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2005 Reach the Beach Ride - By Michael Wolfe

Reach the beachTom Mundal, Tom Stuck & I set off together on fendered bikes -- Saturday might have been a good gamble for otherwise, but Sunday on the way back didn't look promising.  And this is exactly what happened!  An incredibly gorgeous ride over, well maybe not bright sunshine, but it was a long ways from liquid sunshine!  Didn't appear to be as many riders this year, but time of departure, weather forecast, etc., might have been factors.  No accidents on our part, we did a great job of pacing ourselves but probably overstuffed ourselves on food.  Only witnessed one RR crossing accident, and it didn't appear to involve  a lot of riders.  Wet weather would have changed that most likely.

We stayed in Neskowin, and the short jog down the coast from Pacific City sure beats climbing over or around Neskowin Mountain at the end of a day! Carolyn, Tom Stuck's wife, brought over our street clothes, but had an idiot light cause her to detour to Lincoln City without dropping off the baggage.

Tom Mundal's wife, Mary, picked him up -- they had a conflict of schedules that prevented him from doing the lovely return trip back on 22 Sunday. Tom Stuck & I took a stroll on the beach to view Proposal Rock instead of taking hot showers since we didn't have any clothes to change into.  I warned Tom that we'd look like a couple of strange dorks in our bare feet with knee warmers and clear plastic rain capes, but come on, would that bother Tom Stuck? 

Reach the beachSure enough, halfway down the beach, a couple stops us and the woman asks what we were doing, to which Tom replied that we were walking down the beach, and I added that we were men from Glad but we'd run out of samples of plastic wrap!  Same thing happened on the way back up the beach!

We weren't that hungry, but Carolyn insisted that she was starved and we were going to make a meal of it.  Sat. night and the small restaurant was packed.  We waited nearly two hours!  That was OK with Tom and I, as we surprisingly weren't all that hungry.  Somehow, Tom & I devoured a 15" pizza, of which Carolyn had two slices!  Sheer gluttony, though it was delicious!

I woke up a couple times that night in tune with the cloudbursts that thundered on the roof, and it hadn't changed much in the morning.  Now, I queried Tom, what reasoning can we give to people for riding home on Hwy 18 & 22 in this weather? Tom really didn't have an answer, nor did I!

Still full of pizza, literally, we elected to ride to either Otis or Yvette's for breakfast.  We chose the coast bike route which leads you around Neskowin mountain, and only imagined the ugly climb up 101 over the mountain with cars and RV's vrrrrooooommmming water all over you and your eardrums! We encountered only four cars before arriving in Otis and the junction with 22.  It made for a beautiful start of the day.  Later, as we were Reach the beachpedaling along the Van Douzer Corridor, I reflected as to how it was actually more scenic there than coming over Neskowin mountain, but with the constant roar of passing traffic and the degraded, be-graveled shoulder, how impossible it was for anyone to really appreciate it.  It's too bad they hadn't made the road for the motorized race underground, out of sight and sound!  A real waste of natural beauty that not even cyclist's can take in.

The road in the corridor is turning into gravel pits and sometimes the only path we could find was three inches wide including the fog line.  Riding any further from the fog line was riding on a 1/2 inch thick pattern of asphalt pieces, suitable perhaps for 65psi mountain. bike tires, but not for our narrow, efficient, road tires.  Upon leaving the corridor, we did stop at Yvette's for breakfast, having ridden 30 miles.  We'd passed on Otis as we still felt full of juice, but I began to wonder if we'd inadvertently passed the restaurant as we entered the corridor.  We both had an appetite by the time we arrived, but remembering previous years, I swore off the sticky rolls!

Still, the monster slices of French toast looked intimidating, but they disappeared as Tom urged me to gulp them down before I discovered I was full!

Reach the beachThe rain had picked up while we had breakfast, and we deliberated as to whether it was merely a short downpour or a daylong squall.  I finally convinced Tom that it wasn't going to get any better, got our rain gear back on, had a friend (who offered a ride back to Salem) take our picture, and suddenly it got worse.  Tom elected to go back in under shelter and offer prayers to the rain gods.  It must have worked, 'cause it lightened up shortly thereafter and by the time we got to the 22 turnoff to Salem, it had quit.  We felt no more rain!

Surprisingly, the three climbs of Butler Hill weren't as bad as we remembered them, and the shoulders were wide an much less gravel than that strewn in the corridor.  As always, I was looking forward to the final descent to Salt Creek.  I almost miss the rides before I used cycling glasses, when coming down this hill would blur your vision with tears, but it's still a thrill keeping up with traffic on this one.  Upon reaching the flat section, I looked back and couldn't see Tom.  I coasted all the way to the service station before turning back to search for him.  It was only when I neared the foot of the hill that I Reach the beachspotted him fixing a flat in the "flat section"!  He'd had a sudden loss of air in his rear wheel on the descent but managed to control the ride until he got to the bottom.  A pinch flat, I suspected low air pressure to begin with as the tires are rated at 145psi and Tom is a bird.

While completing the repair we were passed by a couple of cyclists speeding down the hill.  When we passed the service station, there were four of them there.  But I only recall seeing two pass us while attending to the flat. Two of them caught and passed us a ways down the road and the other two caught us when we pulled over to put away our rain jackets.  "Are you OK? I'm a bike mechanic!" the female of the pair announced as they approached.

We explained that we were just getting rid of our rain gear.  They, riding fenderless bikes, stated that Reach the beachthey were from Bend and had also ridden the Reach the Beach, where they had felt unusual having rain gear and not seeing anyone else so equipped.  I didn't say anything, but I was sure Tom was equally happy to have had fenders the first 40 miles of our morning of rain!

It was an uneventful ride back to Salem.  I took some pictures of my faux pas that caused Tom to careen over a rocky ditch and land on his face last year -- the specter piece of 2 x 4 that suddenly rose from the road, which I escaped but failed to warn Tom of!

We had our customary stop at the McMenimans on Liberty Road to celebrate another ride to the coast and back and talked of how to do this with another route.  Maybe a 4-day circle including Eugene following the Smith River out of Gardiner over Wolf Creek Pass. 

But four days -- we'd be returning on a Tuesday!