First Flat, Optimal Situation

Awoke in Bandon on yet another sunny Northwestern morning, here with a hint of sea fog and the tang of salt air. As we were packing up the bikes in the room after breakfast, David noticed that his rear wheel was flat, an industrial-sized staple driven right through the tire. Could have been a worse place to repair it, that’s for sure.

Very soon we were rolling south along the coast again, looking forward to a heartier breakfast than the Sunset Motel had to offer. Past the golf courses and tony shore homes of Bandon-on-the-Sea, we followed our route away from the coast and up into the hills. At one point, low on energy, we paused near the top of a hill to figure out when we might pass a place to buy snacks and Gatorade. Almost on cue, a gray-bearded and pony-tailed man emerged from a roadside shack that seemed mostly woodpile and tarp, to point south like an Old Testament prophet and say “Langlois is a mile that way” (he pronounced it “Lang-Loy,” making David’s inner Francophile cringe; Ashley, from solid Virginia stock, didn’t see the problem: the man was obviously right.).

Sure enough, a mile later we arrived in what the city limits sign proclaimed “World-Famous Langlois Founded 1881,” and a pretty well-stocked and hopping general store.

It’s true that, when you’re needy and moving at 10mph, even the skankiest establishment, be it grocery store, cafe or motel, can seem like a paradise of convenience and comfort. But the Langlois General Store was really great! And you can buy tax-free smokes!

We provisioned up and moved on to our next stopping place, the oldest town on the Oregon coast: Port Orford, founded 1851 when a heavily armed force of whites arrived to displace the local tribe and lay claim, treatyless, to their land. Old story, we know. But the locals didn’t make it easy on these illegal immigrants, fighting and ultimately losing the Indian War of 1850. Here is where the first battle took place, now a viewpoint where a backpacker had laid out his bag on the grass:

Here we lunched at TJ’s Diner on chicken strips and an omelette while a trio of dude-bro cycle tourists passed us outside. Not the only ones we saw today, but the only ones riding south. Northbound, along with two who didn’t look that much different from us, gearwise, climbing around the east side of Humbug Mountain we intersected with a cheerful biker in a sun hat, hauling a trailer in which relaxed his yellow lab.

Because it looked unnecessarily out-of-the-way and steep, we ignored the Adventure Cycling route that would have taken us up into the hills, and instead turned the other direction to ride the lovely Old Coast Road the last few remaining miles to the Rogue River and the town of Gold Beach. Our constant companion on this tour, the Garmin 1030 navigation device, suddenly began sending grumpy demands that we make a U-turn, and finally in a fit of AI petulance refused to talk to us at all except to say in white letters on a black screen “you have left your route — recalculating.”

Meet our constant companion, in a cheerier digital mood:

That last road was amazing, one lane wide, rolling, coastal; every now and then it drew close to 101 and the familiar din of traffic returned, but we were passed by only one car. This idyllic thoroughfare ended at the Rogue River, part of which we rafted a few summers back with friends. A short steep climb brought us to the north end of the bridge crossing the river, and then it was only another mile or so to our hotel. In Oregon we’ve had a soundtrack of waves breaking and seals barking, at least when there’s a lull in the traffic. Today, less traffic.

Had dinner at a local bistro that had somehow managed to run out of fish, then a nightcap at an adorably local but unpopulated dive bar next to our nightly digs.

Today was a relatively short but sluggish day. Final stats: 56.3 miles, 2559′ of climbing in 4:37. We stopped at several scenic overlooks and generally enjoyed coasting, saving up for the California climbs we know are coming. Over seven hundred miles covered; the last state is a long state.

1 thought on “First Flat, Optimal Situation”

  1. I just LOVE that part of the Oregon coast! We’ve eaten at TJ’s, too, when we camped at Humbug. My first sighting of a whale was from the highway just north of Humbug. Now you have crossed into my favorite part of northern California! Trinidad is my favorite little town–great eats there. I am just lovin’ your blog, McLovin’!


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