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Three Days on the Iron Horse Trail part 1

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Setting off

Loaded Atlantis at Jefferson Park

This year I’m not going to be able to do any extended touring, so I’m attempting to make the most of three-day weekends and overnight trips.  As I’ve noted in these pages it has been quite warm this spring so when Memorial Day Weekend rolled around I finally decided to do a trip I’ve been planning for years: ride a good chunk of the Iron Horse Trail.  Iron Horse State Park is a narrow park that surrounds the trail which runs from Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend to the Columbia River following the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad. More than 100 miles of trail extends from the trailhead at Cedar Falls to the Columbia River.  The railroad of course continues on past the Columbia and so does the trail, though it is not a state park and is run by the DNR. Reportedly it’s quite primitive and more of a horse camping route.

Iron Horse Trail West

Iron Horse Trail Western Side Map (pdf)

I chose to ride to the trailhead though I seriously considered taking the bus to North Bend in order to maximize my time on the trail. It is a pretty decent journey to North Bend from Seattle with much more up and down and steep climbs then on the trail itself. But if I can ride I like to and in the end I decided that it’d be nice to do some road riding along with the many miles of gravel trail I’d be on (for a recent report on a multi-modal IHT trip, check out this Seattle Bike Blog post: Bus-bike-backpacking on the IHT).

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Trolly in Issaquah

Issaquah Valley Trolley

Hobo ArtAs usual I got off a little later than planned, but I still pretty quickly got into touring mode.  I followed the usual route following the Mountains to Sound Greenway to Issaquah where I stopped to eat lunch. I had packed some sandwiches and I stopped at Issaquah’s Depot Park to eat it. Well while I was there I found the Issaquah Valley Trolley up and running and an art exhibit in the Depot Museum from Shaun Doll that utilized the symbols that hobos used to communicate: Hobos and Homelessness. I didn’t end up riding the trolley, but I did spend some time checking out the art and the railroad exhibits. I’ve encountered hobo signs before in various places and interestingly enough had just been discussing come that had shown up near the Columbia St. onramp in Pioneer square near where I work.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Atlantis on the Preston Snoqualmie Trail

On the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

From Issaquah I followed the Issaquah-Preston Trail which is a hard packed gravel trail that runs along I-90 to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail which is paved and heads northeast-ish, both of which I’ve ridden many times. Now the real missing link in the Mountains to Sound Greenway which I’m pretty much following all the way is from this trail to the Upper Snoqualmie Valley trail which connects to the Iron Horse Trail.  There are basically three options: ride along I-90 for a stretch, descend into the Snoqualmie Valley and take the lower Snoqualmie Valley Trail, or work your way up Snoqualmie Ridge and then into Snoqualmie. The short, but steepest, route is up onto Snoqualmie Ridge and this time Google Maps hooked me up with a route through there. You exit the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail at Alice Lake road and ride the very (very) steep road up to the Lake. The road dead ends around the lake but Google Maps had routed me onto a power line trail the connects to a housing development trail network on Snoqualmie Ridge.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Wetland

Wetlands near Alice Lake

It was at this point that I encountered the only real snafu of the day: I went the wrong way on this trail.  Google Maps was very ambiguous, with just a Turn left off of the road that I was on. But it curved around and it wasn’t clear whether they were including this curve and then the turn on the trail in which case the direction wasn’t clear. I have a strong sense of direction, but since I’d gone on a winding road up to Lake Alice and then perhaps two-third’s of the way around the lake and I didn’t know what GM was doing, I made the wrong choice. I basically took this power line trail, which became increasingly rough, almost all the way back to where the Preston-Snoqualmie trail crosses the Preston-Fall City Road. At that point I consulted a map app and figured out what I’d done wrong and backtracked. Once I got back to where I should have been it turned out to be less than a mile on this trail before exiting onto the nicely paved Snoqualmie Ridge Trails.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - On a powerline trail

Powerline Trail

PreprohibitionPilsnerThe downside of climbing up to Snoqualmie Ridge is that you have climbed quite hight and then you take a screaming descent into Snoqualmie. This of course is altitude that you will slowly regain as you work your way up the pass. If you take the Snoqualmie Trail from the valley you don’t do this superfluous climbing. But it is more circuitous and longer (and you still descend from Preston into the valley). The trail interests Snoqualmie’s Centennial trail, a short trail that runs almost from the Falls into town. This trail would be the continuation of the Preston-Snoqualmie trail if they were still running a tourist steam engine on the chunk of the line that runs by the falls. I got into Snoqaulmie around 3:30, a bit later than planed, and was tired and hungry enough from the extra riding that I went straight to the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery for some snacks and beverages. I was quite pleased to see that the brewery had their summer beer, a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner, which is one of my favorite beers when I’m really thirsty. I’m not much of a lager fan but there is so much more character in this pre-prohibition recipe which since they brew it with ale yeast might be why I like it so much…

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - River Crossing

Crossing the Snoqualmie River

After recuperating at the brewery it was a pretty quick jaunt around Snoqualmie and the backroads to North Bend (home of the Double R) where I connected onto the upper Snoqualme Valley Trail. From here on out I’d be riding on gravel with a very slight grade.  It’s nicely hardpacked gravel and that grade is slight, but the combination of the two means that you never make as good of time as you think you would. I was needing to make good time at this point as I was well behind my itinerary due to the late start, the wrong turn and the unplanned stop at the brewery.  You ride through some far flung suburb’s, cross the Snoqualmie River and then into the woods up to Rattlesnake Lake. The Cedar Falls Trailhead, the western terminus of the Iron Horse Trail, is on the north edge of Rattlesnake Lake.  Nearby is the Cedar River Watershed environmental center which is the last tapwater you will find until you are across the pass. I filled up my bottles, as well as an extra 2-litre bladder and finally set of on the Iron Horse Trail.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Major Trestle crossing

Trestle Crossing on the Iron Horse Trail

This was an overcast day in contrast to the last few weeks and as I climbed into the mountains I reached into these clouds which streamed down the spring green slopes.  The light was dwindling and with few exceptions the remaining people on the trail were all heading west back home.  The trail was nicely packed gravel and the large ballast the used to be on all the trestles had been removed and could be found in large piles on either end.  Several sections along this first part of the route are shear rock walls that are popular climbing destinations. Most of these were empty at this late hour, though I saw a few climbers heading home. The trail slowly climbs until I-90, which it pretty well parallels, is far below.  The wash of traffic though was always present, sometimes more distant, but always in the background.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Clouds rolling down the hills above I-90

Clouds streaming down the mountains above I-90

There are four campgrounds, two on either side of the Pass, each pair fairly close to each other. I’d planned to go to the second campground on the western side, to get a jump on the next days ride, but by the time I reached Alice Creek Campground, the westernmost ‘ground, it was late enough I called it a day. All of the campgrounds are primitive with no running water but are all next to a creek. In this case though it was quite a hike down to Alice Creek. So I did all my cooking and cleanup with the water I had lugged up (and I had lugged up enough for breakfast the next day as well) and as the light truly failed I hung up my food from an old telegraph pole across the trail.  I made it into my tent just a bit after 10pm, after a long day.

Memorial Day Mini-Tour Day 1 - Alice Springs Campground

Alice Creek Campground


Grey skies
reach down
envelope green hills

Miles ridden today: 63
Photographs:  this day/all days

October Overnighter

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Autumn Overnighter - Shrouded Rainier

Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds

Since returning from tour I haven’t had a lot of chances to get out in the (nearly) always beautiful PNW Autumn.  My bicycle needed a bunch of work and it took getting into a new place and emptying out my storage unit to have the necessary tools. Then a visit to family out of state took me away during prime early October weather.  On my return – just last Thursday – it looked like persistent rain had moved in early.  Well that forecast changed and it was looking to be just overcast on Saturday clearing up in the evening, with Sunday being mostly clear with temps reaching the low 70s (F).  Reading this post from Cliff Mass I saw that the lows had been unseasonably high and thus I decided an overnighter was in order.
Autumn Overnighter - Ready to ride.

Atlantis - ready to ride

I had decided to embark on this trip pretty late and I did have a couple of final tasks to complete on the bicycle. In the above picture you can see my Atlantis as set out. Since returning from tour I have replaced the Shifters, the pedals, the middle chainring, the chain and the rear derailleur. This morning I replaced the cassette and the rear tire and I was ready to go. Since this was just an overnighter I only needed two meals and a few pieces of off bicycle clothes, so I was able to pack as minimally as possible. In the saddlebag (a Grant Peterson top 5!) I have my sleeping back, inflatable pillow, Trangia cook set, rain gear and the off bicycle clothes. In the basket I have my air mattress and my Grab Sack (another top 5!) with my camera, journal, iPad Mini and such in it. In my Hobo Bag (best h’bar bag ever) I stuffed in my toiletries and food bag. Strapped on the back rack is my tent with the poles along the top tube. Pretty amazing how light a load camping requires for just one night.
Autumn Overnighter - Clearing up

clearing up

It had rained that morning but by mid-afternoon the clouds were breaking up. I had decided to camp at Fay Bainbridge Park on Bainbridge Island. This is the closest campground to Seattle and it’s really close – I rode 12 miles to the campground. This has it’s positive side – I left around 2:30 and on a day when it is dark by 6:30 that meant I was able to setup and cook while it was still light. Of course I would prefer a bit more of a ride when I have more time, but there is no reason one could ride clockwise around the Island from the ferry terminal and get in those miles. But on this day the late departure, plus the ferry trip and 7-8 miles on the island worked out just fine.
Autumn Overnighter - Camping in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

The campground has an upper area with walk-in camping and a lower area with sites under the hill and along the beach. There is an electronic pay station down there where I paid for the hiker/biker site, a reasonable US$7. I then proceeded to ride around for half an hour trying to find said h/b site. I never did. I did an internet search and found via Google Books a map of the park which indicated that the h/b area was in the walk in area. As there was no-one camping up there (there was about half a dozen campers on the beach) I just took a space up there. This was a good deal as I was able to utilize the covered picnic tables for cooking. I setup, cooked, and by the time I cleaned up it was pretty dark. I took a cup of green tea to the beach and sat there in the glow from Seattle listened to the gentle surf and the rumble of the passing ferries.

a creaking frog,
the bobbing glow of eyes,
this misty autumn night

Autumn Overnighter - Morning in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

I slept late and took my time making breakfast and packing up and then headed down to the beach. It was a lovely morning with blue skies streaked by torn up clouds. Pretty windy too, with stiff gusts of wind. Since I had left late and took the short route here my plan was to ride around the island before heading home. I’ve ridden Bainbridge plenty of times, but usually (mostly) follow the Chilly Hilly route which circles the island, staying on roads that can support 7000+ cyclists. But on this day I started following Dan Henry’s on the road in the shape of a pie and green arrows painted on the road. These routes took me on narrower roads that dove down to the water and then right back up, across the island and through Fort Ward Park.
Autumn Overnighter - Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

It was such a lovely autumn day, with big gusts of wind blowing leaves all over the road. I finally accomplished something I wanted to do for a long time: I caught a falling leaf while riding alone. A big gust of wind blew a bunch of leaves toward me and without thought I just reached out and caught a large blowing right by me. The Dan Henry’s wended a route on and off the Chilly Hilly route so I saw the usual landmarks: Port Madison, the Bainbridge Island Frog, many views of the Puget Sound and of course mostly took me on the great Bainbridge Island side roads.
Autumn Overnighter - Cormorants all in a row

Cormorants all in a row.

The Dan Henry’s eventually took me on this climb up the middle of the Island and then wound down to Lynnwood which had really been built up since last I was here. I had lunch at the Treehouse Cafe there, a location where I have many times had an ice cream cone but never actually stopped for lunch. Well the food was good and while I had a sandwich it looks like they make a good pizza as well. I walked around Lynnwood a bit checking out all the new shops and restaurants before rejoining the Chilly Hilly Route for a stretch. The Dan Henry’s pretty quickly took me off the route and I ended up riding through Fort Ward – completely new territory for me. Well this former military fort, now a small park right along the edge of the island allows one to ride a bit more along the water. Especially if you continue onto South Beach road after the park.
Autumn Overnighter - Heading up Toe Jam Road. Painted on the road: "Good Luck"

Heading up Toe Jam Hill Road.

Riding the narrow road right on the edge of the island is quite scenic and with the wind blowing out of the south, a nice ride. Of course you do then have to ride up Toe Jam Hill which was by far the steepest hill I’ve ridden on Bainbridge. There are longer hills and plenty of pretty steep hills, but this one took the cake. As you rounded the curve pictured above painted on the road was “Good Luck”. I did make it up the steeped, cracked pavement and after a bit more time on the heavily wooded Toe Jam Road, I turned onto Country Club road which took me back to the Chilly Hilly route which I’d follow for the rest of the day.

One of my favorite spots on Bainbridge Island, is this memorial park with a Tibetan Prayer Wheel. As always I stopped and spun the wheel and took in this peaceful spot. But after leaving the park I rode steadily back, along the Chilly Hilly route primarily, back to Eagle Harbor and the ferry. I needed to be back home before six and while there was still plenty of riding I could have done on Bainbridge, not to mention the quaint little town of Winslow which I’ve never really explored, I headed straight to the ferry terminal. Of course I did end up waiting a bit for the next boat, but I enjoyed the waning day and being on the water. The ride back featured stunning views of a cloud enshrouded Mt. Rainier, big fluffy clouds hovering over the Seattle cityscape and many sailboats out enjoying this windy, beautiful autumn day.
Autumn Overnighter - Clouds Over Seattle

Clouds Over Seattle.

Check out all of my pictures on Flickr: Autumn Overnighter.

Back on the road

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013


I’m back on tour again, another shortish jaunt; this time a bit over a week. I’m heading up to Victoria, B.C. In Canada to see some experimental classical music concerts. I don’t plan to “live blog” this one but I’m thinking I’ll use Track My Tour. So if interested follow along here: Tour into Silence. I will post pics and write-up as per usual upon my return. If you are curious about the concerts I’ll be writing about them on my music blog: Wandelweiser Concert series.

May Micro-Tour

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

May Micro-tour - prepping the Atlantis

Prepping the Atlantis for tour

Mid-May brought the PNW some unseasonably spectacular weather: about ten solid days in the mid-seventies to mid-eigthies fahrenheit. After going through a weekend in the 80s (F) I felt that sweltering in my apartment was all well and good (I took some top notch twilight rides around town) but that I would enjoy the cooler weather of camping out at night. So I spent some time on Google Maps working out a route and packing up some gear. This was Monday May  5th and I decided that I’d leave on Wednesday the 8th — I had some work I needed to get done on the bicycle before setting out. I spent the next day doing this work along with packing and buying of some supplies.

On the bicycle I put my charging system back on, I did a thorough clean of the drive train (plenty of gunk left over from the cross country tour and winter riding), fiddled with the wiring to the rear light, adjusted the front deraillur (there was way too much slack in the cable), cut my kickstand a bit shorter and numerous other minor adjustments. Then I loaded up everything but the food, toiletries and electronics so I’d pretty much be able to depart within about 15 minutes of deciding to do so. I did make some changes to the setup this time around to facilitate some new gear (more on that as the reports progress), primarily moving my tent out of one of the front panniers and onto the free space at the back of the rack.  This did free up sufficient space and worked out well enough. It does make access to the saddle bag a bit of a pain, so I tried to keep things I wouldn’t want during the days ride there (clothes primarily).  I was pretty much all done by dark and ready for the next days departure.

This post will serve as the index for this Micro-Tour and I’ll update it with links to them  as I write posts for each day. These should follow on over the next four days, so stay tuned!

May Micro-Tour
Day 1:  Olympia to Rainbow Falls State Park (report, pics)
Day 2: Rainbow Falls to Grayland Beach State Park (report, pics)
Day 3: Grayland Beach State Park and Westport (reportpics)
Day 4: Grayland Beach to Olympia (reportpics)
Complete tour photo collection: May Micro-tour set on Flickr

An Unexpected Tour

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Tour2011  - Setting off

My Rivendell Atlantis fully loaded and ready to head out on its latest adventure.

At the end of July I was laid off from my job and had moved out of my house – a perfect time to head out on a tour.  I had some obligations to take care of: a family visit, securing a new place, financial stuff and so on so I ended up staying with a friend for a while. Everything wrapped up and my new place unavailable until September 1st, I decided to set off on a nice 2-3 week tour. I hadn’t really planned anything at all, usually I work out details for weeks or months before hand, but in this case I both was too busy with the aforementioned moving and other obligations to do so. I decided that I wanted to visit Mount Rainier and some parts of Eastern Washington I hadn’t down before, so the Adventure Cycling’s new Sierra-Cascades route would be ideal. I got them to send me the first couple of sections which has a route that wends through the Cascades from the Canadian Border all the way to Crater Lake.

I’m setting off in an hour or so and as always will try to blog the trip. I’m planning on short updates for this one with more extensive posts to follow. This route I think will be similar to my Olympic Peninsula route where cell phone access was common but it usually didn’t include the data options, so I’ll be relying more on WiFi in cafes and such. But still will post when I can and will try to upload a few pictures to Flickr in my Tour 2011 set.

Tour 2010 – day 13

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

“it’s still summer!”
Yet the geese are crying —
“Not for long, not for long”.

This pretty much is it; a short day entirely on a Rail-Trail ending at the hostel in Victoria. There are three primary routes to Seattle from Victoria and I’ve done them all. So today has the last bit of new territory before I retrace my steps home.

Cold, cold night
But the babbling brook
Lulled me to sleep

The morning was cold and clear and since it was an easy day I took my time getting ready. I used up the last of my fuel and oatmeal; there is a couple more camp meals left but it’s better to not carry the fuel over the border. The other tourons never got up this whole time and were still asleep when I left.

The Galloping Goose is probably the best rail trail I’ve been on. It’s dirt/gravel most of the way with paved sections at the end but the surface was uniformly excellent. Mostly hardpacked I’ve been on worse chipsealed roads. And the scenery was great; mostly it’s a tree lined corridor but sometimes right on the coast and at others near fields and farms. Of course you are away from cars almost the whole time as well. I enjoy and prefer road riding but a fine trail like this is a treat. The weather had become nice and warm and it was just fine relaxing riding.

It didn’t take too long to ride the thirty miles or so to Victoria even at a super leisurely pace. Once in the city I checked into the hostel and then walked around for a bit on the waterfront. I was of course looking for a brewpub and from the list at the hostel I made the trek to West Vic to go to Spinnakers.

This was a fantastic pub, real English style serving locally brewed English style beers from the traditional hand drawn pumps. I had a very nice ale, a very good and not at all gonzo Double IPA on cask followed by glasses if their excellent stout and rather tepid normal IPA. A good afternoons drinking. Then it was back to the hostel to take care of the business of return.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 33.4
Miles ridden to date: 636.6

Tour 2010 – day 11

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as wet as I was today. It started raining when I went to sleep last night and it hadn’t stopped by the time I got up. This was a real rain too, not just drizzle. It rained while I packed up, rained while I had breakfast, did laundry and other such things to try to wait it out. It was only misting when I actually left town, but I was fully kitted out in my rain gear anticipating it’s return.

The faster I go
The wetter I become
Into forested hills

Todays route was one I worked out using Google Maps and some randoneuring routes and it was through hilly forest land on a road that had only recently been paved. This was amazing riding, all through lush green hills with mist and rain visibly streaming off of them. This scenery was only marred by the clearcutting and logging roads that drove the development of this route. The road was fairly primitive, but traffic was rare and this really struck me as a unique route, one that is not frequently travelled.

Scars on green mountains
Healed only by time
Ripped open again.

The route kept ascending at first but after a washed out bridge (with a crew working on it and a temporary bridge) it became mostly downhill. At this point the rain really picked up soaking me through with the speed of the descents driving the rain. I was following a river now and slowly the lands became less logged and there was campgrounds and points of interest. At Fairy Lake Campground a black bear came bounding out of the woods right across my path. One of very few times I’ve seen a bear in the wild. The river became salt marsh and I was at the ocean, the west coast.

The heart of the island
Green hills and mist
Cut into again and again.

At this point I was as wet as I’ve ever been, everything completely soaked through. So I got a hotel at Port Renfrew, which is little more than a bump in the road and a dock. A shower never felt so good.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 43
Miles ridden to date: 548

Tour 2009: day 13

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Tour 2009: day 13

I awoke to mist, cool air and the incessant, though congenial, chatter from the transient lady a couple sites over. It was going to be a long day so I got myself going in short order. I made a quick stop at the Fred Meyers for batteries so my blinkies would be maximal for all this fog and then headed out of town. Once across the bridge I opted for the official OR route as opposed to the Kirkendall & Spring and ended up down by the harbor. There was a bit of a climb out but  the route was through farmland, near bluffs and quite flat. The K&S for this stretch was on the 101 so I think I made the right choice. After a mere 9 miles or so I returned to 102 and I was in California.

Tour 2009 - day 13-1


I was waved through the fruit check and quickly turned off the highway for ten miles or so in thick fog in rolling countryside. Nice riding, if a bit clammy. Crossing the 101 the route wended through farmland for a good stretch, then more wooded stretches. The fog was burning away and it warmed up a bit. The route continued like this pretty much to the edge of Crescent City . But before entering the city the route skirted the commercial areas and took one last look at the coast for a bit; a stunningly scenic area, Pebble Beach, with sea stacks and tons of broken rocks all sticking up out if the fog. Then it was through residential areas and into the city. I had lunch in Crescent City at the “Pizza King”. I passed on pizza having had it last night but had salad and ravioli with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The Tour de France was turned on while I was there and I watched a bit of it. Then it was time for my own mountain stage and I headed out.

Tour 2009 - day 13-7

The road was flat along the beach for a while and just as it was about to climb I encountered road work and a flagger holding up traffic. He let me go in a blocked off lane and as they ran cars up and down the other lane I had it all to myself, which was nice as the climbing was crazy up Crescent City Hills. There was three peaks the highest at 1200′ the others nearly as high, there was a poor shoulder most of the time and with traffic it was no fun. It was through beautiful big trees and it was again sunny and warm now. There was more road work at the other end and as I was held up there J___ and the young couple from the last two camps caught up. After the flagger let the cars through we rode through and hit a big descent out of these hills. We seperated at this point and now it was back to typical 101 rolling hills for a few miles, to the next big climb.

Tour 2009 - day 13-9

First I crossed a bridge with golden bear statues at either end and then it was all uphill for two miles. This one was another slog and my energy was sapped after the previous hill and nearly 60 miles of riding already. It peaked and then descended and then finally left 101 for the final climb which was in the Redwoods Park and while long not so bad. This was followed by an amazing ~5 mile descent through the redwoods to the campsite. I had to force myself not to constantly stop during that descent, there was so much to see. I did stop a good few times and the trees are just awesome: huge and hoary with wild textures and massive canopies.

Tour 2009 - day 13-13

Anyway I pulled into Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park around 6:30 set up and walked around a bit. Even the close to camp trails feature stunning trees. Tomorrow is a rest day and I can’t wait to spend it in the Redwoods.

Miles ridden today: 69.7
Miles ridden to date: 737.36

A few pictures from this day can be found here

Tour 2009: day 11

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Tour 2009 - day 11-12

It was clear blue skies and already hot when I left my hotel room to get my free continental breakfast. You’d think the very concept of touring cyclists would give the providers of a self serve breakfast pause, but the various plus sized patrons groaning plates made my portion seem downright modest. I had washed my clothes in the sink the night before but it had not fully dried overnight, so after breakfast I walked a few blocks to a laundromat and put them in a drier for twenty minutes. Walking back I swung by Safeway to grab something to replace my emergency meal as I’d eaten the last one after the day of riding in the rain. After all of this I checked out and went to the bicycle shop.

Moe’s bicycle shop was really cool,  Moe had been in the business for ages and had a sweet collection of classic bicycles. They had me remove my front panniers (but not the saddlebag) and checked it out. They really tried to just fix the Silver Shifters but had no luck. Thankfully he had one last set of Dura Ace bar end shifters (the ones I had originally amusingly enough) and he installed those. While they did that I walked up to a bookstore ad I’d finished my book, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, the recently released “original scroll” version. I enjoyed this s lot, but honestly it’d been so long dunce I read the original version I couldn’t catch all the differences. Anyway I felt like more Kerouac but alas couldn’t find any I wanted to read. I ended up picking up, at the second used bookstore, Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods which ironically I’d bought at the same time as the Kerouac but had chosen not to bring. Well it was only $3.25, I’ll trade it in when I need another book. My bicycle was done, I picked up some spare tubes, put my bags back on and rode the three blocks to the Post Office. I picked up a mailing envelope and mailed home On The Road and my old shifters. After of course the only person in line went over every last bit of minutiae regarding sending something COD. Finally I rolled out of North Bend just after noon.

Tour 2009 - day 11-1

I now had the whole days riding ahead plus the 10 or so miles I hadn’t dome yesterday. Leaving North Bend, which shortly became Coos Bay, began on busier arterial roads but it soon became more residential. Apart from the sun the other feature of the weather was a fierce wind but it was usually blowing across me at this juncture. As I crossed a bridge in the little harbor town of Charleston, the side wind was pretty intense. But after climbing a stiff hill out of town, the route turned south onto an even steeper hill, but I now had this great tailwind. Or would once I got out of the trees in a bit anyway. First I had to negotiate the Seven Devils which was a serious climb in seven segments. The first was the longest, steepest and curviest and had me right to the granny gear. After that there would be flat sections or even descents between the devils. The road was on top of a ridge with great forested views on either side. I finally crested the last devil and then it was a screaming descent back down to sea level.

Tour 2009 - day 11-2

The route wended through nice back county roads and the tailwind was really in my side. There was a short stint on 101 and then off it again as I turned into one of the most scenic parts of the tour so far. First up was the scenic port town of Bandon and the winds off the harbor now were intense- I could literally feel it pushing me up the steep climb out of town. After this climb the road stayed on top of a bluff and the views of sea stacks in the roiling surf was breathtaking. There was so many overlooks and places to stop I had to limit myself to just a couple of them. Sun, amazing views, tailwind: pretty much perfect touring.This went on for a while but then it was back to 101, away from the coast. But I was running late as it was and a fast jaunt up the highway propelled by this tailwind was just the thing to make up some time. The highway rolled up and down and there were a couple of long climbs but I made great time. Soon enough I was in Port Orford, the last place to get food before camp, so there was of course three other tourons there. One was J___ whom I knew from the last three camps or so, but two were this couple head north all the way to Alaska. They gave us info on the camps ahead (mice and mozzies they reported). I bought some food and then set out on the last stretch.

Tour 2009 - day 11-7

The last stretch began with the typical climb out of town but the scenery was amazing. Right on these bluffs overlooking rock strewn waters as the sun was getting lower. Spectacular. After the climb it was a great descent and then the road curved away from the coast and went into the trees a bit and I was at Humbug Mountain State Park. The H/B site had the couple I’d seen before, plus a solo guy on a Long Haul Trucker and another tent whose occupant I never saw. J___ showed up, followed by the three beerhounds and later another young couple. Again a pretty full camping area. We all walked or rode the mile or so to the beach to catch the sunset, which was pretty much over when I got there. But walking back along this babbling brook I was treated to this incredible aural experience: these striating insects in conjunction with the brook, was captivating. The insects were all around so it had thus rather 3D effect to it and the brook was this constant, yet ever changing background. I again stood still and just listened for minutes.

Tour 2009 - day 11-13

So that’s it – a busy day, but a really great one all around. Only one full day left in Oregon…

Miles ridden today: 67.5
Miles ridden to date: 609.7

A few pictures from this day can be found here

Tour 2009: day 10

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Tour 2009 - day 10-0

It had rained a bit overnight by the day was merely overcast upon my waking. At this point I had a choice: I needed to get some tubes and there was a bike shop a few miles back in Florence or 42 miles ahead in North Bend. I still had one spare and my patch kit so I chose to go forward.

Tour 2009: day 10

It was overall pretty easy riding today, high clouds, not much wind and mercifully rain free. I’m deep in central Oregon now, which is dune country. However wet dunes didn’t appeal so I skipped the play on the dune opportunities that presented themselves early in the ride. There was a long climb early on, with some paving work going on, but nit much traffic due to the hour. I recovered from this a few miles later at the Reedsport Coffeehouse where I had a great cranberry walnut muffin. Back on 101 I was able to leave it for a bit after only a few miles to ride around a waterfront park and harbor. From here the first sight I chose to see, the Umpqua Lighthouse, was located. This involved a steep climb up, one that had me praising my third chain ring, to a nice overlook of the harbor I’d been bicycling around. The lighthouse itself was similar to the others I’ve seen with a Fresnel Lens. This one only had guided tours so I passed on a chance to climb up inside it. Riding away from it involved another steep climb but then I was back on 101.

Tour 2009 - day 10-4

From here to North Bend there weren’t anymore sights so the miles just whipped by. Mostly it’s been pretty gentle rolling hills though the day had two bridges without shoulders. As I approached the second of these, going into North Bend, my rear tire again was low. While I was only a couple miles from the bicycle shop this was disconcerting. I pumped it and tackled the bridge. It had a steep climb at first and the traffic back up behind me. Then it flattened out the opposing traffic leased do those behind me could pass and I jammed across. The clouds were now breaking up and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful afternoon.

Tour 2009 - day 10-7

The bike shop was just across the bridge and it turned out to be closed on Mondays; I had gambled and lost. I rode down to North Bend’s sister city Coos Bay and had lunch at this odd German restaurant that seemed to have one guy waiting, cooking and bar tending. I decided that with only one tube now and no spares I’d stay in North Bend. Additionally the shifter for my rear dérailleur was slipping and at this point it no longer would stay in gear. So I needed a shop for sure. Alas there were no campgrounds near the city so I grabbed a hotel.

Tour 2009 - day 10-9

I’d made good time and the weather now was completely clear and sunny and I’d wanted to make it to tonight’s campground early and enjoy it. But you gotta play the hand you are dealt. Being here early I took advantage of the hotel and hand washed my clothes, changed the bicycle tire and hit the store. Then I went and saw UP which I have to say was great, another Pixar winner. So that’s it for today, a little shorter but I’m only ten miles from where I was supposed to be so not too far behind.

Miles ridden today: 55
Miles ridden to date: 542.13

A few pictures from this day can be found here