Cold and drizzle in Coos County

Day 7, Honeyman to Bullards Beach State Park, 68 miles

I’m up early. Not having the protection of a tent lends to a more restless night. First sight upon waking: the towering trees at Honeyman’s hiker biker camp. Immediately calming, even with the daunting ride ahead.

This will be a long day. I will ride past Coos Bay to Bullards Beach. Most cyclists take the side route from North Bend out to Charleston and Sunset Bay. I’ve opted to skip that route, which necessitates a next morning’s ride over the arduous Seven Devils Road.

The road rolls over hills, past dunes and lakes. I notice many of the lakes are extremely low, lily pads with broken stalks and rotten leaves. We must be in drought again. I think of how much rain Oregon needs to keep its lush rainforests healthy and green. Though secretly I hope the rain will wait until I’m passed further on my tour south.

My legs are feeling stronger as I pedal the miles through forest and dune. I cross the Umpqua bridge, then reach Reedsport and Winchester Bay, stopping briefly for coffee and food. Onward, into the wind, lighter than yesterday. Some sprinkles are landing on me now, but the winds are warm, so I shrug off the rain. Pedaling on, on, on. To the south. Towards California. I think ahead of San Francisco, and Big Sur, and of my next writers retreat at Esalen. Seems so far away, so long away, yet now just three weeks.

At last, the approach the the McCullough bridge at North Bend. I recall how many times I’ve been honked, yelled at here. I gear down and start the long pedal up. Cars pass, then an 18 wheeler also gears down, follows me up at 9 miles an hour. I pedal hard, then reach the crest and zoom down the other side. No time to stop for pictures on the span of this favorite bridge.

I rest and stretch at the park on North Bend side of the bridge. Phone calls and texts with restaurant staff have me concerned. I schedule a conference call this evening. Maybe we’ll figure this out. I put it out of my mind, ride on to the Coos Head Coop in Coos Bay. I need to start cooking my dinners on this trip, after how much I’ve spent so far. Besides, the food out is always so disappointing. Fresh kale, locally grown, tortillas, almond butter, cous cous. Many meals ahead as I enter the redwoods next week.

I ride on, now the sprinkles become light drizzle, and it’s getting colder. Still nearly 30 miles to go. I bear down, legs complaining, keep pedaling. Mileposts now are annoying goads, at once telling me my progress and how much is left to ride. Long climbs, gear down, steady pedaling. I descend, and now  passing traffic turns the wet roads a cold shower. I’m getting wetter every mile. Ugh. Early in the tour, good to get used to this. I don’t really know what weather is ahead. I always hope for sun, but it’s good to be realistic.

At last the approach to Bandon, just a few miles to camp. I roll on, past the “world famous” Bandon golf course. Then the camp, a sigh of relief, exhaustedly set up my tent, then grab a shower. Warm, dry clothes, I wash my cycling clothes, hang them under the shelter at the bike camp. I’m now cooking a unique camp dinner: ramen, sauteed onion, kale, garlic, add tuna, oh, kimchee too. Not much to look at, but delicious and so satisfying.

The night draws near, I make my conference call, trying to convey cooperation to my staff, who feel criticize by each other, abandoned by me, and wonder how I’ve left a friend to manage the whole thing without telling them why. What a mess. Yet not really any messier than my many other bicycle tours. In fact, better now, as I’ve been managing everything over the past years, and have a better sense of how to guide my staff.

Last thing, a phone call with my beloved. Laughing at my follies, the rain, the gloomy outlooks, the looming sunny days too. All in good measure. Balance comes to life, once acceptance and compassion are the goal. We wish each other goodnight, and I collapse into a deep sleep.

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