A Winter Holiday Microadventure

Newport to Florence, 53 miles

Seemed like a great idea. To prepare for my San Francisco tour, just a few days off, I’ll come out to the Oregon Coast, ride a short overnight. I hop the bus at 6:20am in Corvallis, temps in the mid 30s, hoping to find warmer weather at the coast.

The bus arrives and I load my panniers onto my bike and head immediately to Panini, the very warm bakery in Nye Beach. Coffee and muffin to fuel my ride. I linger, not wanting to hit the chilly streets just yet. The sun is finally creeping above the rooftops.

A winter microadventure. I’ve usually shied away from winter riding, too cold, rainy. Today is clear and crisp, surf crashing against the beach below Elizabeth Street. Feels so good to get on my bike again and ride. Resume the quest, to find adventure along the highways, to see the cherished vistas, to strain against the pedals, feel myself grow stronger and faster. And an extra goal, to heal my fears and anxiety, prepare myself to be a better friend and partner to Jennifer.

I round the Yaquina Bay Park, see the iconic bridge. A joy to cross this wonder of engineering and Oregon socialism. The miles go quickly along the 101, towards Ona Beach, then Seal Rock, the crossing Alsea Bay bridge. I’m feeling my legs, able to keep a good pace, even with such infrequent cycling in December. I climb out of Waldport, then cross the miles to Yachats. A stop at the Green Salmon, egg and sausage sandwich, more coffee.

The temps are now mid 40s, noticeably pleasant. Wind chill is cold, and I find myself complaining. I think of the man on the Bicycle Touring group who was touring around castles, in Poland, camping in the snows of winter, and feel a bit chastened at my whining. Oh, and did I mention the man had only one leg, lost the other to cancer. This day is balmy compared to what he was enduring, or apparently enjoying, from how he wrote his posts. All about perspective.

I think of how my perspectives have shifted, back and forth, over my many tours, the many times in my life I’ve ridden. Countless rides on this stretch of 101, over the years. I still discover new places of beauty, new insights. Today is no different. And now I’m missing my beloved, feeling her absence, a contrast from the ride we took together back in October, over these same miles.

I stop at a vista, imagine somehow sending my love out to her, over the miles that separate us, healing the fears, strengthening the bond between us. I feel my heart awash in love and light and hope. I’m so grateful for the time we’ve shared, even though it seems brief, the depths we’ve reached, the heights of passion. My ride takes on a quicker pace, climbing headlands, soaring down descents.

One last climb, then the long descent into the dunes near Florence. Sun is sinking, I’m getting chilled. I arrive in Old Town, wait a half hour for the Waterfront Depot to open. Jennifer would love this place. Surf and turf, New York steak and oysters. I’m seated right by a small heater, which barely warms my chilly toes. I think of the campground still a few miles away, and opt for the warmth of a motel room tonight.

In the warm hotel room, I have a phone counseling session, opening to several breakthroughs and catharsis. Learning to have compassion for myself, for the wounded child. How to nurture and hold him, not try to judge and suppress. I feel awash with relief. My vision clears, and I see a path ahead, becoming the healer and leader I’ve long strived to be. Exhausted, I’m ready now for bed, to rest and recoup from the ride. I envision my beloved, sleeping also so many miles away. Sweet dreams, my dearest.

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