Racing the rains on the gold coast

Day 15, Bullards Beach to Gold Beach, 60 miles

The NOAA weather forecast shows a strong, rainy storm coming arriving this evening and lasting through the day tomorrow. John and I are both planning to ride on to Gold Beach for a cheap hotel stay. Another day off, waiting out the rain. This also means riding on past the sweet campground Humbug Mountain. But I’d rather cycle the extra 20 miles in the dark tonight than in heavy wet headwinds tomorrow morning.

I cycle over the Coquille River bridge and into Bandon, stopping for a long while at the coffee shop which carries many sweet memories when Jennifer and I first visited her three years ago. I linger too long, nearly sixty miles to go before the motel tonight. I ride south on 101, past cranberry fields and rainforest, and rarer dunes. I stop briefly at Langlois for their “world famous” dogs, then head back onto the rolling highway..

The hills are feeling harder. Sore in the saddle, muscles complaining too. My thoughts are distracted too, questioning my reasons for this trip, for my work, for my life. I’m cold, chilled by the overcast skies and growing headwinds. I reach Cape Blanco and begin the long ascent, cresting and descending into Port Orford. This small southern coast town seems quaint and inviting, and I ponder what it might be like to live here. Isolated, intimate. Perfect for an artist, or a recluse, or a reclusive artist. A writer.

Highway 101 winds through the town and then arches to the east at Battle Rork, revealing a stunning view of the coast to the south and Humbug Mountain. I stop at the windy rest area, take some photos of the ocean, now blanketed by gathering clouds. Don’t stay too long, I need to ride on. Still nearly half the ride to go before my motel for the night. I climb steeply through forest and then descend to the winding bluffs overlooking the beach below Humbug Mountain.

The highway winds behind the haystack shaped mountain, on past the Prehistoric Gardens, then climbs and descends. The roadbed is rough, constantly patched over the 20 years I’ve crossed this coastline. Breaks in the basalt bedrock, likely. No way to build a stable road. I capture a picture of the sunset peeking through clouds, then push on past Ophir.

I’m riding by headlamp now, on a mostly empty highway. Fifteen miles, then ten, then five to go. Mist begins to descend as I pedal into the growing headwinds. I’m getting chilled, but know I must keep going. At last the highway begins a long descent to the Rogue River, and then I’m crossing the bridge in a drizzle. Another just another mile still to the motel. I check in at 830pm, two hours past sunset.

The room is quite modest, but the shower is hot. I turn the thermostat to 80° and flop onto the bed to watch the widescreen TV. Outside, the rain arrives as predicted. I’m glad for this shelter.

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