South coast respite

Day 12, Bullards Beach to Humbug Mountain State Park, 37 miles

I wake from a mixed sleep. The hiking guys are arguing about whether they should move on, or stay over and just go into Bandon to watch their Monday morning football. This is a tradition on their hike, planning their stops so they are near a town Sunday night. They stayed up late last night, drinking beer, getting high, playing music, talking loudly over their campfire. Contrast that with the conversation between myself, Alvin and Alexia, just a couple picnic tables over. We shared stories of the road for awhile, then retired to our tents. I’ve noticed this difference between touring cyclists and the hikers that frequent the state parks campgrounds. Alvin called then “through-hikers” but I suspect adding “hitch-” to the description would be more accurate. When one is cycling for 10 hours a day, there simply isn’t the energy to stay up long into the night.

Earplugs helped me sleep. More dreams, a bit of rain. I’m up packing the tent. I bid Alvin and Alexia safe riding, give Fitzroy a scratch. He’s a mellow pup, not like the nervous dog I met in the Florence laundromat. Fitz has happy people, and it shows. Alvin and Alexia have an amazing website, with a adventure based educational mission

Today’s ride will be short, so I plan to take my time to drink in the sights and places. I ride a few miles, over the Coquille River bridge, then stop in Old Town Bandon. A coffeeshop with sweet memories of my recent romance. I settle in to blog and drink too much coffee. Alvin and Alexia roll up, along with other cyclists, all of us plugging in our devices, checking our email, diving into social media. Funny how the surreal online world still draws us in, even as we immerse ourselves in the stark and compelling outer world through cycling.

I meet Erik who’s cycling as part of Diabetes Abroad. Today marks 10 years with Type 1 diabetes. He says cycling can be rough, but managing is better than before. Check out the site at We talk about getting around Big Sur, given the Mud Creek slide construction zone. All the cyclists are wondering how to get through. I need to write to my friend again, see what he recommends.

It’s afternoon before I depart. I say goodbye to Erik, head down the 101. The highway winds over gently rolling hills, past cranberry bogs. Easy cycling, perfect weather. Mid 50s to low 60s, no rain. I stop at Langlois, for a world famous hot dog, then continue on. The ride is uneventful, a blessed respite considering the naked aggression I’d experienced yesterday. I think again about the long honker in the SUV, who laid on their phone steady as they slowly approached me on the last bit of the climb up the McCullough bridge. I wonder, what if I staged a die-in? Fell off my bike, clutching my heart, then lay in front of their car, feigning death! What would the man do then? Yikes, maybe roll right over me. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to do such a thing, but maybe next time it happens. Maybe next time.

One long ascent left, over Cape Blanco, then the descent into Port Orford. Such a quaint little town. So remote, yet seems to have cool little shops and cafes, even a small food co-op. I stop and view my favorite vista, then head on to camp. The highway hugs the cliff for a couple miles, then winds around behind Humbug Mountain. I roll into camp as sun is setting. I grab a shower, then join Erik who is sharing cake and wine to commemorate his tenth year. Good cheer and a store bought cake, cyclists around the table ranging in age from 23 to 69. Friends sharing our love of exploring, via human power. Jacob is following “Cycling the Pacific Coast”, the book by Spring & Kirkendall. The veterans at the table used the original edition, back in the 80s. What a tradition.

I’m tired, so I retire to my tent. Planning a long ride tomorrow, I hope to get up early. The moon is nearing full, peering down through the trees. Unlike the previous night, this hiker/biker camp is quiet. I only hear the surf breaking on the beach below Humbug. Then the owls calling over the forest. Then the quiet of my breath, of my thoughts. Good night, all.

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