A week in. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been on the road for this long. Today was another slow start and a slow ride day. To say the coastline here in Southern Oregon is “rolling” might be an understatement. It goes like this – I huff and puff up a giant hill, standing up to get over the top. Then I glide to the bottom without pedalling once. Than another hill. Then I soar to the bottom, probably going over the speed limit.
I made plans yesterday to Skype my grandmother when my extended family was at her house eating Easter dinner. But the phone service was so spotty that I missed all of it. When I called at 3pm my time, everyone had gone home and my grandmother was the only one left. I was lying in the sun on a picnic table in the tiny town of Bandon. We chatted for a bit on the phone and I drank a coffee. Suddenly, a wild looking boy on a white fixed-gear bicycle loaded down in gear wheeled up with a huge smile on his face. He had long hair in a ponytail and was wearing super short jean cutoffs.
He smiled and asked how I was, as if we had been friends forever. I honestly wasn’t feeling too great. The night before I hadn’t slept because I’d been so cold in my sleeping bag. Despite the sun and the nice weather I still couldn’t get warm today, and I found myself shivering uncontrollably on this bench.
“I’m good,” I said.
He introduced himself as Mark. A few minutes later, Steve rolled up. Steve at least was wearing padded bike shorts. His gear was in actual paniers. They weren’t friends originally, but they were going the same pace so they were riding together. Steve was from Alaska and he was on a month long ride to try to grow as a person. Mark was from Vancouver by way of Manitoba and he had started two weeks earlier and was riding indefinitely. They were both 27 years old, although Mark looked much younger. All of us were born in July.
We lay in the sun for about two hours and talked. Another man showed up randomly and started talking to Mark. Apparently, they knew each other from the road. Mark explained that they had met several miles before. The other man was from Seattle, and his recumbent bike had blown a tire and he was getting it fixed and staying in a motel in Bandon.
I asked if I could ride with Mark and Steve and they were happy to include me. Mark seemed to almost to have been expecting me. We coasted along. Having them in front of me to break the wind took all of the effort out of riding. We went another 20 miles or so, and then rode 5 miles out into the misty forest to a lighthouse and a campsite in the state park.
It was beyond beautiful. Probably because it was Easter Weekend, the campsite was empty. I had a long shower. Mark had an even longer shower – he was gone for about 2 hours. Steve made a fire. We drank wine, ate and talked. I hadn’t even realized how much I had wanted someone to talk to. I had barely said a word to anyone since leaving Florence yesterday afternoon.
Now that the sun had set, I was shivering uncontrollably again. Mark and Steve offered me their food. I pulled my sleeping bag out of the tent and draped it over my shoulders by the fire. “Oh, that’s why you’ve been cold,” said Mark. “You don’t have the thermarest.”
Apparently, my type of sleeping bag’s thermal rating (20 degrees) is based on having the thermarest to go with it. This was why I had frozen the night before. When I bought it, the clerk at REI hadn’t even mentioned this. I felt a little bit pissed.