From Beverly Beach State Park to Clay Myers State Park
We’re eating breakfast, milling about the campsite, when the ranger drives up in his little golfcart. He checks for our paystubs to make sure we didn’t cheat him out of his five dollars, then starts grilling us about unauthorized campers – had we seen anyone? Had we noticed anybody coming through last night? After he leaves, I ask J and Pacman: “What was that all about?”
“He was looking for the homeless guy who snuck in last night, camped over there,” Pacman explains, gesturing. Barely visible from our vantage point at the back of our site we can see a small, gray tent tucked away in blueberry bushes.
“Man, they just can’t give anybody a break around here. They’ve always got to make you pay.”
We’re headed to Pacific City today, forty-six miles by the official bicycle route. This will be our longest day on bikes since our very first (and we know how well that worked out). My knee was still bothering me quite a bit yesterday (well, only when I pedaled) but seems to be doing better. I used google to self-diagnose myself with Patellar Tendonitis. The internet told me to put my seat higher and farther back, and take some ibuprofen. That was exactly what I did before the self-diagnosis, so it must right, right? My knee is still tender but changing my seat position helped a lot. Hopefully it will keep working itself out today.
After all the sun the overcast sky feels dreary. This stretch of road is busy with a narrow shoulder, although it’s nice to be right on the coast for a little while. I’m glad we finally got bike lights.
We’ve been talking big talk about how biking isn’t anywhere near as hard as hiking, so we put in the miles. It’s gray and a grind. We have to bike right through Lincoln City, which goes on and on and on with traffic and lights and no shoulder. Miles of stress finally lets up when the official bicycle route leaves highway 101 and routes us through an empty back highway. Nothing but pavement, forest, and us. Every once in a while a car goes past, but for the most part we have the road to ourselves.
The road to ourselves! Bicycle bliss.
The route takes us up a gigantic hill, and we pedal slowly up it. When you’re down in your granny gears grinding out a climb, it’s as quiet as hiking. My breath sounds rhythmic and hard in my ears; the trees are utterly still. We eat lunch next to a hedge loaded with blackberries. Stopping to gorge ourselves on roadside blackberries is a daily routine, but this hedge – these blackberries are so good. I fill my cup with berries, eat them all, fill it again. The gray stripmalls of Lincoln City disappear from our shoulders.
What goes up must come down – we crest the hill and rocket down. Hairpins at full speeds, banking steeply from side to side, alone on the road, free, free, free.
I pull over to regroup with Pacman at J at the bottom just in time to chat with two bicyclists going the other way. One man has a typical touring setup, but the other has a fancy recumbent style bike, his buggy whip covered with different flags. He has the largest calves I’ve ever seen (I thought hikers had big calves!). I mean, these things are big. Turns out he’s a Dutchman, pedaling from Prudhoe Bay to Panama. Prudhoe Bay! “So, will you be biking on the Pan-American Highway?” asks J.
“Yes, that’s the route,” replies the Dutchman.
After the two pedal off, J shudders. “The Pan-American Highway! That place is a death-trap for buses and cars! I can’t imagine riding it.”
“Ignorance is often the key to success,” I venture. “If we really knew what we were getting into, who knows how many cool things we wouldn’t have done?”
Done with the downhill, we ride off ourselves into the kind-of sort-of rain that turns into a more persistent drizzle. No more free miles, but we get ourselves to Pacific City by dinner time, right on time. An old friend/roommate/office-mate lives in Portland, and Nick is meeting us tonight. Nick is pedaling approximately twice as many miles today (85) just to meet up with us. I wish I had his stamina – I’m exhausted. Maybe it’s the stress, or the cold, or the rain, or the knee pain, or just finally starting to pedal real miles every day. I guess bicycling is real work too.
We get dinner at the Pelican Brewery while we wait for him to arrive. The striking capes off the beach are shrouded in fog.
It’s starting to get late and Nick’s not here yet. We also have no place to camp, and we’re in a vacation town. Vacation towns, funny enough, are one of the hardest places to find someplace for us to stay. Everyone charges for everything. We end up having to pedal another six miles to a county campground that charges an outrageous price for the privilege of setting up our tarp on their square of grass. J goes back to Pacific City by himself to meet Nick, who then also gets to pedal another six miles. As soon as he arrives, it starts to rain. He’s forgotten his tent’s rainfly, so we pitch the tarp a little wider and squeeze him in.