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Bike Ride Guide By Tom Baake
Road riders and mountain bikers can find opportunities in every corner of Oregon’s spectacular South Coast region. Potential rides range from fun and easy family outings to challenging Coast Range treks.
“Main Street” of the Oregon coast is US 101, which passes through the middle of just about every town. US 101 is also the Oregon Coast Bike Route (OCBR) – with a few worthy detours. The first section of this book covers the OCBR from Florence to the California border just south of Brookings. Most cyclists ride the OCBR (or sections of it) from north to south in summer. There’s less rain, and a prevailing wind from the north provides a handy tailwind.
Major towns along the South Coast are about 25 miles apart, making it relatively easy to contemplate, plan and ride the OCBR. The OCBR’s aforementioned detours from US 101 add miles, hours and exertion to an already-challenging ride.
The book’s second section has treks for road riders and mountain bikers in each South Coast community. The rides are described as loops whenever possible. Also offered are a few excursions into the Coast Range, as well as some of the inland routes.
A word about the mountains: Generally speaking, the Coast Range rises abruptly from near sea level, so almost any trip quickly confronts ascents that may rise as much 1000 feet in as little as two miles. Once at higher elevations, roads and trails generally stick to ridgelines. Some bicyclists overcome the initial climb by motoring to the ridgelines and launching rides from there.
Now for a couple of common sense reminders. Whether you’re riding by yourself or with a group, be alert for motorists. Except for riders on the OCBR along US 101, bicyclists are NOT a common sight in this region. Even after all these years of bicycling’s growing popularity, motorists are simply not expecting to encounter bicycles.
You will, however, draw their ire if you don’t pull over when vehicles are stacked up behind you or unable to pass because of double yellow lines or blind curves. Your ride will be more enjoyable if you let them hurry by!
Mountain bikers using logging roads need to be careful. You can hear trucks and other vehicles coming, most of the time, and get out of the way. Bicyclists or motorists must remember these are “working forests.” You may encounter – as in, bearing down on you from behind or coming at you head-on – fully-loaded log trucks, gravel trucks, water trucks, road graders or other heavy equipment.
Experienced bicyclists know they need to carry adequate provisions and water (or water purification device), as well as a repair kit, on rides of just about any duration. This advice is especially true – and applies to riders of every skill level – for rides through the remote terrain discussed in this book.
In any and all cases, you must know and respect your skill level and of those in your group. If the route sounds daunting from the description, trust me: it is.
Some lonely roads are traveled in this book. There are details about road conditions and seasonal access, but you should always check with local sources about current conditions when traveling far afield. Weather-related closures and detours, budget crises and high forest fire danger can all affect access. Speaking of weather, average rainfall on the South Coast is 60 inches per year. It pours down – or blows in sideways – during awesome storms from fall to spring. Rivers and lakes and wetlands are swollen, trees are toppled, hillsides collapse, roads are closed, lowland areas flooded. A typical winter.
Yet it hardly rains a drop during July, August and September. We dry out and head to the other extreme – forest fire danger. Then there’s the wind. During most of the summer, you can count on a north wind kicking up nearly every afternoon along the coast. Also fog in the mornings and evenings. A typical summer.
Best time of year is early autumn, after the first rain or two. The wind has died down, the crowds have thinned out, and the light lies mellow across the land and seascape. You’ll hear locals say, “It’s never this nice in summer.”
In winter, too, come interludes of balmy weather. The southern Oregon coast is frequently the warmest place in the state in wintertime, and there are pleasant days of “false spring” that make you forget the weeks of dreary rainfall and gray skies.
Whatever the weather, there’s sure to be challenges, but that’s all part of the fun. So let’s ride!
Loop/Rosa Road Tour
|Oregon South Coast
By Tom Baake
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