I made it to the ocean!

wp-1469738068087.jpegOn Tuesday, I rode like I was on a mission. For days, people had been telling me how close I was getting to the ocean and finally I had reached the breaking point. I didn’t want to hear about how spectacular the Pacific was anymore, I just needed to see it for myself. So I did a mega day, ending my ride at the 125 mile mark.

Yesterday, early in the afternoon I reached the Oregon coast. Oddly enough, my first ever glimpse of the ocean was not from the seat of my bicycle but from the vantage point of a car. While I was registering to camp for the night, I asked how to best reach the beach on my bike. The lady, named Kim, picked up on my excitement and questioned me,

“Do you want to see the best view of the ocean?”

I said yes. She took Liz (a fellow tent camper) and I in her tiny red bug and we went on a sightseeing tour. First we stopped at a graveyard. Kim explained that the early pioneers had a habit of selecting land with choice views of the coast on which to bury their dead. We walked past gravestones to take in the sweeping vastness of the world’s biggest ocean. Then we went to see a herd of sea lions. Along the way, we chatted about our travels.wp-1469738144761.jpeg

Liz is Australian. Until recently, she lived in a houseboat. One day she went to a friend’s birthday party. When she returned, her boat and all her possessions had sunk beneath the waves. Her outlook on her loss?

“It was just stuff. Not having that stuff anymore freed me up to travel.”

I was quickly learning that Liz was a gem. While talking about the ocean she mentioned how the mere sight of the ocean makes her soul soar with joy. It makes her taste freedom.

There was something in the tone of her voice that I instantly identified. I blurted,

“That is how snow makes me feel.”

All three of us were surprised by my outburst. I guess my longing for vast stretches of sparkling snow is never quite buried even while meeting a new ocean.

After Kim’s tour, I ate my supper on the beach and then strolled along the coast, letting the cold waves nip at my toes. Before turning back, I faced the thundering water and sang my heart out to God. I tried to take in the significance of the moment: I had made it to the ocean!

But it all felt so unbelievable, all I did was ride my bike for goodness sake! Had I really made it across to the other side of a continent? How had this happened?

It all started when two young people decided to go on an epic adventure on their bikes. They rode thousands of miles, on a mission to explore new places.

In case you are confused, I am not talking about Noah and myself. I am talking about my parents.

In 1982, they were preparing to move from Montana to Maine. Before the move, they decided to explore the Pacific coast and along the way celebrate their 1st anniversary. Because my parent are smart, they choose bicycles as their mode of exploration.

So for ten weeks, they rode on steel frame, ten-speed bikes along the Pacific coast, all the way to the Grand Canyon. My mom carried 90 pounds of stuff in her panniers and my dad carted around a whopping 120 pounds in his panniers. That’s how you get in shape on a bike tour!wp-1467584708770.jpegwp-1467584678938.jpegwp-1467584598505.jpeg

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Thirty-four years later and still awesome!

I have been hearing stories about their tour ever since I can remember. While I was planning our tour from New York to Colorado, those stories gave me confidence.

-Confidence that Noah and I would have fun and make memories that we can recount for decades.

-Confidence that if our parents could ride 2,000 miles without cellphones, the internet or bicycle-specific maps, then we could certainly make it with those resources!

This entire trip, I have felt a bit like I am re-living a part of our family’s history. This feeling intensified when I hit Santiam Pass on Monday. Santiam Pass was the first mountain pass my parents climbed on their tour and it was the final mountain pass of my tour. As I spun up the incline, I imagined where they may have rested or what they said to each other when they saw Mt. Washington off in the distance. It felt surreal to be “walking in their footsteps” or rather, riding in their pedalstrokes!

Then last night, after meandering up and down the sandy beach, I stood next to my bike, looking out into the ocean until darkness fell. I thought about what had compelled me to ride all the way to the Pacific. It was a love for my bike and the excitement of riding new roads and seeing new things, new places, new animals and meeting new people. But it goes deeper than that.

All along, it was in my blood.

 

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51 thoughts on “I made it to the ocean!

  1. I have been waiting in anticipation for this post. I am so happy for you.

    What a great post. What a great accomplishment. Think about where you were before you started your epic winter bike commuting adventure. Now think about how far you have come, literally and figuratively. My hat (er, helmet) is off to you. Congratulations.

    Next time you have to ride with 90 pounds of stuff like your mother! (Just kidding.)

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    • Thanks Rootchopper! It is so weird to look back on the past few years, winter biking was just the beginning…I wonder what will happen next! Bikes make for such great adventures there is no telling what could be around the corner πŸ™‚ If it is a tour with 90 pounds of gear though…I think I will opt out!

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    • Thanks Jean! My parents are wonderful indeed πŸ™‚ Are you still living in Calgary? Because I am coming up on the train to visit my Grandma before I head home and I was wondering if you had any tips on good bike shops and/or cool routes to ride.

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  2. What an awesome post!! Have you mentioned your parents tour before? If so I missed it. What a fun surprise. πŸ˜€ Congratz on making it! I’m so excited for you!!!!
    P.S. You know you’re only a few more hundred miles from me now. πŸ˜‰

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  3. This post has given me chills! I am as proud of you as if you were my kid. I’m also jealous in a positive way. (not sure how that fits in Scripture!) We’ve all lived your trip/experience vicariously. What’s cool is that I KNOW this is just the 1st of a lifetime of adventures. It’s an attitude and, as you so perfectly put it, although in a different slant, it’s in your blood. That’s a forever thing. I’m fighting tears from your story! Also a good thing!

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  4. I love this post, I can relate to so much.

    First, I love that statement from Liz: β€œIt was just stuff. Not having that stuff any more freed me up to travel.” It’s amazing how much of a burden “stuff” can be… and that can include cellphones and the internet.

    That you cycled across the US as your parents had done echoes a reason I cycled to Scotland… apparently my dad once did it. He died when I was very young and this is all I had ever really been told about his cycling, other than him and my mum used to go camping together. Those pictures of your parents and their bikes are lovely πŸ™‚

    And 125 miles… *hands the “I am a beast” badge back to you*

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    • Liz is a super cool lady, chock full of wisdom and experience. I wish I could have spent more time chatting with her…and I probably have but I was so excited to get to the beach!

      Wow, that is so neat that you followed in your dad’s path as well. Cycling runs deep it seems πŸ™‚

      Thank you for the badge, I shall wear it proudly!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing this trip Bri! I was so glad that you kept going from CO. I’ve been off of my bike since earlyJune with a shoulder injury, so reading stories like this keep me motivated through recovery.

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    • I am so sorry to hear about your injury, that must be frustrating! I am glad my ride brought a little motivation through the rough days, I am very happy to hear that πŸ™‚ I hope you can make a triumphant return to your bike soon!

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  6. This is a wonderful post Bri. Such a beautiful sharing of something so meaningful to you, your journey and your blood. Congratulations on meeting the ocean, feeling your love for the snow and seeing the significance in the choices you’ve made. And thanks for sharing them with us. Warm regards, Gail.

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  7. Hi Bri, I took a bit of a break from blogging but now I am back I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts. What an amazing trip and what an adventure. You should be so proud of your achievement, its been really inspiring and encouraging. Thank you.

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  8. I’m so proud of you for reaching the coast. What a huge milestone. To be honest, for some reason I haven’t been able to follow you for some time. You just haven’t been showing up in my reader for some reason. I got to wondering what happened to you and was hoping you were safe and was nearing the end of your journey. I’m so glad you’re safe and sound and I found you doing what you loved doing.

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  9. Wow. Sorry I missed this whole adventure! I’ve been off my bike for months for medical reasons, and things at work have been completely crazy, so I haven’t been doing a lot of blog reading lately.

    So, wow, you were right in my back yard; that looks like Cape Kiwanda behind you in the top picture. I’ve been to Pacific City and had lunch at the Pelican Pub many times. My wife and kids and I camped for a couple of days at Nehalem Bay just south of Manzanita (not far from Rockaway Beach) around Aug. 12th-ish, so we nearly crossed paths; that would have been interesting.

    Anyway, congratulations on reaching the left coast! It will be an adventure you will be glad you did when you had the chance. Glad you were kept safe, got to visit Grandma, and made it home in time for Fall colors and Winter snow.

    You’ll have to treat your bike to a new chain next season (assuming you will soon switch to the Winter bike…).

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    • Sorry to hear you were off the bike for a while…that is never fun! Yup, that is indeed Cape Kiwanda ☺
      I had so much fun in your “backyard”, the Pacific Coast is gorgeous. The hiker/biker sites at all the state parks in your area are incredible, I wish NY would implement a similar program.

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      • So I just took a closer look at your map; you were right in my childhood back yard (or “stomping grounds”, as my dad would say) as well. I grew up in West Salem (my parents still live there) and went to college in Monmouth. We used to go to the Polk County fair in Rickreall…Now I am bummed I didn’t keep up with your travels. I imagine you rode the same path along 99W between Monmouth and Rickreall that I used to ride long ago. Well, I hope the Oregonians you met treated you well and, again, so glad you got to extend your tour and have an even more awesome adventure!

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      • I camped at that fairgrounds! I set up my tent in a patch of grass right in front of the horse corral. That day a couple in Corvallis had offered me a place to sleep for the night but I was feverishly wanting to get to the ocean so I passed on the offer…

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