October 22, 2006
I wake early, and swiftly break camp in the chill air. Shadowed by a tall ridge to the east, I can’t discern whether it’s before or after the dawn.
No more than two miles underway, I cross a bridge over the mouth of a creek, and there on a beach I have a fine view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Seagulls gather near tide-pools, and I walk the sand with this whole area all to myself.
Puffing up the day’s first climb, I pull off the shoulder at a high spot and look back down toward the lighthouse, no longer obscured by trees. It’s a picturesque view in the low, early morning light.
From this vantage point I peer straight down the cliff before me, and discover dozens of sea lions sprawled about on the rocks below. Some play in the water, and their orchestra of honks and squeals carries up to me, with a background echo of waves against rock. What a perfect overlook.
Some time passes. I eventually tear myself away from here, and commence the day’s riding. The frequency of steep hills dissipates, and I descend toward The Oregon Dunes area.
Also here is Florence… the town where Troy, Mel, and I officially reached the Pacific Coast, already almost two months ago. I have a McDonalds breakfast as the empty early morning matures to Sunday afternoon on the Oregon Coast.
The dramatic cliffs have given way to huge rolling dunes, and it’s a recreational play-land. Whole communities seem to thrive on dune buggy business. Trees somehow manage to grow out of the sand, obscuring the ocean from view. I go off-route on some steep roads to see the Umpqua Lighthouse.
Rising out of the saddle to devote pedal pressure to a hill, I suddenly here and feel a “CRACK!” behind me. Stopping to investigate, it’s clear that two spokes have snapped, and a third looks ready to go too. Ouch.
I walk my bike the remaining short distance to the lighthouse. There I meet an old couple near some coin-op whale watching binoculars.
“We must have passed you at least three times today – you make pretty good time!”
“It’s the best way to travel,” I reply, “Except when your bike breaks down.”
They don’t get the hint, and I don’t elaborate.
I walk back out to route 101, and make a noble effort to do the repair there on the side of the road, but it’s no use. I’m gonna have to get to a bike shop. The thumb goes out.
It takes over an hour for somebody to stop, surprisingly a lone woman in a pickup truck. “You don’t look dangerous,” she says, “I saw you and thought ‘He doesn’t look dangerous.'” She repeats this at least three more times – I guess she’s nervous. Apparently talking makes her feel comfortable, because she sure talks – I barely get a word in. It’s great. She tells me all about the area, and how she works at the hospital in North Bend.
“Do you ever see any bicyclists in there?” I ask.
She hesitates. “Sometimes… they usually recover really well though, because they’re in such good shape.”
“But I’m not saying they bounce any easier or anything.”
The phrase “bouncing easier” has me glancing at the trees on the side of the road. Heh.
She drops me off in North Bend, and both bike shops in town are closed Sundays and Mondays. Today is Sunday. Wonderful. Life is good.
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