Coastal Ride: Days 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21
This section of our trip has been as enjoyable as it has been emotionally and mentally difficult. We ventured into unchartered territitory for both of us, and while exciting, we lost some of that comfortable familiarity (which is basically the point, but kind of intimidating at times). Luckily, and this might sound a little lame, at least we had each other. Luckily, our bad moments didn't happen at the same time. Luckily, we aren't willing to just say fuck it. The good stuff has been too good for that kind of ridiculousness. We've seen such gorgeous views and cool stuff along the way. I find myself over and over stopping and taking pictures and just generally enjoying what we're doing here.
Day 16: Crescent City (Eat Day)
You probably won't be surprised to hear how we spent most of our rest day eating. Again! What was especially nice is that we were able to share all that eating with Pam and Erik, who took very good care of us in terms of ensuring we were satiated completely during their visit with us. For whatever reason that little Anchor Beach Inn is a sweet spot for us ever since we stayed there a few years ago on a coastal road trip that left our tent soaked and us seeking some other kind of shelter. Plus, the beach was great for chuck-it which naturally made Leah like it too. This is probably the exact reason why in Crescent City my mind began fixating on how much I missed our pooches. Overall, it was a wonderfully relaxing day. I took a bath which might not be recommended in such a place but was well received on my end. My poor knees and elbows.
Day 17: Crescent City, CA to Patrick's Point SP
Total Miles: 54.7
Total Time: 5:24:48
Average Speed: 10.11 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 8,761 ft
Total Calories: 2,629
Start Time: 6:20 am
Our ride was made much nicer by Pam and Erik who shuttled our gear to Patrick's Point leaving us free to tackle a couple high climbs about 45 pounds lighter. The hills started right out of Crescent City bringing us up into the Redwood Forest. As soon as we reached summit (the actual one, not the three false summits) it was instantly freezing, like not quite 50 degrees. My fingers and toes were freezing and the hilarity is I didn't have any more clothes to put on since our gear was waiting for us at camp. Ha! (Like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.) We warmed up a bit with Paul Bunyan and Babe and a little early morning sun but didn't take too long of a break. Intermixed with the Redwoods was beautiful glimpses of the ocean before our route pulled us completely from the ocean and into the thick forest. We took an alternate route, Drury Scenic Drive, that took us up into the hills of these amazing trees. Well worth it.
We arrived at Patrick's Point ten miles under our estimate. Sometimes Google gets a little overly ambitious when determining our route. It's like if we put in bike directions, it automatically has us climbing every nearby hill for a chance at a vista. And while we obviously want to "see stuff" our legs have a limit to how many miles they're prepared to give us for the day. Patrick's Point is a beautiful spot along the coast with cute little trails that shoot out to various viewpoints. We met a couple at the hiker/biker site that have been doing all kinds of bike tours, all over. They were full of information and excited for us to be on our first tour.
Day 18: Patrick's Point SP to Fortuna, CA
Total Miles: 50.1
Total Time: 5:23:25
Average Speed: 9.3 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 3,030
Total Calories: 2,254
Start Time: 7:40 am
With the exception of my second flat, (ride total = 8) Day18 started out pretty decent. It was a chilly morning again, but not as bad as the previous day. Our first 30 miles or so mostly consisted of the Hammond bike trail along the coast and a whole lot of miles through one lane farm roads. It was awesome. But then we had to leave behind the serenity of slow moving vehicles and farm animals to finish our ride on 101. 101 at this point ain't what it used to be. Now a real four lane freeway, riding on the shoulder and having to navigate/merge with the on and off ramps of exits the 101 is simply not enjoyable (and slightly terrifying). We simply tried to ride as fast and responsible as we could. We also pushed through the underwhelming city of Eureka as fast as we could. Google once again, in its quest to show us "true grit" directed us through back alleyways complete with dogs thrashing up against their fences to indicatie their annoyance at our interloping.
Tyler's Ken Griffey Jr shirt caught the eye of nice young man (tweaker) who asked if we were from Seattle before proudly showing off his (206) tattoo on his forearm and repping "King County yo" before Google directed us into the local cemetery.
We didn't have a campsite reserved and instead found a cute little inn called Super 8. It was clean with a king size bed and had the Eel River Taproom and Grill adjacent to our room. It was perfect and the best sleep I've had in over three weeks.
Day 19: Fortunate, CA to Richardson Grove State Park
Total Miles: 58.1
Total Time: 5:46:23
Average Speed: 10.06 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 10,178 ft
Total Calories: 2,842
Start Time: 7:25 am
Day 19's ride was a lot like the previous in regards to the bulk of the ride being great and the remainder being not so great. Early morning starts have come to be pretty normal for us. I like the peace that comes with an unsteady stream of cars; vehicles blipping by our radar only every so often. And I also like that we finish the bulk of our riding around noon leaving us the rest of the day to explore our surroundings (and go to bed early to rest our weary muscles).
We spent about twenty miles in the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic alternate with more big, beautiful redwood trees. We also admit to falling prey to one of three "drive-thru" trees tourist traps that we've come across, and taking our requisite shot. However, since I found our admission fees on the side of the road I don't feel so bad. As a side note, I have managed to find $11.71 (two fives, a one, and some change) in various places along our route. As Tyler says, "our trip is practically paying for itself". I personally like to think of myself as Cricket from the Archie comics and am just rubbing my hands together in anticipation of my big payout- perhaps a bag of cash from a robbery gone bad where the guy who stole it was shot and therefore unable to tell anyone the location. It could happen.
After leaving the giants, we opted to get back on 101 to save some mileage. Big mistake. Busy, busy, busy. I will say though that even though we left the redwoods, the forest heading into Richardsin Grove right outside of Garberville is absolutely gorgeous. Our last twenty miles were a little rough. It was hot and the sun was beating down on us as we rode in and out of the hills. Plus, the signage for CA parks kind of sucks. We think we should almost be at our destination and nothing. Fortunately for us, Bigfoot's gift shop was this day's oasis. We ran into two other cyclists (who were just starting their ride!) and they told us about a hose to fill up our water bottles. Soooo needed. Tyler picked us up some ice cream bars while I walked around enjoying the lure of Bigfoot, the shade, and the 100 sets of chimes doing their thing in the breeze. It was pretty magical to borrow one of the other cyclist's words.
Day 20: Richardson Grove SP to Mackerricker SP
Total Miles: 58.6
Total Time: 7:57:17
Average Speed: 7.37 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 11,374 ft
Total Calories: 3,454
Start Time: 6:25 am
Holy shiza. What a ride. We started early knowing we'd want a head start on traffic because we had some major elevation to climb, the biggest hill we'd see on this coastal ride. We were ready to tackle it, and get it over with. Right outside of camp we basically started climbing. We had a bunch of hills to conquer before hitting the big guy. We took them easy. We didn't push. We did a good job. When we actually reached the 1950 ft summit, we questioned if we did it. Don't get me wrong. It felt like we did. We were climbing those gnarly switchbacks for a while. We just didn't want to be at a false summit. Talk about soul crushing. Luckily, we were just about to pick up again when we saw the couple from Patrick's Point who verified it was the top. The downhill was long and very much like a corkscrew. I felt like I was going in a complete circle in a couple spots. I rode my brakes pretty hard to feel somewhat comfortable, but I'm telling you some of those downhills are pretty difficult. I am definitely not Matt Sullivan who rides down steep hills while clipped in, with his hands behind his head like he's riding a unicycle. Nope. You will never see me do that.
A mere nine miles later, we hit Rockport a rather nondescript town with the exception of the 690 ft bitch of a hill. We managed to not be broken and clustered briefly with the Patrick's Point couple and a foursome of guys on road bikes. The road bikes left and we passed them on the descent fixing a flat.
Soooo many hills on this ride. We were tired and in need of an off bike break. We had a bit of an exhaustion breakdown before stopping at the little town of Westport for a sandwich. We met another cycling couple at lunch before finishing up our ride. Google put us onto a bike path two miles from camp that took down under a huge bridge we had just crossed. Unfortunately, the path was washed out and so were we. Overhead we saw the couple from lunch crossing the bridge as we cursed Google believing it had led us astray. Miles plus another hill to climb we're added to the ride. Tears were shed as we limped into camp physically drained.
However, camp had a store and that store had boxed wine. We pulled out the bladder and rolled into camp ready to slap that sack. Even though we had a normal site we went to the hiker/biker site to commiserate with our fellow enthusiasts. We shared our sack with Jon and Barb (the Patrick's Point couple) and Phillip, an Irishman with no taste for wine who shared a great story about one of his adventures with a crazy man, some two dollar bills, and a strip club in Lompac, CA. Good times.
Day 21: Mackerricker SP to Manchester (koa)
Total Miles: 43.9
Total Time: 4:49:29
Average Speed: 9.1 mph
Total Elevation Gained: 10,261 ft
Total Calories: 2,046
Start Time: 7:05 am
One notable part of this ride is that we headed toward the state park in Manchester only to discover we actually had a reservation at the Manchester KOA. Luckily, the two campgrounds shared the same road--otherwise we would have been screwed (and I couldn't blame Google). This was a short ride (relatively speaking), and pretty hilly as we followed the coast in out of gulches--down to sea level and up to vistas, down to sea level and up to vistas.
We rode for a good 25 miles with beautiful views before the fog rolled. At this point, even the fog was well received as our day time temps have begun creeping upward. We stopped early in the ride at the Goodlife Cafe and Bakery in Mendicino...adorable stuff. I'm not sure if it was the salted, caramel latte or the shorter distance to cover, but I really enjoyed this ride (Tyler may feel otherwise)...even with some of the steeper climbs we've experienced. To me it was just awesome.
As a side note, the KOA had a hot tub and we "upgraded" our stay to a cutie-pie cabin which was ridiculously overpriced, but worth it to us for the night. We used our imaginations and made some pretty tasty campground pizzas from the camp store.