Seven Devils and the Wind

Day 2: Sunset Bay to Humbug Mountain, 59 miles

I wake in the middle of the night and see starts above, a rare thing on the Oregon Coast, a good omen? Back to sleep, dreaming of a full restaurant and an empty house. I hear a screech owl, the surf off on the bay.

I rise at 530am, way early for this weary soul. But I know a long ride is ahead and I prefer to break camp in the dark rather than set it up by flashlight. I turn on my new DIY headlight – a D-cell, 27-LED flashlight taped and bungeed to my front rack. So bright! I strike out, back north for 3 miles to catch the Seven Devils Road.

Last time I cycled Seven Devils Road was on my 2011 tour, which began with a week of rain and drizzle. Not so this early morning. I’m glad to watch the sunrise from the East, and hear a sudden howling of many canine voices. Coyotes? Or a kennel? The 7 Devils Road is grueling, several steep climbs, the only reward cutting across to 101 rather than backtracking miles up through Coos Bay. The scenery is tragic, old clearcuts and massive slash piles, apparently no requirement to replant out here. I was these clearcuts 20 years ago.

Onward to Bandon, stopping at a laundromat and meeting 5 more cyclists, these being Americans from the Bay Area. Three young gets are headed into Mexico through Baja too! But I tell them I’m riding solo, and will likely see them down the road. A coffee stop where a line of touring bikes reveals my international friends have stopped. I chat with Xavier who struggles with English. I speak slowly. While Nick blogs, Xavier and I have a conversation about touring, unplugging from technology. “I don’t want to reach the end of my life and be remembered for how many hours I’ve lost behind the screen,” he says. We talk about Parisean food, which eating ridiculous Ghirardeli brownies. I’m more than a bit embarrassed, choking down a ham and egg sandwich, complete with melting “American” cheese. Oh well, fuel for the road.

We roll off, parting ways. I’m riding at a much slower pace than these folks, who’ve been on the road since Vancouver. Here what I dreaded comes to pass: lack of training is felt, keenly, in the seat. Only one way to overcome, riding on. Doesn’t help that there is a growing headwind, a storm front passing just off shore. I put my head down and ride into the wind.

At Langlois the other American cyclists are stopped again. I meet them again later in Port Orford. They are riding another 20 miles tonight. I will ride 6 more, to Humbug Mountain State Park, nestled at the back of a giant volcano, ancient island millions of years ago when the ocean was higher and the Cascadian Plate lower.

I reach the Hiker biker site a half hour before sunset. I meet Jordy from Amsterdam. Turns out he knows Shimpei, rode out of the Yukon with him weeks earlier. Tino and Theresa arrive. A community of cyclists we are, meeting briefly, then again later, and again even later. This is one of the joys of touring this coast, and vital for breaking the long miles, the isolation.

When he dropped me off, Shawn asked me, “Don’t you get lonely?”

“Of course,” I answered. “That’s the point.” I need to be alone, especially since I tend to surround myself with people, activity, work. Through the solitude – and motion – of bicycle touring, I find my self again, reconnect with my source, “this fair earth”. And reconnect with other kind souls, on similar bicycle quests.

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