Cycle Exploregon: A dose of history, wild rivers, and a ‘true taste of the Pacific Northwest’

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The mighty Rogue River.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

CO-sponsorsWelcome to Cycle Exploregon, our annual adventure done in partnership with Cycle Oregon to explore beyond their official route. This is the final ride recap in this series. Read the other ones here.

Riding a bicycle through Oregon is an awesome way to learn about our history and get up close and personal with the wild places that have shaped it. From a bike you can hear, see, and smell much more than from inside a car — and hours in the saddle give you time to ponder everything your senses take in.

The final leg of my journey gave me several opportunities to for this. I rode from Gold Beach on the coast to the steep canyons of the Rogue River just outside of Grants Pass (see route details on RideWithGPS.com). Unlike the other three days of this trip, my route mirrored exactly what we’ll do on Cycle Oregon next month — all 71 miles (and nearly 7,400 feet of climbing) of it.

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Cycle Exploregon: Going off-highway between Bandon and Gold Beach

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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Riding near Chismore Butte, 2,600 feet above the Coast Highway in the Roge River-Siskiyou National Forest.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to Cycle Exploregon, our annual adventure done in partnership with Cycle Oregon to explore beyond their official route. See other stories in this series here.

CO-sponsorsI love the Oregon Coast Highway — a.k.a. “The People’s Coast.” It’s a national treasure and also one of the most famous bicycle routes in the world.

But it has a dark side. It has stopped being the “Scenic Byway” it was intended to be and now it’s also a major thoroughfare used by commuters, commercial truckers, and oblivious RV drivers. I’ve ridden its narrow shoulder many times since my first ride down it 20 years ago. When I ride it these days, my main goal is to get off the highway as much as possible and leave the loud and smelly motorized traffic behind.

This is easier said than done. Because of rugged cliffs and steep mountains, backroads are few and far between — especially ones that loop back onto the highway eventually. And much of the land around the highway is privately owned by ranchers and farmers who put gates up on their roads to keep people out.

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