Day 1, Cannon Beach to Nehalem Bay State Park, 17 miles
Something is cranky today.
Not just the pedals pushing crank pushing gear pushing chain pushing rubber meeting road propelling cyclist and bicycle along on my next adventure down the Pacific Coast highway.
I am cranky. Peddling out of Cannon Beach, after a two hour ride on the Amtrak POINT bus from Portland.
It’s not the tourists sitting in front of the coffee shop, who all seem to be staring at me. Nor the wind blowing at my face as I load my bike, grabbing panniers from the bus cargo hold. Nor the too-tightly fitting spandex bike clothing, reminding me I’ve regained lost weight in the run-up to this tour.
Nor the challenges of getting my restaurant settled for my absence of several weeks, new staff not knowing how to pick up the many tasks I’ve done for months this year in the struggling slumping economy despite record stock markets. Nor Michael Moore’s doomsday opus which compelled me to rage and tears and despair at the same time.
Cranky Ocean: Dear Ocean, why so frustrated, uncomfortable, uneasy, befuddled, wanting to quit when I’ve only just begun, the first mile of another thousand plus miles of this next bicycle tour?
All of the above, plus the knowledge that I’m moving forwards, challenging myself to uncover yet more of my shadow, to heal the resistance, to forge new disciplines to replace all the habits that hobble me, and here, on this ride, to face my greatest adversary: my own lost self.
No one else to focus on here, no one to be held responsible for my experiences, my pain, my loss, my healing. Just me, only me, actually me, especially me, riding solo.
I know why I am doing this. I know I am poised to discover new pathways, in my mind, in my heart, in my soul, even as I ride these now so very familiar miles on the way down the coastal highways I’ve ridden many times before.
Thus my first ride of this tour is challenging, yet easy.
Miles are slow, breaking in legs and butt and mind not used to touring, even with my summer’s micro adventures. I don’t turn on the music. I let the coastal vistas do their magic for me again. The Arch Cape tunnel, the majestic Neahkahnie Mountain highway, endless sun sparkling ocean below shear cliffs.
Beach time in Manzanita, lunch from the deli. Warm temperatures, swimsuit weather. How rare and delicious a treat on the northern Oregon Coast.
At last I roll over the the campground, set up, work on my bicycle, attach a new wired computer to replace the failed wireless model. I see many other cyclists camped in the hiker/biker site, yet I’m feeling shy and antisocial, not ready to talk, introduce myself to them, especially after a day like this.
A call from Jennifer brightens me, as she listens to my complaints and woes, and I, to hers. How different our current experiences: I’m embarking on a bicycle vacation, and she is starting the intensity of graduate work in soils science. We’ve come to an easy level of conversation, working through the challenges of intimacy and space over the past year, discovering how to allow, to create enough room for our passions and our own individuation. I’m so grateful for the learning, support, time, all that I’ve experienced over the past years.
We bid each other good night. I join the other cyclists around a blazing fire. I don’t get their names yet, decline offers of beer and weed, and step back as the ranger comes and puts out the fire noting that the pallets they are buring were stolen. Yikes. Ah well, kids.
I shuffle off to my bed, my tent pitched on a bed of moss below scrubby shore pines growing in the sandy dune soil.
The moon is just past full, romantic beautiful shadows against the tent. I whisper good night to my beloved, to all of us. Let’s remind ourselves to be grateful, to let our grief and anger and crankiness manifest, be felt fully and pass. And above all, remember to keep breathing. Keep breathing.