truck.  The pickup truck started honking when he was 50 yards behind us, and did not let up on the horn until he was past us.  Keith waved at the driver, I gave him the “universal sign of disapproval”.   The state puts up signs at each end of these bridges saying “Bicycles on Bridge Roadway” but people don’t see them, and heaven forbid that we should add a few second to their drive time by making them slow down to pass us.

 In North Bend we stopped at a Ramada Inn which was a bit of a dive.  Keith was not thrilled with the room at first, but later, after the ride made an interesting observation that I totally agreed with.  With each of the hotel rooms from the nicest to the worst, within a few minutes of settling in and unpacking, each of them became home for that night and were just fine.

 Since Keith had paid for the room it was my duty to supply us with beer, snacks and dinner.  There was a Chevron food market/gas station just up the road and after changing into my civvies I walked up there and picked out some snacks and beer.  I strode up to the counter with my quarry and the nice your lady rang me up.  I handed her my credit card and she took the cash register receipt, wrote the total at the top, attached the receipt and my credit card to a big, numbered, piece of cardboard and handed it to me.  I took the cardboard/receipt/credit card package from the nice young lady and had no idea what to do with it.  My face must have reflected my confusion because after a bit of a pause she told me that I would need to go pay outside with the gas attendants.  “Interesting” I said and then thanked her and stepped outside to pay.

 I had a bit of polite chit chat with the attendants as they ran my credit card, and then as I departed to head back to the hotel one of them said “watch out for the choppers.”  This puzzled me since I had not seen a helicopter or a hell’s angel all day.  I shrugged it off and headed for the Taco Bell next to the hotel to grab dinner.  The line in Taco Bell was about 10 people long, and as I stood there with my arms full of snacks and beer they managed to help one person in 10 minutes time.  I decided to go unload my burden and try back in a little while.

 When I went back 30 minutes later the line was only 3 people long, and it was only taking 5 minutes per person.  Dinner was purchased and dully dispatched once I got back to the hotel room.

 Around 8pm we heard a helicopter taking off from the little airport across the street from the hotel.  Then we head it overhead, then we heard it back at the airport and then we head it again overhead.  Now we knew what the gas attendant meant by “watch out for the choppers.”  As it turns out the little airport across the street was a Coast Guard post, and one of their chopper pilots was practicing touch and goes, and turning for approach right over the hotel.  This went on for the better part of two hours!

At 10pm the chopper stopped and we settled in.  Tomorrow promised some steep but short hills.


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