Escaping the heat

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Day 29: Yachats to Florence, 55 miles

Temps over 100° in the valley prompted my exodus to the coast, where the weather was in the cool 60’s. As if I needed an excuse. Today I rode my favorite stretch of 101, the cliffs between Yachats and Florence. And in the spirit of training, I decided to extend the ride to 40 miles. As I set out the miles came easy and the hills seemed smaller, so mid ride I decided to push further on to Florence, topping 50 miles.

This was a milestone, the first long ride since my tour ended last fall. I reflected on all that has transpired since then, my resumption of working the floor at the restaurant, decoding the financial puzzle, the ongoing evolution of my relationship with my ex partner and adult children, and what about… what about… me? Yes, who have I become, over the last year? What do I want now? How will I move forward, into the uncertain future filled with changes in the economic, climate, relationship, identity.

My mind was cluttered with problems as the ride started, how to staff the restaurant given our chef is leaving at the end of the month, how to respond to challenging emails from neighbors, how to embrace my life as it is, seeking to improve, yet weary from struggling. As the miles passed and the hills forced me to focus on breath and muscle, my mind shifted. Away from worries. Into the present. Ah, yes, that’s it. Florence arrived sooner than expected. I briefly flirted with the idea of stopping for dinner, but 25 more miles ahead I knew I needed to turn and ride back, chasing the sunset now.

A stop at Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside to marvel at the carnivorous cobra lilies, climbing again and again, over the same hills. At about 40 miles, my legs started to complain, as did my seat, not ready for this distance, this much time in the saddle. Ouch. Riding on, slower, but steady. Just around Strawberry Hill my odometer silently clicked to 8,000 miles. Just three more hills, then two, then Cape Perpetua and a delightful descent all the way into Yachats. I rode up to my parked van, dismounted. Rested against the van, I checked in. Drank deep the sky, the waves, sometimes sunny, sometimes foggy, there, I arrived.

Then I felt it. The zen of cycling. Content, knowing, pensive, aching, hungry, ready for more. Thousands of miles more.

_____________

Yachats – Florence Round Trip
Distance: 54.8 mi
Time: 4:34:59
Average speed: 12.0 mi/h
Max speed: 38.8 mi/h

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