Route: Highway 101 to Tillamook, then Highway 131 and Whiskey Creek Road to the Park
Weather: High-Teens, Mostly Cloudy, Slight Winds
Total Climbing: ~870m/2860ft
Breakfast: Oatmeal Lunch: Wrap & Banana
Dinner: Noodles with Vegetables & Spices
Snacks: Nada Beverages: Water
Previous Night’s Sleep: 10:30pm to 6:30am [8 hours]
Encountering Fellow Cyclists
For the first time, I began to encounter other touring cyclists. In Washington, I didn’t see more than three or four other long-distance riders. Perhaps, this resulted from my route only reaching the Washington’s proper coast along the state’s final fifty miles. Or, the timing of my progress simply didn’t coincide with that of other cyclists.
Nevertheless, when I arrived at Cape Lookout State Park at the end of today’s ride, I was pleasantly surprised to see nearly a dozen other touring cyclists with tents pitched at the hiker/biker campsites. Mostly younger males closer to my age-range. Mostly solo riders. Mostly riding from north to south. There was an older couple, too. I connected with only two other cyclists that were riding into California, too. Most others were from Oregon and sticking to their own state’s coast.
A natural camaraderie exists in this setting. An implicit sense of community. We’re all pulled to a similar form of self-propelled travelling, a less-conventional style of challenge. Most are easy-going and ready to share stories. There’s an unspoken agreement that quiet and silence are OK, too; we’ve all exerted a great deal of energy to pedal here.
Following an evening and early morning together, every person or group bids farewell and parts ways. Even those riding in the same direction might travel separately, due to different speeds, routines, or styles of riding. No pressure to join forces or change your route. Perhaps, a mutual agreement to maybe see each other again at the same park at the end of the next day’s ride. Of course, plans often change.
And that’s a beauty of this ride, the real and natural connection between touring cyclists. It’s easy to spot another in the wild. A community of mostly strangers, bound by a mutual pull to a slow-going, challenging kind of travel.
To feel a sense of belonging in any place is essential to life, no doubt. Breaking from the world I know for awhile and riding alone is a great challenge. At times, daunting and isolating. And, in those moments in which I feel myself bridging the gap between being alone and feeling lonely, I love the reassurance of knowing others are pulled to this odd form of adventure, too. I feel a part of that community. Belonging.