The Oregon Coast. For the first time since we set out from Anchorage almost two and a half months ago, it feels like we’re on vacation. Every little town has signs for fudge and saltwater taffy and surfboard rentals. It’s also a region that’s extremely well set-up for bike touring; there’s a signed cycling route along the coast from Washington State to California. There are bike shops in every town and no shortage of campgrounds along the way.
On sunny days, we stop at the beach and wade in up to our knees. We haven’t yet dared a swim; we may be deep down in the USA but it’s still cold – usually around 10 degrees Celsius or 50 F in the middle of the day. On the Oregon Dunes our water froze at night for the first time since Kitwanga in Northern BC.
Our routine has changed dramatically. As of this week, we’ve started waking up in the black of early morning to try to stretch out our days and do some extra distance. The sun sets around 4:45 p.m.; we’re not nearly far enough south yet to offset the failing winter light. As it’s totally dark till around 7:00 a.m., coffee and breakfast now happen in the beams of our headlamps. Our tires hit pavement between 8 and 9 a.m.
One fellow we met about a week ago in Tillamook told us to “get out of Oregon” as fast as possible given the amount of rain that falls here during the autumn and winter months. For a few days we chuckled along on a wave of dumb luck, riding an hour ahead of or an hour behind some heaving downpour. Eventually, of course, the weather caught up with us, ran us over, stopped, backed over us, and so on and so forth.
On Monday we fought headwinds gusting well over 100 km/h. Lucie got blown down twice, and we had to walk(!) a section of a bridge – with great difficulty, I might add. I stood a moment and leaned into that great, steady, furious shouting, dumbfounded by its power, squeezing my brakes and using by bike as an anchor so as not to be pushed backward. We got to our campground in the dark. That night it rained so hard mud ricocheted all over our tent and bikes. All day yesterday we rode in a deluge that at one point turned to clattering hail.
Tomorrow we’ll be in California, land of milk, honey, and dry socks. We’re looking forward to riding through a place we’re not trying to escape from before the weather – be it cold, rain, or gale force winds – kills us.
Yesterday Lucie taught herself how to use the stove, and for the first time since September, I’ve just been treated to coffee in bed. This day seems full of promise. The sun is out, the road is dry, and the oats are hot. Cali, here we come!