A scenic budget-smart cycling adventure
Story and Photos by Megan Maxwell
Photo at right: The author and her mom toured the Pacific Coast by bike, and Oregon was their favorite section.
It was a small detail that neither my mom nor I had any biking experience—or had been to the west coast—when we decided to bike from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Imagining sunny beaches and leisurely afternoons, we expected a scenic bike ride that would be moderately difficult. While it wasn’t the relaxing beach vacation we had hoped for, it was a charming and unique adventure.
Out of the entire length of the U.S. Pacific Coast, Oregon was our favorite section. It seems that biking is the perfect pace to see Oregon’s coast.
Why Bike the Oregon Coast?Oregon is such a friendly place for bikers. One day when my mom popped a tube, a couple picked her up and drove her ahead to where I was on the road and then repaired the damage as well. I never felt worried for my safety while biking because the shoulders were wide and drivers gave us plenty of space.
We traveled slow enough that we had time to appreciate each rock formation rising up from the Pacific Ocean. And, a bowl of clam chowder from Mo’s Restaurant (it has six locations along the Oregon Coast) seemed to taste even better after traversing 20, windy miles to get to it.
Oregon might be well known for its wet weather, but we had mostly dry days during our ride down the coast, with the exception near the end of our trip. Note to future riders: invest in a good raincoat! My Showers Pass rain jacket kept my skin dry from the ongoing spray of passing cars and semi-trucks.
Where to Stay
The Oregon coast state parks offered the most affordable accommodations for both hikers and bikers, averaging $6 a night for campsites, hot showers and great conversations. The abundance of these parks provided us many options for short or long biking days because they were conveniently spaced 15–25 miles apart. While summer is busy along the Oregon coast, no reservations are needed for the hiker/biker sites.
Most of the parks have beach access, and sometimes campsites are right by the water. My mom and I liked to end our days early so we could spend the evening with our feet in the sand, watching the sun set over the Pacific.
The Bike RouteWe followed U.S. Route 101, that runs the entire length of the 347-mile Oregon Coast route, as suggested by the Adventure Cycling Association. The ACA route sticks close to Highway 101 and often veers onto less trafficked roads and cyclist-only trails. The maps were extremely accurate with only one or two times during the entire trip that it seemed off.
More often than I would like to admit, we got lost on a side road. The only downfall of the ACA maps is that they only label the roads you are supposed to be on, not the surrounding roads. In times like that, I used my Google Maps app to navigate back to the actual route.
Regardless of a sense of navigation, having a GPS app was useful. We went to the grocery store regularly to buy dinner and breakfast items, and we often wanted to eat lunch at restaurants.
Since we were already biking 40 miles a day, it seemed counter-productive to aimlessly bike around town to find what we needed.
Overall, the Oregon Coast route would be perfect for anyone who is looking for an outdoor-centered budget-friendly adventure where they can enjoy ocean breezes, scenic views, and meet friendly locals.
Megan Maxwell is a writer based in Colorado and is the author of The Appalachian Trail Girl’s Guide. She blogs at www.AppalachianTrailGirl.com and can be found on Twitter @hashbrownhikes.