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

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).

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…

Bill Bloxom is quite the character (and his produce company is one of the ride’s main sponsors).
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.
All lined up for the pre-ride group shot in Astoria.

The Highway bridge south of Astoria offers beautiful views over the water, but it’s high-stress riding.
Seaside promenade.
We got to see the Wheels ‘n Waves Hot Rod Show in Seaside.
Ride leader (and ring leader) Tai Lee.
Bought a sand dollar for a dollar. Seemed like a fair price.
Oregon is beautiful.

The Arch Cape Tunnel really annoyed me…

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.
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.
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.
Then just a bit further south, calm is restored with perfect pavement and a nice, wide shoulder.
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.
Rogue Ales brewmater John “More Hops” Maier riding out of Wheeler.
Kettle Corn vending by bike in Rockaway Beach.
Old steam train in Garibaldi.
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.
Cheerleaders as we rolled into camp.
Tillamook (my tent is about 300 yards from this spot).
And these are just the appetizers!
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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