A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cycle Oregon 2016: Days 4-5

When we last left off Jonny Rocker and I were in Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coast about to begin Day 5 of Cycle Oregon 2016. It was an epic day traversing 71 miles of wilderness on seldom traveled Forest Service roads, but that story will have to wait until I finish my previous post with a recap of Day 4.

Face Rock near Gold Beach on the Southern Oregon Coast.

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Day Four (Wednesday, September 14): Day 4 was billed as the "optional day" -- a 55-mile loop from Gold Beach to Brookings along the rugged Pacific Coast, including portions of the Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway -- and it was immediately clear many riders opted out as we encountered far fewer riders on the road. Their loss! As touted on the Oregon Scenic Bikeways site, Day 4 featured "towering basalt sea stacks and vast ocean views" around every corner. What the site doesn't mention is that the weather along the coast can turn in a minute -- alternating between sunny and warm to windy and cold. At one point a foggy mist blew in off the ocean threatening to envelope and drag us with it back out to sea. As we rolled into Port Orford fighting a blustery headwind, I seriously considered turning around and heading back to the comfort of our hotel room in Gold Beach (we booked a room for the two nights in Gold Beach and camped out in Tent City the other five nights) but I pressed on despite a bad attitude and was rewarded with some of the most scenic views of the entire ride.

One of the highlights of Day 4 was a stop at the Arch Rock viewpoint.
We took the "high road" on the return loop and got some great views of the famous Oregon "sea stacks."

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Day Five (Thursday, September 15): The fifth day of Cycle Oregon 2016 began with a lovely 30-mile ride up the gorgeous Rogue River Valley to Agness (elev. 210) and the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois Rivers. Other than one decent climb this stretch was mostly a gradual 1-2% grade. At this point the Rogue River enters a gorge (accessible only by boat) so we turned on to Forest Service Road 23 (aka Bear Camp Road) and began the "real climb." For the next 16 miles we climbed 4,510 feet through the Klamath Mountains to Bear Camp Overlook (elev. 4,720) then essentially coasted the final . I don't think I have ever ridden a more isolated stretch of road in my life. For more than 40 miles we rarely saw a vehicle (other than the Cycle Oregon SAG wagons) or human being not clad in spandex! After meeting back up with the Rogue River we reached the overnight site, Indian Mary Park. It was a beautiful spot along the river reserved exclusively for our traveling encampment.

Riding along the Rogue River from Gold Beach to Agness, Oregon.

At the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois Rivers.

Riding on Bear Camp Road in the Klamath Mountains.

Jonny Rocker relaxes and refuels at the Day 5 lunch stop at Bear Camp.

Relief and trepidation. The climb is over. The steep descent looms ahead.
Next up: Days 6-7 and the end of Cycle Oregon 2016

Ride on!


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