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Getting started down the ‘People’s Coast’ – Astoria to Tillamook

Posted by on September 8th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

People's Coast Classic - Day One-2
Few towns can match the scenic charms of Astoria.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The fourth annual Amgen People’s Coast Classic got off to a near-perfect start today. The ride is a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation and everyone on the ride has been impacted by some form of arthritis in one way or another. Some people are riding for their children or other family members who have been stricken with the disease, others are riding for friends, and some are riding for themselves — using bicycling as a key part of their ongoing treatment.

The PCC is smaller than its sister ride, the California Coast Classic. There are only about 50 riders here this year. Add in all the support staff and volunteers and we’re still shy of 100 people. But what this ride lacks in size, it more than makes up for in the essential elements of any great organized ride: the support and food has been top-notch so far; the people are fun and friendly; and the route is world-class (even if the infrastructure itself is subpar in many sections).

People's Coast Classic - Day One-14

We set out from the Columbia Maritime Museum in Astoria and rambled about 67 miles south to Tillamook. Along the way we were treated to the typical highs and (very) lows of the Oregon Coast Bike Route; from wide and smoothly-paved shoulders to the hair-raising Arch Cape Tunnel (more on that later). One of the best things of riding the Oregon Coast is that every few miles there’s another little city to ride through. Today I rolled slowly, with eyes wide open, through towns like Seaside, Cannon Beach, Arch Cape, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach, and others. Most of these towns have histories that go back at least 100 years and they share similar storylines that feature either fishing, forests, farming, or some combination of the three.

See a bit more of the towns, the people I’ve met, and the conditions we’re riding through in the photos below…

People's Coast Classic - Day One-9
Bill Bloxom is quite the character (and his produce company is one of the ride’s main sponsors).
People's Coast Classic - Day One-8
The powerful legs (and drink) of Jason Goods. He’s the co-owner of Swift Industries, a Seattle company that makes high-quality bike bags.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-13
All lined up for the pre-ride group shot in Astoria.

People's Coast Classic - Day One-17
The Highway bridge south of Astoria offers beautiful views over the water, but it’s high-stress riding.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-20
People's Coast Classic - Day One-21
People's Coast Classic - Day One-22
People's Coast Classic - Day One-24
People's Coast Classic - Day One-30
Seaside promenade.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-33
We got to see the Wheels ‘n Waves Hot Rod Show in Seaside.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-34
People's Coast Classic - Day One-37
People's Coast Classic - Day One-35
Ride leader (and ring leader) Tai Lee.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-42
Bought a sand dollar for a dollar. Seemed like a fair price.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-43
People's Coast Classic - Day One-45
Oregon is beautiful.

The Arch Cape Tunnel really annoyed me…

People's Coast Classic - Day One-47
ODOT wants people to drive 30 mph when someone on a bike is in a dark tunnel that has just one narrow lane and no shoulder. They should make this a “No Passing When Bike Riders are Present” sign.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-48
People's Coast Classic - Day One-49
This is why people shouldn’t pass other vehicle operators in the tunnel. In this photo, the person in the oncoming vehicle laid on the horn at this white sedan. I just hoped they worked out their differences without making me collateral damage.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-51
And then there’s this. Deplorable and unacceptable lack of maintenance mixed with dangerous infrastructure and policies that don’t fully respect people on bikes. Grrrr.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-52
Then just a bit further south, calm is restored with perfect pavement and a nice, wide shoulder.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-53
People's Coast Classic - Day One-56
Nehalem.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-61
Tom Baltes, riding for his brother who has rheumatoid arthritis. Tom’s wife joined him last year, but she got so spooked after riding through the Arch Cape Tunnel she didn’t want to ride this year.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-64
Rogue Ales brewmater John “More Hops” Maier riding out of Wheeler.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-70
Kettle Corn vending by bike in Rockaway Beach.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-73
Old steam train in Garibaldi.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-77
People's Coast Classic - Day One-78
This is Mary Moreaux and her husband Don from Idaho. Nine years ago Mary was wheelchair-bound with rheumatoid arthritis. Today, thanks to her medications and lots of cycling, she’s feeling great.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-81
People's Coast Classic - Day One-79
Cheerleaders as we rolled into camp.
People's Coast Classic - Day One-82
Tillamook (my tent is about 300 yards from this spot).
People's Coast Classic - Day One-83
And these are just the appetizers!
People's Coast Classic - Day One-85
Perfect backdrop to end our day.

Thanks for checking out my photos and recap. Stay tuned for more thoughts about riding on the coast, photos from the road, and other random tales. Browse more images in our photo gallery.

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Comments
  • rainbike September 9, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Seems like walking your bike on the sidewalk through the Arch Cape Tunnel might be a safer alternative than trying to ride in the inadequate bike lane. That’s what I’ve done. Great pictures of the rest of the ride.

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  • SilkySlim September 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for drumming up my own memories of touring down the Oregon Coast!! FYI, ODOT produced this rather adorable guide to touring the coast a few years back. Lots of great information, included all their well suggested detours off of 101.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/oregon_coast_bike_route_map.pdf

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  • Jonathan Gordon September 9, 2013 at 10:26 am

    The Arch Cape Tunnel traverse is as much an embarrassment as it is an insult.

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  • patrickz September 9, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for the happy memories you brought up. That tunnel! – I remember coming out of it with my hands stiff from squeezing —unconsciously! A gorgeous report.

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  • Alan September 9, 2013 at 10:52 am

    “ODOT wants people to drive 30 mph when someone on a bike is in a dark tunnel that has just one narrow lane and no shoulder. They should make this a “No Passing When Bike Riders are Present” sign.”

    That white car is passing against the law. The double yellow line is a “no passing” zone for both directions of travel so no additional signage should be needed. I too would have played it safe and walked my bike on the narrow sidewalk.

    BTW Watch for Gray whales very close in to shore (within 100 yards) anytime you are alongside a rocky shore. They are feeding there at this time of year.

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    • Sunny September 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      The double yellow law has an exception not specifically for bicycles and slow moving farm vehicles.

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    • GlowBoy September 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      “That white car is passing against the law. ” Actually, in Oregon it is legal for cars to cross the double-yellow to pass cyclists. The law was changed a few years ago to allow this.

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  • Ted Buehler September 9, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Be sure to share your opinions, comments and questions with ODOT, re: Cape Arch Tunnel or anything else.

    If coast bicyclists would have complained about the partially paved shoulder when it was first done in 2011, then 2 years worth of summer bicyclists wouldn’t have had to risk their necks while riding on it.

    & that activated flashing yellow light system for the tunnel was innovative and effective in, say, 1979, but is begging for an upgrade now.

    from ODOT —
    “Welcome to the Oregon Department of Transportation. If you have an opinion, comment or question, or if you need assistance with an ODOT issue, we want to hear from you.” –http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Pages/contact_us.aspx

    & (re: road surface hazards)
    “To make riding safer for you and other bicyclists, report unsafe road conditions to local authorities as soon as possible.” (p. 4)
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike_manual.pdf

    Ted Buehler

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  • A.K. September 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve never been through the Arch Cape tunnel… would the geography not allow for a bike path around it, even if it was just a gravel trail? I’m thinking of paths that allow you to go around the tunnels on uphill direction of Cornell rd here in town…

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    • Joseph E September 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Here is a topographic map of the cape: http://goo.gl/maps/CwMgG
      There is very steep cliff and hill which the tunnel avoids. A new path would be expensive due to the terrain, and would add 1/4 mile to the trip. It would also require north-bound bikes to make 2 left turns across the highway. It would be better to bore a new tunnel or widen the current tunnel. Or the small “sidewalk” could be changed to function as a shoulder for bikes, perhaps?

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      • A.K. September 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

        Ah yes, thanks for the link. That does look like challenging terrain…. it’s too bad the sidewalks aren’t wider (or that drivers can’t just be patent for 2 minutes…)

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  • pixelgate September 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Jonathan this is amazing! I can’t fathom riding from Astoria to Tillamook in a day, especially with all those steep mountain climbs. Did you get to hit up Manzanita? There’s an amazing seafood spot in Seaside called Bell Buoy as well

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  • parker September 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    (Disclaimer: I haven’t ridden this myself.) Steve Greene recommends this Coos Bay Bridge bypass route:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=12467&v=2h

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