Day four on the ‘People’s Coast’ – From sea lions to sand dunes

Day four on the ‘People’s Coast’ – From sea lions to sand dunes

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The view from Neptune Scenic Viewpoint was out-of-this-world.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


After a rest day Wednesday (when I managed to sample some of Newport’s finest singletrack mountain bike trails — more on that in a separate post), the Amgen People’s Coast Classic continued its southward journey in earnest today. Our ride started out in Yachats on a section of the Oregon Coast Bike Route that could have been mistaken for the Road to Hana in Maui. But before getting started on today’s ride, I have to share a photo of last night’s fiery sunset in Yachats…

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Between Yachats and North Bend, the Oregon Coast put on a dramatic display. The cliffs and lush forests of Cape Perpetua and Heceta Head offered out-of-this-world views (in fact, one of the beach areas was actually called Neptune). We watched a pod of surfing sea lions, then browsed the huge gift shop at the Sea Lion Caves.

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Early morning light on colorful Yachats storefronts.
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It was in this area where I came upon the newly paved shoulders that were the subject of our coverage last month. The smooth, freshly paved shoulders were very nice to ride on. I found myself feeling very grateful that Jeff Smith raised his concerns about ODOT’s paving job and that the agency responded so quickly…

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As we left the coast, we entered the city of Florence and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Being my first time on this part of the coast, I was surprised about two things: How massive these sand dunes are, and how many lakes are in this area. Some of my discoveries included: the thriving, historic Old Town district of Florence; the idlyllic Lake Tahkenitch; the ghost town that is modern-day Gardiner; eating Unger’s Fish and Chips on a boat in Winchester Bay; and Clear Lake, which I got to by riding 1/4 mile down railroad tracks…

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Eating at Unger’s.
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Clear Lake exploration

As we approached North Bend, ride organizers had set up shuttles in order to take us safely across the Coos Bay Bridge. Ride Director Tai Lee said the bridge is simply too long and too dangerous to ride on. Instead of taking a risk, his policy is to shuttle all the riders over in motor vehicles. To me, this is a very disappointing reality about the Oregon Coast Bike Route: How can we have a state-managed transportation facility that doesn’t allow equal access to people riding bicycles?

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Coos Bay Bridge conditions

No good options.

Once we got into camp (the outfield of the Clyde Allen Ball Field in North Bend), everyone settled into their usual rituals. Rest was taken, another excellent meal was served by CravePDX Catering, and everyone came together for announcements. One ritual I’ve come to enjoy on this ride is the tradition of “road donations.” This entire event is focused on raising money to fight arthritis. Everyone on the ride had to raise a minimum amount just to be here; but the fundraising doesn’t stop once the ride starts. That’s where road donations come in. Each night after dinner, riders share stories of money they raised from people they met on the road. The stories are inspiring and heartwarming, and they show what a powerful force for good bicycles — and more importantly the people that ride them — can be.

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Louise Baltes hands over a $3 road donation to ride director Tai Lee.

Tomorrow should be another stellar ride. About 70 miles to Arizona Beach with many of them off Highway 101. Stay tuned for more reporting from the road. And by the way, I’ll plan to put all my thoughts about ODOT and highway riding conditions into one post. Thanks for following along so far!

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