When I was teaching Chemistry and Physics at Jefferson High in Portland my son John and I and two of his friends decided to go camping at Cape Lookout State Park and ride the Three Capes Loop on the Oregon coast near Tillamook. Nether of his friends, Maureen or Leslie, had ridden much, nor had John or I, but we wanted to ride some distances. I had a (French) Stella bike that was old, but serviceable, sort of, if you didn’t mind stopping often to put the chain back on the derailleurs. Betsy and I both had Stella’s that we bought on sale at the Schwinn shop on Broadway and 7th in Northeast Portland a few years ago. As part of our preparation we had gone to The Galleria bike shop on Sandy Boulevard near 52nd.
We took our ’72 red VW camper to Cape Lookout. John and I slept in the VW and Leslie and Mo slept in a tent at the campsite. The next morning we took off north toward Netarts, Ocean City and our first Cape, Cape Meares. Well it was our first cape beside Cape Lookout, which we really didn’t ride over the top of yet. We learned to climb, that is shift down and keep pedaling, as we went up and up after Netarts Bay. We were very happy to get to the top of the Cape so we stopped to see the Octopus Tree, the Cape Meares Lighthouse, and go to the bathroom. I don’t remember carrying water or food, though it would seem advisable, but we were novices at bike touring.
And then we got to go down! Wow, this was totally better than the climb up. Bicycling has three advantages over hiking: (1) You only have to hike up one side of the hill. (2) Your range is much greater. While I could only hike 8 miles a day with a full pack, I could ride 20 or more miles. (3) You kept going past grocery stores and restaurants, so you needn’t pack food for the trip. What we didn’t consider then was there might be road damage on the downhill. Fortunately we were not speeding, but braking on the downhill, so when met a piece of the highway that wouldn’t stay in one spot and therefore was just gravel, we didn’t spill.
After we reached the road to Cape Meares, the town, we were back on flat ground out to the highway that led back to Netarts and Cape Lookout State Park. Now we had to contend with distance. Since we had no experience with distance our hands got sore, our butts got sore, our shoulders got sore and we just pushed on. At this point in our bike riding we had no chamois pants, or lycra shirts or gel gloves or gel seats but we had lots of motivation to purchase these things if we were to continue touring by bicycle. When we got back to camp, we crashed, that is we fell into our sleeping bags exhausted (at least I did).
The next morning we were southbound over Cape Lookout toward our third Cape, Cape Kiwanda. This day we had our climb first thing. For about five miles we had nothing but up and horseshoe turns to get to the top of Cape Lookout where there was a trail you could hike on out to the end of the cape, about 3 miles. The trail overlooked some of the best whale watching on the Oregon Coast, but we weren’t interested that day. We did, however, get off our bikes for the last mile or so to walk them up to the top. There’s no shame in walking up a hill.
Once again the downhill was much better, and we didn’t brake as much as we had yesterday, but did keep an eye out for hazards, like the travel trailer by the side of the road without a wheel. We road down and down till we could watch the dune buggies on the state park between us and the ocean. We got great views of the sand beaches ahead of us and the white capped waves on the blue Pacific Ocean. We came off the hill and rode east till we joined Sand Lake Road that went past the turnoff to the dunes campground and through the unincorporated community of Tierra Del Mar, over a couple of minor hills and into Cape Kiwanda, the western portion of Pacific City. We had ridden 8 miles. We were tired and crashed for a while on the beach near the Cape. Then we had to ride back the way we had come. This time walking up the south side of the hill and racing down the north side. I completely lost John and his friends as the sped downhill back to the campground at Cape Lookout State Park.
When I got home I had a letter from The Bike Gallery stating that I had won a bicycle. I read it over several times and saw nothing that I had to buy, so I went to The Bike Gallery to ask them about the letter. I said this appears to be real and it appears I don’t have anything to buy to get the bike? They said that is right, that I had put my name in a drawing when we had come in to get parts for our bikes in preparation for the ride. Would I like to come over the Bridgestone section and they would measure me for the bike. HooHa! I had a brand new red Bridgestone bike.
The bike looked something like this Bridgestone, but in red with fenders. I took this bike to Eugene when I attended the University of Oregon for my Ph.D. program in Computers in Education.
It is interesting to note that I had won a bike once before when I as in the 7th grade as a result of a contest the Wonder Bread had with reindeer stickers on their bread and a jingle I wrote. Unfortunately the Safeway store I had won it from didn’t assemble the bike, so I tried to put it together and ended taking it to a bike shop to finish. That bike ended badly when I was coming down the street in Fort Collins and ran into a pickup which was backing out of a parking space. I went back to the bike shop and they showed me a bike meant just for paper delivery. They said they would give me the bike and $25 for my broken bike. I said yes and waited weeks for the new bike only to be told I had misunderstood. They would give me $25 for the busted bike toward my new bike. I was in debt.