Matt O'Donnell
Pacific Coast
Astoria, OR to Florence, OR Pulling out of the beer wonderland of Astoria was bittersweet. It was a great little town I could envision myself staying in for a month, so three days didn’t feel like quite enough, but it was great to be back out on the road. I headed out along the wiggly Lewis and Clark Road, following its eponymous river, until it cut westward towards the ocean. I made it to the beachside town of Seaside and was greeted by a blanket of fog. Just off the coastline was a wall of grey. It kind of reminded me of my San Francisco home. Just a little bit further south, in Cannon Beach, the fog had pushed off the beach just enough to reveal the first of the rock formations I’d be in awe of for the duration of my Oregon Coast ride. Haystack Rock is over 100 ft. of awesomeness. I’d find myself constantly pulling over to check out these rock formations over the next week.

My intro to camping in the north of Oregon was Nehalem Bay State Park and I quickly began to appreciate camping in Oregon. In addition to Nehalem, Cape Lookout State Park, and Beverly Beach State Park all offered great hiker biker spots with plenty of hot water for showers and immediate beach access that made for excellent sunset watching.

The night spent at Cape Lookout was a bit noisy as the hiker biker camp was systematically infiltrated by cunning little raccoon bastards. I had locked all my food stuffs up in the provided boxes, but a couple other cyclists weren’t so lucky and had a lot of their food picked off during the night. The group that was singled out by the washing bears got up at the crack of dawn to go find breakfast, since a few of them were pretty short on food now. I got a much later start, but ended up catching up with them later in the day, just a couple of hours before Beverly. They kindly took me in and let me set up camp with them, which was awesome because they had a friend in town that brought us pizza and beer. We were bike glamping.

My new friends were William, Jacob, Greg, and Brian. Two national park rangers and two solar tech guys. Everyone was cycling at different abilities, which made for a really nice, chill tempo to the day. Everyone just moved at a pace they were comfortable with and then we’d regroup for meals. Jacob’s setup was pretty cool and different: a carbon fiber road bike with a pretty heavy duty trailer that had a suspension shock built in on the wheel, carrying all of his weight behind him and low to the ground.

Our push into Florence ended up being pretty cold and wet, so by the time we arrived we were ready to just call it and get a motel. Luckily we found one right next to Nature’s Corner Cafe, which is where we ate a ton of great food both that night and the next morning.

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Matt O'Donnell

Gear List

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Matt O'Donnell
  • Genesis moment? A year ago I started a new company with a friend here in San Francisco. It’s been successful and I feel blessed because of that, but the hours were long at times, the stress high and I found that my fitness and riding is what took the biggest hit. I went from regularly riding 200+ miles/week to being lucky if I got in 40. When the holiday season came around I found myself with a week off and a huge amount of excitement to get back on the bike. I went for broke and rode over 300 miles in the six days I was visiting family out in Tucson, AZ. What did I get for my effort? A knee injury, seemingly caused from overuse; meaning I jumped back into the deep end too fast. I should have waded into the kiddy pool, I guess.
    I’ve spent some time in physical therapy and the knee is feeling good. This trip is going to be a great opportunity for me to get reconnected to my functioning body and to allow my head some time and space away from work, to reevaluate priorities, tell some stories, and to just ride bikes and sleep in tents.
  • Have you traveled in the past? My previous experience traveling distance by bike is pretty limited. I’ve done a few overnighters, but this will be my biggest trip BY FAR. I look forward to learning primarily by making mistakes and then trying not to repeat them.
  • Goal for the route? My biggest goal is to find some great characters and stories to share along the way. So much of the fundamental basis of American cycling culture spawned from the West Coast and I know there are going to be great examples of it along the way. In addition to that I hope to keep all my fingers and toes attached to my body.
  • What do you hope to get out of the journey? It sounds hippy-ish, but I’m hoping to come away from this with a bit of perspective. The sort of insight and calm that only many miles, the open road, and no cell phone reception can bring you. I’m also aiming for some real nice, crisp, tan-lines.
  • What's in your bag? #1 my Fallkniven F1 survival knife is my favorite camping knife. Seeing as how it is a fixed blade, I (for legal reasons) don’t want to “conceal” it. I tend to actually mount it right on the bike with zip ties holding the plastic sheath in place. Getting it through customs will be interesting.

    #2 My Coffee & Tea Collective tin mug. This was given to me by a good friend who hails from San Diego for my 30th birthday. I’ve never spent any time in San Diego, but since this route is going to take me right through I figure I should swing by and fill this baby up straight from the source. I will then immediately begin an epic burrito sampling to settle once and for all who has the best, San Diego, or San Francisco.

    #3 my GoPro Hero 4 Black. I have a variety of accessories from mounts, to filters, to nifty time lapse doodads that will allow this camera to do some heavy lifting for the mini documentaries I intend to produce while out on the tour.

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