Cycling Oregon

I had thin road tires and clip in pedals installed on my bike in late June and began a hap-hazard, self designed training program. On the first day I cycled for an hour and covered 20 km. Later that week I rode 44 km. Over the next couple of weeks I took a few minor spills as I adjusted to my feet being locked onto the bike. On week 5, I braked with my left hand only, which brought the front wheel to a screeching halt and propelled me in an inelegant swan dive over the handlebars onto a major thoroughfare. My body was battered and bruised and my confidence was rattled.

oregoncoastphotobylarrgeddis.jpgBy week 7 I had signed up for a 500 km cycling adventure down the Coast of Oregon.

I cranked up my riding as much as possible in the few weeks I had left and managed to squeeze in an 80 km ride, by far my longest, but a “modest” day compared with some of the distances on the tour. I had a few short weeks to assemble gear and on August 21st I drove (with bike) to the start point of Eugene, Oregon. The following day I set out with considerable trepidation. I had no idea what to expect, I really had no business being there at all. How would the next 6 days unfold?


022_640_x_480.JPGKnowing no-one, I set out on day 1, alone with map in hand to cycle 65 km north from Eugene to Corvallis on a back-road route through the picturesque Willamette Valley. I arrived safely at the final destination, my fingers numb from gripping the handlebar and a vicious knot of tension between my shoulder blades. Fellow riders were raving about the scenery. Shit – I had forgotten to look at the scenery, too scared to allow my eyes to venture far from the road. This was my scenery for day 1.


Day 2 was the big test. A daunting 120 km lay before me as we turned east and headed to the coast. It takes me a long time to cycle 120 km. I whiled away the time by attempting to identify road kill carcasses on the side of the road – deer, coyotes, skunks, birds, squirrels; sober reminders all, that at any time I could join their ranks. I gripped the handlebar harder. At the first rest stop I was feeling pretty cocky – “piece of cake” I thought. By lunch my smile was fading as I began to feel ‘bummer’ and ‘crotchety’ and by the third stop I was buggered and wondering where I would find the energy for the final push.I was still gripped with fears, both real and imagined: would I get the ‘wobblies’ and just veer off course into the path of a semi-trailer; would I squish one of the many little rodents that crossed my path and slide into a ditch; would a deadly, Oregonian leaping spider launch at me from a bush and latch onto my jugular…..The last 10 miles up hilly, coastal highway 101 battling semi-trailers and a belligerent headwind was hell and I only made it because a few fellow adventurers scooped me up and dragged me into Lincoln City, our destination for the night. Here the tour description promised “the opportunity to stroll on the area’s long expanses of pristine beaches or take a swim in one of the nearby freshwater lakes” Hah!  I collapsed into bed soon after arriving and wondered how I would ever get back on my bike the following day…..”don’t worry”, I was assured, “it’s an easy RIDE – only 80 km…”


029_640_x_480.JPGI had survived! On day 3 day my legs felt like columns of concrete – but only for the first few minutes as I headed south down the spectacular, gnarly, wind swept Oregon coast, home to whales, otters, seals and sea lions.

tour10.JPGThe brochure promised “after watching the setting sun turn the frothy surf luminous and the western horizon crimson —

037.JPGwe’ll drift to sleep to the hypnotically rhythmic sound of crashing waves.” This time they did NOT lie! I wondered at the outset of the journey what on earth I would do in the evenings – the answer was SLEEP ..and sleep…and sleep! This was the view from my hotel room balcony just before I tucked in for the night……

057_640_x_480.JPG As the miles unfolded I could not have been happier. The scenery was sublime but it was not without it’s challenges. Gorgeous scenery brings TRAFFIC! Highway 101 is in fact an Oregon Bike Route however there are many times when the shoulder of the winding road reduces to a sliver. On one such occasion a considerate RV driver decided to give my left armpit a shave with the side of his rig. (Shaving creamed?). With my stomach in my esophagus I pulled into a viewpoint along side a grizzly bear riding a Harley. “Hey little girl” he said (I loved him immediately) “you have BIG BALLS riding this part of the 101 on a pushbike”! Funny I thought – the brochure failed to mention that I would need those…..

056_640_x_480.JPGA few pit stops later I met this young man who had been surfing until spooked by some frisky sea lions. “I’m from Australia” he said “and I’ve never encountered sea lions before” …”where are you from?” I asked. “Gold Coast” came the answer…”Really…I went to St. Hilda’s” (A boarding School on the Gold Coast) “no way” came the response…We traded in memories, then I hit the road pushing on to the next destination, a little tourist town optimistically named Florence.


tour13.JPGOregon Dunes National Park, stretches for 40 miles from Florence to Coos Bay, offering miles of dramatic, wind-sculpted sand dunes rising more the 500 feet above the ocean. They offered an additional, “optional” ride on our day of rest but I gratefully declined, choosing to rip up the beach in a dune buggy instead. Good call!


tour9.JPG By the following morning I was interested to discover that I was anxious to get back on my bike. I left early in the morning as the longest ride of all lay ahead – 130 km due east back to Eugene. We followed the banks of the Siuslaw River, shrouded in early morning mist

tour6.JPGand the disco ball sun provided a few hours of distraction as it seemed to suck me along.

118.JPG It made for an easy ride.

013.JPGAt rivers end we began to climb Low Pass, elevation 1,023 feet. It was beginning to feel like I was towing a load of bricks. I had already had a chat with a few of the wonderful crew of the the ACA about my bike. A heavy old clunker compared with the sleek, featherweight, carbon fiber road bikes of my fellow adventurers. I was definitely having to work considerably harder. “Peg, I think your back tire looks a little squishy” a fellow tourist said as he sidled up beside me briefly before speeding off ahead……..I checked it out with the support wagon at the next station. Both tires were indeed “squishy” adding an additional handicap to my ride. “Have you pumped them at all during the ride?” I was asked. We all laughed at my dim-wittedness.

tour15.JPGI was definitely “learning by doing”. What had I learned? That I LOVED TOURING BY BICYCLE! That I could do it and do it ALONE….and I learned to check the pressure in my tires before each and every ride!

068.JPG In closing Dear Love Ones, I want to pay tribute to a friend made on the journey, a physician from Berkeley whose body has been invaded by a virulent cancer. She put her chemo on hold to do the ride…..

give’n it TO THE MAX!


14 Responses

  1. Monica Says:

    wow! what an adventure, so wonderful to get a story and the photos… ciao, last time I called you were in Mexico, ciao

  2. Anonymous Says:

    you continue to embrace challenges and refuse to sit still.that’s a good thing, right?! actually, it’s amazing. good on ya’ girl and congrats on a successfilled journey.

  3. Ibi Says:

    Hi Peg,
    Good on You. Thanks for sharing.
    Both Gray and I enjoy reading you blogs and are happy for you.


  4. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Peg,
    self journey trip? i bet you feel stronger than every. so good.
    thinking of you here in WA. will write more when i get home to Hanoi. lots of love, Consuelo

  5. Brillante Says:

    I am waiting for a book with your adventures to the Max, your writing style is so vivid. Thanks for the virtual ride.

  6. Marsh Says:

    Peg! well done. Sounds like quite the adventure! Miss you

  7. Rachel Says:

    Fantastic Peg!!! Well done. Makes my 13km bike ride to Richmond every day seem a little pathetic. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. If you want some company on the ride next summer – just let me know. Rxx

  8. beck Says:

    Wow aunty peg what an amazing adventure you must feel like a whole new women and fancy meeting a gold coaster on your journey hahah

    love u xoxox

  9. Jeanne Says:

    I was on this ride with Peg. I was so impressed that she could do the entire ride on her heavy hybrid bicycle with squishy tires! It was a challenging and beautiful ride. Too bad about the rv’s though, but I guess that is to be expected in August in an area with gorgeous scenery.

    You go girl!

  10. JK Says:

    Does your new found passion for cycling mean we’ll be seeing you blocking an intersection downtown on the next Critical Mass Ride?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Kudos to you Peg along with huge respect for your accomplishments. You have totally inspired me and many others I am sure.
    Can’t wait to see more pics.
    Love Barb

  12. Shelley Says:

    What a great journey, forget Eat, Pray, Love, go for Drink, Bike and Dream!!!

  13. heathernotman Says:

    I agree with Shelley and just think what mileage you could accomplish with a titanium bike
    cheers,ox, Heather

  14. Anonymous Says:

    What a journey and what an accomplishment! Can’t wait to ride with you soon and my guess it will be on a new bike! Jill

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