Here’s a formula for memorable fun: Take one of the top 100 beaches in the world, add a bike purpose-built to ride on it, and throw in a few friends for a day of adventure and enjoyment. Ready… go!
In the past 10 or 20 years, Bandon has gained a lot of fame as the home of the world-class Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, and rightfully so. But what sometimes gets overlooked is that this stretch of South Coast beaches is as scenic as anything else in the state – and maybe more, if you ask regular visitors. Less crowded than northern towns and beaches, this is a perfect place to try your hand at riding sand on a fat bike – you’ll pedal alongside crashing waves and adjacent to majestic sea stacks, with the tang of salt air in your nose and the wind in your hair.
But first, a couple pointers. First, when you do your planning make sure you consult the tide tables. You want to ride in as low a tide as possible – because some of the beach along here is not rideable at higher tides, which will cut your trip frustratingly short. Also, low tide exposes more of the rideable, harder sand. Second, think about wind. If you’re riding beach and then back on road, our advice is to ride down the beach with the wind at your back; it will impact you less riding on the road. If you’re riding the beach both directions, ride into the wind first, so you won’t have the hardest riding at the end.
A popular jumping-off point is Seven Devils Beach, a park that has a vault toilet but no water – make sure you’re filled up on liquids before you start riding.
One of the underrated virtues of beach riding is that you only have two directions to choose from: in this case, north or south. Navigating is pretty simple when all you have to do is keep the water on one side of you, and then reverse.
From Seven Devils Beach, riding south keeps large sandy cliffs on your left. Experiment a bit with the different consistencies of sand, to find the one you’re most comfortable riding. If you find you want to ride near the water’s edge, don’t ever take your eyes fully off the water – waves are not reliably predictable.
You’ll cross a few small streams that are typically deep enough to get your feet wet but shallow enough to make it through without having to stand up. Cruise along below the wind-blown links of Bandon Dunes for several miles; maybe give a hearty wave to let the golfers know you’re having a really good time for a lot less money.
You’ll soon reach the rock outcropping of the jetty at the Coquille River, and the iconic lighthouse there makes a great photo stop/bathroom break. Watch the waves pound the beach while taking in a picturesque view of Bandon.
At this point, head into town on the smooth blacktop of Bullards Beach Road, winding along the river with stunning views of the marsh. Once over the steel bridge, head south to explore the quaint town.
You can call it good here and ride back to the start, or you can extend your adventure farther south (or you can do two rides over two days) by rolling toward Face Rock.
The land south of Bandon is breathtakingly rugged – enough that CNN named it one of the top 100 beaches in the world. A series of sea stacks (Face Rock, Cat Rock, Table Rock, Wizard’s Hat and Elephant Rock) pass by in quick succession, not to mention random pillars and arches you just have to ride through.
Keep cruising south to China Creek Beach, where you’ll cross a small river, and then ride up onto scenic Beach Loop Road, back into town with a brain full of beautiful images and indelible memories.
If you go: Wherever you go fat biking on the Coast, check the tides and try to go during low tide as much as possible. Beware of sneaker waves and stay off rocks and small, enclosed beaches. Respect the sensitive micro-environments, whether it’s birds or anenome you encounter. In particular, it’s critical for people and pets to avoid areas that are closed due to western snowy plover nesting season, March 15-Sept. 15. Look for bright yellow signs nearby Oregon’s beaches and more info about how to protect this threatened species here).
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