Day 8, Cape Lookout to South Beach State Park, 68 miles
The lull of the surf serenades me awake. I get up before sun, as I often do on tour, to visit the facilities. I see the pink hue looking west, the reflection of the sunrise, through the trees and over the cape. So beautiful. A bit chilly too, so I crawl back into my nest and snooze some more.
I reluctantly rise a bit later than I wanted to. Planning a blitz ride into Newport today, normally should be a two day ride. But I want to get back to my home beach, and don’t really like the camping at Devil’s Lake State Park, right in the middle of Lincoln City. I strike my camp, then amble over the greet Swann before I leave. He’s planning an extra day at the campground, something I definitely will plan for next year. This is the most beautiful hiker/biker site on the coast. I’ve only stayed a day, each time.
I’m shivering a bit as I head down the drive to reconnect with the Three Capes highway. The chill is soon replaced with the exertion and sweat of a steep climb up Cape Lookout. This is a several mile effort, and my legs are complaining. “Shut up legs!” recalling the words of that cycling sprinter I’d heard about from Tim, the British bloke I’d ridden with in May of 2015. Wonder how he’s doing.
I stop at Andersons Viewpoint, and think, “Not much longer.” Yep, going to change my name, legally. At last. Don’t know if the motivation is Facebook forcing me to use my older name, or one more sarcastic stranger who asking “What’s your REAL name?” I’m excited to begin the process. Once I get back home. Whenever that will be.
Home. Where is that? I’ve been living in Corvallis for 21 years now, and with all the changes underfoot, scarcely have felt at home. Except on my bicycle, on tour, do I find my sense of belonging returning, my sense of place. Even though the places change every day, every mile. The place in my heart, that’s where I live.
Yesterday, I found myself laughing at the folly of my recent heartbreak, how I’d fooled myself, to think that this person would make me happy. And laughed even harder, at the folly of the whole thing, how I’d bought into the fundamental premise of romance, the fantasy, the illusion, that anyone else could make me happy, anyone other than my own self.
These thoughts return today, as I’m struggling up this hill. Ani DiFranco blaring her angry rebuttal of sexism and patriarchy, reclaiming her power. Who can make me happy? I’m smiling. I know the answer. Today, I know the answer.
The crest arrives, then I’m descending, rapidly down the south side of Cape Lookout, markedly warmer, sand dunes replacing misty forest. I cycle past farms along the Three Capes highway towards Cape Kiwanda. Then climb and descent into Pacific City. Stop for coffee and something called “Cinnamon Bliss”. Aptly named! I linger, resting my legs, then head out on the rest of the ride, over 50 miles to go.
Crossing the Nestucca River, people are fishing below. I ask a man on the bridge what they are trying to catch. King Salmon, Chinook. Good eating! The highway soon reconnects with the 101, and I’m riding into a slight headwind. Harbinger of the weather that’s due. But it’s unseasonably warm, winds seem to be coming down the valleys, from inland. Over 80° today, rare at the coast.
If feel this as I’m climbing Cascade Head, and take off my jersey. I’ve rarely ridden shirtless, so it feels both liberating and exposed. The sweat dripping off shows I’ve made the right decision. I’m careful not to get too much sun too. Not going to be a problem when the rain comes in a couple days. The Head is a longer climb than the Cape, nearly three miles. Then the descent is rewarding, blazing down the other side.
Soon I’m approaching, then riding through Lincoln City. A series of rolling hills, it’s possible to ride through the center of the city at the same pace as the traffic. Some pickup drivers don’t like this, trying to pass, even though they have to brake and I end up following them close behind. Then I’m cycling along Siletz Bay, along Gleneden Beach, then into Depot Bay. Squiddie demands a selfie at the “Worlds Smallest Harbor”. A few more miles still.
I’m trying to make the Oceana Coop, and I begin the climb up Cape Foulweather. Google Nav says I’ll arrive with 10 minutes to spare, as they close at 7pm. Doesn’t stop me from pausing to take a picture from the Ben Jones bridge. I hear a distinctive loud exhale and look below, seeing a whale spout, right there in Rocky Creek cove. I start my camera, and am lucky to catch the second spout as the whale is swimming out of the cove:
I jump back on the bike, no time to lose, cycling up the loop, then over and down, a lovely descent on the former Old 101. Reconnecting with the 101, I’m sprinting into town, over Yaquina Head, past Fred Meyers and Walmart, along the strip to the intersection with Highway 20. Left turn, there on Benton, the cute old coop. I make it with 15 minutes to spare! I buy some spices, sea salt, a few treats.
I’m now heading to Cafe Mundo, dinner with a new friend. Selena’s salad, albacore burger, apple cinnamon kombucha. We talk about relationships, family, marriage and the loss thereof. I’m at once melancholy and serene. The endorphins of the ride are kicking in, as is the presence I’m finding. At home again. With myself. Glad to share this moment with a friend. I bid him well as he heads back home.
I’m off to do laundry. washing my cycling clothes again, as I only have one pair of shorts. Until the pair I ordered arrives on Friday in Yachats, general delivery. Then I’m crossing the Yaquina Bay bridge, in the dark. But with a 900 lumen headlight, I have no trouble seeing every detail of the road ahead. And traffic has no trouble seeing me either, twin flashing red lights in the rear.
I arrive at South Beach, grab a long lingering shower. Ah. So good after a marathon ride such as this. I’m now looking for a place in the hiker/biker site, but there’s a strange voice there, yelling in a British accent, about Hillary and the Illuminati, at a volume intended to entertain, and intimidate. He’s successful, I find a different site to camp in. Only twice in my seven years of touring have I allowed a strange homeless character to spoil my camping experience. I hope this isn’t a sign, of the declining times.
I lay out my sleeping bag and mat, too tired or lazy to set up my tent. I look up at the stars, how beautiful and clear the night. Another rare thing at the coast. Sleep comes rapidly, with the surf just beyond the dunes, singing the song of the sea.