Sunday, September 16, 2012

Portland To Seaside- off-road in one day

This was the summer to avenge rides that have kicked my ass in the past. Since I got the Old Wilson gravel road ride out of the way in May, it was time to get from Portland past Saddle Mountain and ride to the coast, off-road, all in one day.

Flashback 13 months- first attempt

My first attempt at this was back in August 2011, and it ended up being a 12-hour ride after getting lost a few times running out of sunlight in the woods near Saddle Mountain.

Flashback 3 months- recon
 Welcome to Oregon- your map says a road exists, but as you can see, it dead-ends into a clump of 40-year old trees and dumps into a small stream

This ride messed with me so much that I drove out there 9 months after the first attempt and pedalled on the roads where I was lost. Even on this day, I got so turned around that I didn't trust my GPS for 10 minutes as it indicated I was headed due west. But I bushwhacked for an hour where a stream had destroyed a road and linked up the key point where I got lost 9 months prior.

September 2012

With mapping and GPS routes downloaded, a late summer day of sun and a good buddy, it was time to ride from Portland and past Saddle Mountain to the beach

 Enter my friend Jack Fraser, he's always up for action

 Finally hitting gravel 12 miles past Vernonia off Keesey road

 It was a stunningly beautiful day and the roads were decent...

 ...but you never know what the coast range is going to reveal. At first I thought it was a deer hoof left over from a hunter

 Upon closer inspection, it was a coyote paw. But where was the rest of the coyote?

 It was 10 feet away off the side of the road

 From the way the carcass was laid out and missing body parts, I guessed a cougar got him. Check out the hornet crawling out of it's mouth. Yeah.

 After telling Jack that we had at least a 50% chance of seeing some elk, we finally got this one sighting. It left a piss puddle 18 inches in diameter, then ran off through the woods making a weird elk noise

 We're so close to Saddle Mountain, but not past it

 As expected, we ran into the dead-end through the stream and bushwhacked our way through it. The reconnaissance paid off!

     Flashback to June 2011 recon mission
Check out what it looked like in June while it was clouded in. When I took the photo then, I had no idea Saddle Mountain was sitting in the background

  September 2012 completion of the Saddle Mtn pass
Same spot as the previous photo, but without clouds. We made it past and were on the Lewis and Clark mainline road, 18-miles to Seaside

8+ hours into it, we were running out of sunlight

It was a relief to get on pavement and glide downhill in Seaside minutes before we ran out of sunlight

We stayed the night at the Seaside Hostel, had some beers on the beach and took a bus home to Portland the next morning. It was a sweet little 26-hour adventure and it felt good to finally get through some tricky, unpredictable forest roads.