Day 14: Fancy Seeing You Here (Bay Center, WA to Fort Stevens, OR)

Willapa Sanctuary

Willapa Sanctuary

Having a day off was certainly nice. Even though we both enjoyed our time at the KOA, we had to pack everything up and see the rest of the Pacific Coast as planned.  We piled on the miles and even made our way over Astoria Bridge, the bridge that connects Oregon to Washington, which stretch a good 4 miles across the Columbia River.  See how we fared at the beginning of our third week.


Sang riding through Willapa

We got out of camp by 9AM and proceeded to ride out to the 101 highway south towards Astoria.  We immediately felt the difference in our bodies, having been transformed into efficient calorie burning machine, converting calories into muscle power necessary to push our pedals one stroke at a time like a piston in a car engine.  Our miles per hour average shot up to 12 miles per hour without much struggle.  We were both surprise by how fast we’d been zooming down the roads on both uphill and downhill stretches without any pain or exhaustion.  We were both in our physical groove.  This was perfect as we would need it for today.

By noon, we covered over 30 miles and made it to the city of Ilwaco.  We were in the port area looking for an open restaurant, but had to circle around several times until we found one open for lunch.  Good Ole Bob’s restaurant was there for us.  The lady greeted us and allowed us to roll our bikes inside the waiting / shop area as we enjoyed our lunch.

Tailwinds Out of State

Astoria Bridge

Astoria Bridge

After lunch, we rolled out of the port and onto 101 highway again.  A mild climb greeted us as we ascended up and east towards the Astoria Bridge.  We had the help of massive tailwind, which blew us past the town of Chinook.  The sun was out,  we were warm, and feeling good.  We had to pass through our first tunnel of the trip.  The ones where you hit a button and the sign above the tunnel warns the motorists that there are bicycles in the tunnel as a reminder to reduce their speed.  Luckily, this was a short tunnel and we got in and out of there with ease.  At the other end, the view opened up to Astoria Bridge.

We were about to leave our first state.  Washington is certainly a beautiful and green state to ride through.  There are lots of pocket of poverty as we passed one small town after another.  We were honked at by motorists a total of 3 times, but for the most part, people were very friendly when they weren’t in their cars.  Most folks were curious about our trip, but more were curious about our solar chargers (more on that in a later post).  Washington’s forest kept things consistent to what Canada had to offer, but their coast was somewhat lacking.  We hope that the Oregon Coast will make up for that in a few days.

Sketchy Bridge Crossing

Welcome to Oregon

Welcome to Oregon

As we made our final right turn out of Washington, we were immediately placed on a 2-lane, 4 mile bridge heading south towards Astoria, Oregon.  That was probably the single most frightening thing we did on this trip.  Not only were the side winds blowing at us, we had logging trucks after logging trucks drive by dangerously close.  We were about to approach a steep uphill on the bridge where they allow bigger ships to go under through the Columbia River when we noticed that the motor vehicle traffic was stopped.  We casually rolled ahead by all the traffic to be stopped by a flagger on the road who was holding a stop / slow sign.  He was showing slow as soon as we were near and ordered us to pull aside until the next round of vehicles rolled up.  One lane on the bridge was closed so they were taking turns sending northbound and southbound traffic through.

We chatted up with the gentleman who told us stories where he saw people on bikes almost get killed on the bridge – really encouraging stuff!  He then gave us some tips, like to stop by Cannon Beach on our way down the coast.  He wished us luck as it was our turn to pedal like mad across the bridge.  The construction was obscenely loud and the chaos was at its peak before they let the cars go, who then kept their distance behind me as we descended down the bridge into the town of Astoria.  It was not a pleasant ride.

Additional Mileage

We decided to roll into Astoria to see if I can get a new rear blinky light at the bike shop and to stock up on more food.  We spent additional mileage riding through Astoria to find a Safeway.  This was about an 8 mile round trip back to the end of the Astoria Bridge.  We had another 7 miles to reach our camp at Fort Stevens.  We decided to pedal across another bridge to get to the coast.  This brought on blasting head and side winds.  We struggled through the obstacle until we reached the other side.  We followed the signs to Fort Stevens without realizing it took us around the town of Warrenton.  By the time we realized it, we were still 5 miles away, so we had to double back to find the entrance located more south of the city.  Google maps didn’t help as it led us to an arbitrary point of Fort Stevens.  Luckily, a local couple in a black SUV pulled over to ask where we were going.  We told them and they pointed us in the right direction.  Good thing for good people out there.
Bike Tourist Reunion

Victoria's damaged spoke

Victoria’s damaged spoke

We reached Fort Stevens about 7PM to setup camp at their hiker / biker area.  We cooked our dinner of steak and veggie skewers over the fire pit.  Sang Hyun went to take his shower and I was to stand guard at our site.  Several people rolled into the hiker biker area.  A couple we met at Port Townsend about a week ago was there, Nick and Jennifer.  They took the more inland route over.  There was a French couple who was already there when we got in.  There was also a well-traveled bicycle tourist who you can tell has seen lots of days in the sun by his complexion.  He was traveling north from San Diego and stopped at Oregon, originally from Pittsburgh.  Finally, the last 2 tourists were none other than Victoria and Evadne!  They rolled in last having only ridden 14 miles for the day.  Victoria’s rear wheel had a broken spoke so they took the $.50 shuttle from Ilwaco to Astoria to have the bike shop fix her wheel.  They then crossed over to Fort Stevens through a path Adventure Cycling maps picked out which was less treacherous.  We were so happy to see them and be reunited once again.

We decided that we were going to ride the next day together as a foursome down the Oregon Coast.  Let’s see where this takes us!

About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.