Portland to or from the coast — bike AND bus!

With four days off in a row the other week, before my new job started, I decided to go to the coast. A good college friend of mine is out near Lincoln City living in a cabin for the next three months, and back when I wasn’t sure if I’d have a job or not, we’d decided that I should go stay with her for a bit while she was in Oregon (it’s been a looooooong time since we’ve been in the same state!).

Sadly, the day I went out was a fairly miserable day (and by fairly miserable, I mean full-on miserably miserable): rain rain rain the whole time, 8 hours of sopping wet and cold. Sometimes, Oregon is lovely in the near-springtime, and sometimes, you end up wringing out your gloves for the entire 85 soul-crushing miles. You can’t win them all.


(though the next day was spectacular! At least for a few hours;)


All of which is to say that when the weather on the day I had to go home looked to be exactly the same sort of miserable all-day downpour, I decided to skip the 8-hour ride and take the bus. Luckily, Oregon rocks and has a sweet little coastal bus system that takes you up and down the coast, with inroads to Portland, Salem, Corvallis, and Albany (there’s a great overview map of the service here). There are bike racks on the front of the bus, and, one of the drivers told me, potential to stash your bike inside the bus if they don’t need the space for riders.

It’s not super frequent, but if you’re not on a strict schedule, it’s pretty damn decent. For me, just needing to get home at some point during that day, it was easy to have a leisurely breakfast with my friend, then bike south to the closest bus stop in Lincoln City, catch a bus from there to Tillamook, and then another bus (after an hour layover in Tillamook) to Portland, getting back home at 3pm — much earlier (and so much more dry!) than I would have been if I’d biked the whole way.


(just another gratuitous coast picture — look for the seals on the beach!)


The Northwest Connector, what I took, isn’t one bus line but more like a consortium of different transit agencies all linked together to make this overall, multi-county transit possible. So there’s The Wave, if you’ve heard of that, that goes from Tillamook to Portland, and Lincoln County Transit, and Columbia County Rider… it’s actually a bunch of different services, but the Northwest Conencter website makes it easy to figure out how they all work together and how you can get where you want to go, even across different counties and agencies. It’s pretty great.

Plus, if you ever call with questions, as I did, the people are super helpful.

It’s a really nice way to get out to the coast, or back, or just to shorten your bike trip a little. If the weather had been even slightly nicer, for example, I might have biked north to Pacific City and hung out there for a little, then caught a bus from there to get back to Portland.


(Coastal Sitka spruce! Cascade Head hiking! Both easily accessible by bike from Portland, with some help from the bus;)


Every time I go to the coast, I think that I should do it more. And now that I’m getting better at navigating the bus system (and now that the NW Connector site makes it pretty darn easy), I feel like I have no excuses, since it won’t even mean that I have to spend 8 or so hours in transit if I don’t want to. More coast!


(the early-year coastal bonus: salmonberry is starting to bloom out there. Better weather is coming! :)

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