Follow my Portland-Oregon Coast loop 2014

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After completing my Seattle-Vancouver one-week loop, I was puzzling over how to do a Portland-Oregon Coast loop in less than two weeks. The problem was that riding from Seattle to Portland would take me 3 full days, plus 3 more to get back, which would seriously cut into the fun parts of the Oregon Coast. Speedier cyclists like my friend Chris Payne do most or all of this 200-mile jaunt in one day on the annual STP, or Seattle to Portland ride, but that’s much faster than the 75-mile per day maximum I can handle on my touring bike with 50+ pounds of camping gear. I needed to find another way. Fortunately, my sister Kris’s friend Hooper put the idea in my head to jump ahead to Portland to begin my ride. Turns out that the Amtrak Cascades train runs frequently from Seattle to Portland (and other stops) at a reasonable fare ($30-50), and charges only $5 extra to load your fully-assembled bike into their newly-designed baggage car, with no box required. Wonderful!

More Amtrak trains are accepting bikes in special baggage cars for only $5.
More Amtrak trains are accepting bikes in special baggage cars for only $5 extra.

I rode my fully-loaded rig to Seattle’s King Street station to catch the Sunday 2pm train to Portland. (Coincidentally, I had a lunch meeting scheduled at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant with Michael Bowman, a University of Washington doctoral student who’s writing his dissertation on the spatial history of schooling, housing, and planning in Seattle.) The ticketing office gave me a tag to put on my bike, and just before boarding I rolled it over to the baggage handler, who lifted it onto bicycle hangers in a specially-designed car, with about six other cyclists who reserved a slot. Everything went smoothly on the other end, too. Tip for next time: I removed my handlebar bag and blue pannier bags, but the Portland baggage handlers advised me to remove my tent etc. from the rack, too, because excess weight could damage the bike when it’s on the hangers in the train.

Follow my photomap of this loop, which begins in Portland, heads north to the Washington border, then around to the Oregon Coast. Looking back, I could have gotten off the train in Longview WA, rather than Portland OR, which would have saved me riding 50 miles north to Longview the next day. But I love biking in Portland, and will blog more about those adventures at the end of my loop. Thanks again to Eli for helping me with code to integrate Flickr photos and GPX routes into an interactive Leaflet map, which interested folks can explore on GitHub. My job is to improve its interactivity and appearance (without breaking it!). Scroll around inside the map below OR click to view the full-screen version.

See additional posts written on this bike tour:

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Jack Dougherty

Jack Dougherty writes about cycling adventures, advocacy, and his growing appetite at JackBikes.org.