Monday, July 16, 2018

C2C writeup (Corvallis to Coast)

So I tried to ride from Corvallis to the coast ala c2c trail yesterday

the eastern half of the trail from big elk campground to corvallis has been completed but the western, and possibly most important and difficult part to complete, hasn't been finalized.

The possible routes are there on the website if you click 'candidate bicycle routes' in the sidebar. For some reason I can't link the 'sub-pages' directly so you will have to click-thru. 

I thought I could scout out the routes and maybe offer some thoughts on the best route to organizers, or just help other riders find a route to ride before the c2c is completed.

It could be a while until it's done, and many people like me probably don't want to wait. Also, the online instructions I could find didn't jibe with what I was seeing on google maps.

At first glance, route 1 looks the most direct and practical. The other routes seem to me to be 'just give up and ride on a road' options.

So I basically just looked at google maps and tried to find a ridable route and printed out some pages because I knew I would be out of cell signal range. I also packed a compass, not really thinking it would save me, but just to check my direction in case I got turned around.

I headed off at 7:30 am at a leisurely pace. I knew it would be a hard ride and just wanted to take it easy at first.

I rode Mary's peak in october on some of this route, and I made it to the gate at old peak road the first time I explored the c2c trail, so this would be the third time I'd ridden some of the c2c.

You basically ride old peak road for a while. When you get past the second gate, you go left up to woods creek trailhead. This is where you can hike mary's peak from the north side or you can continue on the c2c by turning right onto woods creek road.

The signage is pretty good, and I was glad because there are quite a few intersections one may otherwise be tempted to turn off on.

I had fat semi-slick tires on, and to this point the road  was pretty decent. I made it to the turnoff to mary's peak road. There was one point the road got a little overgrown, but again the signage was good and I continued, even hitting a nice singletrack descent that seemed to drop me back onto another logging road. (it's possible this was on woods creek but pretty sure it was mary's peak) 

It felt a little like I had gone off the 'cycling' route and onto the 'hiking' route when I hit the singletrack. Sometimes the routes are combined and sometimes they split off. In any case, the singletrack was quite smooth (mostly) and I made it through so I guess I was on the right track. 

The signage for what is allowed on the trail is a bit confusing. There is a crossed out cyclist on some signs but then it has dates october thru may on it.. So is cycling prohibited during that time and allowed the rest of the year? I assumed so. I wasn't turning around at this point and there was no one around to tell me to.

At some point I think around Mary's peak and nf-3015 (I'm using all road names from google maps) I saw an abandoned building that seemed cool, maybe an old forest service building? 

I got onto a proper road and saw some farms and the chapel of the valley. Saw one farmer out in his field. Other than about 8 cars at woods creek trailhead, I hadn't seen hardly anyone at this point. One hiker at the very beginning of old peak road and hwy 34 that was not packing anything, so I assumed they were just out for a walk, and I'd seen maybe two cars go by towards woods creek trailhead. I saw ZERO other cyclists.

When I got to Harlan/mary's peak road/harlan burnt woods road intersection there were three portapotties and a sign saying burnt woods was 8 miles away.

This would probably be my only chance to bail on the ride. I had a friend I was supposed to meet in Newport for a ride home, and they could easily pick me up there. 

I kept going and saw a stream (no obvious easy access, but it was hot and I was tempted to jump in) and found big elk campground. Some campers were blasting country music. This was the end of the official c2c trail. If I kept going I was on my own. I knew I could ride 8-10 miles back to burnt woods, but I figured if I rode 8-10 miles towards the coast I would be almost there.

So I checked my maps and went back to Harlan and hilltop rd. Going back to burnt woods just didn't sound satisfying. I should have tried to fill my water bottles at big elk campground, but I had brought a full camelbak bladder and two 20+ ounce water bottles, and they seemed like they were full enough, so at this point I wasn't worried.

The first turn to 'hilltop road' on google maps is actually 'grant creek' according to actual real world signage, (my printout made no mention of grants creek) but soon after the turn onto grant creek it splits, and the REAL? turnoff to hilltop is unmistakable. It goes like straight uphill. I think it also has a NF 31 sign.

It seems to me the choices in routes to the coast are as follows. Go the flattest way around the big hills (probably that's what they did when they built highways 34 and 20) or go OVER the big hills, which is more direct but more difficult.

Most of this first section of hilltop is paved, so you can creep up it, but it was steep. I saw ZERO cars on hilltop for a long time. The road was very skinny so you still have to be mindful, that one car that comes down you might not be ready for, and they might not be expecting to see you.

The fears I had of getting lost earlier were unfounded so far. Hilltop road was a genuine road, I wasn't tempted by any of the turnoffs. I saw no houses. One gate said private property. It was very green and forested, I imagine this would be a great cycling route to the coast, and maybe they could make some hiking trails that would leave, and rejoin the road when necessary.

Even though it is a monster hill, to me the lack of cars made it worth it.

But when you finally get over the hill you eventually hit some really bad, gravelly, dusty road and clear-cut.

I was hoping to get to some paved road and downhill after all the ascending, and I was rewarded with quite a bit of downhill, but the bad road took it's toll on me.

This was worse gravel than I'd ever ridden on. You couldn't ride on the side of the road because all the gravel was piled deep on the sides, so you had to ride in the wheel ruts, and I was leery of that because I saw a few pickup trucks blasting through, kicking up dust and they weren't expecting to see any cyclists. They did slow down a bit for me and a couple waved back when I gave a wave, so they were friendly enough.

I put my rear-view mirror back on, and a bandanna to cover my mouth when there was too much dust. Really I only saw about 4-5 cars, and I think they were on 1000 line road.

On my printout it looked like I was supposed to take 'Sunnyridge road' but when I got to the intersection I didn't see any signs. I think at this point I was just going by my phone map. I couldn't hardly get any data to load and my strava map was practically blank, but I zoomed out a bit and the map came up enough to show me a clear route to the beach, even though I couldn't read any road names.

It's good to know that even when my phone had 'no signal' that I could still somewhat use strava for navigation. It was tracking me fairly well. Here is my strava link to the ride

The instructions from the website on 'route 1' tell you to turn right at 'T' on 1000 line road, but my google maps call this section 'sunnyridge road'

It seems like there was some signage here but there definitely wasn't a legit street sign. I didn't realize I had turned onto 1000 line/sunnyridge until I got home and figured it out. Like I said I was just going by strava at this point.

The gravel was beating the crap out of me and I was running out of water. When a car came by I would pull over and check my phone for a signal. I wanted to text my friend so they wouldn't worry about me and tell them which route I was on in case I needed to be rescued.

At one point on Hilltop I turned a corner and actually saw a hill in the distance that looked like it had a cell tower on it. I checked my phone and it looked like I had 1 bar of 4g coverage. (NO LTE, just 4g) but I tried to send a text to my ride and it failed. Funnily enough, I had a new FaceBook notification, a friend suggestion! Effing Facebook follows you everywhere!

I couldn't get any momentum riding through the crappy gravel, a couple times the road turned to pavement for a tiny bit, but then right back to crap. Very disappointing. I kept hoping to hit a bunch of downhill and/or pavement but it never happened.

At this point I was running out of water and I hit the clear-cuts so my sun exposure increased a ton. I figured I could make it, but wasn't really sure how many miles were left so I decided to hitch a ride if possible. My spare battery was keeping my phone topped off, or my phone would have died a long time ago and I would have been SOL.

I should have chosen knobby tires, my slicks were terrible for this gravel road, but I hadn't anticipated THIS BAD of gravel road. The tires had done fine on the sections of old peak that were gravel, but this was, again, worse gravel than I'd ever ridden before.

At this point I had ridden pavement, gravel, singletrack, and the really bad gravel. For one brief section I even rode what I would describe as shale. It was very sharp rock. I felt fortunate to have made it as far as I did without flatting.

My 20 dollar craigslist cycling shoes (diadora chilis) did well but the tread started coming off one of them and I stopped to cut it off with my swiss army knife. That's when a car came by and I stuck out my thumb. A nice local fellow gave me a ride to the intersection of Elk Horn and North Beaver Creek road where I could pick up a cell signal. I forgot to turn off my strava so I probably corrupted the data a little, but glad to know what route I took..

So anyway, moral of the story is the online directions could be a lot better, I will try and write up a simple version of mine later.

As tough as this ride was, i think it would be a good c2c route, maybe parts of the gravel road could be improved a bit.

I didn't quite get my glorious jump into the ocean at the end moment, so I may have to revisit this ride. I will probably do it with front suspension fork and knobby tires and a bit more water.

It might be best to do this on weekends when there isn't any logging operations going on. Also, there are hunting seasons to think about, and I guess cougar hunting season is year round. I would suggest wearing super-bright colors. I used flashing lights and honked my clown-horn and rang my bike bell a bit, to tell hunters I was not a cougar, and to scare cougars away if there were any. I saw no cougars and no hunters this trip (i may have seen one hunter in a pickup on old peak road on a previous trip. funny because it was on old peak past the gate, he must have taken a logging road)

I would definitely not recommend this ride for everyone, even though I went less than 50 miles, it was rough road with a lot of elevation change. Pack a lunch (or three) and lots of water and have a backup plan, maybe even a sleeping bag, or go there with someone that's ridden it before.

Sunscreen and bug repellant are probably a good idea too.

Now that I've done it once, I feel like I can make it all the way to Ona Beach next time. If I do I will post about it here. Let me know if you try it! Or if you have a blog where you write about your other adventurous rides.

edit: pic added to show sunnyridge and/or 1000 line road


  1. Sounds like you pretty much followed Route 1 as we laid it out. These are definitely not single track or road tire routes.The Sunnyside Road doesn't actually start off of the 1000-Line (FS59) until several miles farther north beyond North Beaver Creek Road. Yes, the gravel (rock?) on some of these roads are put down for log trucks with big tires, they will beat up a bicycle rider pretty bad. Definitely need big tires and shocks, I think. Thank you for the report. Sorry we don't have a good route for bikes, but some of the terrain west of Harlan the Forest Service doesn't want us to put bicycles on (they are pretty difficult terrain and brush wise).

  2. google maps says sunnyridge starts where hilltop ends, at the T with mill creek road the other direction. so sunnyridge = 1000 line? at least in some places? i don't know. I'll add a screenshot to the post. thanks for the comment!