Friday, August 11th
My sixth day, nearly half way through the tour, and less than 60 miles now from where Oregon and California meet. The strange thing was it felt like i’d been cycling a lot longer. Life had become quite simple again: wake up, cycle, eat, sleep, and repeat.
This tour felt different to America last year. Unlike then, I was following a set path laid out in great detail. Though each day was still unique and surprising I also knew where I’d be sleeping that evening. The campsites had all had hot showers and running water. The days were all 50 to 60 miles, and ended at around 6 or 6.30. There was no arriving in some unknown town at 9pm, putting a tent up in the dark and hoping you wouldn’t be discovered before escaping early the next morning not knowing where you’d end up that night. This was much more civilised, and in many ways more enjoyable, if a little less of an adventure.
Today was the longest day so far but also perhaps the least memorable – at least until the final 7 miles.
The campsite was not somewhere I wanted to spend any more time so after making breakfast and packing up I cycled up to Cape Arago agreeing to meet Brian once he was set to go. It was overcast still, and a rather bleak view out over more scattered rocks and jagged cliffs. On rocks below there were sea lions making noise, otherwise it was a quiet and still morning.
I cycled back down, topped up on water at the campground, and retraced my route down to the bay from the night before.
The road forked and I began a long and arduous trek on the Seven Devils Road. Living up to it’s name, the road provided a steep, brutal climb to begin with. This plateaued just a little, but a series of long up’s and down’s followed past acres of managed forest as light rain fell.
This carried on for far too long until eventually I turned on to a road called the Whisky Run. This was a lot more fun. From here it was mostly all downhill, tight turns and quiet roads until hitting the highway and zooming on into Bandon past the tragic remains of a deer which been hit at high speed and scattered along a 30 metre section of the road.
I was happy to pull into town, avoid Subway, and instead find a local coffee shop on the ornate Main Street. I ate a breakfast bagel, a large coffee, and took a cookie intended for the road but eaten on the pavement. Brian joined me and we sat and caught up over coffee and more baked goods. Looking forward to this moment and sustained me over the previous 30 challenging miles.
We left Bandon, taking a scenic route along the coast for a while, passing Face Rock – a rock lodged in the Pacific which had the profile of a human face tilted back looking at the sky. Beside this was cat and kittens rock, which was much harder to decipher. The neighbourhoods were all well kept and tasteful and looked toward the Pacific. Overall Bandon seemed like a good place to be.
Inevetiably we rejoined the highway, and the next 25 miles were monotonous, at times hard work, but generally passed quickly enough. Sights including a fruit stand selling peaches that we regretted not stopping at, bizarre wood carvings, a store claiming to be the birthplace of the hotdog, a place called Denmark, roadside bar-b-que, more trees, and the first Arizona tea i’d drunk on this trip (I’d become mildy addicted to it in 2016).
We were both happy to finally reach Port Orford which had a magnificent ocean view. Just as I began enjoying this my front tyre began to deflate, though there were, and had been, far worse spots to fix a flat. This is the second time I’ve bought a tube earlier in the day, then later had a flat tyre. A viscous chicken/egg circle and tempting of fate which I hope won’t happen again.
With the tyre back on we continued around the bay on the 101 – now tightly hugging the coast – with 6 miles to go to humbug mountain state park. The road was a rough patchwork of old and new surface but the views to our right were a fair compromise.
And as we rounded one of the final corners we spotted a whale – or at least a very small part of a whale, not far from the coast. Although what Was visible on the water was next to nothing, it was pretty amazing knowing there was a entire whale just below the surface.
A final stunning descent for the day took us inland and to a turning for the campsite, which although just off the highway was a pleasant place to spend the night. Each camper had their individual spot rather than us all spread out over one small swampy patch.
I ate with Brian – he was leaving at 7 the following morning to cycle an 80 mile day to Crescent City where he’d meet his wife and kids. I was really glad we crossed paths at the top of Oregon, and wished him well ahead of his long journey tomorrow.
On the eastern edge of the campground there was a trail along an old section of highway which gave access to the top of Mount Humbug and apparently great views out to sea. I started walking it at dusk, which was not the brightest idea since the sun was fading and much of the road was shade by trees anyway.
Unsurprisingly there was something eerie about walking along the old highway, alone, at night. It was overgrown and seemed to disappear almost entirely into the trees surrounding it. The surface was cracked and badly worn, but the yellow line running up the middle of it was still just about discernible. I wondered how long ago it had been painted and who might have driven along it back when it was still in use.
As these thoughts collected I decided it was best to abandon this excursion, and returned back to the comfort of the campsite with a spring in my step.