Florence to North Bend, OR

Our ride took us over and under several neat bridges, past sand dunes, a lighthouse, and a major mechanical problem. Fortunately, it wasn’t with one of our bikes.

Our hotel was on the wrong side of 101. Instead of looking for an opening to turn left onto the highway, we went down to Old Town, and took the underpass for the Siuslaw Bridge, which we had explored on foot yesterday during the rest day.

We rode along sand dunes for most of the day. Sometimes they went right up to the road. Sometimes they would lurk in the background, behind some marsh or a line of trees. There were many places eager to accommodate ATVs.

I’m glad we took Memorial Day as a rest day. The traffic today was much lighter than it had been a few days ago. The logging trucks were back out in force, though.

As we were riding, another cyclist passed us, and briefly kept pace to chat. He asked if we had a blog, because he thought he had seen us. I’m not convinced he was actually talking about this one, but if so, hello!

We decided to have lunch in Reedsport, after the first of the two main climbs of the day. Getting into the city meant going over a sister bridge to the one in Florence. This one had a lane closed, with a flagger letting each direction through. We got to be the tail.

We crossed under the bridge in search of picnic space, but found only marine construction. We turned back to the city and found a neighborhood park so the kids could play. There were no bathroom facilities. We didn’t stay long.

This was the first straight up warm day. We broke out Ruth’s arm/leg coolers, which give some extra sun protection. We stopped at a gas station bathroom and moistened them. Ruth was quite upset that they weren’t wet enough, were drying too fast, and/or they didn’t fit how she wanted. That got Max going. We rolled on and everybody calmed down.

We turned off 101 in Winchester Bay to check out a lighthouse up the hill. The road took us through Windy Cove, which lived up to its name. The first part of the climb was quite steep. I tackled it head on. Perhaps too head on to keep on climbing. I was happy to see the parking lot for the lighthouse museum, which would give me an excuse to stop and catch my breath before continuing the climb.

As we were getting ourselves parked, another cyclist, more of a drifter than ourselves, came walking down the road. He said his rear derailleur had been pulled into the spokes, leaving his bike unrideable. Pretty much my nightmare scenario. I offered to see if I could help while Anne took the kids to check out the museum.

As he described how he had gotten the bike from a thrift store, and had just spent the last of his money from helping install a fence on campground fees, I saw that indeed, the derailleur had snapped off and gotten mangled pretty badly. The frame seemed to be in pretty good shape, but the drivetrain had seen better days. I couldn’t do anything to fix that. What I could do was open the chain, pull off the derailleur, pick the one true gear, and shorten the chain to fit. It wouldn’t be great, but it would be rideable.

So that’s what we did, while he told me of his various medical problems, asked if I had any weed, and was generally grateful. We have master links for our chains, which make it much easier to reassemble the chain, but they didn’t fit this gentleman’s five-speed chain. I was quite pleased I didn’t lose the pin. Anne came back and helped me with the tools.

He thanked us profusely with weird religious overtones, I warned him that the fix was enough to get rolling, but probably not good forever, and we went our separate ways.

The rest of the climb was great. We went past the lighthouse, then had the road to ourselves up the hill, lined by trees and some views of the ocean in the distance. Just after the summit we rejoined 101.

We came to another quite long bridge, spanning Coos Bay. This one had the same design language as several others we’ve gone over, but bigger and grander. Concrete arches hop along, supporting each end, with steel trusses for the central section. The trusses, rather than just utilitarian, form Gothic arches to ride through, like walking through a cathedral. Then, after descending back to land, an old, but stylish and well-maintained sign welcomes you to North Bend.

Riding it without the benefit of a shoulder was a bit intense, but it’s hard to complain with such a nice structure to enjoy.

The Itty Bitty Inn is just a few blocks into North Bend. With five rooms it’s bigger than the four room Creekside Inn we stayed at in Hoodsport, but it’s in a much cuter neighborhood. Also, there’s an Atari in the room. There’s a park nearby with a boxcar given from France to Oregon after World War I. We got dinner at a Mediterranean place, then supplies at a corner store which, while kind of sketchy, had eager and friendly staff.

The rest of the “week” (the calendar is losing all meaning, so I measure weeks as the time between rest days) features longer than average rides, but today was a very nice start.