Finally, the Coast

The rest day in Ass-toria (hey, that’s how they say it) had the desired effect. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, for a change, browsed in a bookstore, found a bike shop, and checked out four of the five breweries (one was closed for a family emergency). Did some routine bike maintenance, washed some clothes, packed again–and then after a long sleep, we took off with fairly fresh legs, feeling ready for a new state.

Freighters lined up on the Columbia River at Astoria, headed for Portland. “Gasoline goin’ up, wheat comin’ down.” (Woody Guthrie, “Talkin’ Columbia Blues”)

Some years back, the Oregon tourism office thought up a reverse-psychology campaign: one image was a map showing I-5 bypassing the state, the implication being that they didn’t need or want your business; the other, a drawing of a bicyclist wearing a mask and snorkel, with the caption “Last year in Oregon 530 people fell off their bicycles — and drowned” (i.e. it’s so wet you don’t want to move here).

Lies, all lies. We rolled out of Astoria on a cold morning under thick lowering gray clouds, but by the time we threaded through some shabby and depressing outskirts, passed the site of Lewis & Clark’s winter HQ, and reached the actual Pacific Coast 20 miles later at Seaside, the sun was out and the rest of the day was astoundingly, superbly, and yes, given the forecast, surprisingly clear; and even, on the climbs at least, warm enough to shed layers and lather on the sunscreen.

Seaside featured a lovely beachside bike path, and just a few miles south was Cannon Beach, where we lunched at a brewpub (sans brew). It felt touristy and cute, in a nice way, the kind of little New Englandy saltbox village where we might want to escape for a week some hot Reno summer. Just outside of town, we saw our first sea stacks.

Through the dreaded Arch Cape tunnel, not nearly as bad as we had been warned, and a couple more big climbs until the route leveled off, relatively, and we played peek-a-boo with beautiful beaches and peaceful sloughs, punctuated by a few friendly little towns.

Finally, handlebar bag packed full of local fruit, we arrived at Tillamook, and just a mile before our motel, stopped at the eponymous dairy for ice cream, first of the tour. Even the pervasive north Tillamoooook smell of silage — fermented fodder that smells a lot like cowshit, spread on the fields–didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for a meal and a few pints at Pelican Brewing Company.


Today’s stats: 71.3 miles, 3425′ of up, in 5 hours 57 minutes.

PS: Chamois cream 1, monkey butt 0.

2 thoughts on “Finally, the Coast”

  1. I am so loving these blogs I feel like I’m right there some of the time but thanks for sharing this trip with me !

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    1. I remember going doe rattlesnake canyon at 40 mph and then up for an eternity. Deepest canyon in the states during Cycle Oregon

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