September 04, 2013, Wednesday
Bastendorff County Park to Humbug Mountain State Park, Oregon
60 miles (running total = 117 miles)
Cycling teams typically arise prior to sunup, beginning the striking of camp when there is barely enough natural light to see what one is doing. This is the normal order of life for a trike gypsy. This morning, I become aware of noises emanating from my team members’ tents, and as I peer out of my tent door, realize it is yet dark outside. I am an early riser naturally, but today, David and Matt have beaten me to it, and are already removing gear from their tents using the light from their headlamps, so I get up from my warm sleeping bag, dress, put on my headlamp, and begin what is to be another day of mileage similar to yesterday. My body is rested, yet I can feel the residual effects of a challenging first day on the road.
We all work in total silence, like a well oiled machine, tending to our similar shared chores as our tents quietly come down and are stashed away in our cargo bags on our cycles. Silent striking of the camp is common, so as not to awaken other campers who drive petroleum powered vehicles and can afford a few more hours of slumber. Trikers do not have this luxury typically, and must make the most of every daylight hour, even when it means beginning prior to daylight. Trike gypsies are like phantoms of the night. We arrive at our camps silently because our vehicles make no noise. We cause no pollution of the air shared by others at the campground. Only if other folks see us silently roll in do they realize we have arrived. In the mornings, while all others are still sleeping, we silently break camp and depart, our phantom-like presence keeping us virtually invisible to normal people. They get up first thing come sunrise and wonder, what happened to those guys with weird looking bicycles? We are gone, without a trace. The trike phantoms have moved on, never to be seen again.
I like to eat a bowl of granola for breakfast on my overland journeys, so I sit at the picnic table and do so once my trike is fully packed and ready to go. Matt and David have some other minimal bit of food compared to my “elaborate” fixings. Just before I sit down to my highly anticipated granola feast, Matt walks over to me and quietly informs my brain that he will be returning to Florence this morning, where he also lives, duplicating the ride we had yesterday as he departs from the Pacific Coast Tricycle Adventure. I nod in acceptance, yet still tell him I will miss his presence in the days and weeks to come. Resigned to his declaration, I sit and eat in silent contemplation. Matt then approaches David and likewise informs him of the decision to leave the adventure this morning.
Just prior to departure, David and I line our trikes up side by side for some photos. After the picture, we all depart down the insane campground entrance road, and ride about a mile to the junction where Matt will turn left and head north, and David and I will turn right and head south to southern California. David and I are now the remaining team members of the PCTA as we begin our ascent of the mountain on the Seven Devils road, infamous in its ability to reduce any cyclist to a struggling bioform attempting to make it to Bandon, Oregon, only 24 miles distant. I had given David the option, at his sole discretion, of riding to Bullards Beach State Park, just two miles north of Bandon today, for our second night’s camp, or riding to Humbug Mountain State Park, another 36 miles distant, as he has a schedule to maintain on this journey.
David is a high school teacher of computers and art, soon to retire, but for this year, his district has allowed him three weeks to take this tricycle trip so the students can follow along online in the adventure of it all. He must be back at work on Monday, the 23rd of September, and must arrive in Morro Bay, California no later than the evening of Friday, September 20, where his wife will pick him up in their truck. Thus, I leave it up to him how far he wishes to ride each day to maintain his needs. David chooses to ride to Humbug Mountain State Park today, 60 miles distant from Bastendorff County Park. I wonder if this 60 will be easier than yesterday’s 57, but from prior overland experience, I suspect it will be.
So, we begin today’s ride over the summits of the seven devils on the Seven Devils road, appropriately named because it feels like satan is right on your heels as you pedal up the long slow grades. In our favor, the morning is overcast, so we have no bright hot sun upon our bodies as we had yesterday. At some time in the past, a cyclist took the time to paint the names of the devils in the two lane roadway, so I snap a photograph of “Devil #2” as I come to a stop to rest momentarily. There are only five devilish summits yet to conquer before we head back down the mountain on the other side towards Bandon. Matt said that this portion of the coastal route had the steepest grades of anywhere between Canada and Mexico. David and I hope he is right. With the seven devils behind us, we pass the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, where visitors can hike the trails through the forest. As committed trike nomads however, and tired to boot from out-pedaling the devils, David and I simply photograph the sign and press on south.
A little farther on along the ridge line, a rural resident has placed a couple dozen tiny elf figurines in the miniature forest in front of their home. I can’t resist some photographic moments. My diversions of picture-taking always put me behind David, something that will repeat itself every day. Everyone take pictures – I just take a few more than everyone else!
At last, we approach Whiskey Run road, a tightly wound narrow road that drops in elevation quickly off the peaks of the seven devils. There is no high speed triking to be had here however, for the curves are so tight that without constant braking on the trikes, we would end up upside down in the borrow ditch and woods. This descent is a welcomed respite despite the needed attention to curve management. What the devils took away, the trike angels return to our fatigued legs.
Once in the small coastal village of Bandon, we pull into Ray’s Food Place market and chow down for lunch. We park right in front of the main entrance by the windows on the sidewalk of the store. The deli’s eating area is on the other side of the window, which makes for easy monitoring of the trikes just outside. Next, we stop by Mother’s Natural Grocery, a health food store I’ve been visiting for the past 19 years. She makes the most incredible cookie for health nuts like myself, called the “Everything cookie”, which is loaded with so many life-extending goodies that I can’t name them all here. Lastly, we pedal through Bandon’s Old Towne area for some photo ops on the boardwalk. Somehow I cut my right index finger here, and blood is everywhere my hand goes. My former paramedic training stops the gusher, and I bandage it sufficiently to carry on.
We pedal on south out of Bandon, David opting not to ride the extra mileage along the scenic bypass route on the cliffs. We remain on Highway 101, which is easier, less mileage, more direct, and wide shouldered all the way (the bypass is narrow with no shoulders in many places). David and I have figured out that to reach Morro Bay by the 20th of September, which is what his schedule calls for, we must average 48 miles per day. If we take all the scenic bypass routes, as someone not on a schedule would probably opt to do, we would not get him to Morro Bay on time to get back to work. Good thing retirement for David is not far off. Then, he can take overland trike journeys without the time crunch thing hanging over his head. It’s okay though, because this is his first overland trike trek, which will be hard enough on him without adding more agony to the mix.
In the miniature village of Langlois, there is a sign board near a tiny grocery market that reads: “BIKERS FREE WATER STOP” so we pull in, fill our water bottles, which are near empty in the warm sunshine heat, and get some fresh fruits to eat. Folks gather around our bizarre looking “bikes” and ask all the typical questions all overland trikers hear time and again while on the road: “What is this?”, “How do you steer?”, “Are you handicapped in some way?”, “How far are you going?” and so on. We sit in the shade of the storefront, ambassadors for trikers everywhere.
Back on the road, we pedal through the nearly non-existent “town” of Sixes, Oregon, where a grange is one of the few things to see from the highway. On the side of the old wooden building is a sign that reads: “SIXES GRANGE – 856 MARKETPLACE BINGO HAND CRAFTS”, which is painted in black. Shortly after Sixes, atop the Cape Blanco summit hill, we pull over and sit on the guardrail for a drink and energy bar. As we prepare to leave, David discovers one of his gloves is missing. It has to be here somewhere because he had it on when we stopped. This drove us nuts for quite some time. The glove was nowhere to be found! And we were overly thorough searching for it, even considering a wind that may have taken it across the highway. We never did find it. He finishes the ride today with one glove, reminiscent of a famous pop entertainer of late.
By the time we arrive in the town of Port Orford, the fog has rolled in again, largely obscuring the Pacific Ocean that lies immediately to our right. We pedal on, not stopping because we want to get to camp as the day is wearing on quickly now. We are tired, looking forward to hot showers at Humbug Mountain State Park campground. The boundary for the state park is a few miles prior to the camping area, and David is beginning to wonder if we’ll ever make it before dark. But sure enough, it is indeed around the final bend where 101 turns inland for a while from the ocean, in a tight canyon with big trees everywhere.
We decide to splurge, and instead of paying $5 each for the hiker/biker camp, which is in the dirt far from the showers, we pay $17 (split two ways because we are on trikes), get the site next to the shower complex, and use paved walkways exclusively. This is just in time because the sun sets and by the time we hit the sack, it is mostly dark once again.
Well, actually, the $17 was not split tonight. I paid the whole enchilada because David had no money. Why is this? Was he unprepared? Nope, not at all. He learned a hard lesson today. On recumbent trikes, it’s like you are sitting in a recliner chair, as opposed to a conventional bicycle where you are sitting upright. David had been keeping his cash, more than $500, in a money clip, which he had placed in his pants pocket. First rule of triking: NEVER CARRY ANYTHING YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE IN YOUR PANTS POCKETS! Sure enough, somewhere after the Langlois market and here, that money clip and its contents said adios to David, and parted company. Needless to say, David is somewhat bummed tonight, but we are tired, so decide to figure it out tomorrow. When he called his wife this evening, he did not mention this little hiccup to her, so as not to worry her.