Cycling the West Coast: Welcome to Oregon! [Day 5]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Astoria Bridge
Aerial shot of the Astoria bridge over the Columbia River. Shot from the Oregon side. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 5

I got moving around 6 am this morning in hopes of reaching the historic Astoria bridge that crosses the Columbia River into Oregon. From what I have heard, the Astoria bridge can be a little sketchy for cyclists, due to the lack of a shoulder and the long steep climb. The bridge is around 4.1 miles and has incredible views over the river.

Related: Cycling the West Coast: Taco Bomb [Day 4] – SnowBrains

I made quick time getting out of Washington and hit the start of the bridge around 8 am. I got myself stoked up, hammered down, and got across the bridge as fast as I could. The shoulder was almost non-existent, but luckily, I didn’t face much traffic so that was a relief. I saw all sorts of birds and seals as I crossed the bridge.

In the hills of Astoria. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

As a way of celebrating, I rolled into the town of Astoria, OR, and found breakfast at a restaurant along the piers. I geeked out and had the whole spread of pancakes, eggs, and sausage.

Afterward, I set off to explore the lively town of Astoria. They had a farmers market going on and I bought a 1/2-pound bag of cranberries to snack on. Biking in the area, I kept seeing cranberry bogs so I decided to try something fresh from the region.

Yum yum bog bites. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Astoria had quite some historic buildings, as it’s considered the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. In 1811, John Jacob Astor, a New York financier, sent fur traders to the area and the trading post of Fort Astoria was established.

Fort Clatsop was also established in Astoria. Fort Clatsop was the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805–1806. Located along the Lewis and Clark River at the north end of the Clatsop Plains, 5 miles southwest of Astoria. The fort was the last encampment of the Corps of Discovery, before embarking on their return trip east to St. Louis.

As I was site-seeing I met another bike tourist from Switzerland, by the name of Flurin. He had started his journey down the coast in Vancouver, CAN, and was following the same route as I. He was incredibly nice and was excited to explore the U.S. for the first time.

You already know I had to get a sloppy burger from the farmers market. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Afterward, I went to the piers again to take in the scenery now that the sun had cleared. As I was flying my drone, I ran into a filmmaker from LA who just finished filming a movie. I was curious and asked him what film he had just finished. His response had me stunned. “Avatar,” he said. Like the blue people Avatar. Like one of the biggest box offices of all time Avatar.

He was a kind soul and gave me a little sneak peek of what Avatar: The Way of Water would be like. From what he said, they had been filming in New Zealand for quite some time and the actors and actresses were taught free diving techniques to master the underwater shots.

The filmmaker was stoked to hear about my trip, as gained a great appreciation for cycling during his time in New Zealand. He completed the Alps 2 Ocean trail that starts at Mt. Cook and finishes almost 200 miles away in the coastal town of Ōamaru. His description of the ride sounded amazing, and I will definitely keep it in mind as I plan a future trip.

Fort Stevens State Park.
Exploring Fort Stevens State Park. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

I decided to dip Astoria and get to camp a little earlier than usual. I arrived at Fort Stevens State Park, which was maybe 10 miles straight west of Astoria along the Pacific Coast. Oregon state parks are amazing! I took a nice hot shower, charged my batteries, and set off to see the old Civil War-era artillery. Fort Stevens is huge, including 4,300 acres of camping, coastline (with a shipwreck), an old military fort, hiking trails, and a chill herd of elk I came across.

Fort Stevens
Fort Stevens Military Site. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

I spent some quality time at a tower overlooking the Pacific Ocean, reflecting and writing. Afterward, I went back to camp and to my surprise, met another bike tourist. He was my age and just graduated college as well. Today marked his first day, but he is biking the Trans-America route across the country. He plans on riding to Florence, OR before cutting East so I imagine we will be seeing each other a lot until then. We talked for a while, and he had some knowledge to share since he has spent a lot more time around bikes than I have.

Taking in the view at Fort Stevens State Park. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Overall, today was a leisurely day. As you can see on the map, I really on crossed the Columbia River, which was about 30 miles. The additional biking I did exploring tacked on another 15 miles or so. This pace won’t get me to LA by the target end date, but it was much more enjoyable, and I was able to explore more and meet more people. My route will now directly follow the Pacific Coast down highway 101, so I look forward to finding fish tacos and napping on beaches.

Stats from today:

  • Roughly 45 miles biked (15 miles went to exploring the area)
  • 800 vertical feet climbed
  • 1 new state!
  • 15 spooked elk as I came across them on a trail
Route for the day
My route into Oregon. Day 5 complete.

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