Day 35: Beverly Beach to Corvallis, 78 miles
4am, I’m awake, listening to the surf under the big bridge here at the camp. Is that a fog horn in the distance? I lay in my warm cocoon a bit more, then am up, packing up my gear for the last ride of the tour. Stars are out overhead! Unusual on the Oregon Coast, especially for late November.
Time to coast on home. Ha. The ride ahead is not “coasting”. Climbing east over the Oregon Coast range is less difficult than the many hills I’ve ridden this tour – Crescent City, Leggett, Sonoma Coast, Skyline Boulevard, Mateo Range, and all the Big Sur climbs and descents. Still, it’s a long ride, over 70 miles I reckon, and in temperatures on the edge of tolerable. An early start is essential.
Lights a blazing, I head south on 101 into Newport. I’m thrilled to be riding my favorite coast again, even in the dark. A crescent moon is directly above, waxing towards the full moon, a week away. Down into Nye Beach, I open Panini Bakery. No cinnamon rolls? I settle for a delicious blueberry muffin and espresso. The quirky art of Rick Bartow adorns the walls, a Nye Beach fixture. I head over the Yaquina Bay, along the Elizabeth Street. I’m back following the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route, love seeing the painted markers on the pavement, telling cyclists where to turn, to stay on the route.
Descending to the Bay, I catch a beautiful sunrise over the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I send it off to Facebook, to Matt Love, who has relocated in Astoria. I tell him to come back and visit the Green Lady soon, reassure him I will keep her company until then. It is so good to be home. Second breakfast at The Coffee House, on the Bayfront. Local Yaquina Bay oysters, taters, eggs over medium, and a fluffy biscuit. Drip coffee. Fuel for the road. I have a long ride ahead.
At The Coffee House, I run into Bill, the baker of the best sourdough in 6 counties. Best known in Corvallis for juggling 3 basketballs while unicycling along Philomath Boulevard, Bill has just done one of his crazy night cycling rides, arriving in Newport at 1030pm. He saw my bike out front and wondered, who else would be so crazy, to be touring in the winter? We chat a bit, sharing our love of the road, the madness to ride such long distances, the adventure.
I bid Bill farewell and safe travels, something I’ve said to every cyclist I’ve met on this tour. And I’m back on the road. I opt to cycle the Bay road all the way to Toledo. It’s a few more miles, but flat all the way. The morning is cool, and the water like glass. So beautiful, this land of water, of moss and fern. How I missed the water. I climb out of Toledo, onto the busy Highway 20 to Eddyville. No shoulder, but I’m so used to this kind of riding, been weeks on the road. It doesn’t faze me. Although, it probably should.
I turn on the the Nashville Summit road, a winding alternate, away from the busy highway. Beautiful cycling under clear blue skies, significantly colder now. I’m getting a chill, but keep riding, riding. This is a long day, and I have many thoughts on my mind. Reentry into my Corvallis life. Working again. Making sense of my life, plans for my future. Who will I connect with when I return? Where will I live? I’m glad to have had the freedom to adventure like I do. And now, a bit restless. Restlessness, put into the pedals. Ride.
A big climb, then descent into Summit, our own hippie enclave in the Coast Range, artists and anarchists living in the woods. My good friend Karl Smiley lives up here. And I will apologize again Karl, for cycling through your neighborhood but not stopping. I can’t stop now. I’m cold, wet from sweat, and have three more hours to go, already five hours on the road. Five hours, 50 miles. Where has the time gone? The distance? Under my wheels. My thighs are aching on the climbs. I push harder. The chilly air is crisp in my nostrils. I see ice in the streams. But the road is clear.
Descending into Blodgett, a brief stop at the only store for 20 miles. I share a table as I eat some Blodgett pizza. Fuel! Then back onto 20, approaching Philomath. Town I came of age in. I remember when my family moved there after years in Idaho. Like coming into the Promised Land. That’s when I first fell in love with Oregon. On familiar turf, the cycling comes easier. Over 60 miles, now entering my old home town, which is my new home town. Over to Reservoir Road, then up over Witham Road, destination is the spa at Timberhill. The spa feels so good, perfect antidote for the chill which is now racking my body.
Ah, refreshed, clean, dry clothes. Now, down to the restaurant, to meet Seth. I stop at The Beanery, write in my journal. My personal journal is my solace, my medicine. The conversation with self, here I unfold truths unknown. Here I reflect and look ahead. Now, just a couple blocks over the Mary’s River. Cycling on in. Landing at FireWorks, neon blazing into the night. Pretty cool.
Final odometer 14393. Wow, subtract the starting mileage of 12380 and I’ve traveled 2013 miles. In year 2013. Woo woo numbers here.
I roll up the sidewalk and am greeted by Kailyn, who hug bombs me. I stumble into the warm dining room, in a bit of a haze. It’s going to take some time to settle, to find my bearings. To shift into my other life. I’m confident this winter, this return. And thinking of distant roads, distant shores. My next destination…