Bikepacking with Oregon Field Guide

Maria Schur, a.k.a. Bicycle Kitty and I were on TV biking to the coast in the most recent episode of OPB’s Oregon Field Guide:

We’re at the 12:42 minute mark of the full episode: Oregon Field Guide episode 3109: Losing Our Dark Skies, Bikepacking, Willamette Valley Photo Essay and just our 10:54 segment is on YouTube: OPB: Bikepacking Their Way From Portland To The Coast.

How this came to be…or “never say never.” Elle and I had fun riding to the Oregon coast via the Trask Trail two summers ago, but it was the hardest bike ride I’ve taken and I hadn’t planned to ever repeat it. However, the allure of promoting bicycling for transportation is strong for me so when Oregon Public Broadcasting reached out (after having read my “When moms escape: Tackling the unpaved Trask River Road route to the coast” article on BikePortland.org), I couldn’t say no! It didn’t necessarily have to be a repeat of the Trask Trail to the coast, but they wanted to feature bikepacking and it’s really the simplest route from Portland I can think of, even though simplest has nothing to do with easy in this case.

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I didn’t take as many photos this time, but here’s my Flickr album of 90 with captions: Trask Trail 2019.

Maria created Ride with GPS routes for the two days heading west: OFG day 1 and OFG day 2.

I didn’t record after lunch on the first day, the beginning part of day three, nor the eight miles to and from the MAX, but here are my Stravas:
Day One: 7/27 – 24.21 miles
Day Two: 7/28 – 41.15 miles
Day Three: 7/29 – 55.24 miles

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I’m happy to report that I did all the items on my notes-to-self list from my last trip:

  • Hit the road much earlier, say 6am instead of 10am
  • Bike downtown to catch the MAX rather than Gateway (takes the same 35 minutes and shaves 30 minutes off the train trip!)
  • Spread my load over four panniers instead of just two
  • Vary my tire pressure–max for paved sections, low for gravel
  • Book a campsite at Trask River County Campground ahead of time
  • Filter water along the way rather than be stubborn/lazy and get thirsty

New this time was that we identified the freecamping spot on the Oregon Bikepacking webpage and didn’t need to stay at the crowded Trask River County Campground. It was quiet, secluded, and had a great view of the valley. It wasn’t as far along the route as the campground–37 miles from the Hillsboro MAX station rather than 50, but it was still far enough to break up the trip nicely.

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Surprisingly, travelling with the small film crew didn’t really change the feel of the trip. Initially they warned us we’d probably have to back up and recreate shots so they could capture everything, but they soon realized they could capture things fine while we went about our trip. I’d like to think that was because Maria and I were so eloquent on our hidden mic’s and so easy to capture on film. We paused to interact with the crew many times during the course of the day, but even so we mostly kept to a normal pace. Three days condensed into 10 minutes didn’t show everything about the trip, but it certainly hit all the major points.

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Cape Lookout State Park was even better than last time–now there are fancy lockers at the hiker/biker sites with outlets! I didn’t bring a lock, but a safer person could lock up a charging phone and Garmin and go play at the beach.

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In not-so-good news I learned from a park ranger on Monday morning that little dogs shouldn’t be loose on the beach because a hawk keeps an eye out for tasty little canine snacks. Pixie lives thanks to the warning, but a couple chihuahuas had been swept up a week earlier.

For Monday we had initially considered coming back along Nestucca River Road, which Maria had done before, but I had not. We ended up not feeling we had time for 79 hilly gravelly miles, but here’s Maria’s Ride with GPS route for future reference.

After finishing up with interviews Maria caught a ride with the crew to get back to Portland quickly and I did my usual (I’m a regular now, having done this twice) and took Highway 6 home which I find pleasant enough on a non-holiday Monday, but wouldn’t want to be on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

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2 thoughts on “Bikepacking with Oregon Field Guide

  1. My mom (82yo) said she thought it was “encouraging” that you two walked some of the route. Keeps it doable–not a “you have to be an Olympic athlete to do this” vibe.

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