Armed With Curiosity And Creativity

Living at over 2800 feet and regularly spinning my wheels over the mile mark, every once in awhile I need to drop back down to sea level to calibrate the altimeter. Moreover, with a fatbike in the stable, I've been itching to put rubber to the sand, wind to my back, boat on the bars, freely exploring the Alaskan Coast...

Unfortunately, as with most of us, the Lost Coast is simply out of reach. Work, family, life...there's no shortage of hurdles to clock-block a man’s wanderlust. But there is hope. A mere ten-hour drive sits between Boise, Idaho and the Oregon Coast where long stretches of beach run uninterrupted, punctured by coastal rivers, bays and rocky bluffs. And fortunately for the people, the 1967 Oregon Beach Bill provided unrestricted beach access to everyone; including two guys on fatbikes.

Scrolling over Google Earth, I threaded a stretch of sand connecting a portion of the southern coast from Port Orford to Florence, ending at Oregon's coastal sand dunes. Three prominent waters cut through the proposed line: the Cloquille, the Umpqua, and Coos Bay. Also, two capes will force us inland. The second and more prominent, Cape Argo, will drop us into Coos Bay's South Slough, the Nation’s first estuarine reserve to be designated by the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act. We'll float the Slough with bikes lashed to the bow northward into Coos Bay.

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With our roots in mountaineering, ultra running and epic rides, we're going light. Our kit (food, shelter and raft) weighs in under 30 pounds each. And we're employing some unorthodox practices to keep the weight down, like using quilts instead of full sleeping bags, doubling our half-length sleeping pads as PFDs, bringing 32-ounce ultralight packrafts to forge the water crossings, and utilizing cuben fiber and titanium when feasible.

There are plenty of foreign and amazing locations to adventure. Peel back the cover of any glossy periodical for a case in point. But true adventure starts with a curiosity and a bit of creativity. Armed with both, you don't have to look much farther than your own backyard for the next great escape. The Oregon coast has me just as excited as any trip abroad.


About The Guest Blogger: Steve Graepel is an art director, medical illustrator, husband, father of two, and a thief—stealing any free time he finds to explore his backyard in the greater Pacific Northwest.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Explore Fatbike Guest Blogger Mukluk

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Patch | October 10th, 2013

Why is the bike missing a front brake?

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The owner of thus said bike | October 10th, 2013

Good eye, great question! Let’s see if I can do it justice.

Sand has huge resistance. So much so, that you always need to pedal to move the bike foreword. If I was purely on the beach, in fact, I’d remove the back brake too. But because we had some sections of road, we thought it prudent to keep at least one brake.

In addition, cables for gears and brakes catch on a lot objective hazards. Think of pulling a bike through dense, woody brush. Cables catch on everything. Over time, they’d likely be stripped without your approval.

Bike rafting is more tedious than you would hope. While the front brake has more stopping power, but we constantly were pulling the front wheel off the bike for the water crossings. It was easier to pull the front wheel off, strap the bike to the boat and then slam the front wheel back in the frame and go. It was the simpler choice.

Last point, salt and sand was extremely hard on the bike—more than we though possible. After the trip, we had to toss the brakes all together because the were trashed/fused etc. Now I just have one less brake to replace!

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