Wheelin’ and Healin’ Down the Oregon Coast

Wheelin’ and Healin’ Down the Oregon Coast

Satyr owner, David, sent us this story from a real rad trip he took with friends. This is what it's all about, and just one of the many reasons we build these two wheeled machines. Big thanks to David for sharing his adventures with us, hope you enjoy as much as we did. -Elijah.

Words by: David Crall

I lifted my Ritte Satyr from Los Angeles’ Union Station platform up to the train’s baggage attendant. Bikepacking down the Oregon coast loomed just up the tracks. A 40 hour train ride to Seattle couldn’t threaten my stoke. I sat over two months off the bike with a broken wrist and was only a week and two short rides out of the cast. A few days with my brother’s family and riding around sunny Seattle convinced me I’d handle the rolling road ahead. My last minute training ride featured the Blue Angels blasting full send stunts over Lake Washington, pumping some kind of confidence that 400+ miles down Oregon’s coast lay in the realm of possibility.

My Satyr lifted back into the hands of the train’s baggage attendant, this time for a 4 hour passage south to Portland. I convinced myself to end my summer pedaling the Oregon coast, solo or with as many who could be persuaded. Ari & Mark made the last minute decisions to travel north to share pulls, jokes, emergency meals, and whatever else presented itself. Spoiler: we did not find Sasquatch.

An evening exploration of Portland’s vast bike infrastructure led to supplies and premature celebration, ending with a nightcap at a Greek steakhouse. Stoke levels to the brim, nearly packed bags, and a crowded motel room signaled a coming change of pace and scenery. A morning bus transported our bikes and us from Portland to Astoria, the start of the Oregon coast section of the Pacific Coast Bike Route.

Across the street from the bus stop, Bikes & Beyond offered a few finishing touches to our set-ups, including the official route map. My version 1.0 pack, I seemed to have a different and possibly better way to load everything up each day, looked decent enough. We traveled relatively light, knowing restaurants and markets lined the route for sustenance. 

My gear fit in a 16L seat pack and 4L frame bag with my tent strapped to the handlebars:

  • Sleeping bag - down jacket - rain jacket - 3 shirts - shorts - 2 bibs - 2 caps
  • Two chonies - 3 socks - top & bottom base layers - neck gaiter - slippers
  • Tools - lock - lights - 2 bottles - backpack - towel - Meditations
  • Phone - gps unit - charger & cables - point & shoot 

Ari rigged up his Ritte Vlaanderen speedster as Mark’s ‘88 Miyata 1000 earned honorary entrance into the Ritte crew, not just because he lugged cooking gear, but because it’s a damn pretty bike.

Day 1: 47 miles, 2400 feet elevation gain

I planned the two shortest distance days to kick off the trip under the impression we’d ride into some fitness and enjoy the many sights on the touristy northern section of coast. A nerve-racking logging truck close pass on the narrow bridge out of Astoria woke me from dreaming up the trip to its present reality. We are cyclists, this is the 101. We were prepared as riding in LA is hors categorie for close passes. A bliss-blitz bolstered a desire to ride from the street onto the hard wet sand of Cannon Beach down to Haystack Rock without lifting a foot off the pedals. Haystack’s steadfast resistance to tidal erosion inspired me to think I might be able to resist a little leg soreness. The euphoria of riding inches from the Pacific’s reach required a little innovation to clear sand from cassettes, chains, wheels, and rotors to continue into Nehalem Bay for the first night in one of Oregon’s wonderful hike/bike sites offering lockers, charging ports, a bike stand, and bike tools.

Day 2: 53 miles, 2200 feet

We lazily explored Nehalem Bay and managed our expedition’s lone mechanical, a flat, before spinning 330 degrees back to the 101. I hyped visiting Tillamook Creamery to pursue personal records of lactose intake threshold, but it closed early due to a kitchen flood and we cursed its name the remainder of the trip. The road wound along the tranquility of Tillamook Bay and up an empty, closed road climb that multiple recent landslides bedraggled out to Cape Meares lighthouse. I previously road tripped the Oregon Coast, bike in tow, riding bits and pieces of the coast along the way, sowing the seed for this trip. Retracing the lighthouse to Cape Lookout stretch matched my memory as we crushed into the coolest hike/bike site of the trip. Little pockets of cleared ground surrounded by Sitka trees within earshot of the surf. Our evening fire ended early as the drizzle thickened, lightning split the sky, and thunder rumbled, rolling deep, mimicking the tide.

Day 3: 81 miles (oops, planned for 71), 3800 feet

Packing wet tents isn’t fun, but slipping into damp bibs takes the cake. A Portlander escaping the inland heat came to our site to chat, heard we volunteered at Bikerowave, and detailed the awesomely inspiring origin story of LA volunteer community bike shops by the founder of the Bicycle Kitchen. Tale told, we set sail south out of Cape Lookout through drizzle and mist up an 800 foot climb, the highest of the trip, cresting at 895 feet above sea level. Stress dissipated in sync with the drizzle on the Slab Creek offshoot of the 101, serenading us with lush forest and quietude in juxtaposition to ocean views and motors. We stopped at a fallen log decorated with a smiley face, which felt strikingly relatable. There is some controversy as to how we added 10 miles to our route, but honestly I mistakenly directed us 5 miles inland before realizing the mistake. We rallied back to the 101 after a market kebab and beverage reset. Otter Creek offered another respite from the 101, a one way coastal climb and wonderfully twisting descent described by a fellow bikepacker as video game racing. At an ocean lookout at the end of Otter Creek, a sharp-eyed birder pointed out two bald eagles perched atop nearby trees, bringing our birding count to three bald eagles and 10,000 handsome seagulls. Down the road, I swear I saw a surfacing whale near Depoe Bay, a whale watching hot spot and self-proclaimed home of the world’s smallest harbor. We rolled through Newport with an emphatic “briiiiiiidge” yell, a ritual stemming from our growing obsession with Oregon’s historic water crossings, as we traversed the Yaquina River. On the other side, we aimed west along the southern edge of the river’s acceptance into the Pacific to witness the descending sun change the sky’s character above the lighthouse, bridge, beach, ocean, and river mouth. 

Day 4: 76 miles, 3500 feet

I thought luck finally flipped ugly, waking to a fellow camper’s poo next to my tent. Upon wary closer inspection, the poo slithered and showcased its antennae to prove me wrong. A banana slug wrongly accused of being waste. Cape Perpetua provided the day’s highlights. We meditated over Pacific tides charging Devil’s Churn, plunging in and spilling out of Thor’s Well, and blasting skyward through Spouting Horn. We spent too much yet not enough time observing the mesmerizing coastal erosion process. More bridges, a tunnel, and a hilltop lighthouse marked the way to the next hike/bike. Free firewood from the camp host set the tone to appreciate a quiet forest on a hill.


Day 5: 80 miles, 3800 feet

Coffee and cookies from Umpqua lighthouse overlooking the ocean incentivized packing up a camp swaddled in magnificent forest. We pedaled past numerous picturesque lakes down to Coos Bay bridge, a feature we’d been looking forward to since a fellow bikepacker told us to fear its treacherous crosswinds and traffic. We dutifully yelled “briiiiiiidge,” crested the dragging climb on the sidewalk, stopped for mid-bridge pictures, then claimed a lane to descend to Moe’s bike shop to purchase “I survived pedaling Coos Bay bridge” shirts but no stock remained after a busy summer. The route bent west to the coast approaching Seven Devils, advertised as a succession of seven soul-sucking climbs. If our bikes weighed 100 pounds, like those of some we met along the way, then it might have felt like hell. Instead, we wondered if our arithmetic was off. Landing in Bandon, we took time to engulf fish and chips while basking in the sunshine that eluded us the first days of the journey. We left the 101 for Cape Blanco, realizing too late there were no nearby markets. Thankfully, Mark’s stove, rice, and leftover fish resuscitated us after breathing in sunset from a cliff lighthouse and starting a fire under a bright moon.


Day 6: 71 miles, 4200 feet

Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor is a coastal stretch with pristine cyan, turquoise, and deep blue swirling waters that scrape against radical rock formations, secret beaches, and high cliffs. It’s the segment I fantasized. We hustled south around Humbug Mountain, over the Rogue River, and into a Gold Beach pizza joint. The cheesy carbs carried us across the Pistol River and into paradise. The first pullout in the scenic corridor gave view to Arch Rock and a quick relax high above the alluring tides. Next, we docked at Natural Bridges. On a past trip, I hiked down to cross the tops of the mysteriously floating ocean bridges in misty conditions, so I volunteered to watch the bikes while Mark and Ari meandered down. Mark’s insistence on wearing running shoes for flat pedals the entire trip paid off on the steep trail, allowing him to sit atop one of the eroding rock bridges, mind sailing away. Ari’s stiff cycling shoes forced him to turn back and rejoin me in the crow’s nest. Curiously, a couple of fully attired scallywags, in the area for the annual Brookings pirate festival, walked the planks next to us scouting the high seas. The final pullout turned down a steep gravel road onto sandy Whaleshead Beach, where our elongated shadows strolled for a closer view of the breacher. The sun showed no mercy in our race to the campsite on the north end of Brookings, but a last burst of energy landed us on top of the podium.

A classic point A (Astoria) to point B (Brookings) bikepack route. We soft pedaled to the local watering hole for burgers, beers, billiards, hold ‘em, and a jukebox takeover that convinced the locals to move along.


Day 7: 29 miles, 400 feet 

Brookings isn’t quite the southernmost edge of Oregon’s border and our journey called for crossing into California. Ari and Mark got an earlier start due to me not hearing my alarm after a night of celebrating a realized dream. I picked up a canned coffee, ice cream cookie sandwich, and last chance Oregon greens before tracking their trail across the state border. At the junction of the suddenly skinny-shouldered section of California 101 and quiet coastal roads into Crescent City, a kind coffee truck barista reported my comrades were about 45 minutes ahead of me and ordered the same latte. Only a few pedal strokes remained before cheating our way down the state to LA. 

dream < realization

Reading next

Build Log - Anthony's Satyr Ti
Ritte Esprit review