Thursday, June 30, 2016

Day 7 (Day Off) Devil's Lake to Walport. Trip total: 795km

Aside from some mild stiffness in my knee, I had no physical issues today. This was a scheduled day off, but I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and test out my leg. I'm pretty sure the issue was due to poor alignment causing me to over-pronate, and once I fixed my seat and pedal position, the problem went away. The second time I felt pain in my knee yesterday was probably just the residual inflammation which seems to have dissipated overnight.

As for today, I rode without a distance or destination in mind, I just took in the view, enjoyed the weather, and had a nice comfortable 75km ride into Walport.

This guy was very politely waiting for me to give him some off my breakfast burrito (Newport)

Overlooking Yaquina Bay Bridge. No shoulder and only two lanes. Not looking forward to that ride.

Not a bad little spot for a hiker/biker site. The Pacific ocean is on the other side of that tree. (Beachside State Park)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day 6: Astoria to Devil's Lake. Trip total: 720.8km

This was an unusual day. I knew it would be a long day on the road, but I also knew I'd have pretty good weather and great scenery, so I was ready. Unfortunately my right knee wasn't any better after the short 80km day yesterday. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't mind riding injured, it just can't persist for too long, and it can't get worse - otherwise I can usually manage it. Today my knee got worse in a hurry. After 60km I couldn't push off that leg without stabbing pain. I basically rode the next 10km with one leg, but then it became too painful to even have my right leg go through a passive pedal rotation without pain.

I was forced to stop in Rockabay, which I told myself was a good time for lunch. I found a nice little restaurant overlooking a lake to take my rest. I must have been limping pretty bad because the hostess immediately ran up to me and asked if I was alright? and was there anything she could do? Not looking good.

As I waited for my food, I was looking at bus and train schedules to San Diego because I couldn't see how I'd be able to recover without time to rest, and I didn't have the luxury of time. Then a weird thing happened - my knee was feeling better just sitting there. It was excruciating moments earlier, and now out felt fine(ish). I started thinking it wasn't an overuse injury, but might just be a mechanical issue that popped up today. I narrowed it down to my IT band, and started making adjustments to my seat height, pedal position, and when I got back on the road it did feel better - for a while. After 25km it was as bad or worse than before.

I had to stop again, this time in the middle of nowhere. Like before, it started feeling better as soon as I stopped riding. I couldn't figure out what I was doing to piss off my knee, but it wasn't keen on cycling. As a last ditch effort, I started flexing and extending my knee in various positions, pushing off of different parts of my foot, adjusting how much force I applied throughout different stages of my pedal stroke. As I'm doing this - off of my bike, I should add, several motorists passing by were treated to a nice show of what must have looked like a crazy guy going through spastic dance moves on the side off the road.

Eventually I found a technique where I could pedal without pain, but it feels like a bandaid solution. I feel odd that after completing 177km today, my knee feels fine right now. It really shouldn't, not after how the day started. I have a scheduled day off tomorrow that I was hoping to postpone because the weather has been so good. I'll reassess the situation in the morning.

As always, my broken body adjusting to abuse is no match for the beauty of the Pacific Coast that I've been privileged to enjoy along the way. Enjoy!

Leaving Astoria

This was supposed to be my destination yesterday

My lunch stop

It's not the height of the climb that kills you, it's when you have to do it.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Day 5: Raymond to Astoria. Trip total: 543km

Today felt like a day off. I got an early start and felt surprisingly fresh after yesterday. After an initial letdown when I realized google sent me on another gravel road hill climb, I was relieved at how much more manageable it was compared to yesterday. It helped that the gravel section was only 12 or so kilometres opposed to the 25 yesterday, and I didn't have oppressive heat to deal with. Once Willapa Road met back up with the 101, it was smooth sailing into Oregon.

I stopped off at a tavern when I hit Astoria and started checking campsites around Seaside, which was my intended destination today. The locals chuckled and wished me luck. Every place I checked was booked solid and the secondary options looked really expensive. I reached out to a Pacific Coast bike veteran for advice and was told I should just be able to show up at a state park and they would accommodate me.

At that point I think I already decided to lay roots in Astoria for the day and start fresh in the morning.

These tours do a number on my body. There's a period where everything seems to break down and then eventually gets built back up. The trick for me is to push myself hard enough that my body knows it has to step up to the challenge, but not too hard that I seriously injure anything. I've been managing pain in both knees, my right ankle, and lower back since this trip began, and everything but the right knee issue seemed to dissipate today (the lower back issue will never dissipate, but that's another story altogether).

I'm 24km behind schedule for the trip by not pushing on today, but because I arrived in Astoria in the morning I gained the benefit of almost a full day for recovery. I plan on my first really long ride tomorrow which will put me right back in track, and I expect my body to be ready for it.

Leaving Raymond led me back on the gravel road hills. Thankfully they weren't long.

I didn't mind having to ride slow through these surroundings

Closing in on the 101

Gulp. 6.4km across this beast.

Longest bridge I've ever ridden across. There was construction so it was down to one lane for a section which meant they had to stop traffic for half a kilometre in both directions to let me get through the last stretch, which was a steap climb. I felt very uncomfortable that they were holding up traffic for such a long stretch just for me. When I got through the other side, the road crew worker was applauding me and said "be proud of yourself, not a lot of people do this". At the bar later in the day, the locals were telling me about a bike club that was riding the bridge earlier in the day and they all had to walk their bikes up the incline. That must have sucked.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day 4: Olympia to Raymond. Trip total: 462.8km

Today was not a fun day. It was full of bad decisions and bad luck - in that order. First bad decision was not leaving at 6am as planned, instead I left at 7am figuring I'd be in Raymond before noon anyway, so who cares if it gets hot, right?

I made things worse by stopping for breakfast right away (I try to put in 20-30km before stopping for a proper meal), delaying my ride even further, but who cares, right? I should still be in good shape for a noon arrival. At breakfast I had the opportunity to grab another Gatorade for the road, but again, I didn't have that far to go until Brooklyn where I was planning on getting lunch, so I didn't pick it up.

The first 45km went incredibly well, then I hit a literal fork in the road, and everything went to hell.

I arrived at Brooklyn road, at which point google was sending me off on a meandering bike trail. First thing - the bike trail happened to be gated off. I probably could have maneuvered Dolores onto the trail, but who knows why it was gated off? Pretty risky call. Second - Brooklyn road seemed to go directly where I was heading. Screw google, I'm taking Brooklyn road.

Well, Brooklyn road turns into a single lane, gravel, logging road that heads straight up and down a mountain. by the time I figured this out, my gps, data service, and phone cut out - bad luck. I even forgot to screen cap the route beforehand so was riding based on vague memory and and grainy printout that provided little more than a direction of travel.

The climbs were more steap, unstable and dangerous than I've ever attempted with a fully loaded touring bike. I had no business being on that road, and to make it worse, there wasn't room for me AND the logging trucks using the same road. I was skidding all over the road at a snail's pace on the ascents, and desperately riding my brakes on the descents to avoid wiping out on the loose rocks.

One lane, loose gravel road, blind turn, and a cliff. What could possibly happen?

10 seconds later, I'm in the ditch...

I finally got to asphalt after 15km of that hell, and was looking forward to refueling in Brooklyn. Unfortunately Brooklyn is little more than a road, and the one establishment I was counting on was closed. I was running low on water, but had little choice other than to push on - and the sun was really starting to beat down.

This was my one hope for fuel

After a kilometer of smooth road, I came to another fork. One way led north, where I didn't want to go, and the other led to gravel. As I pondered my options, a motorist pulled over and asked if I needed help. I explained where I was heading and she assured me I wanted to take the gravel road as it was much quicker than heading back out to the highway. I explained my logging road horror, and she said not to worry, the gravel road is maintained by the county and is in good shape. I took her at her word and went with the gravel. She was wrong. So very, very wrong. Bad luck.

It was the logging road all over again, and it went on for another 10km.

A ride that should have taken 4 hours, ended up taking 6 and a half. I ran out of water with what I assumed was 20 km left to go, but without a map I had no real idea. The 25km stretch leading in and out of Brooklyn easily felt like 150km.

I'm dehydrated, pretty sure I have heat exhaustion, and I'm done for the day. I made it to Timberland RV park as planned, but I opted instead for a motel to lick my wounds. My plan is to be back out on the road in the morning. I can't really afford a day off yet, but we'll see how well my body recovers tomorrow.

Alpacas were a promising start to the day

Two lanes but no shoulder, still not too shabby

Road gets a little tighter, but still no complaints about this

The logging road was a terror, but the view was impressive

This was not fun to ride on

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 3: Dosewallips to Olympia. Trip total: 367.7km

Today started a little later than usual, but I managed to get on the road by 7am. As the heat turned out to be an issue later in the day, I'm going to try to stick to a 6am departure tomorrow - it's gonna be a scorcher!

Today's ride took me along the coast of Oyster Bay and Eld Inlet on my way to Olympia, but as the guidebook lamented, you barely catch a glimpse of either body of water through the foliage. I certainly didn't mind. Riding through a thick canopy of trees protecting me from the blazing sun was an ideal and picturesque ride.

I arrived past Olympia at the American Heritage Campground where I'll be spending the night. I'm happy to give a shout out to this campsite because when I arrived I casually asked about campsites heading west toward the coast. It seemed to me that they were few and far between, making my next couple days rides inconsistent (68km and 164km).

A couple hours later the staff tracked me down and located a campsite (without a website, or clearly defined tent camping), but managed to get someone on the phone who confirmed that I could camp there. The kicker - it's 90km away, making the subsequent day's ride only 142km instead of 164km. Thanks guys!

Two crows seeing me off in the morning

Leaving Dosewallips

Trees protecting me from the sun

Oyster Bay

My stop for the night

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Day 2: Lake Campbell to Dosewallips State Park. Trip total: 255.7kms

I'll admit, I was feeling it on the road today. My left knee was giving me some problems, and sure enough my right quad started acting up because I was compensating. 250m straight up Mt. Walker didn't help matters, but the steep descend and relatively flat road to Dosewallips State Park improved my condition and my mood.

Early in the day I debated tacking on an extra 48kms and hitting the next state park. It would effectively be the same distance I covered yesterday, and I was feeling good at the time. Thankfully I stuck to the original plan. 110kms felt just right for today, and with two more days of relatively shorter rides, my body should ease back into the touring groove before the really long rides start coming up.

Dosewallips State Park

Leaving Lake Campbell

Deception Pass

Fort Townsend

The most American restaurant I've ever been in. I had a cheeseburger and freedom fries.

Trees swallowed up the road

Beautiful but demanding climb for this early on in my trip.

I've come for your soul

My stop for the night