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Culinary passions can fuel cyclists.

Byline: John Rezell The Register-Guard

THE OUTSIDER

When I began riding my bike for fitness years ago, I started writing about some local Masters racers - you know, the 30-and-older guys who go out and train four to five hours every day, while holding down a full-time job.

After I followed them around for a race or two, we had the chance to sit down for a chat. I asked, what drives you to spend that much time on your bike?

They fired a glance at each other, unsure if they could trust me. Finally their eyes agreed with each other.

They'd spill the beans.

Honestly?

Yeah, I said, honestly.

The reason we spend so many hours on our bikes is so we can eat anything.

My jaw, empty at the time, hit the floor.

Seriously, they said, we can eat like pigs. We haven't been able to eat like pigs without worrying about putting on too many extra pounds since we were teenagers.

That story popped into my mind Saturday afternoon as we sat down for lunch at Drift Inn in Yachats. We drove out to the coast for a quick little getaway, and after a hard week of cycling I was out to treat myself.

At the last second I skipped the fish sandwich for something more exotic. The seafood burrito, filled with halibut and shrimp. It was fantastic.

We couldn't help but compare the meal to the one the night before, at Local Ocean Seafoods in historic Newport. I had the crab Po' Boy. I have to tell you, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I'd call it a toss up. Both are can't-miss meals.

That's when I told Debbie I had to do a column on these great eats along the coast. She asked, what's that have to do with the outdoors?

I just gave her a look. When it comes to adventure, you have your outdoors adventures, and you have your culinary adventures. And when you can combine the two, well, you get magical memories.

Besides, she had just ridden her bike down Highway 101, and she knew how many cyclists grace the route. Don't think for one moment those folks are living on energy bars and sports drinks.

She wasn't, and she'll talk your ear off for five minutes about the fish and chips at Local Ocean Seafoods. Light breading on the ling cod.

Wow.

In any event, I figured I had to add my other favorite spot in Charleston: High Tide. That would give three nice stops along the coast, nicely separated, with great eats.

When I dropped in there last year after a day of riding around and along Sunset Bay, I wasn't sure what to make of it.

The sign outside proclaimed the clam chowder famous and homemade.

Then again, there aren't many places that don't make that claim.

When I got inside and saw it went for $3.50 a cup, well, it gave me pause.

Then I saw it was $5.50 a bowl and $9 for a superbowl. I wondered to myself under what circumstances I might fork over $9 for clam chowder.

I figured it was time to see if these folks could walk the talk.

I went for the cup, figuring I could do the walking if they couldn't live up to their talking. To make a long story short, I had to talk myself out of the superbowl. It was that good.

I had to try something different, so I went for the grilled shrimp and cheese sandwich.

Oh my! Plump, juicy shrimp smothered in Tillamook cheddar on French bread.

Okay, that's enough. I have to stop. Or else I'll be sneaking out to the coast on my free afternoons.

I better get on that bike now.

John Rezell, aka, Raz, is new to Eugene. He's learning the ropes of the outdoor scene by joining readers on their adventures. Invite him along at Eugenemeraz@att.net. Raz says the more exotic, the better.

ON THE WEB

Be on the inside looking at Thge Outsider John Rezell's blog at www.registerguard.com/outsider/
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 13, 2006
Words:688
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