Day 1, Watershed Homestead to Beachside State Park, 56 miles
So, just like that, I’m on the road again. Staying again at Beachside, the last campground of my Spring tour.
Seems just yesterday. Except for the three months between, which were challenging. In Corvallis, temperatures over 100° in June and July caused the restaurant to grind to a halt. Profits dwindled and payables grew. So in August, I worked a marathon of shifts to get the listing ship aright once more.
September brought a seasonable slump, which I interpret as families hunkered down for the new school year. OSU wouldn’t resume until the end of the month. I found myself still working long hours, with little time to take long distance rides to train. The decision then: call the tour off? Or jump on the bike and go. I chose the latter, leaving the restaurant in good hands of devoted staff.
Today! My first ride is from my home on the Mary’s Peak Watershed, on out the Alsea Valley to Waldport. I’ve ridden this narrow 50 miles of shoulderless highway a few times before, notably when I resumed touring in 2010. Today, the weather is cool, clear to cloudy. The ride begins with a long climb to the Alsea Mountain Summit. I enjoy a two mile invigorating descent then pedal on into the town of Alsea. Far past its heyday, the general store is the main gathering point. The clerk is distracted by a young man, complaining “I won’t call the police on him, because then I get in trouble.” The clerk explains the other guy gets two beers in him, then “doesn’t pick a fight, he just starts swinging”. Small town dramas.
Forty miles to go, I’m feeling the folly of not prepping better for this tour. Though in many ways, I’m better prepared than ever. I’ve taken measured steps to get the restaurant organized and ready for my absence, including hiring a new assistant manager and promoting my chef to general manager. Seth is off, now working full time on his novel, the next best seller in the young adult fantasy genre. After a year of renovations and rebranding, we launched “FireWorks Pub & Pizza” with a grand “re-opening”, new screen printed uniforms, and a cohesive team to serve up the best food and drinks in town.
Riding on, I feel I’m heavy laden. Not with emotion as a few years back. This time, laden with excess weight. I will be the slower amongst my new cycling friends. Not the best weight-loss plan. But hey, I’m riding out, on my bike, a joy each day. Legs complain at the hills. “Shut up legs!” I tell them, gently. I take a break at the next Benton County park, then miles later, Rivers Edge Park. A brief nap. Refreshed, back on the saddle. The last hill, climbing up and over, down into Tidewater. Ten more miles. The ride is beautiful, a bit of a headwind, clouds appear, then sun and blue skies breaking through.
At last I roll into Waldport, and stop at Ray’s for provisions. Dinner will be ham and cheese on an onion roll. Up rolls my first cycling companion, Roberta, her 51st day on the road. We chat, and I tell her about Beachside. I ride off, to catch my first selfie of the tour, with the iconic Alsea Bay bridge. On to the campground, my home for the night. I arrive, exhausted, happy, enjoy a lingering shower. I set up my tent, walk briefly on the beach, before laying down for a nap. I guess it’s time for bed! Even before sunset, I’m in my sleeping bag, first night camping of so many to come.
Content, ready for more adventure. I wrote in my journal last night what may be my best intentions for this tour. “So here, I begin again. This chapter of the journal ends, and I’ll start a new one on the road. My goal: to stay present to all that comes my way, to everything I experience, in mind and body, to embrace this wild, beautiful, terrifying life. Onwards!”