Day 14 – Newport, Or to Coos Bay, Or

Distance: 332.8 miles / 535.6 Kilometres
Temperature: Low 12 (along the coast – beg./end of day) / High 28 (inland)
Riding Time: 8:30am – 5:30pm

Wow! What an incredible day of riding. A bit of sight-seeing at the beginning of the day but the rest of the day was lonely, and very twisty, side roads. I really didn’t move too far down the coast but the riding I did today is some of the best I’ve ever encountered.

When I got up and got going this morning in Newport the weather was sunny and partly cloudy – which is unusual. Usually it has been foggy and misty in the morning and burns off. Well, it turns out the mountains were cloudy and foggy to start the day and it threatened rain. I was freezing my hind-end off so I put on a windproof layer and turned on the heated grips – boy those were a great investment (warm hands – happy rider!).

As I progressed inland the temperature went up a few degrees and the sun broke through and remained out for the rest of the day. Quite a pleasant day, not too hot or cold from that point.

I decided to trace the route we did on the 2006 VFR group ride. I remembered most of the place names and the rough route. What’s really odd about the secondary and logging roads is they are quite poorly marked so they are actually quite easy to miss. Most of this ride is in some portion of the Suislaw State Park.

A quick trip up highway 101 and off to the turn for Siletz. This is a great warmup since it has some really tight back to back turns and really long fast sweeping corners. Lots of fun.

The ride from Nashville to Summit and the Blodgett is also a blast. Some really narrow roads with some of the best corners I’ve seen. What’s really cool is it crosses under the railway which is old train tressels made from wood. The highway reduces to a single 12 foot wide lane that’s only about the same distance high to the tracks – like a small wooden tunnel. Really cool – gotta watch for oncoming traffic.

There is one section of about 6 miles or so on highway 34 just east of the Mary’s Peak turnoff that is absolutely the best section of road ever. Even better than the Rowena Curves. There are no straight stretches the entire way. There is a continuous curve after curve progression for the entire ride – most of which are incredibly tight (rated at 20 mph) and that have decreasing radii or are blind. There is one particular corner that slopes or cambers inward and right away turns into another that loops around 180 degrees blind. I went through once for fun, then I went back. Then I went through again, and again. So in total I rode this section 6 times. What a blast. I’d take photos but there is no shoulder or place to stand. To put things in perspective – one corner is banked and long enough that I could pass a slow vehicle on the inside lane like a velodrome – kids, don’t try this at home. 😉

I missed the ride to the top of Mary’s peak at the meet so I thought I’d better have a look this time. Boy, what a view from the top. Today the mountain top was up well over the blanket of clouds – at just over 4,000 feet it’s the highest mountain in the Coastal range. You can see all the way across the state to Mount Hood and what I think is Mount St. Helens or Rainier (not 100% sure). Absolutely stunning. The road to the top is a bunch of fun. There are many, many curves, a change in altitude and the occasional gravel patch to keep you on your toes. Well worth the journey.

Another excellent stretch of road is from Alsea to Alpine. This is basically an untravelled logging road which I only saw 2 cars the entire time. There are stretches of long sweepers and some really technical tight corners with blind and decreasing radii. This is the closest I’ve come to having a wipe-out. There was a bit of moss on the road (it’s so wet and the roads covered that it actually grows in the middle of the road) and there was a “tar snake” (tar poured into cracks on the highway to fill them). The front and rear tire wobble and slid on the moss then completely slid and move from under me on the tar. The bike, and I, corrected three times in about 2 seconds to keep the bike on the road and through the corner. It was a real ‘check your shorts’ moment.

The last section was a road that Tim had recommended, and that I’d heard Keith talk about. The Suislaw River Road. Most of these secondary or logging roads are unmarked or are hard to see tucked away. I didn’t realize that in Oregon these roads don’t have numbers or show up on maps they are simply known by name. If I hadn’t had general directions to the area the road began I’d have missed it completely. I’m so glad that I didn’t miss it. Just outside of Crow (which is on the map but really isn’t there) is the right-hand turn to what looks like another town road – this is it. You can take the Wolf Creek Road or the Suislaw River Road – they end up in roughly the same section of forest. It is absolutely brilliant riding. No traffic, well-maintained and super twisty – high and low speed technical. You really have to pay attention since there are very few marked corners (no indications of speed) so they can sneak up on you if you’re daydreaming or going ‘a bit too fast.’ It’s nearly 80 miles of largely untouched road that has been replaced for logging and the campgrounds in the area. One of my favorite roads ever. For those that have ridden in BC it’s like the Kaslo to New Denver run – with zero traffic – imagine?!

A trip down highwya 101 that was undergoing construction which was a delay and annoying. Stopped in the Oregon Dunes State park. How odd that the entire landscape from basically Florence to North Bend (just under 50 miles) is a massive sand dune. Pictures don’t do it any justice – it’s epic. It’s literally swallowing everything on the coast – even the sideroads in some spots.

Last southward ride today. Now time to make my way back towards home.

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