Bicycling the Oregon Coast: Cape Lookout to South Beach – Part III

Day three contained the most miles and the most elevation gains. Cape Lookout SP to South Beach SP stretches 75 miles with over 4300 feet of elevation gain broken into three distinct climbs. We knew day three would be tough, so we mentally prepared and stashed our GUs in easy reach.

We started with three miles of steep climbing right from the campground. The grade was 5-10% which is HARD work on a bicycle. We used our lowest gears and celebrated that we had fresh legs and a quiet road for such a challenging climb. This section had old redwood forests on both sides of the road, but the right side only had 100 meters of forest before giving way to ocean views.

We reached the top, took a deep breath, and bombed down the other side of the hill. Best downhill practice would allow at least four seconds between riders so that we can clearly see the road ahead of us and have time to respond to obstacles. We didn’t do that. The shade keeps us cool, but it makes it very difficult to read road conditions. Aaron went first and swerved around the biggest pothole I’ve ever seen: four inches deep and four square feet. He tried to call it out to me, but I was on his tail and only able to avoid it with my front tire but not back tire. Dad was behind me and hit both front and back wheels as I yelled a warning. Thankfully none of us crashed, nor were our bikes damaged. We finished the downhill run then regrouped to inspect the bikes and shake out the leftover adrenaline. Aside from near death, that downhill section was really fun. It took us inland to a rural country road and the scenery changed from redwoods to horses.

Knowing we had some remote sections ahead, we stopped for an early lunch at Neskowin Trading Co and refilled our water bottles. We ate a lot of sandwiches on this trip, but that sandwich was memorably delicious. Aaron usually eats 25-35% of my meals, but I finished this one all by myself.

Our next section took us off 101 again to a quiet, country/canyon road where we saw one car in fifteen miles. This road also had our second climb of the day, but after the first one we barely noticed it. This grade was 3-6% over three miles. When it turned to downhill we figured that we must have just completed climb number 2. With our lessons learned from that morning, we spaced out for the descent. Biking downhill is the best.

The remainder of Day 3 was coastal with stops for blackberry patches, bridges, and watching a skiff beach itself at full speed. If I am making a funny face in any of the pictures below, it is because I am eating in every single one of them. If I wasn’t biking, I was eating.

The final climb of the day was at mile 60. Once again we were on a side route from 101 and this time we had dramatic coastal views a few feet from our feet. This hill was only a mile of 6% grade, so I guess we had over-prepared mentally. We had fifteen miles of rolling hills to go, and some spectacular scenery to enjoy.

Our final sight-seeing detour of the day took us to Yaquina Head lighthouse. The road was closed to cars, but we could maneuver around the barriers, so I think bicycles were allowed.

The town of Newport is just north of our South Beach SP, so we stopped at The Taphouse at NYE Creek for fish and chips. We locked our bikes out front and asked the hostess to keep an eye on them for us since all our gear was still attached. My legs wobbled as I got up from the table and we donned our neon jackets for the final few miles of riding. We had one more bridge to cross, and this one had a sidewalk with instructions to push our bikes across. We were tired so we complied.

I loved every day of this trip, but Day 3 was my favorite.