Travellers' Tales: Portland to San Francisco

Navigation? “Keep the ocean on the right”
Cycling UK member John Scott cycled 700 miles down the USA’s Pacific Coast in a week.

“How is a 52-year-old man supposed to be able to ride 100 miles a day for a week?” exclaimed Paul, my son, on hearing of my idea to cycle from my cousin’s house in Portland to another cousin’s in San Francisco. Only one way to find out!

It seemed a simple plan: leave Portland with the sun on my back, head towards the ocean, turn left, and keep going until a large red bridge comes into view. When I was actually there, I came to regret my laid-back approach to navigation: I got lost.

A supposedly steady start became an epic ride ending in the dark when the road turned to gravel 12 miles short of the B&B.

Directions were easy once I could see water, and the following evening I enjoyed a magnificent view of the sun setting over the Pacific from my hammock.

My cyclist neighbour on the campsite commented: “You Europeans are mad. You come over here and do 85-100 miles a day.”

The vast expanse of the Oregon Dunes, the Avenue of the Giants, and the rolling Californian coast made for an awesome bike ride, as did the calorific all-American breakfasts and the consistent kindness of strangers.

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