Arcata to Eureka – Traffic, Problematic Shoulders – the road’s and mine – Getting Stung and Riding Partners

August 1 – 54 miles, 2,123 feet, 2,982 calories

Meeting Vince, a very steep climb and getting stung stand out most about yesterday’s ride.

More great weather, frequent spectacular ocean views, problematic traffic and shoulders, both the road’s and mine, have all been par for the course and yesterday was no exception.

When Google directed me off 101, I started up what would definitely be called a country road and saw a road bike ahead of me. I learned that Vince has lived in Arcata for 40 or so years after having moved from the San Francisco South Bay. Five years ago he retired from owning a bike shop, which featured Trek. He rode with me on a route that avoided 101 for a number of miles. Although Google had directed me the same way, his company was reassuring, especially because he correctly told me that a stretch of gravel road wouldn’t last long so I wasn’t tempted to turn around to avoid it. I noticed that he dealt with the gravel better than I did and I can’t blame my thin tires because he was also riding on 25 mm tires. Oh, well.


Plus, I enjoyed Vince’s company for about 8 miles.

I soon returned to 101 with its alternate stretches of fun mixed in with riding I would prefer to avoid. After a few miles of that, I was again directed off of the highway to what was in the main a very pleasant country road. I passed by the College of the Redwoods, a number of cattle and generally very pastoral scenery.

At the start of the day’s ride, I had seen the Google profile of the route and it featured what showed up as a vertical climb a few miles south of Eureka. It turns out that that climb was on this otherwise very serene road.

I started going up and soon got to 11% with nothing but more climb within view. I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but I definitely wanted to try. Only a pickup pulling a trailer coming at me from the opposite direction around a hairpin turn that went steeply up from my direction ruined that goal. Since there wasn’t room for both of us around that turn, I got off of my bike so the truck and trailer could pass me. The problem was that the climb was too steep for me to be able to get back on my bike. Well, I could clip in 1 foot and get on the saddle, but I couldn’t get enough forward movement to get my other shoe clipped in and it was too steep for me to push that pedal without being clipped in. It was one of the few times I have wanted a Speedway pedal that lets you clip onto either side of the pedal. In any event, I had to walk my bike until the ascent lessened enough so that I could finally get back on my bike. After a number of tries at various places on the road, I was finally able to get on and clip on with both feet. There was still a pretty good climb left but I actually enjoyed it because of the setting, because I didn’t feel constantly threatened by cars and because my legs were feelings pretty good. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t relieved when I reached the top.

The descent didn’t make up for my lost time because the road was rough enough, narrow enough and windy enough that I was especially careful going down hill. I had no desire to run head on into a car coming up hill that was over the middle of the unmarked road. And there were a couple of those.

Back to 101. And then to a stretch of 3 bridges that were in fairly close proximity to each other. As you may have gathered, I am not especially fond of bridges. Many have inadequate shoulders and most have guard rails that are at a height to keep a pedestrian from falling over but are about perfect for a cyclist to flip over if we were so unfortunate as to hit it. And the falls off of some of these bridges would likely be fatal. So my imagination lets me think about either getting hit by a vehicle coming up in back of me or swerving, hitting the guard rail and unsuccessfully trying to float 50 or so feet to whatever is below.

To add to the challenge of the first bridge, which started with a climb, I was stung on my left eyebrow. It didn’t swell my eye shut but the distraction didn’t add to my sense of confidence in going over the bridge. So I swatted away whatever it was that stung and started the climb.

There was some shoulder so that wasn’t too bad but the rail guarding me from a very long drop gave me no confidence at all because if I hit it, I figured the odds were that I would go right over. Better that I had just been enjoying the water view. But I suppose that wouldn’t have been me.

Ale caught me at 54 miles which was only a mile short of what I had planned. It was about 15 miles past where we were staying but knocked that many miles off the next day’s ride, getting it down to 55 miles. Plus, Those extra 15 miles included the steepest climb between Eureka and Garberville.

We ended the day with me eating BBQ and Ale getting Vietnamese because she wanted the vegetables. We ate together outside at the BBQ restaurant. It was voted best in Eureka it wouldn’t have fared as well at home.

Until tomorrow,

Crescent City to Arcata (well, most of the way)

July 31 – 50 miles, 3,200 feet, and 3,000 calories

Today was a great day. And not especially because of the ride itself.

It started when I was getting my bike and stuff in order by the truck. Bob Salvatore approached me and asked about the sign on the truck and about the ride. After me stating where I was riding from and to, and Bob confirming that the ride in fact aids breast cancer victims, he asked if he could make a cash donation right then. I, of course, told him not only “yes” but that it would be greatly appreciated. He then opened his wallet, pulled out a $100 bill and he gave us the largest “on the road” donation we have received on any of the four Laura’s Rides. Thank you, Bob. It is such generosity that makes this journey meaningful. It not only aids breast cancer victims, which is of course most important, but it helps motivate me to keep on pedaling.

Bob, who now lives in Crescent City, is also a bicyclist, both road and mountain, though he is hindered some because of a life threatening lung issue he had 7 years ago. He took up riding to deal with that issue and from looking at him, it has served him well.

The ride itself was fine. Because tomorrow’s scheduled ride was so short, I asked Ale to get me at 50 miles.  Well, at 49.86 miles I was at a wide portion of the road when I heard a vehicle pull up behind me. I knew it had to be Ale, and it was. How she was able to catch me at exactly 50 miles is beyond my comprehension. (By the way, I believe the 49.86 was actually more like 50 because I hadn’t started the Garmin until shortly after I left our motel.)

The weather was again good, there wasn’t too much wind, though once again, little of it was with me. The traffic continued to be an issue for much of the ride with some notable exceptions. One was when I was directed off of 101 onto a scenic road that was designated as a bicycle route.  The climb I was doing on 101 continued for a while, but without having the constant stream of cars, RVs and big rigs going by, it was actually fun. There were some passenger vehicles but no 18 wheelers and few enough of what there was that it was a great respite. It was especially fun when I reached the top because without having to deal with disappearing shoulders and worrying about getting knocked off the road, I was able to go downhill without riding my brakes. Granted, it wasn’t all that steep, but after what I had been doing, it was totally liberating. The descent lasted long enough that it confirmed I had done some climbing. (And speaking of climbing, I noticed that I had gained 950 feet in the first 5.5 miles of the ride with the first half mile having been pretty flat.)

The towering redwoods also made those the best 10 or so miles of the ride.

There were also other stretches where the shoulder would be so wide and smooth that I could just enjoy the riding, whether going flat, down or even up, without being focused on how close some of the vehicles felt when passing me. Most of the drivers were good, but some were close enough that I would have a start when they passed me. That was especially irritating when they clearly had plenty of room to move over.

Despite all of my complaining, I really do enjoy riding and there have been portions of this ride that have been really pleasurable. It’s just that that feeling would be more prevalent with either less traffic or better shoulders. Or, I suppose, more nerve on my part.

With today’s donations, this ride is now at $9,400. Maybe the hope of reaching $10,000 isn’t so crazy after all. Thank you to all who have made that thought possible. 

Bye for now,

Gold Beach to Crescent City

A Change of Course – July 29 – 48 miles, 1,800 feet

The mileage and climb are estimated because for some reason my Garmin wasn’t charged. However, I know that in riding into Gold Beach I had gone about 8 miles past town and believe I climbed around 800 feet in those miles. Since I started the day’s ride where I had finished the previous day, I subtracted those numbers from the Google miles and climb between Gold Beach and Crescent City.

(Starting the day.)

At breakfast, I met Chris who is riding from Vancouver to Los Angeles, self supported, though he does have the good sense to sleep in motels rather than on the hard ground. He had me lift his loaded bike, or at least try to. It just reinforces what I already know, namely that I much prefer the way I am riding, i.e., with all of my gear in the SAG.

Since I had already done the longest climb to Crescent City the day before, I only had about 1,800 feet left and that was mostly numerous ups and downs rather than a long sustained climb. For the first time the day had some serious mist and I started with a bit warmer windbreaker and arm warmers instead of sun screens. So, it was cooler but still very good riding weather, at least once the mist cleared up and visibility was better.

There was some wind and I think it was more against me than with me, though it was probably mainly from the side. The gusts, combined with the inevitable traffic and the equally expected unpredictable shoulders, made the ride less fun than it otherwise would have been. However, those were all conditions that I had every reason to expect when I started this ride. Though I don’t put the upper body discomfort in that category. That has been equally constant, but I really hadn’t expected it.

The beautiful views were also to be expected on this trip and they haven’t disappointed. I have included a photo of Whale’s Head Rock and another random picture of the beautifully rugged Oregon Coast.

I had the pleasure of reentering California. Literally right on the Oregon side of the border was a very big cannabis store. That was probably more significant before California also legalized it.

There were some “A+” stretches of shoulder on the California side. They were wide, red and extremely smooth. What a pleasure. Of course they didn’t last, but they were great while they did. The last few miles into Crescent City were great, too. They were essentially a freeway which meant a divided highway with extremely wide shoulders that were in good shape. You just have to be careful of the off ramps and on ramps. As Sal said when riding on a freeway to San Louis Obispo, the bike is going maybe 20 mph while cars approaching from the rear are traveling over 60 mph which means that where there was no car a moment ago, there may be one now. So beware of crossing over the ramps because vehicles are likely to be coming at you at a very fast speed. But from a security perspective, I much preferred that riding to most of the ride along the coast. That, quite frankly, is getting to me.

Well, I rode the coast of Oregon without having to travel in the SAG. I mention that because on a ride around 25 years ago from Astoria to Crescent City I had to spend 1 day in the support vehicle because of very sore knees. Maybe because I didn’t have the low gears that I have now.

The change of course is because we discovered that there is NO available lodging in Mendocino or in any reasonably close proximity. So instead of riding Garberville to Mendocino, I will go to Willits, then on to Ukiah, Santa Rosa, Fairfield and then Orinda rather than getting there via the coast. I will admit I am not disappointed because that will give me a reprieve from the coastal highway and traffic for a while. I expect that won’t be quite as tense as some of the last few days have been.

Onward to Arcata tomorrow, 79 miles and 4,400 feet of climb, though I may allocate some of that to the next day which will otherwise be ridiculously short.

I have been pleased that the car magnets on the SAG have caught a number of people’s attention. Maybe it’s the very noticeable pink with the cycling bear. Or maybe it’s our great Sponsors who are shown in the photo. Whether that attention translates into donations is another matter. We will see.

Good night,

Coos Bay to Port Orford

July 27 – 58.5 miles, 2,543 feet, 3,548 calories (because Sandi asked for the calories my Garmin says I burned on the ride)

Although a car’s route would have been to simply drive south on Hwy 101 all the way to Orford, the bicycle route avoided 101 almost entirely for the first half. While that added a few miles to the ride, it was well worth it. It was worth it not only because it avoided 101’s traffic, which is considerable, but because it took me through some interesting back country that generally had decent roads, few cars and no big rigs. It also included 7 Devils Road which no doubt was named by a bicyclist because of its climbs. Given that my total climb for the day was barely over 2,500 feet, they obviously couldn’t have involved too much climbing. However, there was enough to be noticed and the grades included 10 and 11%.

The bicycle route also took me through the heart of Bandon, a picturesque beach town that is bypassed by Hwy 101. I made my first stop of this trip for a purchased drink there, getting a cold root beer that I would seldom drink except on a ride because of the sugar.

Once again the weather couldn’t be beat, except for some cross winds that I could do without. Even when I was on 101 today, which was essentially the last half of the ride, the riding conditions were pretty good and sometimes excellent when the shoulder was wide and the surface was smooth.

The ride was also helped because the knot in my back was somewhat reduced, although it did reappear the last 20 or so miles.

Last night in our motel parking lot, I met Craig, a cyclist of a different type from Sonora, California. His type is a Yamaha touring motorcycle. He works as a forest fire fighter for the federal government. When I left this morning, he said he would wave at me on the road since he is also going south but I forgot that my bicycle route was going to be very different than the route he was likely to take on a motorized vehicle. So, in the hope that he is reading this – I did give him one of our Laura’s Ride West Coast cards – I will say hi now.

While leaving Coos Bay this morning, I stopped to talk with Joy and Sal who were pulled over with their loaded bicycles (Sal’s is a recumbent). While they are now from Maryland, Sal is from New York, although from Long Island, not from NYC as is my good friend Sal with whom I regularly ride. Sal and Joy are riding to San Francisco and though Sal has apparently done quite a bit of bike touring, this is Joy’s first long distance ride. It sounded as though the numerous ups and downs are more than they had expected for a costal ride. I of course also gave them one of our cards and got Joy’s in return and wished them a safe trip, as they did me.

There have been a number of other people to whom I have given cards, some of whom have said that they would donate, which of course would be great. However, if you are reading this because I have given you a card, please at least leave a Comment so that I know you have made a connection. Of course that doesn’t mean that your donation wouldn’t be greatly appreciated, because it would be. After all, that is the point of this ride. That and me completing my ride around the 4 “sides” of the USA.

Tomorrow is scheduled to be an incredibly short ride which I may extend to reduce the following day’s distance a bit.

I mentioned missing Sky in yesterday’s post. Well, here is a photo of him with someone else I miss a lot, Sandi. I think that they are getting to be such good buddies that neither of them will miss me. However, I think that at least Sandi will remember who I am.

Another day’s ride done and another to do.

Port Orford to Gold Beach

July 28 – 35 miles, 1,975 feet, 2,147 calories

It was a pretty typical day, though shorter than usual. Nice weather, constant traffic, gusty winds, shoulders that ranged from “A” down to nonexistent, bridges with no riding lanes or shoulders, generally considerate drivers and numerous picturesque views of the ocean and shoreline. And that persistent knot in my upper back. Riding would definitely be more fun without that.

The ride to Gold Beach is 28 miles, some of which was on back roads, most of which was HWYI rode 35 miles because I didn’t want to stop at 28. I would have gone farther than the 35 but Ale caught me at a view point after a long descent so I loaded the bike up for the ride back into Gold Beach. Tomorrow Ale will deliver me to where she picked me up today. What is nice is not so much that tomorrow’s ride into Crescent City is going to be reduced by 7 miles, but that the most difficult climb between Gold Beach and Crescent City is at the beginning of the ride and I did that today. I generally prefer that climbs be behind me rather than in front of me.

(View from our motel parking lot.)

The room wasn’t ready when we returned to town so we had lunch (chicken sandwiches; no more fish and chips, thank you) and then went to walk into town. I saw 2 bikes with traveling gear parked in front of a restaurant across the street, one of which was a recumbent. I immediately thought of Sal and Joy so walked across to the restaurant to see if I was right. Happily, I was.

It was good to see them again and I was pleased that they had actually visited and read my post. Thank you!

Unfortunately, Joy is suffering from too much time on the saddle. I recommended Bag Balm for any chaffing but she is also uncomfortable from having spent so much time sitting on a bicycle seat; it can start feeling pretty hard after a while. As she said, and as I know, going from riding 2 or 3 times a week to riding for weeks at a time is quite an adjustment. She may rent a car to eliminate a couple days of riding and to give herself some time to recover. I hope that, or whatever she decides to do, works. I also hope to see them again on this trip. As I said before, they are riding to San Jose so our routes will be pretty much the same from here to San Francisco. There are a couple of key differences, however; they are carrying all of their gear whereas I have Ale and the SAG and they are spending a number of nights on the ground while I am spending all of mine in a bed in a room.

While walking back to the room, a young woman on a loaded bike passed me heading south. I first saw her yesterday on 7 Devils Road where I said hi when I caught her and learned that she is riding to San Francisco, self supported. Because she seemed uncomfortable – maybe because that area was so remote? – I didn’t try to talk any more and just rode on. Then I saw her again this morning when I passed her outside of Coos Bay. I again said hi and again just kept riding past her because she again – still? – looked uncomfortable. That time we weren’t in a remote area so maybe it’s just me that causes her discomfort. Based on when I saw her in town, I had gained about 1-1/2 hours on her in 28 miles. She is obviously slow but just as obviously she is persistent because she just keeps pedaling on. I wouldn’t be surprised if I pass her again tomorrow because she is somewhere ahead of me now since she kept riding though Gold Beach where we are spending the night.

Ale just now got back from a walk to the beach and asked if I would like my back massage now (I had mentioned it earlier when I got into the truck because of the tightness I have been complaining about). Who am I to say no to that? So I’m finished with this until after the next ride.

(Finished the day with Duck Breast, Scallops and Salad.)


Florence to Coos Bay

July 25 – 49 miles, 2,047 feet

My main thoughts about today were about the continued knot between my shoulder blades and a bit of traffic shock. And I think they are related.

(Starting Out Today)

I need to say that the day’s weather was once again beautiful; blue skies and temperate temperatures. There was some wind, some of which pushed me in the right direction and some of which contributed to the traffic shock. And the climbing was definitely manageable. I don’t think there was anything more than 8% with the 2 long climbs between 4.5 and 5.5%. What was noteworthy about them, though, is that once those climbs started, there was no let up until the top.

So, why the traffic shock? It wasn’t because I had a close call. Nor was it because I haven’t ridden on worse roads. Instead I think in large part it was due to the cumulative effect of having a constant stream off traffic speeding by, sometimes with wide, smooth shoulders to ride on and sometimes with almost no shoulder or a disappearing shoulder (which happens when approaching even the smallest of bridges or where there is a guard rail.) And often with gusts of wind that made things yet more uncertain. I have ridden countless miles under the same circumstances with no ill effects but sometimes the combination of continuous traffic – the Oregon Coast is obviously VERY popular- uncertain shoulders and gusts of wind gets to me and I get tense and uncomfortable, especially when I can hear a large truck coming up behind me. I would almost hold my breath until they would pass me.

It is that tension that makes me think that the traffic shock and the pain in my back are related. The more tense I am, the more that knot hurts. Then, the more it hurts, the less comfortable I am and the more uncomfortable I am, the less confident I am in riding so close to the traffic, especially to the large trucks and RVs, which in turn makes me more tense.

Yep, if I would just chill, things would improve considerably. However, that is easier said than done.

If I get past that stuff, I would describe much of the ride as being a lot of fun. There were stretches where I felt like I was flying, including some ascents, and I could have been flying on some of the descents if I weren’t so cautious going down hill, especially with so much traffic.

The views of the coast continued to be beautiful and Ale has commented about having beautiful beaches next to beautiful forests and mountains.

(The Lower Umpqua)

Naturally there was another bridge with only 2 lanes, no shoulder, a 5%+ climb and lots and lots of traffic. However, this one had a knob a bicyclist can press which activates some flashing lights and a warning to motorists that there is a cyclist and to slow down to 30 mph. Well, even 30 mph is considerably faster than I was going, especially on the uphill side of the bridge. I was fortunate that the pickup in back of me decided not to try to pass me and instead let me have the entire southbound lane. He had to be pretty patient because on the climb I was probably around 13 mph and even going down the other side I might have maxed out at around 30 mph.

On today’s ride I met Jamie Hands of San Francisco who was riding from just south of Astoria to San Francisco. He has ridden the Oregon Coast a number of times, including in the spring last year. He said that that was a mistake because it was still cold and rainy, a very poor combination. Especially on those twisty mountain roads. I would have bailed on that.

(Jamie Hands)

So, we are in Coos Bay now and will have an R&R day here tomorrow. After 8 consecutive days of riding, I am looking forward to that. Yes, I know all about the TDF riders but I don’t claim to be of the same species as them, or of the same generation of either them or even their parents. So I will just say that I am sore and tired and hope that the rest day helps rejuvenate me. Or does “rejuvenate” even apply given that it suggests I was previously juvinated” and I don’t think that that was the case?

(Where we ate tonight.)

I am including a couple photos of Sky because he is part of what I am missing by not being at home. I just hope that the puppy remembers me when he sees me again.

‘Til next time.

Lincoln City to Florence

July 24 – 77 miles, 3,458 feet

I had been apprehensive about today’s ride which is a partial explanation for why I got back into bed after going out for breakfast. Fortunately, the apprehension was misplaced. In fact, today was my favorite ride of this trip.

(Today’s Breakfast. Mine was the Eggs and Hash Browns–didn’t eat it all.)

(After Breakfast, A Last Minute Attempt At A Nap.)

Maybe that is because there was some helpful tail wind. Or maybe it is because I met and rode with Robin for 30 or so miles. (I won’t deny that having a pretty woman riding companion helps one’s attitude. Or at least mine.) Mostly, though, it is because my legs felt good, many of the shoulder surfaces were smooth, the weather was ideal and the elevation gain was pretty painless. My legs just generally felt stronger today which made the pedaling easier and faster and that adds up to a good ride. The pretty scenery helped too, and I am not just referring to Robin.

In addition to meeting Robin, who is riding from Portland to Breckinridge, Colorado, I met Rick who is riding from Portland to Florence or Eugene.

Oh yes, the bridge. This one wasn’t nearly as long as the one entering Astoria but the lanes were narrower and the traffic heavier. I watched some big trucks and noted that even when they were next to the center line, they would be brushing my shoulder as they went by which wasn’t an appealing thought. So I opted to walk on the pathway that was about 2 feet above the road and was narrow enough that those with bicycles were required to walk. The thought of disobeying the sign and riding on that path was fleeting because if you fell off of it you would likely land in the traffic. (Robin said she tried and did in fact fall off the path though fortunately not in front of a vehicle. She walked the rest of the way across.) I didn’t time myself, but I guess I walked for a good 15 minutes.

(View from the Bridge.)

The cross winds made some of the curving mountain roads challenging when the shoulders narrowed or disappeared and cars, trucks and RVs whizzed by.

Despite all of that, the ride was good and I am feeling encouraged. I hope that feeling is justified. Time will tell.

(View on the way to Florence.)

(Dinner – Ale had Salmon, I had Steak)

Your donations now exceed $9,000! Thank you to all who have contributed. We may yet make the goal of $10,000 for the year.

Good night,

Tillamook to Lincoln City

July 23 – 45 miles, 1,876 feet

No significant bridge. No gravel road. And the climb was less than a typical Tuesday ride at home, though the last 1,000 feet were in a constant climb at the end.

Yet I am beat up. Sore shoulders and neck and semi tired legs. And a very bad outlook for tomorrow’s 75 mile, 3,000+ foot ride. I just hope the additional 2 ibuprofens I just took kick in and help for tomorrow. If not, my ride is likely to be constant whining. But, what’s new?

I was mostly on Hwy. 101 South which means lots of traffic but generally good riding shoulders. The weather was high 60’s and low winds, though there were a couple of times when I was going much slower on a descent than normal. (I averaged 17.2 for the first number of miles but finished at 14.9 after I got through the climbing; I wouldn’t go as fast downhill as even I usually do because of the traffic, unpredictable shoulders and cross winds so I couldn’t make up for the climbs as much as I would have liked to.) So I will claim that the wind slowed me down. As though it wasn’t really just my body.

There was pretty scenery, including of the ocean and beaches.

We had an early Thai dinner that was pretty good and then went to see Spider-Man, which was fun. Not awesome like Lion King, but fun.

I was hoping for fierce rain and cold weather for tomorrow so that I would have a plausible reason for riding in the truck. No such luck so I will have to be patient, tell myself that I have done much tougher rides and to just keep pedaling. Which is easier to do tonight than it is likely to be tomorrow. (See, the whining has already started.)

Sandi sent a message saying that the posts look better now that Maria is doing the composing and publishing. I do appreciate the work that Maria is doing but, come on, Sandi, you don’t have to rub it in. Even if it is true.

So, until the next time.

Astoria to Tillamook

July 22 – 65 miles, 2,677 feet

Yes, another bridge.  I got into Astoria from the north by crossing a bridge and my exit from Astoria to the south also required crossing a bridge.

However, aside from the fact that both bridges cross over a body of ‘water, and the fact that in both instances that body of water is the Columbia River, they have little in common. This bridge was far short of 4 miles long. It does not have an extended climb at the end, it does not have a “No Pedestrian” sign, it actually has a shoulder that a bicycle can reasonably ride on and it was not littered with the carcasses of sea birds as was the first bridge. (By the way, after I had seen about the 5th dead bird on the bridge I started hoping that they  weren’t a predictor of my future on the bridge.) In short, I wasn’t clenching my teeth the entire way across today as I was yesterday.

(Astoria Pictures)

Today’s riding was great. More perfect weather, 101 South was mostly pretty rideable with mostly decent shoulders -ranging from a D to an A (D being so rock strewn as to be difficult to ride on and/or so narrow as to be pretty useless an A being quite wide and with a very smooth surface) with more A’s and B’s than C’s and D’s. And Google Maps didn’t direct me to any gravel nightmares which helped enormously.

(Get Going Breakfast)

Aside from the highway being far busier than I would like, what was difficult today was the result of yesterday’s gravel ride. No, not the fall, which only left some minor scrapes. But the tension in my arms and upper back from trying to control the bike while bent over the whole time. That left me incredibly stiff and store. So much that almost all of my stops today were to deal with the sharp pain at the base of my neck down between my shoulder blades. Mostly, my dealing with it was pretty ineffective and I stayed uncomfortable. I don’t usually take anything after a ride, but today I took 2 ibuprofens and they seemed to work. I hope they eased the tension enough that I don’t have to deal with that tomorrow. That pain was all that kept me from thoroughly enjoying today’s ride.

In riding south, I crossed the entry to Sunset Beach which is where I started Laura’s Ride North 2 years ago because I wanted to cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and Astoria is on a river, not the ocean.

Although that road leads down to the beach, the ocean isn’t visible from the highway itself. In fact, the first time I saw the ocean on this trip was just before I reached Canon Beach. A photo is posted.

Also included is a photo of me with the ocean in the background at a view point in Canon Beach. Tim Williford of Arkansas is the photographer. He and his wife Cheryl and son Jacob are in the photo. They indicated they would follow along when I gave them a card. Hi Tim, Cheryl and Jason. A Comment would be appreciated.

I have already mentioned a bit of nostalgia but have some more to add. Some 25 or so years ago my long time friend Frank L’Engle and I participated in a group ride from Astoria, Oregon to Crescent City, California. Aside from being 25 years older – where did all of that time go? – this time I am not sleeping on the hard ground or taking cold showers. Nor am I riding my old steel frame bike with the shifters on the down tube with much higher gearing than I have now. Maybe that is why I had to spend 1 day in the SAG with incredibly sore knees, something I hope to avoid this time. This ride along the Oregon Coast is also very different because I am not riding with the cycling buddy with whom I first started riding, Frank. He has traded his bike for a set of golf clubs.

Ale and I finished today by eating at the Tillamook Creamery, a retail restaurant/store that is built around the production of the very well known Tillamook cheese. We had to conclude that with a visit to the ice cream bar.  In our defense, however, I will note that we each had only a single scoop, a restraint that few of the other people seemed to exercise.

(Tillamook Pictures)

Tomorrow’s ride should be shorter – under 50 miles and fewer feet of climbing – and I am fine with that. I hope my body will continue to recover between now and the start of tomorrow’s ride. I will find out tomorrow.

(Beautiful View)

Good night for now,


Aberdeen to Astoria

July 21 – 74 miles, 3,500 feet

I started preparing last night by going to sleep at 8:00 with a scheduled wake time of 6:30. I NEVER sleep that long but my body was obviously telling me something.

The weather was again ideal and 101 South has generally wide shoulders that frequently have better surfaces than does the road itself.

But Google Maps doesn’t like highways for bicycles. So it sent me on back roads when they were available. That was fine because those roads were generally good and all else being equal, not having traffic whizzing by is my preference. Unfortunately, the last such diverted route failed the “all else being equal” requirement. Its first few miles were good. Nice surfaces, no traffic and pretty scenery. And then the sign, “Pavement Ends, Gravel Road.” Even that wasn’t too bad. At first. But then the gravel got deeper and the stones bigger. I am not good on a mountain bike but I am much worse on a road bike with narrow tires in the gravel that covered that road. The result was that there were stretches where I couldn’t steer where I wanted to and I just wasn’t in control, especially on descents. So I dealt with that by getting off and walking. And even that wasn’t easy between the cleats on my shoes, the gravel and a road that frequently sloped to one side or the other. To say the least, progress was slow. And it wasn’t helped by me falling one of the times I tried to get back on my bike. (Only minor scrapes and no damage to the bike.)

Things stayed slow even when I found surfaces I could ride on because they were marginal and I rode my brakes when going downhill – slowly – because the gravel would get worse suddenly and I would have to walk again. Going up hill wasn’t much better because with the gravel there were times when there was insufficient traction to keep my wheels from pinning. Which reminded me of Sal the engineer saying that train grades have to be limited to only 1 or 2% not because the engine isn’t powerful enough to move the train, but because if it stops, there isn’t enough traction for the train to get moving again.

This lasted for about 11 miles though it seemed much longer.

Then back to a paved road and then Hwy. 101. Bliss. Even a 14% climb was a relief.

Then the bridge into Astoria. A 4 mile long 2 lane heavily trafficked bridge with no riding lane – pedestrians are prohibited- that concludes with a mile long 6% grade. I was tempted to call Ale for a ride over the bridge but I remembered seeing cyclists on the bridge when we were here 2 years ago at the start of Laura’s Ride North and my better sense deserted me. So I rode over the bridge. Grimacing the whole way, no doubt.

74 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing and the ride was over. I was glad.

Aside from the bridge, riding into Astoria from the north reminded me of last year when I rode into Portsmouth from the north on Laura’s Ride Atlantic Coast. I had previously ridden into both cities from the west on Laura’s Rise North, Astoria at the beginning of the ride and Portsmouth at the end of the ride. This time the ocean will be on my right, last time it was on my left. And last year the humidity was an issue, this year it isn’t.

Now onto tomorrow.