Matt O'Donnell
Pacific Coast
Florence, OR to Crescent City, CA After basking in the glow of showers that aren’t paid for with quarters and getting a good night’s sleep we headed back out on the road and pointed our bikes towards Coos Bay. The plan was to make it there with plenty of time to chill out and end our day at 7 Devils Brewery. Of course our comfy beds meant we slept in a bit and didn’t hit the road till after noon. We found ourselves entering 1950s reminiscent North Bend as evening was nearing so we really had to book it. We made it to an inn and decided we’d leave the bikes there and grab a cab over to the brewery. We ended up waiting almost an hour for a cab that never showed and eventually decided to hoof it the couple miles over to the brewery. I guess we were all so tired and kind of delirious that we just didn’t think it was a good idea to ride our bikes, even though it would have been immensely quicker and easier. We made it in time to enjoy one beer before they closed. So instead of enjoying one beer we slammed two beers. It was worth it.

The next day we were delivered our reward for enjoying those beers at 7 Devils: we got to bike 7 Devils. They really weren’t that bad, but actually kind of amusing. Since entering Oregon there had been a number of turn arrows pasted to the streets from a number of group rides that were obviously making their way through the area around that time. Some group had recently gone through 7 Devils as there were all sorts of mantras and slogans scrawled across the asphalt in colorful chalk and spray paint. My favorites were the taunting bits counting down each of the devils. “Devil #5” on one hill “well this is really 5 :)” on the next.

We eventually hit Bandon and I was just overwhelmed by exhaustion. I hadn’t been doing super long days, but I’d been biking for six days in a row and it was taking a bit of a toll on me. The guys wanted to continue on to Cape Blanco, but after we’d finished feasting on crab I just couldn’t go any further for the day. I said my goodbyes and went about finding a place to crash and getting a second dinner with a good amount of wine to wash it down.

The next day I got a late start and made the short ride to Cape Blanco where I planned to spend a down day to recoup. I had heard about this park from a few other travelers on the road and I had adjusted my plan to make sure I stayed there. It’s the mostly westerly point in Oregon, and besides Cape Alava in Washington, is the most westerly point in the lower 48.

I spent my day and a half there relaxing, hiking, and chatting with a middle aged gentleman who was hiking the west coast all along beaches.

The ride from Cape Blanco to Harris Beach State park was just, plain and simple, gorgeous Oregon coast line. While crossing a bit inland after Ophir there were cattle grazing, including some that looked like oreo cookies. I stopped at a nearby convenience store/bar and the locals told me I could buy a head of cattle for about $1500. I mentioned it’d be pretty hard to carry that back on my bicycle. Sometime during the conversation I realized that every single person who had been drinking inside had come out to smoke a cigarette and join the conversation with me.

Just a few short miles after crossing the Thomas Creek Bridge (the highest bridge in all of Oregon) the day ended at Harris Beach State Park. The hiker biker had a pretty festive atmosphere as there was, by far, the most people I’d seen at a hiker biker my whole trip. There were traveling French Canadian musicians, a Canadian gourmand, a couple couples, a dude traveling with a kid’s mountain bike and a huge trailer, and a number of other folks who came well past dark that I never got a good look at. A few of us went and climbed up a rock formation by the beach and enjoyed some beers and a joint. I had just made some new friends.

The next morning started with my one and only flat of the trip. I fixed it pretty quick and headed out solo, with the plan to meet some of the folks at Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park. Crossing over into California was exciting. There was still a good distance to go, but I had been on the road for 21 days and I was now in my home state, having crossed two states. I stopped to photograph the first sign that mentioned the distance to home: San Francisco, 347 miles. I pulled into Crescent City in time for lunch and had a killer sandwich at Vita Cucina. When you do a trip like this, really good food is special and this place is special. Then it was bike on the bike and time to start heading uphill.

- IMAGES OF THE ROAD -

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Matt O'Donnell

Gear List

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- My Blackburn Gear -

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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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