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Day 15 - September 2, 2010

Waldport to North Bend, Oregon
Miles: 84
Terrain: Lots of climbing, some tough ones in there
Weather: Warm, sunny, light coastal breeze...basically perfect conditions

Today the weather was supposed to be great, so I got up early (for me) and set off at about 9:30am, intending to get in as much biking as possible and basically milk it for all it's worth. The first hour or so was relatively easy, with a few minor climbs, so easy that I'd finished 10 miles before even reaching for the water bottle or even thinking about the fact that I'd been out riding for nearly an hour. The views of the beach and coastline were to blame, distracting me with views like this one here:

After taking this picture I had my first real climb of the day, about a mile or so, and looking back from one spot on the road I was able to see the spot I'd just taken the previous picture. Here it is again from a bit higher:

Now, I can understand wanting to live on beachfront property, but what's the point of building a house when all that's out there are huge rocks that would tear you to pieces if you tried swimming near them? Even so, they are pretty nice looking homes. Maybe the constant sound of the pounding surf puts some people to sleep, and admittedly it's cool to listen to for short periods, but I think it would drive me crazy if it went on all the time nonstop.

Anyway, riding on, I came to another scenic overlook that proclaimed this little cove to be "Devil's Churn," a spot where during high tides and storms the sea gushes and sprays out of the crack there on the bottom right. Well, I missed the high tide and was perfectly happy to not be here during a storm, but even so the site was pretty cool looking. There was a path down there and you could walk around on the rocks, but I decided to pass. One rogue wave would leave me soaking (I'm pretty sure that happened to at least one person while I was looking on).

Here's a picture of a short span of historic bridgework I crossed over a bit later. There are tons of historic bridges along the coast in Oregon. Many were built in the early 1900s, and according to the sign I read, the rebar inside the concrete has corroded over time due to salt water seeping in through cracks. The result is bridges that were basically falling to pieces. Well, a few years ago, workmen went through and replaced all the rebar, but to keep the corrosion from coming back they plated it with a zinc coating that would take the brunt of the salt water seepage. In about 50 years, so I'm told, the zinc will need to be replaced, but that's comparatively easy. Anyway, it made me feel a bit safer knowing I could cross these bridges safely, especially considering the sheer number of them around the state.

There were plenty more scenic spots to stop and take pictures. Some were in state parks, like this one here, which (as you can see in the lower right) included a walking path to take visitors down to the rocky coastline.

More climbing followed. Remember yesterday, when I said I knew there would be a series of nasty climbs just south of where I stopped for the day? This turned out to be all too true. The previous hill proved to just be a taste of what I could expect to encounter the rest of the day. However, with every good climb there seemed to be great views, like this here.

There was a bit of fog still clinging to the coast in some places this morning, but since it was low and not cluttering up the skies with that awful grayness, the pictures actually look pretty good.

A little bit farther along and up another hill, there was yet another lighthouse, but this time they wanted money to go have a look at it. Well, I've already seen plenty of lighthouses on the coast for free, so why pay to see another? Besides which, a good picture of it was just a short distance down the road.

After this it was off to climb another hill. There was a tunnel this time, getting me through the first part, but the road just kept on going up afterwards for quite some time. Why is it I always hit these tunnels going uphill, never downhill? It seemed to take forever to get through that narrow, dangerous hole. Fortunately only two cars came along and there was no oncoming traffic when they passed. I never know if they see me or not.

At the top of the hill was yet another scenic viewpoint and I met a very nice couple, about my parents' age and doing what my parents should be doing, namely traveling a lot and spending my inheritance. They were on their way north and warned me about some more hills that would be coming my way shortly. Very nice people, actually. I've met a lot of nice folks on this ride...they always want to know how far I've come, and where I'm heading, but most of the time they aren't really all that surprised--too many people riding the coast, I guess, that it's no longer such a big deal around here. But I digress. Anyway, I was able to arrange to have this photo taken, and hey look at that in the background there, it's that lighthouse they wanted me to pay money to visit.

Have I lost weight? I don't think so, but maybe a bit. Certainly the gut isn't sticking out there as much as I remember. Oh, also, take note of that helmet. This is the last time you'll be seeing it. The chin strap was giving me trouble (as it has many times before) and you can see how far it's letting the helmet ride back on my head. Well, quite simply, if I had a crash with it like that, it wouldn't do much of anything to protect me unless I happened to fall off backwards (not likely). So I had it in mind to replace it, eventually, though I wasn't in as big a hurry as I should've been. I have a real tendency to let things wear out completely, rather than replace them before they break...anyone who's seen my car knows just what I'm talking about.

Anyway, we'll get back to that later. Here's another picture from that same viewpoint, only this time without some annoying camera hog blocking the shot.

Random Wildlife Photo: While up here, I spotted some shapes in the water below, and zoomed in on them to take this shot. I'm pretty sure they're seals playing in the surf, but they could just as easily be sea lions. Every now and then when they surfaced, I could hear them making barking sounds, but I can't tell the difference between the calls of seals and sea lions, so I'll just content myself with it being one or the other.

One more picture from up here, looking south. This was a tough climb, so I feel like I earned several photos this time.

The road descended for a bit and then climbed up again, giving me a couple more opportunities for scenic pictures. I like how the rock below looks like it's been snapped off the main shoreline and needs to be shoved back into place.

At the top of this climb was a tourist trap called "Sea Lion Caves," which are supposedly the largest sea caves in the world. Well, I was about 700 feet above sea level and in no mood to descend all that way just to pay to stick my head in some wet holes in the mountain, so I rode on. I'm sure they were very nice, but I wasn't interested. Besides which, a bit farther down the road, once again I found I could snap a picture of them for free. Check out the caves along the waterline:

And yeah, I was pretty high up there. By this point my legs were getting tired of all the climbing, and fortunately the road cooperated by heading down to the town of Florence and then flat for a bit. Just before I completely left that area, I took one last picture of the rocky coast.

Approaching Florence, there was a loud BANG from my front wheel and that was all she wrote for the worn-out front tire and inner tube. You might recall I mentioned a couple of days ago that I knew that tire was getting worn and was happy to find a bike shop to buy a spare. Well, time to put it on. This is another case of me probably waiting too long, as I'd noticed yesterday there was a rough spot on the tire's facing. That tire has, however, outlasted about 5 rear tires so I figured it was good for a few more days. I should've just swapped it out right there and saved myself an inner tube. Oh well, at least it blew on a flat stretch of road and not some tough climb or, even worse, a screaming descent.

After a 30 minute break to replace the tire, I was cooled off and hungry so I found a McDonalds, ordered lunch, washed my hands repeatedly (they were almost black from all the grit involved in changing a flat), and had a bite to eat. Then, to my amazement, just a mile or so down the road I found a bike shop where I could pick up yet another spare tire. (If you're counting, that's 2 rear and 1 front tire replaced on this trip so far.) Plus, while I was there, I got a new helmet. I'm pretty sure I've had that old helmet for something like 10 years. When the shop owner looked at it, he told me if I'd ever wrecked, I might as well have been wearing nothing at all. There were several cracks in it, it sat back too far on my head, and the straps were so loose it probably would've flown off on impact anyway. So I left, out some money but feeling much safer (and fortunate to have not had an accident so far, knock on wood).

The ride from there went over some less daunting hills, mostly passing an area of the coast called the Dunes National Recreational Area, which was mostly obscured by trees and hills to my right, but I could often hear the drone of ATV engines over there. There were also literally dozens of places to rent dune buggies, sand boards, ATVs and the like, as well as advertisements for races and other contests. I never did get a good look at any of that, though. Not that I could've done much in the dunes, as road bicycles don't do well in sand. They mostly just stop moving and fall over.

In amidst the hills there were two more vicious climbs waiting for me. The first was this one, which basically just went over an inland hill, giving me a couple of nice views of actual non-coastal terrain:

How about that house right there on the edge of the lake? You could probably cast a fishing line right out the window of that place.

One last major climb of the day awaited, this one near Winchester Bay. Just before getting there, I ran into three guys on bikes, each of which was towing a Burley trailer. I tried a trailer once back on my big cross country ride and didn't really like it, but these were different....they had two wheels instead of one, and instead of connecting directly to the rear hub, the bar attaches from an angle. I guess that's easier on the bike's back wheel, because none of these riders had ever experienced the kind of spoke breaking issues I used to have. The other advantage of a trailer is there's almost no weight pushing down on the bike so it doesn't get too stressed out. Still, when I met them they'd just fixed a flat, so you never know. I'll have to re-evaluate my stance on trailers after I finish this ride.

Anyway, starting up the hill I came to a turn-off to visit the Umpqua State Lighthouse, so of course I had to check it out, only to find the road to it descended all the way back down the whole way I'd come up. This is a look at the bay and its conspicuous angled jetty that, according to the sign I read, made the area excellent for clamming.

This is the actual lighthouse, but you can't go inside or take any tours or anything. According to the sign there, the site is still occupied and people live in those homes you see on the edge of the picture. So all I could do was look at it and move on, back up that darn hill.

Here's one last picture of the lighthouse and the bay beyond, as well as the trees that surrounded the entire site. I could've camped here, but I had my heart set on getting to North Bend or Coos Bay (they're right next to each other) and staying in a cheap hotel, seeing as I expect to be camping all weekend. With Labor Day coming up, hotel prices will be outrageous.

So finally I reached North Bend, and here we have yet again another long, narrow, historic Oregon bridge, this one stretching about 2 miles across Coos Bay and into town. Notice that it's not flat, either. The climb was fairly strenuous, and nerve-wracking seeing as there was no shoulder and halfway over they were doing construction on the pedestrian walkway, giving me no room for error. Again, I was a bit lucky as no gigantic trucks or RVs decided to pass me the whole crossing, but still I was too nervous to even try stopping for a picture.

Just over the bridge there was a tiny hotel advertising a rate of $47 (the second cheapest I've seen this trip) so I jumped all over that. The place didn't look like much, but the room had a full size fridge, a microwave, stove, cabinets, and basically looked like a mini apartment in pretty much every way. You never can tell with these places. I tried a local pizza place (Gino's) for dinner, and it was excellent, and now I'm full and tired and heading to bed.

Oh, one last thing, I'm over halfway through Oregon now. California, here I come!

Continue to Day 16

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