Sunday, July 20, 2014

Paying it Forward in Pt Arena

Some reflections, photos, and thoughts on Thursday and Friday! I'll write my reflective, San Francisco entry after I've reflected :) Enjoy!

July 17:
Can't beat that Mendocino view, am I right?

The day started off foggy and drippy but warm. We were just 2 miles from Mendocino, and I was in need of some coffee. The coffee was more expensive than my campsite. Impressive. Luckily it was delicious :)

Annika and Tobias and our decidedly not vegan dinner in Ft Bragg

I took off with Annika and Tobias, and they were bound for Albion, the next town. I spent most of the day riding alone, which was an excellent time to reflect on my trip thus far. I’ve gotten along really well with Annika and Tobias, and it’s been great to have some familiar faces along the way. I wanted to have a bit of time to myself to think about the start and end of my journey.

Prior to leaving, I confided to Steve that I didn’t know if I’d really be able to do the trip and was afraid to do longer rides in Colorado because I was afraid I’d find out I wasn’t in shape and could cop out. I thought of this during the ride and was shocked. I couldn’t believe I was nervous about the physical aspect of the trip and was surprised to remember how insecure I was and how little confidence I had in myself. Never did I plan a day and fall short of my plan, and everyday I surpassed my plan in mileage. I’ll get to the stats later.

Anyway, the morning was mushy and full of girl power and self love, which abruptly ended just past the town of Elk just in time to see the clouds part and take a little pit stop.

Town o' Elk

Just after my relaxing stop in Elk, I would find that I had rubbed what remained of my cleats down to the very last nubbins and could no longer clip in. Hmmm… what to do? Looking at the map, I had Manchester and Gualala to look forward to, which seemed rather small and unlikely to have a bike shop. All I could do was cross my fingers and hope for the best. Without clipping in, I lose a considerable amount of efficiency (I would venture to say at least 30%). Hills upon hills were on the menu for the day’s ride, and I was in my tennis shoes with my clipless (which are really clip-in) pedals. Things were not going well. Hills were harder, downhills felt less controlled, and I started to wonder if it was even possible to make it to my campsite for the night (35 miles by that point).

Spoiler alert: I managed to find new cleats. (L): Old cleat on top; (R): Old cleat on bottom.
Worn to the absolute nubbins!

I made it to a small town called Point Arena and noticed they had a sign that said “Parts Unlimited.” Worth a try, right? They were attached to a motorcycle shop. Two-wheeled locomotion? A marginal chance they sold bike cleats. I asked the woman running the shop (Kelley) if by any off-chance they sold bike parts. She was so kind in saying they did not but told me to hold on a second and that she knew a guy just down the road! I chatted with the guy, Brian, on the phone who said sadly he was out of town, otherwise he would try to help. He gave me a number of his friend in town, Eman. I called this person I’d never met, because I was given his number by someone I’d never met, because he was called by a woman I had just met. Worth a shot, right?!

Eman immediately said, “Sure, I’ve got some spare cleats in my garage. See you in a minute!” Unbelievable! I had never met this person and without a second thought, he was leaving work to get me a part in his garage. He was the nicest person ever. Kelley was as happy and encouraging as I was and she told me repeatedly how amazing my journey was and that after I make it to San Fran, I can do anything. Such a motivational community! Eman wouldn’t accept money, but would accept cookies. I was so inspired by everyone who has paid it forward on this trip and went so far out of their way just to help me. I gave the Kelley money and asked her to give it to any fundraiser that would support their special community. She was grateful.

Kelley from the Zen Motorcycle Shop in Pt Arena. My angel!

From here, I was on my own and made up some time. The ride in total was about 72 miles. It was a hilly but scenic ride, and I was bound for Stillwater. I had a 20-mile stretch before camp where my quads got tired and I was facing hilly terrain and a headwind. I decided to dedicate each mile to a person who had helped me on my journey. Some people I had met, some I had not (Insta-friends!). So, thank you to my family (Mom, Dad, Matt); my boyfriend (Steven) and his climbing partner (Ryan); my InstaTurnedRealFriends (Rani, Jess, Rachel Layer, Tracy, Hailey, Bri); my Boulder community (Monte, Connor, Rachel and Phil, Rachel and Amir, the Michel family) and my home friends (Rachel and Adam; Anika/Jenna/Jenna) for the motivation to continue and crush those last few miles!

That night, the hiker-biker site had some new folks to meet: Ella from Santa Cruz doing a short tour and a Canadian father-daughter duo. I was excited to see Annika and Tobias roll into camp about an hour later. I found myself missing their company, and had a little Christopher McCandless moment thinking that “happiness: only real when shared.” It was great to ride alone and reflect, but I enjoyed the company and community. I made a plan to stick with them throughout the next day-- more or less.

July 18
Friday, Friday! Gotta get down on Friday.
I left Stillwater Park and headed south again bound for Jenner for breakfast (vegan options! Praise Seitan). 

Vegetables served here!

The road ahead was my kind of riding and unbeatable. Lots of climbing and lots of fun descents. I had a great day and rode mostly by myself and waited for Annika and Tobias at small towns to regroup. The morning started foggy, but soon the sun made its way through and the scenery was incredible and easily my favorite stretch of the road. The fog lifted early revealing some great views.



Some thoughts from Fridays' ride:
Tomorrow I head over the bridge into San Francisco and will end my journey. I am excited for what’s next, but I am sad to leave the road and touring. I’ll miss the community, I’ll miss the miles, I’ll miss the scenery, I’ll miss the climbing, I’ll miss the screaming descents, and I’ll miss the semis. Well… not the semis. I’ll write a reflective post tomorrow when it’s truly done. But for now… the stats.

Total miles travelled: 800
Total days travelled: 12
Average miles/day: 66.6
Biggest day: 90
Shortest day: 30
Best Coffee: Portland/Stumptown
Best side trip: Crater Lake, OR
Best food: Jenner
Best Bike Scenery: Northern CA south of Bodega Bay and before SF Bay
Most bike-friendly: Washington or just outside of CA
Nicest cars: Subarus, shortly followed by Priuses (Prii?)
Favorite campsite: Beverly Beach (OR)
Best bakery: Point Arena, CA
Kindest people: Basically everywhere

Riding into my last camp, Samuel P Taylor, on the Marin bike path w/ the Swedes