Bike Tour 2022 – Kelso, Washington to Portland, Oregon

Our hotel was enormous. Its long hallways reminded me of The Shining.

The hotel cannot find enough staff to operate properly. Breakfast was a disappointment. At this stage a couple of bowls of Raisin Bran and some coffee gets the job done.

After a tour of industrial Longview we rode back across the Lewis and Clark Bridge to US 30 in Oregon. The bridge is downright scary. It’s noisy and shaky and has shoulders filled with debris.

We were glad to be off of it except for the fact that US 30 to Portland is nearly as nasty. The shoulders were adequate and the debris was less but the trucks made for a deafening bike ride.

We rode. All business. Get her done. No need for excess hemoglobin because there were no hills to speak of.

After about 50 miles we left the highway to ride the street grid to Union Station. Corey went inside to check out the bicycle-on-train situation. He could have put his bike n the baggie car unboxed but decided to box it for protection anyway. Amtrak will provide the box and tape. He also learned that for a reasonable price he gets to head home tomorrow, a day earlier than planned.

After scoring an Amtrak win we decided to check into the NW Portland Hostel where I stayed in 2018. It’s located a few minutes from the train station, the bike shop I’m going to use to ship my bike home, and lots of hip places for bike tourist celebrities like us.

Note also that we have N95 masks for the event that we have to share our room with a Covid vector.

Tomorrow we’ll prep for our respective journeys home.

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Finally!
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At the hostel: Postcards. And Stamps. Very retro.
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My bike shoes died a hero. Made it all the way thanks to Gorilla Glue and duct tape

Miles today: 56 Tour miles: 3,449

Bike Tour 2022 – Astoria, Oregon to Kelso, Washington

And you thought the tour was over?

Our night as bridge trolls worked out okay for me. Corey was kept up by the clomping of feet in the room above us.

We began the day with breakfast at Pig and Pancakes, a chain apparently. We ate at one in Cannon Beach. Fortified with pancakes (good), coffee (not bad), and scrambled eggs (meh) we headed east out of Astoria on US 30 headed for Portland.

Traffic was heavy, the shoulder was debris-filled, and the air was filled with mist. The road rolled up and down with the occasional somewhat serious climb. No matter. Our blood is still teeming with hemoglobin.

I began the day with a very sore lower back. The pain abated with every mile, and a couple tablets of Vitamin I.

Corey stopped and pointed out Mt Rainier. After about 30 miles we stopped at a gas station for snackage. A fuel truck driver gabbed with us. He said it wasn’t Rainier. He also told us the next climb would be four miles at six percent grade.

Corey and I agreed that it was a serious climb, made much worse by the incessant traffic and inadequate shoulder. We also agreed that it couldn’t have been four miles.

During a leveling off we saw two snow covered mountains in the distance. I have no idea which two it was. I think the one on the left is Mount Fuji but I could mistaken. I’m any case the one on the right was Mount Vesuvius for sure.

Fuji and Vesuvius

We had a crazy fast descent to the exit for Longview, Washington. Longview is halfway to Portland and has many motels and restaurants. According to Fuel Truck Driver there are many methheads there too.

The ride across the Columbia River was very stressful. Logging trucks go to Longview to drop their loads at the port and a paper mill. The shoulder was littered with chunks of bark. The crossing was not a lot of fun.

We stopped at Walmart where I bought a duffel bag to consolidate my panniers into for my flight home and a t-shirt to wear on the plane. (Laundry opportunities are unlikely between now and Saturday morning.)

Next we went to a bike shop for air for my rear tire and recommendations for motels and lunch. The lunch restaurant one of the bike shop guys recommended was right around the corner.

I had a cup of pig butt stew as a side dish. It was very tasty. I wish I had ordered a huge bowl of it and skipped the chicken caesar wrap.

After lunch we rode across the Cowlitz River to Kelso where we found a hotel for $120. It’s not bad at all. The lobby is rather posh.

Tomorrow it’s back across the pine bark bridge and another 50 miles to Portland, this time without the long climb. We plan to go to Union Station to get some definitive answer about whether Corey had to box his bike up for his train ride home. (In some cities you can just put your bike in the baggage car. Also, if a bike box is needed we’ll have to find out if Amtrak supplies them.)

Miles today: 57 Tour miles: 3,393

Any Road Tour: Day 58 – Getting there

Last night at the Motel 6 I watched the All Star game. The best part was when the crowd cheered for Wilson Ramos during the player introductions.

I slept in and had another diner breakfast. I am burning out on diner food. I am really looking forward to cereal with bananas when I get home.

The road now leads south and I followed my maps faithfully. There were a couple of small hills but, even with a headwind, hills are no longer annoying me. Lower gears. Stand up and pedal. Over the top. NBD.

The scenery was a mix of small farms, exurban homes with some livestock in the yard, and a few wooded stretches.

I rode about 35 miles west of Mt. St. Helens. I declined the opportunity to climb 35 miles to see some exhibits. It was once big. Not so much anymore. The end.

Maybe I’m getting numb to the scenery but man made stuff is getting more of my attention. This dude graced the water tower in Toledo.

This was in someone’s front lawn. Looked more like King Kong than Sasquatch.

Here’s the turn off to volcanic doom.

I followed the Cowlitz River as it slowly descends to the Columbia. I saw a few freight trains go by. The noise from I-5 killed the country vibe a bit.

I saw two separate northbound bicycle tourists today. Neither encounter occurred where we could chat. I also learned that last weekend was the annual STP ride, a 200+ mile trek from Seattle to Portland.

I rode into Longview in search of a bike shop to pump up my tires. A local bike rider saw me and escorted me to a Proper Cycle Works. He also offered me a camping spot in his yard because people did the same for him on his bike tour to and from San Francisco. His name is Alex and he’s a nice guy but I had motel-on-the-brain today.

The bike shop guy told me my tires were running at 60 psi. Low but not too bad. He pumped them up to 80. Then he gave me directions to the motels in Kelso across the Cowlitz from town. He also told me that the Adventure Cycling route to Oregon is not on a safe road. He advised me to cross the Columbia River on the bridge just outside Longview and ride US 30 to the coast. There’s only one big hill, he said. We’ll see.

At the end of the day, I found out that #bikedc friends Megan and Nate are on the coast driving a hippy van and doing drugs. Okay, I made the drugs up. Anyway there is an outside chance that our paths will intersect in the next day or two.

Miles: 60.5

Tour Miles: 4,088