Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

Hi all! Here's an update from the past few days!

July 14
Sunday evening, I made it to the family campsite just north of Klamath. It was a quirky little site with a wonderfully kind host who gave me the best site on the lot. The site was great and the weather moist. The previous evening, I met a few campers at the site. I love staying at family campsites. They’re safe, alive with excitement, and it’s also nice to see families getting away and spending time with one another.  

Pesky redwoods clogging your yard? Turn them into Godzilla for a sightly alternative!

I did a bit of work and fell asleep right away for about an hour. I wouldn’t say I’ve been sleeping well overall, likely due to my worst-purchase-and-decision-I’ve-ever-made Thermarest from the REI garage sale that I decided to bring on this trip. This golden pad of terror weighs a whole five ounces less than my trusty usual Thermarest and was a measly $40 for a $150 pad. The catch? Two of the central air pillars in this new pad have somehow fused together, creating a large bubble precisely where one’s (my) spine would go. Blown up halfway, it’s not terrible if you never move. Unfortunately I move a lot in my sleep, which leads to a scenario not unlike a drunk bachelorette on a mechanical bull at midnight. I’m sliding everywhere, trying to hold on to any comfortable position and any slight movement causes me to pitch to the ground. If only I could have had the foresight to understand that perhaps I could have traded a few mere ounces for an outrageous amount of more comfort. Live and learn!

Need some fun in your life? Invest in a crappy Thermarest!

Too much info? Back to the ride. On Monday, I awoke early {thankful to once again have some space away from the Thermarest}, packed up, and shipped out. Well…biked out. I was out of camp by 8:20! Perhaps some of my motivation to get moving lied in knowing that that night, I wouldn’t be setting up a tent or awaking to damp clothes. Instead, I would be sleeping on a comfy couch and enjoying good food and a brew with new friends (Andrea and Wade) my wonderful friend Ben connected me with.

The day’s ride started off moist as I was still in the eerie fog wonderland of the redwoods. Have you ever seen a redwood cone? They are itty-bits! Redwoods rely less on their seeds and more on their ability to grow trees off of their own root systems. The scenery was beautiful, although pretty cold. With a fair amount of climbing, I would sweat to the top… and then freeze on the way down. Oh, evapotranspiration- you fickle beast.

The view is well worth the cold.

I rode on out of the Jedediah Forest and continued south into more and more fog and past a wild elk population. I was craving a cup of hot coffee (which I never did get…) and a warm blanket. Eventually, however, I was able to out-ride the fog. The bike route took me on a cool scenic road that led to the town of Trinidad, a funky coastal village that had great vegan food and scenery. I would be meeting Andrea and Wade later and ended up spending about two hours lunching, hydrating, obsessing over the map, and chatting with other riders.

Arcata was just 15 miles away, and I easily made it there. Andrea and Wade were so kind and welcoming, despite the fact that I had never met them and was really at their mercy for food, drink, and amazing comforts such as laundry and showers. They were easily some of the most fun people I’ve ever met. Such cool lives! They also have an adorable dog.

Wade made the most delicious curry!

July 15
Tuesday started with some intense highway miles from Arcata to Eureka. It was one of those rides where it didn’t really seem like bikes were/should be allowed, and I kept waiting to get pulled over by a police officer who would tell me, “Duh- the bike route is over there!” That never happened. There were tons of exits and entrances to dodge, and a lot of construction. As a shoulder-dweller, bikes have to cross over every exit and every entrance, whereas vehicles can bypass these. When orange cones are added to the mix, things get more confusing. Nothing too exciting to report, thankfully! A few annoyed cars would honk at me as I crossed the exit to get back to the shoulder, letting me know they were annoyed they had to slow down (isn’t that what you do at an exit anyway…?) to wait and exit. Meh.

The wind around the bay between Arcata and Eureka was INTENSE! It was a bit of a foggy morning, but as soon as I got a few miles out of Eureka, the weather turned very hot very fast. It was crazy muggy! I stopped to refill water about 10 times today (not an exagg). The route thankfully left the craziness of Highway 101 to the Avenue of the Giants for some of the most scenic, relaxed, and joyful riding of the trip thus far. This was a redwood forest without the fog—somewhat of an anomaly. Apparently the weather patterns were unusual for the area.

The traffic was minimal and no one seemed to be in a hurry. This route also didn’t allow semis (a critical element to the day’s enjoyment factor). The redwoods are truly unbelievable, even up close. This road allowed for me to see them up close and a chance to snap a few pictures (while in the saddle). The road passed through several small towns advertising unusual things, such as carvings of Shrek out of old redwood stumps. I was uncomfortably warm and dreaming of a variety of things, including a pool and margarita. I also started thinking about the things I was carrying that I hadn’t yet used. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind, did a Post Office appear! I bought a box and packed everything that was not essential and mentally was psyched. I can’t say my legs really noticed, but it felt nice to be proactive.

As I was biking, I saw a man and woman flag me down from a truck that was pulled over. I at first thought it was someone who broke down and needed a cell phone but it was actually some campers from Monday night who recognized me. The Rodericks were so kind and were the best pit crew ever! What a treat to be cruising and sweating and telling yourself that in just 9 miles you could stop for water… and out of nowhere, you’re handed an ice cold drink! I was so touched that they stopped after recognizing me, and I was also grateful for the water! I am continually impressed and amazed at the kindness of people in this world. Some of my happiest and most surprising moments on this trip have come from special interactions just like this one.

The Roderick Family! My saving grace for the day :)

I sadly had to get back on the 101 after the Avenue of the Giants where the shoulder oscillates from a comfortable 5 feet to about 3 inches. Every time the shoulder narrows, it’s almost comical. “What is this- the shoulder for ANTS?! It needs to be at least…3 times this big,” I say to myself to make light of a slightly terrifying phenomena. Points if you get the reference! J

Today, I had a few possible campsites picked out (all in the Avenue of the Giants area) and two “reach” campsites about 20 miles past the Avenue. I easily reached the Avenue sites by 1:45pm and didn’t give it a second thought. I pressed on and made it to Richardson State Park, who, surprise!, only takes cash for reservations. With a 2-mile round-trip side stop to get cash from an ATM, the day’s total was 88 miles. Tomorrow will be my intense day climbing the infamous 2,000-ft Leggett Hill. Hopefully it won’t be terrible. There’s a great deal of downhill following, and I’ll be setting my sites on Mendocino, or wherever.

July 16
Last night, I camped at Richardson State Park with two other bike tourists, Annika and Tobias, both from Sweden. They are incredibly nice!

They got an early start and I was behind them by about 20 minutes. I knew today would be our biggest climb: THE Leggett Hill. I started off having read very little about the route (rare for me), and was surprised to read that the town of Leggett (at the base of The Hill) was 12 miles away. Oops. Maybe a Clif bar was too small of a breakfast. My plan was to bike, then refuel in Leggett before tackling the hill. Silly me totally missed the town of Leggett altogether and after climbing for about 10 minutes, I thought to myself, “Is this The Hill?”

I didn’t want to get my hopes up and recalled some hills before The Hill on the map. I wasn’t going to stop and look, as I’m all momentum on hills. After about another 15 minutes, I saw Tobias and Annika. Cars were cheering us on, and for the first time, it was actually helpful and not terrifying! Luckily, the road is now Highway 1 (or the PCH, if you’re into the California lingo), not the 101, so there is considerably less commercial traffic (ie: semis, logging trucks, half-semis that resemble Optimus Prime’s latest configuration, etc.).

Can't say I'll miss ya, 101! :)

Overall, Leggett was not that bad, and I’d venture to say, enjoyable. It was reminiscent of long, sustained rides in Colorado, ala Lee Hill Rd. The descent was… absolutely freezing! It was a misty, foggy morning. I was numb by the time I got to the bottom. Following that hill was just an itty-bitty 500-ft climb- about ¼ of what I just tackled. The 500-footer felt about 500 times harder on cold legs that had been on coast mode for 5 miles!

Hills for breakfast, folks!

At this point, I was absolutely starving. With only a Clif bar to sustain me for 30 miles and 3,000ft of climbing, I was getting hunger pains and the hangries. Luckily, I was solo. The town of Westport came into view, and I stumbled in and purchased and consumed half the store. From here, the road was my ideal kind of riding! Climbing and descents over and over and over until Fort Bragg. The views are only getting better! I’m currently in Fort Bragg drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee and taking advantage of the WiFi and power outlets that seem to be a bit hard to come by in these parts. I have about 8 miles left of my journey today and will be camping just north of Mendocino for a total of just over 70 miles today.

Thanks for following along!
Anything you'd like to hear about that I'm not mentioning? Let me know! :)


No comments:

Post a Comment