Astoria loop tour – Day 5

Wednesday, August 7 – 24 miles today/247 miles total

The beginning of the end…

Stem top a

We woke after a wonderful nights sleep, everything out was a bit damp. The rain fly was hung, tea was made and oatmeal with blueberries were on the menu. After camping and packing up for a few nights in a row, we’re getting our morning rhythm in gear – just in time to head home. ;-{

Our last campsite for this trip

Our last campsite for this trip

Taking the waterfront route back to Ilwaco, it was a brisk start to the morning. The coastal fog still hung low making for cool but comfortable pedaling. Knowing this would be a short day, we rode easy planning on lunch in Astoria at Street 14 Coffee (again!)

Could that be a bridge in the distance?

Could that be a bridge in the distance?

Usually, the traffic on US 101 is a bit busier but today we were, again, pleasantly surprised. We were wondering when our first glimpse of the Astoria-Megler bridge would happen. This would be our final test of the trip. Jay rode south across it on a tour of the Pacific coast about 15 years ago and remembers it as quite narrow with a strong cross wind. As we drove to the start, we noticed they were doing a bit of maintenance or repairs on it. Hmmm……we’ll see!

A quick snack and photo op before the bridge.

A quick snack and photo op before the bridge.

Rolling through the fishing town of Chinook, it seemed like everyone was still asleep. There was almost nobody out??? Around the corner, the bridge appeared.  We decided to take a short snack break before crossing.

jay at the bridge

At 4.1 miles long and a 200 foot climb at the southern end, the Astoria-Megler bridge is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America (according to the experts of Wikipedia!). Bikes are allowed any time but foot traffic is only allowed on one day each year, typically around our anniversary, for a 10k run/walk using the southbound lane to cross from Washington to Oregon, the Great Columbia Crossing. We’ve run it three times and it’s pretty amazing event!

The bridge has been restriped since Jay rode across years ago, giving cyclists a bit more visibility room but the old stripe is still visible in the middle of the current bike lane. Obviously, since IT IS a bridge, the overall lane isn’t any wider. It’s just a helpful visual indicator but helpful anyways!!! This crossing was nearly windless and, except for a logging truck close call, traffic was relatively light. Part of this was due to the construction on the highest parts of the bridge. Flaggers had about a 1/2 mile section restricted to one lane only so the oncoming traffic came in waves every few minutes instead of a steady stream.

After circling off the bridge, Janet and I headed back to Street 14 Coffee for lunch with Angela. Janet decided she’d drop off her bags, ride to Angela’s house and drive the truck back down.

Shortly after parking the truck and loading our gear, Angela came around the corner and joined us for lunch. As a welcome back treat, she had left a basket of fruit, water and Gatorade in the truck for us. In case you didn’t read Day 1, Angela is a friend of a friend who allowed us to park at her house. We had never met before pulling into her driveway. Following another tasty meal, we said goodbye to our new friend and began driving home.

While it is always bittersweet to leave the bikes as our primary means of transport, the next trip is never that far away. Our plan is to match our schedules and do a short tour every month or two. The next one will be a triangle route from McKenzie Bridge to Oakridge to Dexter and back to McKenzie Bridge in September.

Back soon, thanks for following along,

Janet and Jay

By the numbers:

5 days/4 nights, 247 miles, lodging costs – $27, food costs – ??, flats – 0, mechanical problems – 0, forgotten gear – small spatula, selflessly helpful people – lots!

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