Learning about bicycle travel and my new companion

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North America » United States » Oregon » Gold Beach
November 7th 2015
Published: April 28th 2016
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The next few weeks was spent cycling every day with Matt, something usually going wrong with his bike that slowed him right down. He had lost his bank card he told me so his funds were becoming limited, this changed my perspective of traveling with him. I've been around too many broke people in my life to feel 'ok' with this. Matt was cool and everything and I still believed his stories though some of them began sounding very exaggerated, I even caught him out at one point re telling an important story about him getting hit by a drunken driver in Alabama that was completely different the second time through. We started going to all these Indian casinos that gave you free playing money if you sign up, at one I won $170 which was very handy.
We kept cycling down the coast well into California now, at one point Matt's tube popped and it was due to his actual tire being ripped, an issue he blamed on nearby glass. I suspected it was something he already knew about. He repaired the tube and then shortly afterwards cycled over a shredded truck tire that I knew with my lack of
cycling experience it was best to avoid. A little shred of metal got into the same tire just repaired which led to another flat. I was getting frustrated at traveling with Matt who already not wanting to go for more than 30 miles a day and having problems all the time was constantly slowing me down. In spite of these frustrations it was good to cycle in company and even with my suspicions of Matt growing I liked the guy. When we cycled down the coast a bit more we were outside a school with students and kids everywhere when Matts tire gave out completely, he scored a lift to the next town by the next passer by that was only ten miles or so away. I cycled the remaining distance and met Matt at a bicycle shop and offered to lend him the 80 dollars he needed to replace the tire and get a new tube, he accepted and promised to pay me back as soon as possible. When we reached a town called crescent city we stayed at a church that an older lady named Katie hosted cyclists at through warm showers. She drove othe church to meet
us, showed us into the place and left us in there with chocolate cookies on the table. It was very comfortable to be in such a large open space and to be able to have a full kitchen and whatnot. Matt said he had learnt some good cooking skills from his Family as he was half Italian, the pasta he ended up making was pretty sub par especially after him saying how good he was. He started talking about an alternative way we could go south called the lost coast route that would be very challenging but also a real adventure that would last 3-5 days depending on the weather and condition of the track. I was up for a challenge. This road had apparently been neglected for over 50 years and was now more like a track that you had to push your bike along for miles as most of it was unridable, it had one of the biggest redwood trees and supposedly was haunted as well. We stayed at a campground near Ferndale and Matt decided it would probably be inaccessible to do the track now after he read something online about it, we could however still follow
the road that goes into the area and passes through a few towns, still technically the lost coast route but not the one that runs directly along the coast line.

We started late after Matts usual procrastination in the morning of having to smoke ten cigarettes, dawdle, dry his tent then check his bike and began cycling the road leading out of Ferndale that immediately began to twist and turn up hill at a reasonably steep grade. After a while we both had to push our bikes which we did the whole way to the top in the drizzling rain, nearly 3000 feet. This coupled with our late start meant that by the time sunset came we had only gone a total of about 20 miles and we began cycling along a coastal road completely in the dark with fences guarding access to the beach on our right and the farmland to our left. We had a strong tailwind that meant we barely had to cycle, still we knew we had about 15 miles left until the campground. Matt wasn't willing to go any further than we had to, so we found a bridge and dragged our
bikes underneath which was no small effort due to the nature of the area. We set up our mats and slept underneath the leaky metal construction with the occasional car smashing into the bridge with no prior warning. It was a crappy sleep. We got up at dawn, it was wet and cold. We got on the road by about 8 and cycled the rest of the coast road now with a headwind. We got to the foot of a hill which Matt procrastinated at for about twenty minutes smoking cigarettes before we went up it to the small town, honeydew just above. We briefly stopped there without much of a reception from the locals, weed trimmers or trimmigrants were passing through the area and they must have assumed we were there to make illegal money for the season. We cycled a little further down a pretty fun road that humped up and down to a campground that from the outside just looked normal. Once I went in I saw that it was a simply huge, flat and round shaped space with a river running at the back somewhere in the distance that could be heard and not seen. It was so big it could camp hundreds of people and we had it to ourselves. There were trees with leaves so brightly colored red they were breathtaking even from a large distance away. We had only gone twenty miles again that day and I didn't really want to camp here as it was only midday. Matt said we might as well stay and truthfully it was a good decision as the place was one of the best campgrounds on the west coast and was incredibly hidden being so far off the main highway. There was two cats that may have been dumped walking around the park that we fed, one I especially felt sorry for as it was petrified of humans but obviously very hungry. They were both young cats and when I woke the next morning I could see that the nervous one had taken shelter under my tent fly the whole night. We had some breakfast and fed the cars one last time, I said a silent prayer that they would be ok as it was very cold and would only get colder and their chances of survival looked very low. We got going and I had a burst of energy so I cycled pretty hard. I lost Matt and after a while I came upon another small town full of what were probably the trimmigrants hanging around a store on their break, all females from other parts of the world. I was the center of their attention for about fifteen minutes which was kind of nerve-racking trying to keep 5 females entertained with my stories, I wasn't expecting this on that morning and I found myself getting a little nervous. I really must have been the biggest highlight for these girls who were from overseas and working as 'trimmigrants' on a nearby isolated farm. Anyway after those fifteen minutes of Matt having not shown up I began to get worried, he was usually a bit of a distance behind and loved to push his bike up hills rather than ride but this was out of hand considering the distance.

As I started riding back the other way to investigate Matt came in and asked me if I had been chased by 3 dogs, I didn't recall seeing any dogs at all but he told they had run out and tried to attack him, so
he sprayed them with bear mace that he always kept strapped to his handlebar bag. He told me that it would probably kill the dogs but he didn't care as the owner shouldn't have let them loose. It was a pretty horrible thing to have happen, but one of the main things people like is when things happen, good or bad. Matt, I thought, was an interesting guy, so many things are always happening to him. Anyway we left the comfort of the cafe and the girls handed me a flyer for a show coming up in 5 days that they would be going to, I knew that if I did I would probably most likely definitely get laid but I would be long gone by then. We asked a passing local about the longer route out of our area, the really adventurous road made of clay that could potentially get us stuck somewhere and he told us due to rain it was washed out. By this point we were on our third day of coldness and rain, I was cool with taking the shorter but still extremely difficult climb back out of there that eventually led into old growth redwood forest. This trip though I had felt brave enough to tackle at the start was now starting to become daunting and for all my cycling up to that point I had not yet reached what I felt was an adequate level of fitness.

We took a few corners and were soon much like the other giant hill a few days earlier climbing continuously for a while. Again, we both got off the bikes and pushed, it was raining pretty heavily and much like some big hikes I've done my legs were extremely stiff from the giant climb two days earlier. I was already starting to feel exhausted even though I knew this was going to be a 3 hour ordeal at this rate, we stopped on a corner and smoked a cigarette or two each and wondered what the hell we were going to do, the days were getting dark at 5 and it was cold, there was nowhere to camp and I just wanted to get out of there. The fatigue in my body was controlling my mind at that point, I didn't want to move but I knew our position was kind of dire. My bike I had known for a few weeks now was just way too heavy, I had a 70 liter travel pack strapped onto my back rack with 4 very full panniers that held my crucial gear for cooking and camping but I had too many clothes and they were probably getting wet now despite my gear being 'waterproof'.

We happened to be on a corner that made it possible for a man in a pickup to stop and ask if we wanted a lift, we looked at each other and unanimously decided that it was a fucking good idea. The nature of bike touring is that it's a little challenging, it's supposed to push your limits and bring the impossible of long distances into reality but this was too much due to the muscles in my legs being so stiff. So with some shame of giving up we loaded our stuff into the tray and got into the car with Mick who had one glass eye, thankfully not two. Even in his pickup with it's v8 it took him a good ten or fifteen minutes to drive to the top of that hill with all it's twists and turns. I remember thinking it would have taken us another 4 hours, probably. When we got to the top it was very cold with the altitude difference and we had to stop every 5 minutes to warm our hands up as we couldn't keep braking. Going down hills on bikes is not always fun, this road was wet, slippery, narrow, had plenty of corners and was way too steep to actually enjoy. Still, once we got to the bottom we rode for another 5 minutes and entered into the Redwood forest, which was remarkable, something I'll never forget. These trees had existed since the biblical times, some had fallen only to have been caught half way by one of their siblings, so many parts of the road had these crossings where you went underneath one of these propped up trees and it felt a little surreal. The road, us, everything else, just looked so small and it was truly an honor to be reminded of your short mortality in such a profound way. The camera on my phone couldn't capture the beauty I was seeing which was frustrating as like any other time when you experience something like this you want to share it, but I would implore you if you are reading this to go and check out the redwoods yourself, don't just look at some photos.

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