Coast Loop through Tillamook and Newport, 2/12/03

We were having a very abnormal stretch of dry weather for a February in Oregon. The coast rarely looks like this in the winter. I had been thinking about doing a longer day ride so I figured this could be my last chance for months. I had a nice 300 mile loop planned. The forecast for Wednesday February 12th was sunny and 57 in Portland, and 59 in Newport, on the coast. Perfect. The forecast for the 13th was showers, so I knew the 12th was the day. When I woke up at 8am and looked outside it was perfectly clear. However, there was a thick layer of ice on everything. Current temperature at the airport was 28 degrees; 27 in Newport. It hadn't rained in days so I wasn't too concerned about the local roads, but some of the sheltered roads through the mountain passes were probably still wet. I packed up (threw in an extra sweater) and headed out. After gassing up before heading up into the hills I put that extra sweater on, and a good thing too! As the hills started and the forests wrapped themselves over the roads the temperature started falling. Sure enough, Highway 6 was completely soaked to the bone. Luckily the traffic going over it was enough to keep it as water and not ice. The shoulders weren't so lucky. I should have pulled over at some point for a picture... the ice on the shoulders (and even the center line) and vegetation was pretty intimidating. I didn't want to pull off into it to grab the photo. Highway 6 is probably my favorite route to the coast because the road is great quality, doesn't get as much traffic as US 26, and has TONS of stretches of great twists. Unfortunately, due to the wet road and possibility of black ice around any corner I couldn't enjoy the road much at all; I was too busy trying to survive. There were a few clearings down the west side of the mountains where I was able to have a bit more fun, though.

The normal route from Tillamook to Newport is straight down 101, which actually is a fair bit inland through this stretch. However, once you hit 101 you can go straight and take a much more scenic way, around the "Three Capes Scenic Loop." This was certainly the most interesting section of road on the trip; a section I'd never been on before, but will certainly be back to visit again. Some of the roads on the loop were questionable, with lots of patch work, but most of it was fine. There were a couple land slide remnants with gravel laid across the road. Nothing unmanageable, though. The above photo was taken shortly after I crossed 101 and started on the loop. It was my first real glimpse of the water (that's actually Tillamook Bay).

Once I reached the northern most point on the cape (Pitcher Point) the road turns south, passing Cape Meares, which is a small little community of homes (no services). I decided to head down that way. Those people do have a wonderful ocean view, but not much access for the bike. There's also a lighthouse there, but I somehow missed it. *shrug* bummer. Continuing south the road undergoes several name changes (thus resetting the mile counters on the side of the road), but you never turn off it. There are some fantastic ocean views all along the road. I was having too much fun through the twists to stop at every point I should have, but I did have to align my bike with Three Arch Rocks (I assume these are them, and that's what the map calls them):

Continuing south the road passed closely to Netarts Bay, which is actually fairly boring, even though the road is right on the water. However, once the road turns up just south of the Bay there is a very impressive view of the bay, with waves crashing on the west end and Three Arch Rocks in the distance:

After the above lookout the road turns in eastward and away from the coast. Continuing on the Three Capes Scenic Loop down 871 I crested over a hill and saw nothing but sand dunes; I knew Pacific City was near. Once in Pacific City I stopped at the old mainstay, the Pelican Pub & Brewery. Every time I go there I always leave wondering why I keep going there. The setting is great, but the food is mediocre at best, and certainly WAY overpriced for what it is (basically bar food, and they want $14 for 7 deep fried shrimp with rice, and $12 for fish and chips). Service is always poor. This time I had to wait 8 minutes before I even received a menu. Oh well, hopefully next time I'll remember to stop somewhere else.

After a quick shoot east down Brooten Rd I was back on 101, which is now following the ocean a bit closer. This section of 101 is pretty good. Not as tight as Highway 6 or some of the off roads, but twisty the whole way. These turns are broad sweepers, many 80+ mph ones. Triple digits are seen frequently as well. Throughout the trip I didn't see many cops, until just north of Lincoln City, as I was doing about 80 around a corner. The radar detector didn't go off, but I still slammed the brakes on and went past him without incident. All along 101 I was just having too much fun with the fast corners to stop for any pictures.

In Lincoln City I stopped for gas, and headed back down 101 towards Newport. My trip took a drastic change as I was at the corner of highway 101 and 20, about to turn onto 20 to head back home. Note that this corner is the absolute farthest point from home (150 miles in all directions). While stopped as the first vehicle at the light I started to smell gas. I was the only vehicle stopped, but I thought, "That COULDN'T be me..." I started to look down and around anyway. Looking on the right side of the bike, I saw smoke coming off of my exhaust. Looking closer, I noticed gas spraying out from underneath the rear fairing. Bummer. The light seemed like it was taking forever to turn green. Finally it did, and as my rear tire went through the puddle of gas it slid a bit, but I anticipated that. Luckily there was a gas station on the corner, so I quickly pulled in there. I got off the bike and looked at the gas spraying everywhere, as a pool formed beneath my bike. I quickly shut it off and looked around. Couldn't get a good view of things... Unfortunately I was traveling without any tools, so I couldn't remove the faring to get a better view of things. I figured I'd look in the phone book for any repair shops. There was ONE listed in the phone book. Shinns Motorcycle repair, in South Beach, which is across the bridge from Newport. I gave him a call and explained the problem to him. He tells me that he has never worked on a fuel injected bike before and would have no parts for it. I explained how I figured it was just a hose or connector since the bike was running fine (so I doubted an injector busted or anything). I asked if there was any other shops around that may have a better shot at it. He explained that he was the only repair shop in the county. He sounded reluctant, but told me I could bring the bike down. I placed a call to AAA for a tow truck. There's no way I was going to ride it with that much gas spraying out. A puddle about 8 inches across formed when I turned the bike on to take the above (or to the left) picture. Look at the larger version and you should be able to see gas misting all over the whole frame, and the rear brake reservoir is totally soaked.

About 30 minutes after I called AAA two flat beds show up. One guy said he was just there to help, since a motorcycle is, "usually a two man job." Okay. As they started talking about putting the bike up it became clear to me that neither of these guys knew how to do it. They said they had towed cruisers before, but never a sport bike. Great. They said, "Well let's get it on the ramp and straighten it out and then figure out how to do it." Okay, so all three of us pushed the bike up the flat bed's ramp. Once it was up there I watched them fumble around for about 10 minutes trying to figure out a way to do it. I eventually just explained to them that we need to tie down all four corners, but they didn't know how to do that. I explained how to do it, and they looked around for the proper tie downs. It was my job securing the straps to the bike, and their job figuring out where on the tow truck to put it. Eventually they figured it out, and we tightened everything. The bike was going nowhere. Still can't believe the tow company sent out two people that didn't know how to tow a bike.

Once we hit the road south we crossed the bridge and just kept on going and going... I thought it was RIGHT across the bridge (which is about a mile from where I stopped), but it was more like 10 miles. I'm really glad I didn't try and ride the bike to Shinn's... the tow truck driver thought it was on 143rd, so we turn down that bumpy gravel road. Nope... not there, so we turn around after the road dead ends. Okay, how about 145th? Hmm... nope, not there either. Continuing down, we try 148th... ahh, there's a big sign that says Shinn's Motorcycles. We pull down his gravel driveway... When we pulled in I realized what this was... basically just a guy in his garage that has a listing in the yellow pages. As I get out of the truck I first notice these four poodle dogs barking up a storm at us. Next I hear a larger beast barking at us and I see this massive dog chained to a boat. Next an older gentleman (late 60s or so) comes out of his garage and greets us. The tow truck driver and I unload the bike, and once that's done I explain to the guy what the problem was. We began to take the rear faring off. Once off we looked at the wet areas and guessed at where the gas was coming from. Once this was done we watched closely, and simply turned the ignition on (which primes the fuel pump). When we did this gas just sprayed right out of the end of this elbow joint (the upper one in the picture). Not out of a loose connector or anything... I guess this plastic bit busted open. We looked at it and he says, "Well shit... I wouldn't have anything like that." I asked if he could do anything. He said all he could think of was sanding it down and putting some Marine Tex (an epoxy putty) on it and hope that it holds. It's not like I had any other options, so I said to go ahead and try it. After we took the bit of plastic out I started taking his place in a bit more... wow...

This place ruled. Most of the trophies in the picture above were from a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette convertible (matching numbers). Some were from another '68 'vette he had underwraps in his garage, but it was a hard top. You have to click on the third picture to see the fresh new tires he has. You can't quite tell in the picture just how much dust and spider webs have accumulated on top of those tires... Nor in the 5th picture, which looks like a standard rack of repair manuals. But the cool thing about these ones is the newest one was from the mid 80s. All of these were still in their original shrink wrapping (which was decaying and crumbling) and totally covered in dust. He even had one for Triumph Daytonas (through 1973...)! And yes, that is a gun just sitting out in the open on top of his sand blasting machine. He had a great (dusty) hat that I failed to take a picture of, but it read "INSTANT ASSHOLE: just add alcohol" and had a picture of a bottle pouring into a glass.

After he put the marine tex on the plastic, he said, "Well, now we have to wait for that to cure..." I asked how long it'd take, and he said, "at least an hour or two." Wow. We were out in the boonies! What was I suppose to do until then? I said, "Should I just hang out here until then?" And he said, "Yeah, sure." For the next two hours we proceeded to tell stories back and forth. This guy had some crazy stories! Once a cop pulled him over and told him he was going 90mph. He was in a bad mood as it was and the cop put him in a worse mood. The cop said, "I was back there for a while," he says, "Yeah I saw you back there," and the cop continued, "and it took me so long to pull you over because I couldn't catch you." Shinn says, "And that just set me off. I said, 'don't fuck with me buddy. You're fucking with me and you're fucking with the wrong guy.' The cop got all red in the face and he was about to arrest me. Mamma [who is his wife] was on the back and she was holding me back because I was about to slug the guy." He also explained how a few years after that he broke his back sitting down on a broken stool. Busted his back in 6 spots. Couldn't walk for almost 2 years. Considering he had a broken back in 6 spots he was now moving around pretty good.

It was about this time that it was getting dark so he was going to bring the dogs in. First be brought in the four poodles, then went back outside to get the beast dog. As he's walking it inside the garage he's holding it by the chain really closely to him... the dog comes about up to his waist and is very muscular. Its eyes were just fixed on me. He says to me in a calm voice, "Now with him in here don't yell, don't run, don't make any sudden moves, and don't lunge towards me. This animal is strictly for protection." He then goes and chains the dog-beast up behind a counter. He says, "Now he is chained up back there, but if he senses something's wrong he can break right through that chain." How reassuring. He then tells me that this dog-beast isn't even really a dog... it's father was 1/2 rowttweiler and 1/2 wolf, and its mother was full wolf. Great, 3/4 wolf. He told me all about how he trained it to be a killer. He wasn't trying to scare me or anything... our conversation was very friendly and we were just talking about all kinds of things. He was a really cool guy. He has been around motorcycles his whole life and knows a ton about them... just mostly the ones build before 1975. :-)

After about two hours we checked the marine tex again and it seemed to have hardened. We go and put it on the bike, and resecure the clamp... cross our fingers, and turn the ignition on. drip... drip... drip... SHIT! It looked as if the marine tex had done its job, but now it was dripping out of the end of the rubber hose. We pulled the bit off and looked inside the rubber hose. It seemed to have some wear in it, so we cut it and stuck the plastic elbow back in and gave it another whirl. drip... drip... drip... About a drip a second. We just stare at it... he says, "If I were you I'd go for it. That drip's not that bad." I didn't feel comfortable doing that. It was now nearly 8pm anyway. I decided I'd go into Newport and try to find someone in Portland to come give me a ride. I figured I'd hang out in a bar until then. I asked him to recommend a bar, and he told me of one. He said, "Now don't go to [place]! It's a pretty rough place." I forget its name, though. Anyway, he said he'd give me a ride into town once Mamma got home. She came home around 9, and then he gave me a ride into town. The place he recommended closed at 9, so that was out. I asked someone on the street if he knew of a bar that was open later, and he told me of this one place 3 blocks down. I went there, and guess what? It was the place I was told not to go. I didn't care, I was hungry. I go in there and ask to see a food menu. She says the kitchen's closed. I wanted to point out to her that it's illegal in Oregon to serve alcohol if you're not serving food, but figured that'd be a bad idea. She brought a beer back for me, and said the cook said he'd fire up the frier for me. I ordered fish and chips for $5.95. A much better deal than the Pelican, and MUCH better food too. After staying there a bit and making some calls I decided I was going to stay in Newport for the night, and make phone calls in the morning to try and track down that part, or rent a truck to bring my bike home on. I got a room at the Econo Lodge for $29. This was certainly the nicest $30 hotel I have ever stayed in.

In the morning I called UHaul and they said it'd be $120 with insurance to rent a pickup truck (one way rental). She then gave me the rates for the larger pickups. After a minute or so she says, "...but I don't have any. Won't have any until next week." Oh great. So next I called my Triumph dealership in Portland and explained the part to them. He says, "Okay, so it's a little plastic elbow, right?" Right. "It has a rubber hose going into one and, and the other end connects into the tank with a little clip." Right. "And there are two of them right next to each other." Right. He says, "Okay, that's a fuel injector pressure valve. Now Triumph doesn't sell just that part... they sell that with what it plugs into connected to it, and a hose on the other end, and it's $80." God damn Triumph! I figured they'd pull some kind of bullshit like that. I let the guy know how pissed off I was about that, and he says, "Well hang on a second... there's a company in the aftermarket that's making those parts... and they're $16." Still, $16 for a little plastic bit is ridiculous. But whatever. The amazing part is he actually had some in stock. The fact that he STOCKS that part (this place doesn't even stock the quarter turns for the faring), and the fact that an aftermarket company has gotten into the game implies that there is obviously a problem with that part. Anyway, I tell him someone would be down there to pick it up for me. My mom was kind enough to do so, and drive to Newport (2.5 hour drive) to bring me the part.

But what was I to do until then? Well I looked in the phone book and saw that there was a movie theater in town, so I figured I'd go see a movie. It sounded like it was right in town on 101. 4625 N. Coast highway... not too bad, I figured. I was on 6th and S. Coast highway, so that's only like 10 blocks, right? Well once I crossed to the other side I realized my mistake... 4625 would be 46th and N Coast Highway. Balls... oh well, that's where I was suppose to meet my mom, and I had nothing better to do. I started walking the 50 blocks. After about 30 minutes and getting past 20th, Newport kind of petered out... there were no more stores and no more off roads. What was a 25mph 4 lane road became a 2 lane 45mph highway with no sidewalk. Well, I kept on trekking on. About 20 minutes later I came upon 32nd. Apparently the blocks were also getting farther apart. About an hour after I started walking I passed 45th, 46, and 48th.. still no movie theater. I kept on walking. Around 58th I saw "Newport Cinema." Woohoo! I got closer and noticed something was terribly terribly wrong... the parking lot was empty. I walked up to the theater and saw the closed sign. I looked in the window and saw the first showing was 4:45pm. It was now 11:30. Shitty... I probably walked 3-4 miles for that. I started walking back when I saw beach access. Well, I came all this way, so I figured I might as well take a walk on the beach, so I did so for about an hour. There was no one at all on this beach. There was no parking lot for it, only a foot path, so that's probably why. As I was walking along I saw a gallon of milk sitting on a log. Well that's kind of weird... I walked over to it. Sure enough, there was milk in there alright. I wondered about the expiration date. You can't really see it in the picture since its so faded, but it reads February 01 2001. Mmmm... Two year old milk.

I walked back up to 101 and sat on the side of the road until I saw my mom's car approaching. She pulled over, I got in, and it was off to Shinns. I looked at the part it it seemed to be the correct bit. When we got to Shinns and looked at the new part compared to the old one we noticed that the part that's suppose to go into the hose was twice the diameter of the old one. Are you kidding me? This isn't going to work? Looking closer it did look like the hose could be fit around the fancy $16 fuel injector pressure valve, it just may take some working. We put some silicone on the end and jammed that hose in there. After a few minutes, we actually got it on. I should have taken some pictures of this whole process, but I just wanted to get on the road again. The hose looked all bloated around that hose connector. We put the $3 triumph magic clamp on the hose line and turned the ignition on .............................. drip?" Nope! Not this time... no drips. I turned the bike on and let it idle for several minutes. No drips. Cool! Time to hit the road. I thanked Shinn for his help and his company. He said to come back any time I'm in the area and say hello. I most certainly will. He was a really cool guy to talk to, with lots of great tales.

The second I got on the road it started raining... once I got onto 20 from 101 it started pouring. What a drag. I guess the previous day really WAS the last of the good weather. It rained on 20 the whole way to I-5. Once on I-5 there was no rain. I got home in 2.5 hours... finally the end of an exhaustive trip. Oh, and about 20... on the map it looked like a good road, but as it turned out it wasn't nearly twisty enough. I'll have to figure out another path next time.

The first half of this trip is fantastic (if it weren't for the wet icy Highway 6). Very scenic with lots of twists. I'll certainly be doing this again soon. The second half was an adventure... I didn't plan on making it a two day trip, but it did add some excitement.

David Paris
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