Struggling ride, stunning vistas

Day 5, Humbug Mountain to Harris Beach State Park, 50 miles

I’m struggling this morning. My saddle is sore, and squirming around in my seat does only so much to alleviate the discomfort, the pain. Those of you who cycle understand this condition. Simply put, I didn’t train enough for this tour, and now I will pay. Standing up in the pedals helps to a degree, but I can only do this for so long, until I have to sit again. Ouch.

For compensation, some of the most spectacular seascapes on the Oregon Coast. The 101 circles round Humbug Mountain, then climbs high over the ocean. Descending rapidly to sea level again, exhilarating and sublime. Lots of stops for pictures, though. Resting the tush as well. I reach the place on the highway where the two Canadians were hit in 2011, near Ophir. I’m glad to see new blacktop and a much wider shoulder than before. I remind myself to be cautious, so cautious. I catch up with Alice just before Gold Beach, where coffee break is waiting. She takes the official Oregon Coast Bike Route, the old 101, but I stay on the new 101 and blast into town.

Across the Rogue River bridge and up the hill, Gold Beach Coffee and Books at last. A chance to rest, take an urgent call from my new manager, catch up on emails to people down the road. Two other cyclists are there, a father and daughter from Calgary, who also camped at Humbug Mountain. Alice heads off after awhile, I stay to fidget with bank accounts and payments. The restaurant is far away, but never far behind me. I’m glad to finish my coffee and get back on my bicycle.

South on 101, climbing Cape Sebastian, chalk and paint messages encourage me to climb. “Hills are fun!” is still there. A great motto. Descent swoops down past Pistol River, a strong tailwind makes the highway fly beneath my wheels. The the climb into Boardman State Corridor, a park that stretches for miles along the remotest part of Oregon’s South Coast. Vistas too gorgeous to pass up, more pictures, then more climbing, descending, getting lost in thought, lost in the beauty of it all. Thomas Creek Bridge, where I learned of Zach’s death in 2012. I stop on the bridge, a view cars never can enjoy (sign says “NO STOPPING” after all). I think of the year’s since Zach left us, how life does move on. I wonder how David, his father, is faring. They were so close. Best friends.

One more climb, Cape Freres, then a breakneck descent towards Brookings. Just a few more miles to the campground. My legs, my sore butt, my weary mind, all look forward to landing, to getting off the bike. And here we are, arrived. There’s Roberta, and Alice. And a host of other campers, some cyclists, some drifters. Gracefully camp is quiet, and I head to bed early, resting from a long day’s ride.

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