When your bike trip doesn’t quite work out

Sometimes, when you make a plan to go somewhere exciting, the roads are too scary (Highway 26 on a sunny Memorial Day weekend, I’m looking at you), or the alternate roads too nonexistent (logging roads privatized or closed since my map was printed, I’m looking at you, too). Or maybe the rider is too uninspired to take a risk on the very long way around where the roads may or may not, in fact, actually exist (stasia, I’m taking a good, hard look at you).

In those cases, the best-laid bike excursion plans don’t quite work out, and rather than going on the super awesome hike you were hoping for, you end up biking semi-aimlessly around  rural Clatsop and Columbia Counties.


(“do not enter” was the theme for a lot of the roads I thought I could take — and maybe I could still have taken some of them, but after being yelled at for being on someone’s private property I was sort of uninspired)


(though on the plus side, there was some excellent stealth camping to be had, yell- and discover-free!)


That’s what this weekend was like: after a promising start after work on Saturday and a lot of good riding, I ultimately decided I didn’t want to die trying to cross and then bike the 14 or whatever miles along Highway 26. When I conceived of my route I figured the highway wouldn’t be too bad so far away from Portland — but I forgot to take into account that on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend everyone and their mom, dad, favorite uncle, full complement of cousins, and giant trailers hauling miles and miles of recreational equipment was driving either to or from the coast. On Highway 26.

I waited for a long, lo-o-o-o-ong (it felt interminable) time for a break in traffic where I could actually even turn left and get onto the highway, until I finally lost both my nerve and my patience, and I turned around.


(though again on the plus side, I found another totally fantastic stealth camp with my own private stream!:)


I’ve thought a lot about it since then, both as I’ve spun my wheels biking around and even now at home. I could have waited until late evening to see if the traffic died down. I could have tried again super early the next morning. I did try an alternate way that didn’t exist, but I still could have tried the super long way. I didn’t have to give up.

But when it came right down to it, I didn’t really care that much. I was out and about and biking, and that was kind of the point. In fact, when I was talking to a friend about my plans before this weekend, I’d been saying that I felt oddly uninspired about adventure despite having a few days off in a row, and maybe having the arbitrary goal of a hike was exactly what I needed to at least get myself going. In that respect, it was a great success: I got out, and I spent all weekend riding my bike and camping in the woods. That’s a win, even if I didn’t end up where I thought I might. Sometimes, perhaps, it’s just the initial push that you need, and the rest can fall into place as it will.

Or maybe I suck for giving up on things. Who knows.


(quitter or no, I did enjoy this greeting committee of goats on the Banks-Vernonia trail!)


All that to say: despite not really doing what I thought I would, I’ve had an excellent weekend exploring the hinterlands between Vernonia and Astoria, going to sleep with trees over my head and waking to birdsong, re-inflating my sleeping pad every four hours because apparently it leaks now (oh well; it was a good reminder to look at the stars), and remembering the freedom of moving through this world without having a concrete plan or a set destination. Bike touring, I miss you.


  1. Vas-y! Continue à chercher des aventures! Tu inspires. :-)

  2. Who needs a destination?! If I hadn’t gotten all turned around in life I would have never met you!

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