Our campsite at Cape Lookout really felt like it was in an enchanted forest this morning. The tall pine trees were silhouetted against the pale grey sky and the fog was low and thick. All the sounds were really muted too. As I got out of the tent, little rabbits that were having a breakfast of grass and shrubs went scampering back into the undergrowth. If that all sounds idyllic, it’s because it was. (Note: Tom was up in the middle of the night rescuing the panniers from a marauding raccoon).
We had a slightly disappointing cup of tea (no milk) and some watery porridge (no milk) and then got on our way, discussing the delicious hot drinks and snacks we’d consume a little further down the road.
First up, though, we had a big hill to get over. The elevation map showed a massive, skinny spike, stretching up from sea level to 800ft. Luckily, we felt strong and energetic and we pedaled our way up there at a good pace.
We only saw about three cars on the road (the benefit of an early start) and it was wonderful to climb in and out of the fog layer. Sometimes I could see Tom riding ahead of me and sometimes he was swallowed up in opaque whiteness.
From the top, we descended slightly and then traversed a plateau covered in sand dunes. I had no idea we’d see anything like that on the Oregon coast! Another few miles and we dropped into the small town of Pacific City. Most of the coastal communities along this stretch are really charming and this was no exception. We quickly found a nice cafe with outdoor seating that looked into the ocean and an amazing rock formation out at sea.
After tea, coffee and bagels, we somehow managed to find room for a humongous, freshly-baked cinnamon roll. Full of carbs, we were ready to tackle the next 27 miles before lunch.
The weather had cleared up beautifully and we had the magic combination of sunshine and a tailwind. Add to that the stunning scenery and we had all the ingredients for a perfect day’s riding.
The route took us along the coastline and we regularly stopped to take photos and chat to other visitors.
Further along, our maps indicated a detour from 101 onto the old highway and we found ourselves on a meandering road, riding through thick, lush forest.
Admittedly, the road condition wasn’t ideal, with potholes and huge cracks but the surroundings were amazing. A cyclist traveling the other way showed me some edible berries that were growing along the side of the road so I had a quick hedgerow snack to prepare for the uphill section.
The road soon rejoined the main highway and the traffic picked up again. We stopped in Lincoln City for a bite to eat and used the opportunity to throw our clothes in the wash at a nearby laundromat. Two birds, one stone.
The final section of our ride continued the same theme as the morning: gorgeous views and a non-stop tailwind. At one point, on a 5% grade uphill, I was clocking 10mph. That may not sound like much but, usually, on my fully-loaded touring bike, I’d be pleased to hit 7mph. You could literally feel the wind at your back, pushing you along. It feels particularly sweet after a few weeks of headwinds!
Tom in silhouette
The last climb of the day took us through a gorgeous, residential area, full of houses perched precariously on top of cliffs. I was in my element; admiring the pretty homes and imagining sitting on one of the decks, watching the sun go down, with a root beer in one hand and some sort of pastry in the other.
Spot the house right up on the edge of that cliff!
Similarly to last night, we hadn’t really prepared very well for dinner and the last town we went through – Depoe Bay – only had a gas station convenience store.
We pressed on, deciding yet again to gamble that the restaurant marked on the map (the last one before the campsite) would be open.
We turned off the main highway onto Otter Crest Loop Road. This turned out to be one of the most beautiful roads of the trip. It was narrow, eventually becoming a single track road with a dedicated bike lane.
It hugged the coastline with steep drops down towards the ocean. It was a beautiful time of the day to be riding, with the sun setting over our right shoulders.
Nearing the campsite, we saw the sign we’d been looking for. A seafood cafe on the edge of a cliff. It might have been the windiest spot on the entire coast: we took a few photos of the view before seeking shelter and dinner in the cafe.
The amazing view from our dinner destination
It was a great little place, serving some seafood dishes and great local beers. Jan had the fish tacos and I had a fish stew.
Both were very good and I chased mine down with a few pints of Rogue Ale from nearby Newport. We also ordered a couple of desserts to go.
It was a bit tough getting back on the bikes after that – the last little hill felt like the steepest of the day. Our legs had post-food fatigue! Thankfully we only had a couple miles to the campsite, and that strong wind was right behind us.
Beverly State Park was a beautiful park. It was right beside the ocean and the hiker/biker pitch was up on a hill, surrounded by trees. Best of all: we were the only people there.
For $6 each, we had a whole field to ourselves, plus use of showers. We set up the tent, bought some wood and made a fire and then ate our takeaway desserts as the sun set. It had been another lovely day.