Soaring to the central coast

Day 10: Cape Lookout to South Beach State Park, 68 miles

Today a feeling of routine returns, along with the clearing skies. I’ve ridden this coast, every fall, for ten years now. I know these miles so well, I need no directions, no tracking, no maps. My mind is free to wander, to wonder, to ponder.  I can ride again to lose myself, to find myself along these miles.

I do find myself, awakening to a reality I’m not very comfortable in. I’m heavy, out of shape, aching muscles, worrying mind. Can I do this? Cover these miles? Make it up the many, many hills ahead? Especially today, the first part of the ride climbing Cape Lookout. There’s just one way to find the answers. To ride. And ride I will.

Packed camp, breakfast of oats, I head out into the chilly morning. Just 41° on the bicycle computer. Warm gloves, long shirt, knee warmers. All soon stripped off as I climb the steep cape. The views at Anderson Point are breathtaking. So blue this ocean, this sky. So clear my mind feels. The air fills my lungs with a vital, fresh feeling.

Descending now through the dunes on the south side of the cape, then on past pastures and farms along the Three Capes route to Pacifica. I’m feeling stronger, but also noticing the pain in the saddle. I’m heavier, so more pressure there. And this day, another long climb and descent at Cascade Head, then Cape Foulweather at the end of the ride.

I meet another cyclist just before Neskowin, named Nick, riding from Seattle. He’s friendly, helps adjust my brake lever. He’s only the second I’ve seen since starting back on the Oregon Coast. Maybe this chill and rain have kept others away, or hiding in cheap motels.

The climb up Cascade takes an hour, just a few miles, then a fifteen minute descent at breakneck speeds. Still clear skies, cold reaching through my clothes on the downhill. I’m shivering as my wicking layers evaporate the sweat of the arduous ascent. Sunshine helps on the straightaways before Lincoln City. Then I’m climbing, coasting through the rolling hills of 101 as it winds down this long strip of a town. Miles are flying now. Siletz Bay, then Boiler Bay, then Depot Bay, then Whale Cove. And the climb over Foulweather. Sun sets as I ascend, casting golden shimmering trails along the gentle ocean below.

I reach the ascent, don my headlamp, fly down the other side. I reach Beverly Beach and decide to press on, to South Beach, just another ten miles. I stop at the Thriftway, grab a bite and warm up a bit, then push on the the beautiful Yaquina Bay bridge. I kind of magic, climbing and descending this engineering marvel at night, full 900 lumen torch blazing my path ahead, the dark waters of the bay a hundred feet below, moon and star shining above.

I arrive at South Beach tired and overjoyed. Set up my camp, shower, have a lovely call with Jennifer before falling into a deep, well earned sleep.

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