My first Bike Tour: Portland, OR to Lafayette, CA (San Fransisco)

Tuesday August 22, 2000 - Saturday September 9, 2000 - Total: 930 miles (1497 km)

My very first Bike trip. I have been dreaming of doing this for years, but life has been in the way. Or at least work and family obligations. But Intel (my employer) provides an 8 week Sabatical every 7 years.

I have spent most of my Sabatical on a family vacation trip looping clockwise from Home (Tempe, AZ) through Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and back home. Now it's time for me to do my trip!

I have been begging my wife to let me do this for 10 years, and she finally said yes! **Note - as you will see in subsequent trips, she realy didn't want me to do this, and I paid the price later.

I have also been collecting gear for quie some time, and purchased a nice new REI Novara Randoneee Touring bike a couple of years ago. Nothing fancy - basic components and simple blackburn racks, but adequite. An odd collection of bags, to carry clothes, and camping gear gleaned from my many years of backpacking.

The one oddity is my tent. for years I have been bitten by the ultra-light bug. As a result I have been enamoured by light weight "tarp tents". the gotcha is the price. Too rich for my blood, but with a bit more nagging, I got my wife to sew me up one. Crafted from ultra light, but slippery Silnylon. She succeded in making it, but vowed to NEVER work with that fabric again!

Anyway, my selections are otherwise, a pretty "standard" set of gear.

My coworkers advised me to get a cell phone to call home with, but while cell towers might be common in big cities, they are rare along the coast, so I decided against that. Instead, I'll take a calling card and call home each day from a pay phone.

Maps of course are courtesy of Adventure Cycling. Specifically their Pacific Coast Route, Sections 2 and 3. I also took some advice from the Vicki Spring and Tom Kirkendall's "Cycling the Pacific Coast" book.

Changes in Technology

For most of the twenty years after this tour, I forgot that I had actually written a journal. In fact, up until May of 2020, the entry in previous tours list for this tour simply said "No Journal" But then, while doing a serious purge of junk, I found it's hand written notes. So, if you are reading this, it's at least the year 2020 - the year I found these notes, and entered them into this log on my web site.

In the twenty years between taking the trip, and entering this journal, a great deal has changed in terms of the availabilty of computers and the internet. Back when I took this tour, hand written notes were the normal way to document trips. The result is of course, a limited amount of words written down. That and a lack of digital pictures, so all you get is words. Sorry.

So, with all the preliminaries complete, here's the journal:

The Journey Begins:   Portland to Manning

Tuesday August 22, 2000, 37 miles (60 km) - Total so far: 37 miles (60 km)

After landing at Portland International Airport (PDX), I caught a cab to REI to pick up my bike. I rode out, heading to Portland. REI is located in the Jansen Beach shopping center, on Hayden Island – In the middle of the Columbia river, where Interstate 5 crosses between Oregon and Washington. A strategic location, designed to get Washington residents to shop in Oregon as Oregon has no sales tax.

Anyway, I rode alongside of I-5 on a pedestrian sidewalk, into Portland proper, then across the Willamette river on the St. Johns bridge. The idea was to climb over the west hills that separate the Willamette valley from the Tualatin Valley, then follow US 26 over the coast range to the Pacific at Cannon Beach.

Germantown road was a lot harder than I expected, and I am in pretty rough shape. The month off hurt my conditioning, and I am paying for it. I made it to a secluded spot near the road about 4 miles past the town of Manning - about 37 miles from REI. Not as far as I had hoped, But more miles than I had planned (my distance estimate to the rest area was off by about 28 miles...).

To the Coast!:   Manning to Cannon Beach

Wednesday August 23, 2000, 48 miles (77 km) - Total so far: 85 miles (137 km)

I got up early today to avoid the heat I experience while climbing yesterday. It took about 2 hours to cover the less than 20 miles to the rest area I had planned to camp at last night… Good thing I quit when I did!

In total, there were four big Hills going to the coast - one yesterday, and three more today. I made it to Cannon Beach, where I had an early Dinner. It’s cold and foggy here. Big contrast to the heat I experienced yesterday in the Tualatin Valley!

Lodging tonight is at “Wrights for Camping” just south of Cannon Beach. 48 route miles, plus a few for meandering around town.

Off to bed. Tomorrow we start down the coast.

Cape Lookout:   Cannon Beach to Tillamook

Thursday August 24, 2000, 55 miles (89 km) - Total so far: 140 miles (225 km)

Today marked the first day on the route. Shortly after starting, I hit the famous flashing light tunnel. After finishing the climb, the road dropped back to the sea. I followed the Nehalim / Miami River route - very pretty with much less traffic.

At the 56 mile point, I stopped at a little restaurant for a late lunch. I should have been at 60 miles here, but I missed the turn to Cape Mears, and inadvertently shortened the route. I’m staying near Tillamook tonight. Mileage so far: 140

I’m sore:   Tillamook to Beverly Beach State Park

Friday August 25, 2000, 65 miles (105 km) - Total so far: 205 miles (330 km)

I found out what happens when I push too far: I hurt! I did 64 ½ miles (total = 205) and it took 8 ½ hours (6:19 on the clock) at an average of 10.2 MPH. OK, so I over estimated what I can do.

My knees really hurt at the end, so I need to take it take it easy tomorrow. I saw a lot of interesting things today – Sand Lake and the Miami River Rd for starters. Now that I am on the pretty part of the coast, I need to take the time to actually see it.

Accommodations tonight are at Beverly Beach Start Park – one of the numerous coastal parks here in Oregon that have camping specifically for Cyclists.

Familiar Ground:   Beverly Beach State Park to ???

Saturday August 26, 2000, 45 miles (72 km) - Total so far: 250 miles (402 km)

I kept today to being a shorter day as there was a lot to see – The spectacular Oregon coast my family used to come to when I was growing up. The wind became favorable today, but my knee still hurts, so tomorrow I will just ride to Florence and find a church, then ride on to Honeyman state park.

I did about 48 miles today, 45 of which were “official” on the route miles, so about 250 so far. If the wind stays at my back, and my knee calms down, I can make it!

Short day:   north of Florence somewhere to Honeyman State Park

Sunday August 27, 2000, 30 miles (48 km) - Total so far: 280 miles (451 km)

I rode the 14 miles into Florence, and attended Community Baptist Church of Florence, a Conservative Baptist Church that looks to be one of the Oregon churches started BY Dan Lawler, the pastor of the church Karen and I attended the last few years we lived in Oregon. It was a strange experience as it was clear the congregation viewed “outsiders” with a great deal of caution. I can’t help wonder what Jesus would have thought of that…

Anyway, after church, I headed into town to do some laundry, eat lunch, and to pick up a knee brace. After lunch I rode onto Honeyman State Park for the night. The computer says 19.56 miles (about 1 mile off route for riding around town...) Total mileage so far is is 270 miles – about 54 miles per day, with about 600 miles to go and 13 days to do it – 46 miles per day.

I should be fine as long as the sore spots on my butt hold, and the knee brace helps.

Tomorrow I ride to Charleston and sunset Bay State Park, Tuesday to Humboldt Mountain State Park - 55 and 60 miles respectively. On Wednesday it’s Harris beach – The last stop in Oregon.

Into the Coastal Forests

Monday August 28, 2000, 55 miles (89 km) - Total so far: 335 miles (539 km)

I rode to sunset Bay State park today, about 55 miles. My total distance ridden so far is about 340 miles. My knees are definitely feeling better, but my butt (no pun intended…) is still sore. Tomorrow I’ll take it easy.

The ride today was quite different: No beaches but lots of forest and small lakes. All in all, very pretty. The gardens at Shore Acres were pretty in surprising way given the location. Very formal.

A Long Day

Tuesday August 29, 2000, 60 miles (97 km) - Total so far: 395 miles (636 km)

Today was a very long day,. I rode ~ 60 miles. The total now is just under 400 miles. Tomorrow I should make to the half way point of my 900 mile estimate. I calculate 488 left now, so I will be over half way then in 9 riding days, with 10 days left. If I keep it to 50 miles a day, I’ll be fine.

The ride was OK - lot of it was pretty, but lots of the same along highway 101, with lots of traffic and not much to see. There were Several significant climb today, but I’m starting to feel much stronger, so I did much better than earlier in the ride.

Almost done with Oregon

Wednesday August 30, 2000, 50 miles (80 km) - Total so far: 445 miles (716 km)

The book made it look easy, but what it didn't show was all the little hills, plus the headwinds. All in all it was the most exhausting day so far. On the other hand, my body felt OK.

The highlight was the Squaw Valley / Rogue River road. Everyone else used highway 101, and while my route was longer by a few miles, I had sunshine. and a peaceful, quiet road for a while.

Total mile today was 54, including a few to go to Brookings for food and back - call it 50. So add that to the 400 so far, and I'm at 450, with 430 left to go. Tomorrow I cross into California

The Golden State

Thursday August 31, 2000, 54 miles (87 km) - Total so far: 499 miles (803 km)

Map 1 is done; so is Oregon, so is August. Eight miles after starting today I crossed into California. Twenty miles later I hit Crescent City. Another 23 miles and I was at the Golden Bear RV Park in Klamath, CA A total of 51 miles - Close to 500 total, with 385 left according to the book. With 9 days left, that's only 43 miles per day. I should be in good shape since I've done 50 miles per day so far.

Tomorrow's destination is the KOA between Arcata and Eureka - 69 miles according to the book. Then to Weott for Saturday/Sunday; Another 50 miles.

Ups and Downs

Friday September 1, 2000, 60 miles (97 km) - Total so far: 559 miles (900 km)

Today was an interesting day. It started with a 5 mile climb out of the Klamath river valley, then a decent through Prairie Creek Redwoods, with several side trips to side groves. Pretty enough that the rest was pretty boring; especially since I missed the turn to Patrick's Point Drive - a 10 mile ride along the shore.

I made it all the way to the Arcata /Eureka KOA - Complete with a Hot Tub!!! But it ended up being more than 60 miles! The total now is 550 miles. Only 325 miles left, and 8 days - 40 per day - after what I've done so far, easy. Especially since my stop tomorrow (Weott) is another 55.


Saturday September 2, 2000, 64 miles (103 km) - Total so far: 623 miles (1003 km)

What a grueling day! The ACA route may have avoided Highway 101, but they did it by using some difficult roads like "Blue Slide Rd." with 3 grades that had to be  10%. Then the store at Weott turned out to have been closed for 4 years.

So I ended up at the "Hidden Springs" Campground after 64 miles! The sad part is that I was so tired that the last 10 miles of the Avenue of the Giants was just a blur. On the other hand, I have now done about 620 miles, I only have 267 miles left, and I have 7-8 days to do it in.

Tomorrow will be a MUCH needed rest day. Then to Standish Hickey on Monday and Westport on Tuesday. 38 and 29 miles respectively.

Rest Day

Sunday September 3, 2000, 0 miles (0 km) - Total so far: 623 miles (1003 km)

I read a lot of my book, and washed a pair of shorts and a jersey. That's all. Oh yeah, I also called Karen. I don't even need or want a shower.

Tomorrow I have a short day riding to Standish Hickey State Recreational Area. One more day may be as much as 50 miles, and a couple others between 40 and 45, but the rest are under 40. Fun from here on! Today was mostly sunny, with some clouds. Looks like the storm I saw the last few days has past. Fair weather, and short days from here on.

More Giants

Monday September 4, 2000, 42 miles (68 km) - Total so far: 665 miles (1070 km)

I rode to Standish Hickey State Park today. A really nice place. I took a leisurely ride down the rest of the Avenue of the Giants, then up to the park. Lots of traffic today, but now that it's past Labor Day, there should be very little left. The distance was more than I expected - 42 miles vs. 39 on the maps, but what's 3 miles between friends :-)

I had "breakfast" (at 11:30 if was a 2nd breakfast) at the Eel River Cafe. A long wait - seemed to be Garbervilles favorite Cafe!

Tomorrow is the grind over the dreaded "Leggett hill". 1200 feet of climbing in 5 miles. Sounds like 6% straight up! 670 miles down, 220 to go.

Leggett Hill

Tuesday September 5, 2000, 59 miles (95 km) - Total so far: 724 miles (1165 km)

The grade over Leggett hill wasn't so bad after all. But the second grade was a bear. Likely 8-10%, and unexpected. After that, most of the way to Ft. Bragg was up and down. I had planned to stop at Westport, but I could barely get a sandwich, let alone a place to stay - it seems things shut down after labor day! But the scenery was great. Spectacular bluffs and such. Even an area of sand dunes I didn't know about. However, I threw off my plans and am torn.; I could cut another day, but I shouldn't. I'll just take it a day at a time.

Mendocino County

Wednesday September 6, 2000, 40 miles (64 km) - Total so far: 764 miles (1230 km)

A fairly easy day today - Only 40 miles. I took it easy in the morning, and did a gentle ride in to Mendocino. I stopped for Pastries and Coffee, then passed the Novarro (Novara?) river. I stopped at Van Damme and Elk beaches to see the ocean. I thought about pressing on towards Gualala, but decided to stop at Manchester instead. I had planned to camp at Manchester State Park, but it was a "primitive" campground, so I am at the "Mendocino Coast KOA Journey" - right next door instead.

Tomorrow I'm aiming at Salt Point State Park. Then to Bodega Dunes on Friday, Samuel Taylor on Saturday, and Lafayette on Sunday! 135 miles to go, 765 in the bag!

Sonoma County

Thursday September 7, 2000, 71 miles (114 km) - Total so far: 835 miles (1344 km)

Quite a day. An easy ride to Gualala. I ate lunch (Pizza) and bought food for the next day, then headed into Sea Ranch - Likely for the last time? Thinking this is both my mother's "burial" site, and her favorite place, reminded me that she is no longer here. I went down to Stengel Beach. Sad to think we won't be going back.

When I got to the lodge it was on;u 1:00 PM, so I made a run for Jenner. I forgot how much climbing there is between Ft. Ross and the drop to Russian Gulch! Wow! Then to find that Wright's Beach is 5 miles past Jenner (the map says 3) and then it turned out that the Hiker/Biker sites are actually at Bodega Dunes, which is another 5 miles... A total of 71 miles! The computer says 6:22 time on the Bike, gives an average of 11.1 MPH (a new high), a max speed of 40 MPH, and 830 miles ridden in 15 days - 55 miles / day. It;s 41 miles to Samuel Taylor State park tomorrow, and 27 more on Saturday to Lafayette.

Marin County

Friday September 8, 2000, 48 miles (77 km) - Total so far: 883 miles (1421 km)

Next to last day! Total trip mileage so far is 880. The ride was interesting. Lots of up and down, and then an unexpected 5 mile detour for a bridge that was out. But once I got to Marshal, the 9 miles to Point Reyes was smooth, level, and quiet. Even the road to the park was nice. Total mileage wat 48 miles, not the 41 planned, but OK.

Tomorrow I go to SF and Lafayette. Less than 30 miles to go! Then the Bridge. I actually did it!

The Triumphal Entry!

Saturday September 9, 2000, 39 miles (63 km) - Total so far: 922 miles (1484 km)

After a confusing ride through the Ritzy parts of San Anselmo, etc., I arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge.

I saw a lot more cyclists out as I was riding to the bridge than I saw on the whole previous trip - maybe 50 times as many! But most were wearing trendy + spendy lycra kits - Way too cool for me. Heck, they wouldn't even make eye contact with me, let alone wave!

Ah - but then the bridge! What a trip to be able to ride across in victory! Then a ride through the Presidio, along the waterfront, and to BART.

A ride under the bay, and a few short miles to my Dad's house, and I am done! 39 miles today, but it seamed like only 20. Total on the Odometer is 966.5 miles minus the 45 to the start is 921.5 miles in 16 days of riding - about 57.6 miles per day. I should have kept it at 40 though!