Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Full Moonlander

 Seaside to Warrenton GPS ride profile- click here

Day 1-

With the arrival of a bouncing baby Moonlander to the family, and a newborn bundle of joy to Mr. Ahearne's family, it was time for a playdate on the beach. Lucky for us, not only did the spring weather look promising, but it was also a full moon.

We rolled out of town on the bus to the coastal town of Seaside. For $17, we can slide our bikes underneath in the cargo bay and let somebody else drive 2 hours through the Oregon coast range. After driving through a 10 minute snowstorm over one of the passes, the bus dropped us off at the Seaside hostel at sunset, which is run by a rad woman named Trung. For another $26, we get beds in a dorm and free pancakes and eggs in the morning. They have secure bike parking, fresh made coffee and the usual hostel amenities. We were the only other tenants that night, so we stayed out late, knowing we wouldn't wake anybody when we got back.

Bark at the Moon- we hit the beach after the sun went down. As soon as we got out towards the water, we saw the moon creep up over the mountains. There was no need for lights, we had natural moon light beaming from space. We rolled to the south edge of the beach to a dead end, then found a nice log to sit on and drink a beer.

Post-beer, we headed north until a river dead ended the short beach and we got into some thick swamp brush and peanut buttery mud/sand. After a few moments of 'shwacking through the weeds, we found a recently abandoned camp fire and stoked it up to warm our feet. Joseph pulled one of the two flasks of whiskey from his bike to warm our bellies. There were still sea lions in the river.

The best part of the night was yet to come- as we found our way back towards the hostel, we rolled into the beach grass and followed some of the singletrack-like foot paths through the grass. The paths all seemed intertwined, so we'd just follow one, then split off and ride another, then another, and so on. It was a seemingly endless little maze of footpaths to try and hold your line on. And if you veered off the path, the massive tires made up for it and plowed right through anything. It was a surreal moment to be able to ride without lights, at speed, on beach singletrack. After that, we tested the stair climbing abilities of our bikes and rolled back to the hostel to turn in for the night.

Day 2-

With the unexpected bonus of last nights excellent ride, we woke up with the realization that all we needed to worry about today was to eat, ride, shit and catch a bus back to Portland in 10 hours. Trung mades us some coffee and we walked outside to the river in front of the hostel and noticed frost on the ground. But despite the chilly night, we could tell the sun was warming things up quickly.

4 1/2 eggs (each) and a massive pancake (each) later, we packed our crap and rolled out of Seaside north to drop onto the beach in Gearhart, right on the other side of the river where we warmed our feet over the fire the night before.

It was sunny and warm already- a perfect day was shaping up. Within minutes, I broke a bottle cage, Joseph lost a water bottle and our feet were wet from plunging through a creek. These turned out to be the only casualties of the day. After a couple miles of swerving, grinning and chasing up birds, we went back into Gearhart to buy sandwiches, pie, chocolate and beer for lunch.

Back on the beach, we just rolled and observed. There were more dead crabs on the beach than I'd ever seen. Some of them looked intact and alive, so we got some good close-ups shots, showing their purple color and bad ass stature. Crabs are cool. The sea gulls and other birds were having smorgasbord, which made it fun to ride over to them and spook them into flight. This never got old.

We took a lunch down the beach at about mile 13. Croissant sandwich and a cold 24oz Rainier, kept icy cold thanks to this wonderful multi-use bag from Randi Jo Fabrications. One of the nice conveniences of Oregon beach rides is the proximity to small towns with food, water and beer. You're usually never more than 5 miles between towns, so you don't need to load down your bike with too much stuff.

We arrived at the old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale. The remains of the wreckage are the rusted steel beams from the bow, and one little beam of the tail about a 150 behind it. As if planned, a surfer caught a wave as I snapped the photo.

The further north we got, the more we felt our legs fatigue. We also went from relatively fast sand and a 12 MPH clip, to a more dirt mix of sand and a slower 8-9 MPH clip. It seemed like we arrived at the northern most end of the beach is short time, but 5 hours had gone by like nothing.

As far as scenery goes, this mound on the beach is probably one of the most amazing geographical spots on the planet. The mouth of the mighty Columbia river lets out into the Pacific ocean. As you look up the Columbia, a snow white Mt. St. Helens pops up in contrast with the 1,000-3,000 foot hills in the foreground. Then there are the beach dunes and cliffs across the river on the Washington state side. Words can't describe it, nor do photos fully capture it. You just have to go there, preferably by bike.

Ripping some beach singletrack

A 360 view of the northwest-most part of Oregon, where the Columbia meets the Pacific

 We weren't done riding yet, as we opted to wrap around the peninsula to see how far inland we could ride. This was the most peanut buttery section of sand on the day, with a head wind to boot. At one point, the beach disappeared into the waves of the brackish Columbia, but we were able to ride through the 100 yard section until the beach reappeared again. Mud, bogs, grass, sand and migrant birds made up the last section of beach for the day, and it was finally time to head back into Warrenton.

Hitting pavement for the first time in 7 hours felt pretty good. We pumped the tires up from 12-15 PSI to about 22, perfect for pavement. We zig zagged in and out some bike paths and into the town of Warrenton, where the bus would pick us up. Corn dogs, Snickers bars, another beer and a quick bird bath in the bathrooms was all I needed before the bus ride. I got home 29 hours after I left.

Fat bikes are further proof you don't have to go fast or far to have a great day.

1 comment:

  1. Just curious, is that a usable tube that you have wrapped around the downtube of your Moonlander, or is it just part of a tube put there for another purpose? It's an interesting way to carry a spare if that's what it is.

    Great photos and stories. I recently got a Pugsley and hope to do some similar exploration in the wilds of Colorado.