As some of you know, I started riding the bike seriously early in 2008. I was a strapping young lad of 43, full or spit and vinegar, and felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do.
I did my first century ride, and my first Seattle to Portland. But I wanted more…
At the end of August, I realized I had almost maxed out my vacation time. At the Mighty P, if you max out, it means you have accrued all you can get, and you will not earn more till you use it. No one likes to work and not earn vacation time. so I decided it was time to do something about it!
My answer? Ride the Oregon Coast! I would start in Astoria
And ride 424 miles to Crescent City California! The plan was to hotel it the whole way.
Looking back, I am truly amazed I made it. I was new to cycling. I had been riding for less than a year. I was riding without support, and aside from fixing a flat I knew NOTHING about bike repairs. (I had one flat the whole trip)
But I was on a dream ride. I had been coming to the Oregon coast since the 80’s and truly love it. The scenery is simply amazing.
Each time I would go there, I would see cyclists riding. Some were loaded for bear, others, were not so bad. Long before I was a cyclist I fantasized about riding Hwy 101 all the way to California. The 1980s and 1990s Tony never thought it could happen. Even though he had ridden small parts before
He really didn’t have a lot of faith in himself.
However, the week after Labor Day 2008, our hero took that picture above in Astoria. He then pointed his nose south and started pedaling. I pedaled into the most memorable cycling experience of my life.
Day 1 was short, just going to Cannon Beach. But I remember finding a place with, to this day, the best Calzone I had ever eaten!
Day 2, I was NOT so smart. I took the scenic route to see a light house at Cape Meares
I had no idea what the hill was like to get there. AND I got lost…
Add to getting lost, I ran out of water….
I finally made it to Pacific City and a story!! I drank a Gatorade while I was in line to pay for it, then another on the steps. I was so focused on liquids I never saw this
It wasn’t till MANY years later and my first Reach the Beach ride I realized I had been here before…. I was a bit rummy. So rummy I left my favorite cycling jersey (the COUG Jersey) at Motel 6 in Lincoln city. Yep I wore the only other one I had the rest of the time I was there! (They mailed it home to me)
Day three was a short day. I made it over Cape Foul Weather
And into Newport. As I only had 10 miles left, I, stopped at Rogue Ales for a burger and a beer
Somehow one brutal bitter turned into two….
That was the longest 10 miles ever!!
From there on, the memories are less clear about the specific days.
There was the older couple who told me “We’ve passed you three times! How do you keep getting ahead of our car??”
There was crossing the Coos Bay bridge and somehow almost falling off the sidewalk into traffic (cat-like reflexes I tell ya!) In that same town I went to Abby’s pizza and ordered an extra-large Hawaiian, a pitcher of beer and one glass. The lady wanted to know when my friends were going to show up…. [Drank the beer, ate all but 2 pieces (saved the rest for breakfast) and went back to hotel!]
Before there were selfies, I took a picture or two to show I was there
Hell there were even dinosaurs and spiders!
The whole time, I just kept pointing my nose south, and pedaled as long as I could each day. I breathed in the fresh sea air, saw wildlife and fell in love even more with my bike. I think sometime during this week I realized I wasn’t ever going to be a mountain climber, I was definitely a cyclist. It was the longest time I had ever spent with myself, and I found out I kinda liked me. I am not such bad company at all.
Finally, I made it California!
I cycled on into Crescent city, a big dinner and a bottle of wine. I had survive 424 miles of hills, heat and rain. I loved every second of it, and, truthfully, part of me wanted to keep going. I wanted to ride through the redwoods, see the grand Canyon and see just how far the legs could take me.
But, duty and family called, so I loaded the bike into a rental car the next day and went home.
There has not been a year that has passed that I have not thought about doing this again. Each year, though, something else comes up. Michelle and I have had great adventures, and we all know she supports whatever I do on the bike. I just felt selfish wanting to do this again.
This year is different! Next Thursday we meet up with our buddy Rob
He and I will point our noses south and ride for California! This time though Michelle and her best friend Kim
Will be our support vehicle drivers! Each day after the ride we will meet up with them for dinner, and they will be our rapid response team in case of a problem. Of course they have plans of their own! Massages, horse back riding, jet boats on the Rogue River, kite flying and shopping. Hell, I half expect Rob to ditch my ass and spend time with them!
Ladies and gents I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this. I am older, a lot chubbier, and at times not happy with myself. But while on this ride the real world will disappear. It will be all about the ocean, the miles, the salt air and the experience.
Riding with someone will be new for me, but if I could pick ANYONE to ride with, it would be Rob. We will kick ass, take names, and tell the story of our ride to our kids until they beg us to stop! (and yep there will be posts as well as GoPro!)
Like the wind folks! Wish us luck!