Day 7, Seaside to Cape Lookout State Park, 59 miles
A rough night, up with dreams, anxious to get riding again. I pack my bags, contents which have somehow been strewn all over the room. I don my cycling gear, load the bike. Neil asks if I want coffee. “Sure!”
We sit and drink a cup, he continues with endless stories about his travels and the guests he’s hosted. I’m fascinated, thoroughly entertained. When he suggests breakfast at a local cafe, I can’t resist. We walk over, a couple blocks away, I’m wheeling my loaded bicycle. Sausage and eggs and sweet roll for me, of course, he gets the quiche of the day. We talk restaurants now, I share my experiences. He’s been in Seaside for decades, seen this spot change from business to business.
The sun is rising through the fog as we exit the cafe. I hug Neil goodbye, and know I’ll be back. He is one of those instant friends, a consummate host and sort of ambassador for this little town. I’m eager to ride, but also feel like staying longer. A good way to feel leaving, given the nature of this tour. I tell him to stop by my restaurant when he rides his motorcycle down the 99. “I’ll sling you a pie!”
I finally push off, and the hills come soon. Right out of Seaside, the climb over Tillamook Head. I’m grateful for the low low gear I have now, 24/34 is it? The descent into Cannon Beach is a hoot, flying down the highway, taking the exit, descending further. I stop at the first beach access, look over the sand to the blue blue ocean, with crystal clear skies above. This portends a great ride ahead.
As long as my internal climate doesn’t cast its shadows. Ah, so what if it does. I’m accepting my emotions, all of them, watching them ebb and flow. This is part of who I am, I’m settled with that. Take me as I am, or leave me. I’ll take me!
I’ll take me on a ride! Through Cannon Beach, climbing past the massive iconic sea stack, Squiddie requests a selfie, for my friend Leah. I oblige. Then back on 101, more climbing, through the tunnel, over Arch Cape, then climbing Neahkahnie Mountain. Oh, the views are breathtaking. So much water, never so blue. Never so blue. I drink up the glory of this, stop a long while watching waves, sitting on the stone wall. Breathing in the clear air. Breathing out, letting this beauty wash through me. I’m feeling chills, not because it’s cold. Ecstasy, in this moment of contact. This is my world. This is our world.
I must ride on, leave this moment behind. The descent down the mountain is breakneck, lands right in Manzanita, no stopping, I push through to Nehalem. 40 miles still to go. A tailwind now, pushing me along the bay, past Wheeler, up and around to Manhattan Beach and Rockaway. Then around Bay City, along the wide Tillamook Bay. I skip the cheese factory this time, which has some major construction going on. Behind me another cyclist appears.
We chat at the light, his name is Swann, from France, cycling from Vancouver BC to San Diego. Wonderful! I tell him how we’ll be riding together off and on down the coast. We stop and do laundry in Tillamook. My aching legs are glad for the rest, as is my sore butt. Training on the go. Wish I’d spend more of the summer riding and training.
Swann is planning to ride to Cape Meares, but I’m headed straight to the campground. Another 11 miles, and a hill. Ugh. Slow going. Until the last stretch, I push through with a sprint to the finish. I ride straight through the day use area to catch a picture with my bike. The sun is setting. Just a year ago, I was at this same spot, taking the same selfie, when serendipitously my friend Angelina showed up on the same beach. Destiny, in her vastness and mystery, brings us friendship and connections, from such different paths.
I watch the sunset, a gorgeous way to end the ride. Then go set up camp and catch a shower. Back in my tent, I crawl into my sleeping bag and lay back listening to the lullaby of the surf. I relax and feel my body sinking into the earth beneath me. I feel a calm sift up through the ground, through my spine, into my heart.
What a perfect day. I’ll sleep well tonight.