Getting started this morning was a struggle. Dallas and I didn’t roll out until almost 11am, then stopped less than a mile down the road at the grocery store for another 20-30 minutes before we really hit the road. I think the long days and miles without much rest in between has been wearing on us, and it has been tough to motivate ourselves out and onto our bikes for another long ride. Personally, I have been dealing with some knee pain and saddle sores, while Dallas has struggled with an ingrown toenail and mental challenges. Miles have been going by painstakingly slowly lately.
Fortunately, it was another beautiful day, and it’s hard not to be happy out in the sunshine. The traffic and hills were not too bad today, and after lunch we got to experience riding down the Avenue of Giants, through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We stopped about halfway through our ride in the quaint town of Rio Dell, where we had amazing Mexican food at Tonetta’s. The Avenue of the Giants took us off the highway and into the forest, where it grew darker and cooler under the super tall redwood trees.
The Avenue also took us through a small town called Redcrest, where we made one last stop for hydration and a bathroom break. The lady working at the shop where I bought some lemonade asked in a hoarse voice if I thought it would be a good idea for people who use bicycles for transportation to be required to have registration and insurance. I’m curious to know what other people think of this, but I like that bicycling is accessible to people of all ages and income levels, and I’m afraid requiring registration and insurance would only be an obstacle to discourage cycling. I do think that it’s a good idea to teach cycling to kids in schools like they do in other countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark. Maybe having them pass a course in school so they can earn a license to ride will make cycling more popular as a transportation method. As for insurance, I all insurance is generally a rip-off.
We continued through the forest until Burlington Campground, after having gone just about 50 miles. Dallas and I had just enough time to pitch our tent before needing our headlamps to see. Now, under these giant trees, it is really quite dark. Our campsite is pretty close to the road, but hopefully traffic will be light enough for us to get a good sleep. I think we’re both so tired that it probably wouldn’t matter anyway.
Today was a long day. I have so much trouble finding comfort in the tent, I hardly ever get a good sleep when we camp. Last night was no exception. We had chosen to camp about halfway between Eugene and Reedsport, and in between there were absolutely no services of any kind. Our morning started off with a climb up to the Oxbow Summit. We literally started going uphill about a mile into our ride, and we didn’t have any water or a way to treat or filter water. Dallas kept a slow pace, trying to conserve energy, and for once I spent most of the day leading the way, feeling great for how little sleep I had the night before.
Four and half miles later, we reached a clearcut area of forest where loggers were working. Shortly beyond the logging operation was an RV, and as we pulled up to it a woman stepped out to greet us. After we asked if there would be anywhere to get water up ahead, she offered to give us some water. We are so grateful for this, because we still hadn’t reached the top of Oxbow hill and we weren’t going to see anywhere to get water for another 40 miles. We talked to the woman and her husband for a few minutes – they were watching after the logging equipment while the workers were off duty, and had been in that spot for about 6 weeks already. It’s kind of sad to see them cutting down the trees, but apparently this area that is being logged was burnt in a forest fire in 1966 and is all second growth forest within the last 50 years.
We finally reached Oxbow Summit, and from there most of our ride was relatively flat, but we weren’t through the hills just yet. We stopped for lunch, which consisted of an apple with almond butter, cheese, hazelnuts we gleaned from a farm a few days ago, and chocolate. My stomach was grumbling again probably thirty minutes later. Even though we were both starving at mile 25, we agreed to wait until mile 40 before eating the rest of our food, but at mile 38, there was a nice spot to sit off the road, in the sun, and halfway up a pretty steep hill. We finished off our last two packets of tuna salad and the rest of our crackers, and one more baby bel of cheese each. Halfway down the other side of this hill, about a mile after we stopped to eat, there was a little convenience store.
We were still in a zone without phone service or internet, but there was an ATM here. We tried to take out $80, but the machine returned $4. It was filled with one dollar bills instead of twenties! Thankfully, the lady at the store apologized for this and replaced the ones with twenties for us. After refueling on water, sugar and caffeine, Dallas was a rocket. I could not keep up with him for the rest of the day. I had been feeling like my legs have gotten much stronger in the last few days, and the rest day really helped. Now I felt deflated and wanted to give up. Dallas stayed with me though, and we made it to the end of Smith River Road where it met up with Pacific Coast Highway 101.
Turning south onto this road, we had made it to Reedsport! We made a stop a Safeway to stock up on more food, and by this time it was dark. Dallas had told me about a lighthouse he really liked when he was riding down the coast two years ago, and it just so happens that we were only 5 miles from that lighthouse. Also coincidentally, we ended up getting there exactly two years to the day after Dallas had visited it himself! The Umpqua Lighthouse is pretty awesome. It’s also impossible to photograph so I’ll just have to describe it (but you really have to see it to appreciate how cool it is). We had to climb a nasty hill in the dark to get to it. It’s bright red and white beams of light point downwards to the ocean below, and rotate like a carousel, hitting the trees behind it.
Now we are camping in the same spot that Dallas camped two years ago, and are once again the only hiker/bikers at this campsite. There is a constant howling or whistling of some sort in the background. The wind, maybe? The lighthouse? After a long day of cycling over 62 miles of hilly forest roads, I just hope I sleep better tonight!
Even though I don’t know if it was totally necessary due to stormy weather, Dallas and I were able to take advantage of our time off the bikes on Tuesday. That evening it was so nice, we went for a 4 mile run to get our legs moving (and to compensate for eating a cinnamon roll, donut, and pizza earlier in the day).
The next morning our bodies were feeling refreshed, and we finally had a tail wind! In order to make up for lost time and get to San Francisco as soon as possible, we decided to abandon the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway and head to the coast straight from where we were. We made it through 23 miles of flat farmland with the wind at our backs in less than 2 hours. In Harrisburg, we filled our bellies with breakfast food at Jake’s Cafe and split a slice of bumbleberry pie. The next few miles went by quickly as well, then we stopped to stock up on groceries at Safeway in Junction City. It’s god that we stopped, because we didn’t ride by any other food for the rest of the day.
Eventually, we turned onto Wolf Creek Road, which led us into the Siuslaw National Forest. Wolf Creek Road also made me wish I had done a few more rides up to the summit of the White Pass when we were living in Skagway. The first two and a half miles of this road basically winded up a mountain. It was only a third the elevation of the White Pass, and I’m sure it wasn’t as steep, but it felt a lot harder with all the weight of our panniers and steel bike frames. We also started riding uphill after already having ridden 50 miles that day. We had been making great time all day, riding 16-17 miles per hour for some stretches. Before we turned onto Wolf Creek Road, I thought we would be able to cover 70 miles easily. Now I was having my doubts.
Fortunately, the 4 miles of downhill made up for the treacherous climb, and the next uphill didn’t seem quite as bad. This was probably the most beautiful part of our ride, and I really wanted to stop to take photos but was going too fast downhill. The sun was at the perfect angle to illuminate the tall trees on one side of the road as we descended for the second time. We had covered 64 miles by the time we found a good place to pitch our tent for the night. We have a few more climbs awaiting us tomorrow as we make our way over the coastal mountain range and to the coast.
As we lay in our tent, silence is broken by a strange, loud half-howl. There is movement outside, not far from where we lay. Maybe the spot we chose to sleep tonight is less than ideal? There’s no phone service or wifi for miles around us, so if this post gets published, then we made it out of the forest!