• Cory Howell

Day 3: Caffeine and Rhythm

Otter Bay → Florence

58.7 miles

↑ 1791 feet ↓ 1886 feet



We were riding a towering cliff, a 300-foot drop straight down to the rocky shore and cold waters of the Oregon coast.


Low railing on our right was all that separated us from a downward tumble. To our left, cars zipped along their single lane, Labor Day trucks and RVs flew past, each one blowing a powerful wind that pushed us closer to the guard rail.


The road here in Cape Perpetua lacked a shoulder for bikers. Every time we heard a revving engine approach from behind, we gripped our handlebars, gritted our teeth, and waited for the blast of wind as they blew by.


And even with the fear, the threat of danger on either side, I couldn’t help but have the thought: Today, we’d found our rhythm.


With all the biking, we were already consuming several thousand calories more than usual--and we felt great.


We’d decided to give in to coffee and tea, and the caffeine made us feel like we could pedal forever.


We were riding closer to each other when we could--side by side when we had a wide shoulder, single file when the road was narrow--and most of the ride we were able to chat.


But finding our rhythm was more than caffeine and conversation.

Before the trip, I’d been apprehensive about how we’d be perceived along the way. Would locals be concerned that we were outsiders? After all, we were in the middle of a pandemic--would we be seen as a health concern, as carriers of the virus?


But every place we stopped, people were friendly. More than anything, they were curious. The bike shorts, neon vests, and bulging packs made us stand out--but rather than creating distance between us, it became a vehicle that connected us. It gave us a reason to start a conversation.


“How far are you going?”


That was usually how it started. Sometimes they’d nod first, sometimes I’d give them a smile, but they’d always ask.



The tight lanes of the 101 opened to a viewpoint overlooking the Pacific and the Heceta Head Lighthouse.


We pulled over, hopped off, leaned our bikes against the parking lot’s stone wall perimeter.


Lilly pulled a lemon poppyseed scone and oatmeal sugar cookie from her pack. A friendly barista in Yachats had given them to us--he said he knew what it was like to bike tour and be hungry on the road.


A gray Odyssey with Oregon plates pulled up behind us, and a family of six piled out to stretch their legs and look at the lighthouse.


The dad looked over at us, and I nodded at him. He nodded back.


“How far you biking?” he said.


I gave him a smile before answering.


And in this way, we connected.