Bicycle Adventures Oregon Coast Tour, 2006

August 25, 2006, Friday

Florence to Swisshome, OR

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The routine continued on the last day of the trip; breakfast at 7:00, bags to the trailer by 8:15, route rap shortly afterward. Loading the bags this day was a bit more complicated for the guides, as the group would be heading to two different locations after the day’s ride. One group was returning to Portland and the other would head to Eugene, where Kerie and I planned to stay for a couple of days of additional riding.

We had a good breakfast at the Driftwood Shores Resort restaurant. On the way out of town several of the riders stopped for an espresso at a local coffeehouse. We picked up some extra cash to use for the guide’s tip. Calculating the tip is always difficult. It seems that everyone has a different idea as to what is expected. I believe the tour literature states that if the service is good, a tip of from 3-5% per guide is reasonable. For a $1300 trip that works out to $40-65 per guide per person.

The route out of town toward Eugene followed US 126 along the Siuslaw (soo slaw) River. There were many rotting pilings for several miles along the river bank, probably signs of former commercial activity in the area. The route was generally flat but slightly uphill. There was a wide shoulder that in parts was not in good shape, but there was little traffic. We rode slowly, drawing out the last 30 miles of the trip, taking many pictures along the way.

Pilings on Siuslaw River west of Florence.Riding on Route 126 west of FlorenceAlpha Bit Cafe.
Alisa checks out Blackberry Man's offerings.On Highway 36.Highway 36, no shoulder, no traffic.

After about 20 miles we came to the small town of Mapleton where we stopped at Alpha Bit Books and Crafts Cafe, run by members of the Alpha Farm. In the parking lot a gentleman approached us with a flat of grape plums and luscious-looking blackberrys. He gave us a bowl of berries that he said were free and he offered us the flat for $10. They were a great complement to lunch. We lingered for a while at the cafe, having a smoothie and a delicious lemon bar while we perused the small collection of books and crafts.

Mugging for the camera.Final group photo taken by Dan.They don't pay Dan for his photo skills.

There was a surprisingly well-stocked hardware store next to the Alpha Bit Cafe that also sold local wines and several different kinds of beer. Some riders bought bottles of beer for the after-ride lunch celebration. Along with the above-mentioned fruit, the guides bought two delicious homemade pies at the cafe for dessert, blueberry and blackberry, and some vanilla ice cream.

After we left the cafe we turned left onto Hwy 36, being careful to yield to oncoming cars at what looked like a 3-way stop sign but was actually only 2-way. Hwy 36 continued along the Siuslaw as it climbed into the mountains. The grade was still gradual, with some moderate climbs thrown in. At the town of Swisshome we were approached by a guy walking down the street wanting to know if we wanted to buy a new pair of bike shoes. We declined the offer.

Kerie and I rode into the final rest stop, Schindler Park, at the end of a very scenic tour. As far as the scenery goes, this is one of my favorite tours to date. On nearly every day there were interesting sights. The Oregon coast is one of the most accessible shorelines of any in America. State parks line the coast, adjacent to a good two lane road with a wide shoulder. Unfortunately the road carries nearly all the traffic along the coast, so we contended with tourists in motor homes and logging trucks a few feet to our left throughout the tour. Some of the riders were very disappointed by the traffic and chose to ride the van for several stretches, which is a reasonable option when you don't feel safe. With a good bike lane in the form of a wide shoulder, we generally were OK with the traffic. The only truly frightening encounter was when two hot-rodding motorists in the oncoming lanes decided to pass slower cars in front and came roaring past us, surprising us both. I saw it coming but Kerie was startled to say the least.

For our final meal together in the park had a decent lunch of store-bought noodle salad, lettuce salad, followed by the pies with ice cream. We gathered for the traditional group photos and the handing out of certificates of completion. We said goodbye to our comrades who were headed to Portland, gave the guides their gratuities, and headed to Eugene.

Our bike riding for the day was not over however. In Eugene we dropped off our bags in the room at the Valley River Inn and headed out on the trails along the Willamette River, adjacent to the motel. We watched osprey flying along the river and in a nest atop a highway lightpost. We rode east for a few miles, crossed the river on the ped/bike bridge between the university stadium and the campus, cycled through the University of Oregon campus, then headed west along the north bank of the river. We crossed on another ped/bike bridge to return to the motel. About a mile before the end of the ride I ran out of steam and seemed to barely have enough energy to make it back. The lack of sleep and our exertions from the week caught up to me and I collapsed on the motel bed.

On pedestrian bridge over Willamette River.Bruce on his Bike FridayX-O sculpture at U of O stadium.
Bike parking at University Stadium.Proper placement of bicycle-activated light button.Stone cairns in Willamette River.

For dinner we walked to Mcmenamins North Bank, one of the few businesses located right on the river, overlooking the trail. It was a great way to end the day, sitting on the outdoor porch, checking out the trail users.

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