Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ride of my Life

Well, this is what we saw day after day after day at the start of our trip. Miles of smiles! I can't say it was easy, but it sure was beautiful. Traffic along highway 101 along the Oregon coast can be busy. Logging trucks, semis and the bane of everything are the huge RV's. Why oh why do they have to be so big?! Nowhere in the world are they as big as they are here in the U.S. And they hate us bikers. I have to say most of the drivers of these monsters gave us room but some of the them had to prove a point as to who owns the road and they came WAY too close. I would automatically pull in my elbows and make a 'scrunchy' face. Scrunchy Face is when you squeeze your eyes tightly shut, tighten your lips and wrinkle your nose. Seemed to help. I'm still alive.

We crossed many bridges and even went through a couple of tunnels. Usually there was a button to push with blinking lights that warned vehicles that there were bikers on the bridge or in the tunnel. We still biked like hell to get across though. 

The first one I went over I rode on the walkway. But it was really too tight with panniers so from then on I just took my chances in the lane.

I'll intersperse gorgeous seascapes every now and then because we just can't get enough of them. Funny thing though, it took us four days to even get down to the beach. Riding 50 miles can wear you out and sometimes we weren't camped that close.

We camped almost every night. Houston rode on ahead as he is focused on getting to the destination. But Sue and I liked to take our time, enjoying the journey. Well, to be honest, I really wanted time to recover from the climbs. And I'm not sure if we passed a coffee shop without stopping. Any pull off for a scenic view was a mandatory stop. So this is what our campsite usually looked like. 

or this. So beautiful. We'd roll into camp and my tent would have already been set up by Houston (thx!). I'd just have to blow up Big Aggie (my awesome 'mattress' for the night), take a shower and have dinner. We'd go out if there was a restaurant close by but often we'd cook our own.

The first night camping we awoke to emergency vehicles everywhere. Apparently the man next to us had a heart attack and collapsed onto someone's tent as he was coming back from the bathroom. Another camper administered CPR until the medics arrived. In typical over doing it attitude, eight vehicles showed up. they whisked him off to a nearby hospital and we heard he survived.

It was misty a lot of the time. Except for when we went inland, the temperatures hovered around the low 60's in the day and low 50's at night. Perfect riding and sleeping weather. On the chilliest nights I work both my fleece top and jacket. The best thing I brought along (which I'm pretty proud of) were leg/arm warmers. These are sold at bike stores and cost a bit but I thought I could just cut the feet off a pair of my black tights. Well, Bob's your uncle, they worked perfectly, especially for arm warmers. I wore them nearly every day and was so happy I had them. So back to the mist/fog. We had decided before the trip that we wouldn't ride if it was really foggy, but that really didn't happen. It did get foggy, but it was slightly above our heads so cars could see us. And we wore very bright clothes and had blinking lights on our bikes.

Something wonderful about bike touring is the people you meet. The Pacific Coast Highway route isn't the most popular bike route in the country. The traffic scares most folks away. But we did see maybe 40 others in all. Almost all of us rode north to south as the winds blow that way. And wind at your back is a very good thing! We see the same riders at the same campsites if they are riding at our pace. The three of us were by far the oldest riders out there, except for Marie, who we met our first day out. More on Marie later. Most were in their 20's or early 30's from all over the world on many different journeys. Martin, (in the green jacket above) is from Yorkshire, riding for a few weeks along the coast. He would finish a long ride, set up camp and go for a run. I was lucky to make it to the shower!

All the campgrounds set aside an area for hiker/bikers so we always assured of a campsite. It's a great way to meet other bikers.

The Oregon coast is less populated than I thought. We had a hard time finding fuel for our camp stove. We rode into camp one night with not much fuel so our neighbors, John, Hannah and Cody were happy to boil water for us. They were on their delayed honeymoon, traveling up the coast from San Diego in their reasonable sized RV. Aren't they cute?!

Sue and I met Phillip after a very long climb over a mountain. He had a Ranger truck like mine with an empty pickup bed and I asked him where he was when we were climbing up that long hill? He laughed and we ended up talking to him for 20 minutes. He had been an extreme mountaineer and paddler, climbing and kayaking all over the world, all the highest peaks and dangerous rivers. He met his wife while climbing Kilimanjaro and she was just as tough as he. He had been a surveyor for the National Forest and would save up a month's vacation every year to travel the world. 

I stopped in a small farmer's/artist's market in the seaside town of Bandon.  I found a vintage furniture dealer whose things looked so much like Krista's and my furniture. They picked that wonderful robin's egg blue with accents of pale yellow and creamy white. There were two women partners and one made pillows and table runners and they both painted. We instantly bonded and I showed them pix of our booths that we had set up in the past. 

She even matched her booth!

Walking on the beach.

This was so amazing. Took this little hike down to the beach from our campsite. Waves funneled through the slit in the rock. I was mesmerized. If you feel frazzled and need to calm down, watch this  little video.

A sunny day!

Got a quick shot of the Amish on the beach. 

One of the many coffee breaks Sue and I took. So glad she's a coffee achiever like me.

This was the cutest coffee shop, all full of vintage goodness.

The owner has been in business for 27 years and loves her job.

We hung out here for over an hour enjoying her company and of course the great coffee.

I stopped to take a lot of photos. And when I did, I got a bit behind but Sue always waited. There were times when I didn't stop (especially if there was a long, fun downhill or climbing uphill when stopping would mean having to walk the rest of the way uphill). 

But who couldn't stop for this?!!!! Love those sea stacks!

Eating was always near and dear to our hearts. Fuel is needed to get up those hills! But it is just a fallacy that you can eat whatever you want when biking. Well, maybe Sue can as she is no bigger than a bird. She said she purposely gained 5 lbs. before the trip so we wouldn't lose too much weight. I guess I've been getting ready for this trip for a couple decades! 
In doing this trip, I really wanted to get fitter, build muscle and lose weight. But apparently one can bike over 700 miles, eat reasonably well and not lose any weight! True confessions: we were able to find wine along the way, put it on our bikes, and take it back to camp. One can only suffer so much! (I only lost weight when I quit biking! Go figure!) But I am stronger and can bike up those damn hills quicker than when I started. 

We had dungeness crab cakes (wow! look at the size of that crab!) for lunch one day. And cole slaw. Sue really likes cole slaw so we taste tested cole slaw at every restaurant that served it.  "Too vinegary, too runny, too sweet or perfectly crunchy, just a bite of spiciness, or simply mmmmmm."

After one arduous day of riding (up, a little bit down, way up, tiny bit down, up, up, up), we pulled into camp with no food for dinner, just bars and jels and I really didn't want more of those for dinner, uggh. Town was just another 2 miles, but I for one was beat and didn't want to get in that saddle again. So we ordered pizza, beer and wine! It was delivered to our camp and we were some happy campers that night! This is the beer they brought us, how appropriate.

We stopped for water at this way off the beaten track golf course. We walked into the clubhouse to fill up our water bottles and a woman behind the counter was making egg salad sandwiches. It was only 10:00 in the morning but an egg salad sandwich sounded so good that we just sat down awhile and scarfed up a couple. 

Had to get a photo of the wallpaper in the bathroom.

 We saw many beautiful sunsets. Not many sunrises. We were usually in bed by 8:30 - 9:00 and didn't crawl out of our tents until sometimes 8:00 in the morning! Recharging takes time I guess. 
Next up, finishing up the Oregon coast and entering the mega climbs of Northern California. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting it all Together

After two months of traveling, and only a couple weeks in between trips, we embarked on our third trip of the summer. This was by far the biggest trip, the one that took the most planning and packing, and the one I was the most apprehensive about. 

(flying into Salt Lake City on the way to Portland)
Houston, our friend Sue, and I biked from Portland Oregon to San Francisco. We started riding July 14 and arrived in San Francisco July 29. The next few blog posts will be about our adventure on two wheels along the coast of Oregon and California and through the redwood forests of California.
The plan...
Part 1: fly to Portland, visit friends and get ready to launch. 
Part 2: ride, ride, ride about 750 or more miles, averaging about 50 miles a day
Part 3: R&R at Jim & Pam's near San Francisco and then Houston attends conference in SF while Sue and I fly to Seattle to stay with Seal & Mike for a few days.
Houston had downloaded the Adventure Cycling maps onto our Garmins and also the book, "Biking the Pacific Coast", on our iPads. The route differs slightly, with AC maps going off the busy highways when possible. My electronics included the Garmin for my handlebar, my iPhone (mostly for photo taking), my iPad, my iPod for music (Apple addicted, I know!) and a backup charger. Besides biking up the hills, the hardest challenge was keeping the electronics charged!

 We had our bikes delivered to our Rebecca's awesome shop in Portland, Queen Bee Creations. As luck would have it, there's a bike mechanic school right behind her store. One of the instructors came out as we were getting our bikes unpacked and wondered if we needed any tools or help. We asked for a wrench which he brought out along with a bike stand. He stood by about a minute and just couldn't help himself and dove right in and helped Houston assemble all three bikes.

A few months back I bought a brand new bike, a cyclocross bike, able to take back panniers or pull a trailer. We all opted for panniers this trip. My derailed was damaged in the shipping so I rode on over to one of three bike shops in a two block radius (it's Portland after all!) and they fixed it while I waited.

 I was a bit worried about the bike being outfitted for my needs as I had no time to practice packing it or even testing out my new seat. We laid out everything in the hotel room and had a final pick of what goes on our bikes and what ships to Houston's brother's house so we'll have fresh clothes that aren't stinky bike clothes that we'll have worn for two weeks.

But first we visited friends that we know in Portland. This is Goldie, a college roommate of Houston's who recently bought this adorable cottage (forever home!).

It's the perfect size, has a beautiful garden and is a dream come true for Goldie. It's nice to see her so happy. We also saw Brad, Kelly and their two daughters (who happen to be my friend Bev's granddaughters!), enjoying a dinner out at one of the many brew pubs in Portland.

We filled up on a deeeelicious breakfast at 'Gravy'. If ever you have a chance to visit Portland, check it out. Amazing portions and a fun vibe. I loved their pendant lights, made with vintage ceiling lights.

But it's time to hop on the bike. Everything fit (cuz Houston carried the camping supplies!) and I really pared down. 

We rode downtown and took the train out of the city as far as it went. Our first stop was at some friends from our Ultimate Frisbee days, Robin and Patty who live on a farm outside of Newburg. 

It was a miserably hot day, near 100, and although we were only riding 28 miles, I felt whooped. Bad for a first day out. Since we didn't want to ride down their gravel road, Robin brought his wonderful huge pickup and rescued us from the heat. Happy day!

And fed us great local food and local wine overlooking their gardens.

Repeat for night two.

Crocosmia does amazingly well in their climate. We saw it all through Oregon.

They have two cute dogs. This is Ginger and the other is MaryAnn. Get the reference?

And their goats are super adorable. We're feeding them apples here. After video taping them, on my phone, I replayed it for them and they were at first very curious, but then snorted and ran off, not sure who those strange tiny goats on the screen were.

I can only sit around for so long, so asked what chores needed to be done. Patty said the kale had to be pulled up. Will work for food and wine!

We were only going to stay one night and camp the following night but a thunderstorm rolled in and they talked us into staying another night with another pickup ride over the coastal range to the top of the hill the next morning. Going up and up and up and around and more up, I was ever so happy that we got a ride. This 'hill' would have killed me!

(Houston and Sue ready to roll)
At the top of the hill, in a thick forest of trees and along a rippling creek and hardly any traffic, we started our big adventure by biking the first 10 or so miles all downhill. Yay! 
Next up…along the coast.