A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. ~ John Steinbeck
This post talks about our time in Oregon,
including some unforeseen complications.
The Pacific Coast expedition wasn't our first rodeo...I have done multi-day bike rides and Shan has completed multi-day/week/month expedition-type runs around the world*1. We also picked up a few learnings together with 400 miles on the Erie Canalway Trail and 3000 miles on the ECG.
From our combined experience, we learned a couple of things:
We can prepare as much as we want, but plans will change. We need to be flexible. Logistically and mentally.
There will be things that slow us down and, in some cases, threaten our success. We need to stay strong. Physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Here we were, entering Oregon on Day 12 of our Pacific Coast traverse with ~400 miles, multiple flat tires, and 1 case of food poisoning behind us. We looked forward to the spectacular views that would bring us closer to the Redwoods and couldn't wait to travel along the coastline. Spoiler alert. We encountered more hiccups...
1 episode of neck muscle spasms, and a visit to urgent care
1 broken spoke, and a stop at a bike shop
1 strained muscle/extreme swelling in calf/ankle
Several flat tires
...adding up to a total of 14 days (instead of the planned 10 days) in Oregon.
Everything had been going well. We were back on track after the delays in Washington and we were starting to find a groove. And then I ended up on the bathroom floor of our motel room, unable to move due to muscle spasms in my neck. We had stopped for the night in Garibaldi*2, a cute little fishing town on the coast. As I lay on the floor, whimpering in pain, I thought, "This is it. We're done." I couldn't imagine sitting upright let alone pulling a trailer for another 1200 miles. It was a sad and stressful moment.
I had to dig deep. In the morning, once the massive doses of ibuprofen had kicked in, my thoughts turned more positive. I just needed to make it to the Urgent Care center 12 miles away. I felt determined to do it and had tons of encouragement from Shan. He cheered me on as I pedaled away (and stopped within minutes to deal with a flat tire) and I eventually made it to Urgent Care. The doctor did an x-ray, gave me steroids and muscle relaxers, and ordered a day of rest (which I accepted happily).
The meds and a day of rest did the trick. The neck loosened up, the pain subsided, and I was able to move around like a normal person. After a day off we were back to full mileage days again. So there we were - taking our 2nd unplanned rest day since starting our trip only 16 days earlier. As a point of reference, we took only 2 rest days on our 78-day East Coast Greenway trip. So yeah, things were definitely not going according to plan, our bodies were not cooperating. But we kept moving.
Next up, technical issues. On a lovely stretch along the coast leading from Tillamook to Pacific City, my finicky rear derailleur skipped into my wheel and broke a spoke. I was pretty worried, but Zane, one of my besties back home, reassured me that it would be okay to ride on and he was right - the wheel took me another 50 miles to Bike Newport where the shop owner got me rolling within minutes.
The rest of Oregon was awesome. We stayed in Gleneden Beach with Cindy, one of Shan's relatives, where we ate a home-cooked meal and fell in love with her golden doodle, Frankie. We also had a surprise visit from Andy, a friend who was visiting Oregon from the UK. He came out to find us along the route and cheer us on - such a nice treat! As we worked our way south, we had some amazing views, and the trees were getting taller and taller.
And then we hit another snag. We were following the coastline 37 miles from Waldport to Dunes City. The day was sunny and warm and the views were spectacular. We felt truly lucky to be doing what we were doing. But the steep, off-camber roads were too much for even Shan's ultra legs. By the time we reached Dunes City, he found it difficult to walk, let alone run. His left leg was visibly swollen from his knee to his toes; I couldn't see his ankle! Dunes City is a really pretty area, but there were no services nearby so we needed to keep moving. Shan took it easy, testing the legs with a 17-mile walk to Reedsport (instead of the planned 40). But by the end of the day, the pain was worse. He could barely walk.
We were worried. Both of us wondered if this was the end of the expedition. We decided to take two full days of rest in Reedsport. Shan kept moving as much as he could, walking short distances (to the store, the laundromat, and restaurants), and assessing the leg every day.
After two days off we headed out again, slowly, so Shan could see how his body would respond. We hoped that he could keep moving from point A to point B without the leg getting worse. He walked 24 miles that first day and then walked 30 miles each day for the next three days. Each day his leg got better. The swelling subsided, the strained muscle started healing, and by the time we reached California, Shan was running again. He really wanted to see those Redwoods!
What a trip. We grappled with uncertainty and pushed our bodies to the limits. We had to juggle our schedules, stop when forced, and change plans as needed. But we seemed to be back on track, refusing to give in. We were doing this thing!
As we approached California, we felt healthy and strong, but we were never bored: we lost/found Shan's credit card at one of our stops (something similar happened on the East Coast Greenway), we ran/biked through the smoke, and watched firefighting helicopters handle the Anvil forest fire, I had another flat tire, or two, and we both battled unrelenting winds and rain (although I complained more). All of this tested our spirits, but we pushed through it. Was it fun? Were we smiling? Not always. But we knew the expedition wouldn't be a walk in the park. Honeymoon or not, we wouldn't have done this thing if it was easy.
Read more about Shan's other expeditions here
Garibaldi is a small port town and maritime community at the northern end of Tillamook Bay, close to where the Bay flows into the Pacific. People here are close companions with the sea. At the marina, commercial fishermen haul freshly caught Dungeness crabs, ling cod, rockfish, and even octopus up to the docks.