When the rain begun in earnest on the morning of day 31, we were glad to have chosen this as our day off and stayed cocooned in the KOA game room for the majority of the day, blogging, planning and playing. Fortunately a covered outdoor area provided shelter for our poor tent and as such, the bad weather didn’t affect us too much- apart from creating a small degree of cabin fever, especially for Theo. We decided to venture out for lunch, armed in full waterproof gear to make our way down the road to a small dockside café, where I ventured to try my first ever oysters! (well, where better than in the ‘oyster capital of the world’?!) I have to say, they were a HUGE hit. Just simply done in a little garlic butter, they were delicious. 10/10 from me.
Our journey for the first day of June was to be a reasonably short ride, taking us to Cape Disappointment at the south of Long Beach on the coast. We thought we’d caught a window of opportunity in the morning when the clouds decided to temporarily hold their load for a while- but it was short-lived. The moment we actually started to pedal, Nature woke up and realized we were on the go. And responded accordingly.
Let me tell you, there is no such thing as fully ‘waterproof’ when it comes to cycling gear. If it’s raining hard enough, that water is gonna find its way to your skin somehow. In fact, I think I can safely say that the only ‘waterproof’ item I bought for this trip that has lived up to expectations has been my Tigra iPhone holder- completely watertight! Oh, and my Sigma bike computer… which I accidentally popped in the washing machine just over a week ago, and yet continues to work with admirable resilience. Beautiful piece of technology.
My “waterproof” shoes, gloves, coat, trousers and gaiters…all failures on that front to varying degrees. Even with the wonder of Subway bags over my socks, I made it to around 15miles, following Willapa bay, before the rain triumphed and I felt the all-too-familiar sensation of my socks starting to absorb the water. By 17miles, each bag was keeping the water in, rather than out, and my toes started to go ever-so-slightly numb. Still, this is a vast improvement on the 2-5mile mark that characterized our last rain day fiasco, so I’ll consider it a small victory and continue to advocate plastic bags as an additional means of protection! My coat, I’ll admit, isn’t bad by any means- especially given it was a cheap general waterproof, as opposed to a purpose-designed cycling jacket- it just starts to struggle at the seams in a true drenching, but that I can live with easily enough. And my trousers are perhaps too good in way, as the water hits them and runs off easily…but unfortunately, it runs down the leg to the bottom and as they’re tight around the ankle (to prevent them catching in my chain) the water then seeps into my shoes and socks. I’ve yet to discover a magical formula of clothing to prevent this. And again, these struggle a bit at the seams in proper rain. But it’s my gloves that are the real shocker. I can’t believe the manufacturer had the audacity to advertise them as ‘waterproof’- and with such bravado, they even sewed it on the forefinger of the glove- ‘waterproof’, it mockingly reads, and yet I can promise you, those gloves are anything but. The minute it starts to rain, they suck in the water in a greedy imitation of an elephant slurping at the waterhole, and literally within minutes, my fingers are drenched. They continue to hold the water for HOURS- even days!- and are generally just completely and utterly inadequate. If I had something, ANYTHING to replace them with, I’d bin them in a shot. Just waiting on the next reasonable-sized town/bike shop to find a replacement…
At around 20miles, we pulled into the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge car park and attempted to dry ourselves slightly, as the rain had finally relented and given us a break. We were stood there in our bare feet, shaking off the water from our coats and trousers and squeezing it out of our socks, when we spotted a fellow touring cyclist approaching from the other direction- who pulled in and had a chat with us. I love this part of cycle touring- the community of it. This was Simon, a fellow Brit undertaking a 7month cycle tour around the US and more but unlike us, heading in the opposite direction. He’d already explored San Fran and other areas down south, and was now heading north, up to Vancouver before heading East to the Atlantic Coast. We exchanged stories and go some great tips- especially with regards to waterproof gear (I’ll be looking for electrical gloves to go over my merino glove warmers now instead of purpose-made cycling gloves- thanks Simon!!) and switched blog addresses (you can find his here- and check out his post about us too!) As Simon was heading in the opposite direction, he was able to give us a heads up on what to expect over the upcoming miles- as they say, forewarned is forearmed and all that- and we find that asking the general public questions like, “Is the route quite hilly?” never results in a proper answer. Going up hills in a 400 horse power truck is very, very different to trying to conquer it on a tiddly bicycle. They don’t notice the hills anywhere near as much- if you want a truthful account? Ask a fellow cyclist.
Thankfully past this point, the weather took a turn for the better and the sun finally popped out to say hello. We cycled on towards Long Beach, where we enjoyed a lush slap-up meal in the town before heading along the coastal bike path towards Cape Disappointment State Park, where we were to spend the night. The beach trail was a lovely alternative to the highway route- admittedly very exposed and rather windy, but generally flat and paved for the length as it followed the coastline before winding through the trees to rejoin the road that would lead us to the campsite. At this point a specific bike path kept us off the rather windy road, but gave us a run for our money due to the steep climbs required to gain the elevation needed to reach the state park. Hard work for the end of the day!
As we started to unload our tent, we introduced ourselves to another fellow cycle tourist on site, who Simon had apparently bumped into and told about us- another tour-er heading south, this young guy had quite possibly the smallest tent I’ve ever seen, bar none. I can’t believe he fitted in it- and I thought ours was small!- but it has to be said, these cyclists know how to travel light.
As the evening developed, we became aware of the huge mosquitoes that had invaded our particular area of the site- stubborn, vicious things, of which I have a particular hate, due to a history of bad reactions. We decided to escape their hungry clutches and hit the beach, which surrounds the length of the Cape and can be easily accessed from the campsite. It was another beautiful beach- not the isolated affair of Willapa Bay, but still incredibly quiet considering how busy the campsite was- and how utterly beautiful the views were. With proper sand (no oyster shells here…) and piles of driftwood washed up upon the shore, it was enveloped by green cliffs and overlooked by the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, and the evening sun cast a beautiful orange glow over the length, enveloping all upon it in a welcome warmth after the cold rain of the morning. We enjoyed another luxurious sunset and a beautiful photo opportunity- perhaps we’ll sicken everyone with our repeated pictures, but I continue to be a sucker for the spectacular nature of them.
A perfect end to an admittedly less-than-perfect days ride.
Miles Today: 43
Total Miles to Date: 876