We spent a whole week fatbiking Oregon’s rugged and scenic coastline to determine which sections would be accessible and a blast to ride. After riding an entire third of the state’s length, we learned a few things.
The wind is a big deal.
For most of the summer, there is a strong wind predominantly coming from the north. This makes it nearly impossible to travel in that direction, but a breeze to cruise south. In the winter the winds aren’t as reliable, so your itinerary requires a bit more flexibility. Either way, it’s only fun with the wind at your back, so figuring out some sort of shuttle is probably necessary.
The tide is a big deal.
Dry sand is too soft and deep to ride on even with fat tires, so we relied on low tides to expose the firm wet sand that makes beach riding fun. Do your research: many rocky outcroppings and streams are only passable at low tide as well. Check your tide tables and plan your day around them!
Rivers, even small streams, can be impassible.
Talk to locals and look at satellite images — even small creeks can turn into deep bogs and brackish estuaries where they meet the ocean, making formidable barriers. Be prepared to get wet or even turn around—stream mouths can create strong, unexpected currents when they meet the ocean.
Dune riding is fantastic fun (and a workout!).
The most unique riding you can do is on the Oregon Dunes. They undulate across the landscape creating thousands of square miles of skatepark-like fun. Except it’s a skatepark that doesn’t hurt when you fall down (frequently). The lunar landscape can present terrain that challenges even the most stalwart rider, or easy rolling hills for someone who rarely rides. And it’s fun for everyone. The sand varies in firmness, but winter is actually the best time to go, when it holds more moisture and you stay on the surface easier. Explore the non-motorized areas for an even more serene experience.
Riding on the coast kills your bike.
The sand and saltwater conspire with unnerving speed to seize up and destroy your bike. Stay out of the saltwater and clean your bike every evening with lots of water and baking soda to neutralize the corrosion. Or, just rent bikes that are regularly maintained and reserved for beach riding.