The Oregon Coast
Cornwall in a Straight Line
Sat back taking a well-earned rest day in the town of Gold Beach on the Oregon coast I was thinking back over the past few days on the road. Eight long days south through rainforest and along the coastline that at times been brutal – rain, sleet, hail, gale force winds; but with a day of sun and some pleasant company thrown in for good measure.
The Oregon coastline is incredible. I can best describe it as all the best bits of Cornwall and the South West, in a straight line, and with a beautifully smooth (for the most part) highway running its length. But look away from the coastline for a moment and the forest presents a unique beauty of its own. A Rainforest as which it had frequently been referred and that became apparent rolling through the hills across south east Washington. Something I hadn’t seen before, needless to say rather radically different to the tropical rainforests of Brazil I had been riding through earlier in the year, but truly spectacular and seemingly endless as we rolled through more and more of this temperate rain forest on route across Washington and to the coast.
It entertains me to reflect and write ‘long days’, they have been long, and pretty tough, particularly spinning into a headwind and struggling to even average 8mph! They say the prevailing wind is north westerly along the coastline here. What they don’t however tell you is that the winter storms come in from the south-west… The entertainment comes from how in my head, with the relics of my flat-out lightweight mentality, the total distance covered since departing from Portland doesn’t seem to cut it for declaring long, and eight, days in the same sentence! Amusement aside the riding has been incredible and I rolled into town fatigued and ready for a rest.
After hitting the coastline, passing the village of Depoe Bay, who proudly declared themselves as the Worlds Smallest Harbour, the next town of Newport made for a fitting end to a shorter than planned day. A couple of necessary bike repairs in the shelter of a cliff-top summerhouse of sorts meant an afternoon that would have amounted to little over an hour of riding before dark – given that yet another squall was hitting hard on the tin roof this was more than enough of an excuse to stay put for the evening, enjoy the views and dry out.
The weather front passed over in the night and as the sun rose behind the town of Newport, Oregon – incidentally an infinitely more pleasant and inviting Newport than the South Walian namesake I’d grown up fairly close to! – the first and only clear dry day on the coastline was about to begin. A day of stunning scenery, somehow in the right place at the right time to make the most of it.
Leaving behind a 5 star bivi shelter for a day that started across Yaquina Bay. Crossing one of the many bridges on the Oregon coastal highway, Yaquina Bay Bridge was very much in keeping with the other masterpieces of the coastal highway. Credited to the engineer Conde McCullough, a fore runner in the US of designing structures for aesthetics as much as function; a notion that makes the highway much of what it is today.
As the route down the 101 progressed, the bike route signed in its entirety took in welcomed breaks from the traffic where minor roads, often the old coast road, wound their way along the cliffs in an ever-southerly direction. The rugged coastline with its basalt outcrops made way for the huge dunes at Siltcoos and on to the tamer beaches to the south of Battle Rock at Port Oford.
Gold Beach is a charming little town not least made all the more inviting by a local Pastor who opened up his church hall for us to make camp in for a couple of nights, to hide from the weather and take a well earned shower!
The weather can often make or break the enjoyment of a day on the bike. The Oregon coastline was incredible but tough with the storms that seemed to be backed up in succession! Perhaps fairly similar to being back in the UK and quite possibly the reasoning behind my analogy with Cornwall and the South West but at the end of the day I have been sat here pedalling south in what is now December! Spirits are on a high and definitely looking forward to some more sun further south!
Despite the season and the elements that seemed beset on attacking us, somehow the photos from Oregon were some of the better I’d managed to take in North America having felt like I’d been stuck in something of a lull recently! It certainly helps to be in an area worth photographing; and perhaps also helped by some renewed inspiration no doubt building on the week of sun I’d invested in before leaving British Columbia. Which reminds me – I still haven’t tidied up the post from Hawaii as yet.
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