Aug 05

S2 Cycle the Oregon Coast & Crater Lake

by in 2009 Trips

Click to see image enlargedIn August, Sheila and I decided to take our tandem to Oregon to do two of the things on our bucket list: ride the Oregon Coast and ride the rim of Crater Lake. Well, we didn’t ride the whole Oregon Coast, but we got a taste. It was great fun.

August 5 – We set out from Seattle early on a Wednesday morning. We got to West Salem around noon. There we met my brother Ray who rode his bike up from Eugene. We strapped his bike next to ours on top of the car and drove to Lincoln City, gateway to the coast. It was a perfect coast day, sunny and no wind. Ray drove our car back to Eugene to await our arrival.

Click to see image enlarged

We strolled through Lincoln City and down the beach. We napped. I looked at tidepools just outside our window. The only thing I didn’t do was build a sandcastle. We even watched a couple of movies.

August 6 – Lincoln City to Yachats – 58 miles

We had a leisurely morning. We had a late breakfast, packed, and started rolling around 10. The coast from LC to Yachats is classic. There were vast stretches of beaches and gorgeous sea stacks. We went past Depoe Bay and took the Otter Crest Loop to avoid the climb over Cape Foulweather. There we saw this beautiful example of coastal bridges and had a long climb on a one way road to the top. We dropped down to Devil’s Punch Bowl. (It looked lots smaller than my childhood memories.)

Eventually we stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It is almost 200 feet high. We took a pleasant tour of the facility, then continued on toward Yachats. We encountered our only bad weather of the trip about 6 miles from the end. It got misty, then drizzly, then rainy. It only lasted about 2 miles, just long enough for us to get really focused on finishing the day. We stayed at the Ocean Cove Motel. It was very nicely appointed. I’d highly recommend it. There was a sculpture of a whale’s tail with a mound of dirt in the front of it. Every minute the “whale” would spout. It was cute. We had a lovely vegan meal at the Drift Inn which included marionberry cobbler! Mmmmm. Then to bed.

August 7 – Yachats to Reedsport – 50 miles

We had another late start. But the first thing on tap was the climb over Cape Perpetua. It was blessedly short and there was virtually no traffic! The day was overcast again, but reasonably warm. We saw Devil’s Churn there. After about 10 miles we arrived at Heceta Head lighthouse and stopped to tour it. We met a pair of father-son teams who were riding tandems down the coast as we walked up to the light. Then we made the mistake of agreeing to a tour. We thought it would be 10 minutes max. After 20 minutes of listening to the volunteer’s spiel we still hadn’t gotten to the stairway and there were 2 groups still ahead of us in line. We eventually finished the tour but weren’t happy about spending more than an hour off the bike so early in the day. We got our picture as we prepared to climb back up to Hwy 101. We saw these sea lions at the next pull out.

We rode on to Florence and stopped at Fred Meyer for lunch. We ate at the sand dune behind the store. I climbed it to find lots of sand stretching north and a golf course just to the south. What a weird place! The fathers and sons had stopped at Freddie’s too and we discovered they’d taken the Sea Lion Cave tour. We should have done that instead of Heceta Head.

By now we just wanted to get riding. We still had half our ride in front of us. And it turned out it was the half with all the real climbing. We did lots of long hills and finally dropped down to Reedsport. We got an early night’s sleep to prepare for our longest day of the year.

August 8 – Reedsport to Eugene – 97 miles

We got up early. I lubed the bike, then we packed up and headed for breakfast. I got blueberry pancakes the size of Texas. Sheila helped me finish them. Then we stocked up on water and headed for Smith River Road.

Click to see image enlargedIt’s a logging road that winds up over the coast range to Eugene. We figured that it would be quiet on a Saturday and boy was it! We were only passed by one car going our direction once we left the county maintained portion about 13 miles from Reedsport. The road had moss on it. That’s how quiet it was. The river was pretty though. We saw a sign telling us we were still on Smith River Rd and that Eugene was 49 miles away.

Nine miles later we were at an intersection. Smith River Road went right. South Sister Road went left. The sign saying Eugene was connected to South Sister and it said 48 miles. Huh? We were confused and flagged down a truck which happened along. As I asked the driver directions, Sheila shouted, “Look who it is!”

It was my niece and nephew, Jacquie and Ben, Chris’ kids. We were stunned. So were they. They were camping down the road and had come to the intersection to direct friends to their campsite. Instead, they found us. Better still, they knew where we should go and told us. South Sister Rd, here we come! They also refilled our water bottles. Believe me, there were no stores on this road.

Now we had some serious climbing to do. We did a 2-3 mile climb and ended up at another intersection. We guessed it was time to descend, and so we did. It was fast and fun, but we weren’t completely sure we were going in the right direction. After several miles we found a wooden map that confirmed we were headed on the right road to Crow and Eugene.

We still had to deal with Wolf Creek Road, though. This was a pair of climbs that challenged riders on the 2003 NW Tandem Rally. It was getting hot and we were running dry. I was getting very tired of my view from the front of the bike. We got to Crow rolling on fumes. We refreshed ourselves at the general store there. We were lucky because it was due to close shop at the end of the month. Then we started the last 15 miles to Eugene.

We caught the Amazon Trail and had a pleasant ride through town. A single led us to the River Trail which would take us to my brother Chris’ house. It was a welcome sight. We called it a century, even though our friends Steve and Denise would have insisted on riding 3 more miles.
We visited with Chris and Marcy that evening and saw Marcy’s new place.

August 9 – Driving to Crater Lake

Before we left Eugene, we visited with our friends Larry and Luna, founders of Coconut Bliss frozen dessert. We had a nice lunch and Bliss Bars. I took Luna on a tandem spin. Larry gave us t-shirts. We are big fans. Then we drove to Crater Lake. It was a little hazy due to local forest fires. We  headed for our cabin to repack our gear to get ready for a challenging ride, but one without the 45 pounds of baggage we carried down the coast.

August 10 – Crater Lake Rim – 32 miles – 3379’ elevation gainClick to see image enlarged

The morning was clear and cold. We ate cold berry pie for breakfast and headed for the Park HQ to start our ride. Mind you, we were starting at 6500’ above sea level. And our first climb of the day started from the parking lot and was 600’ in less than 3 miles. But it was already warm enough to ride bare-legged.

We met three women unloading their singles for a trip around the rim as we started off. They were in primary-colored Livestrong jerseys. I called them Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Really they were Rachelle (yellow), Melinda (blue), and Louise (red). One of them passed us on that first climb and we played leap frog all day long.

When we got to the crater we discovered the night had blown away all the smoke from the caldera. The lake was in its full glory. We got many pictures of Wizard’s Island. Click to see image enlarged

But pictures can’t do this lake justice. You have to see it to believe it. It is the deepest lake in the US and 7th deepest in the world. We are thinking it would be great to come back here for a week sometime so we can really explore all it has to offer from hiking trails to a tour boat on the lake.

The route alternated between long, slow climbs and breathtakingly fast descents. We lost track of Huey, Dewey and Louie halfway through the day. Somewhere in there we got this view of the Phantom Ship. But after two three-mile descents at more than 45 mph, we caught them again a half mile from the Park HQ. It was great to finish in a pack.

Click to see image enlargedWe drove back to Chris’ place, visited with our friend Karin, then headed back to Seattle on the 12th. On the way we saw my old college roomie, Rick Hammond and his new place in Amity. We also visited with my mom in Portland.

It was a fabulous trip. I highly recommend the Rim Loop to anyone strong enough to cycle it. The cars were courteous on the narrow roads and the scenery was unsurpassed.

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