Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bandon to Cape Blanco. People: Isbee, Marie, Mathieu, Magalie, Kirby, and Sammie.

Magic + Reality.
In this section the trip became magical and it seemed like everything just came together beautifully.  Immediately after that, the trip also provided a nice dose of reality.

After spending so much time looking for a monocular and checking out the rocks at Bandon, it was quite late by the time I started cycling out of Bandon (I think it was about 5pm).  I had already told some other cyclists I met at the market (spent an incredible amount of time in the market, was hungry and trying to decide what to cook that night as well) that I'd see them at Cape Blanco that night, so I felt obligated to get there.  Otherwise I would have stopped at one of the earlier camps or just pulled in to the forest to camp somewhere.

I was hustling a bit to get there and reached the turnoff around 7:15pm only to realize that the campground was still several more miles (~5 miles) off the road.  Cape Blanco is the westernmost point of Oregon and the wind blows consistently and powerfully.  So the ride for the last few miles was against a strong headwind.  Near the end of the road thete is a steep climb to get up on the cape.  As I hit the steepest bit of road, a big gust stopped me in my tracks.  I had to walk my bike for a few feet before riding again against the wind. 

Getting to the campground made it evident that it was a good choice to have done the ride there.  The hiker biker site is in a secluded and pretty spot in the woods.  Though I was cold the entire evening due to a drop in temperature and the constant wind, it was a really great crew of folks at the site (profiles below) and I had a great evening.  Everyone was very mellow and I really enjoyed everyone's company there.  I made red beans and rice with veggies and it came out even better than when I make it at home.  With good food and good company, it made for a nice night.

The next morning was just beautiful (still cold, but beautiful).  The sun was out, and Isbee (one of the other bicyclists) mentioned a little grassy knoll in the sun overlooking the ocean.  I walked over there and was blown away by the beauty of the place.  The cape juts dramatically into the Pacific Ocean and you can feel it.  The view from the knoll was amazing and I watched as a mother whale and calf swam by just outside the breaking waves.  It was the ideal spot for Tai Chi Chuan and meditation.  I was enjoying the meditation so much I meditated for an hour and a half (that's longer than I normally do in the AM before cycling).  Gradually the other bicyclists made their way to the knoll and everyone enjoyed it in their own quiet way.  The morning was the 'magic' of the trip I was referring to.  The beauty and peace of the morning evoked warm feelings of joy and calm.

I didn't want to leave and considered staying another night but realized I had only brought one days' worth of staple food (grains) as I was experimenting with bringing less after carrying about for days' worth pretty consistently in the earlier part of the trip.  I mentioned this and Marie offered to give me some quinoa - I really tempted but then also realized that it would mean a long ride the following day and I didn't want to arrive too late the following day as I would be staying at my friend's mom's house. 

So, I bid adieu to our wonderful Cape Blanco bicycle crew and started cycling.  Shortly after I got down from the cape, my lower back started to hurt.  It then proceeded to hurt progressively more until pedaling was causing sharp pain.  I ended up pulling over on the site of the road and lying on my back.  It wasn't subsiding, so I stayed there about 30 min. and took a nap.  I was stretching out and a guy on a scooter stopped to see if I needed help.  It turns out he was a massage therapist (and former streetfighter, he mentioned later) and tried to help identify where the worst knots in my back were.  He headed out, I stretched for a while more and decided to head in to town and find a hotel.  I cycled ever so slowly and eventually reached Port Orford (very close by, I was just moving slowly).  The motels were all booked, but fortunately there was a room at the bed and breakfast in town, which turned out to be a great place to rest. 

The injury is a good reminder that I am getting older and need to take better care of myself.  I feel that Life gets stricter with me as I get older - I can't get away with pushing my body in the same way.  In the previous days, if I didn't get to surf, I'd try to keep my upper body in shape by doing pullups, dips, and other exercises in outdoor playgrounds when I saw them - even if I was cold and my muscles weren't warmed up.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't smart.   When I surfed, it was a bit crazy as I had a 2mm wetsuit (most people use a 5mm in Oregon/WA with a hood, booties, and sometimes gloves... I was of course sans hood or gloves and using some fin socks) - I would surf until I was too cold to deal with it.  It would then be an awkward change out of my wetsuit - sometimes followed by me immediately jumping on my bicycle.  I think this was a bit hard on my body.  Overall, I need to adapt my self-image from the idea of myself as an athletic and fit person who is up for anything to an older person who is fortunate enough to still be able to be very active.  Ah, 'reality....'

Interestingly, we didn't talk that much at the camp, so I don't know as many details about everyone as I usually do.  However, I felt a strong affinity for the group.  As Marie put it, the group had 'a good energy.'

Isbee (group photo, far left) - Isbee has loads of touring experience and has done this particular route before, so he had already planned to stay an extra night there as he knew it was a choice spot.  He is in his 60s and cycles hard (cool, huh?), but he also had an appreciation for the slow pace I was taking and planned to show his place down as he was near the end of his trip.  

Marie (group photo, middle) - Marie is from Quebec and was very generous to offer me quinoa to allow me to stay an extra night.  She was also the one that shared the insight that the campsites that are listed on the route in the 'Bicycling the Pacific Coast' book tend to be more crowded with cyclists.  I didn't bring the book so I hadn't made that connection and had been wondering why some were so much more crowded than others.  Additionally, the campgrounds in the book tended to attract a higher percentage of folks who seemed to like to focus conversation around how many miles they did that day, how many cumulative miles so far on their trip, and how many miles they will be doing the next day.  I liked that no one in this group seemed to have that fixation.

Mathieu and Magalie (group photo with helmets) - Matt and Mag are also from Quebec (there seem to be lots of real-deal cyclists in Quebec).  They both practice yoga and were practicing in the morning while I practiced tai Chi. I thought they were very cool and invited them to stay at my house if they needed a place to stay when they got further south, but after talking it was quite clear that they would likely get there far ahead of me given their schedule (they had a flight back home scheduled).

Kirby and Sammie (with books).  I feel that Kirby and Sammie (both CalTech students) brought the coolest indulgence items of anyone: serious, heavy textbooks (and other books).  It's more impressive to me than the extras that most people brought (cameras, tablets) and even neater than the other cool things other people brought ( hula hoop, surfboard, etc.).  I mean, they brought a book on stochastic processes to read at camp after a long day cycling.  That's super hardcore, I think.  

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