Every year, Bicycle Rides Northwest takes up to 300 bicycle riders on a seven-day ride through Oregon to see the scenery and experience the heart and soul of its communities. With the motto of “low density-high adventure”, the tours include full SAG support, three hearty meals a day and well stodked rest stops to fuel cyclists throughout the day.
The 2015 Oregon Bicycle Ride, “Lighthouses & Lumberjacks” was an awesome opportunity to experience everything I love about Oregon from the vantage of a bicycle. Starting and ending in Roseburg, we wound our way through old growth forests, historic timber towns, along big beaches, up the Rogue River and through the Umpqua Valley.
Roseburg to Coquille: historic timber country
It’s day one and everyone was anxious to get started, so it was an early morning pack-up of camp to set out from Roseburg to Coquille. Our first stop was the Lookingglass Store, a funky store built in 1875 with quirky finds such as “manhole cover to nowhere.” From here, we headed out on the Coos Bay Historic Wagon Road, built in 1869 to transport farm and manufacturing supplies from the Umpqua Valley to the deep-water port at Coos Bay. This is Oregon timber country at its finest, with towering trees lining the twisty one lane road. It’s also an awesome route for the adventurous cyclist to ride through the southern portion of the Oregon Coast Range mountains.
Coquille to Gold Beach: the Oregon Coast
From Coquille, we spent two glorious days on the Oregon Coast. We rode the Seven Devils Road (yes, the “devils” are hills) to Sunset Bay State Park, Simpson Reef Overlook and Cape Arago for our first rest stop and mid-morning fuel up. Simpson Reef is famous for being the home to a number of seals and sea lions, barking at us from their rocky perch.
An overnight in Bandon kept us busy with a tour of the cheeses at Face Rock Creamery, a snack stop at Coastal Mist Chocolates (do not miss if you are a chocoholic), and a tour of the Washed Ashore Project Gallery. Washed Ashore is an organization that seeks to educate and create awareness of marine debris through art. All art in the gallery is made from plastic debris that is washed up on beaches, truly a sight to see. Evening entertainment in Bandon was a very interesting talk about the Redfish Rocks Marine Preserve, an effort to preserve the healthy and sustainability of the Port Orford area fisheries.
From Bandon we rode south on Highway 101 to Gold Beach, a great stretch of highway with a wide shoulder to ride in, and sweeping ocean views. Cape Blanco is a must see, with one of the biggest, most expansive views around. We passed by a few cranberry bogs, surf spots and State Park Campgrounds, and more delicious rest stops along the way, provided by Bicycle Rides Northwest. Bike rides don’t get any better than this!
Gold Beach and Rogue River: Bear Camp Road
Today was the big day. Our group was looking strong, and we were ready to tackle Bear Camp Road. Bear Camp Road is a narrow, paved forest road that runs through the Klamath Mountains, just south of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. It is rugged country and the 6,000 climb—it is steep, long and oh so rewarding. Sixteen miles up and twelve miles down, it was quite a ride. A quick stop at the Galice Resort for a cold beer made the last 4 miles to camp much more palatable. Camping on the cool waters of the Rogue River at tree covered Indian Mary Park refreshed our muscles for the next day.
Grants Pass to Myrtle Creek: cycling the Umpqua Valley
We’re halfway through our seven-day ride! The legs are tired, but the spirits are high and we set out towards Grants Pass in the morning. There were rumors of Rogue Roasters coffee being on the route and after two days without cell service, the cyclists flooded the place to buy lattes and check their devices. From here, we spent three days in the Rogue and Umpqua Valleys, cycling along quite country roads, through little towns and alongside gurgling creeks. Umpqua Valley is known for it’s wines and we were fortunate to have the Southern Oregon Wine Institute host a tasting for us at camp one night.
Our last camp for the night was in Myrtle Creek, a little town with big hospitality. They welcomed us with warm hearts, open arms, and The Fritter Challenge, sponsored by The Happy Donut, Myrtle Creek’s premium donut shop. Did five intrepid cyclists try to eat a 2-pound fritter? Yes. Yes, they did.
Seven days, 450 miles later, my legs are tired, but I feel satisfied. Cycling is a wonderful way to experience the little towns and great scenery that define rural Oregon. Participating in an organized supported tour makes it all the more better with ample amounts of delicious food, organized camping and fun activities. Bicycle Rides Northwest organizes an Oregon Bicycle Ride every year in a different part of Oregon, so check out their website at www.bicycleridesnw.org