Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to the Real World

Pictures from today are here.

I slept pretty well last night, although it was a little chilly. About 2 am, I stepped outside the tent for a bit and looked up at the sky to admire the stars. You just don't get a night sky like that unless you are way out in the middle of nowhere. The Milky Way was a solid river of light, as you sometimes see it closer to a city, but that river was not as stark since there were all these other more distant stars, galaxies, nebulae, and what-not all bumping up against it and muddling up behind it.

When the sun began to come up I got up, started some coffee, and began packing. Just before my water was boiling, my little stove sputtered and stalled -- the fuel cannister was empty -- so all I got for breakfast was warm coffee and a cold English muffin.

Just after 8 am, I was on the way to Honeydew. The road continued its ups-and-downs to that little town, where I walked my bike across the treacherous one-lane bridge over the river and began climbing.

And didn't stop for over six miles and 2000 feet of elevation.

I had been worried that this climb would be like yesterday's, where things just got painfully steep. It was six miles (like yesterday's) but with another 500 feet of elevation gained. A basic calculation of this slope would infer that it would be steeper. Fortunately, however, yesterday's six-mile climb had included a few ups-and-downs, while today's was just up. It got steep once or twice, and my knees and quadriceps were pretty sore by the end of it, but at least I never had to get off and push the bike.

Like most cyclists, one of my favorite things about climbing mountains is that you then get to go down the other side. That's why I really felt cheated when I started down the other side just to find that it was rutted, pot-holed, gravelly, and steep. The holes hid in the shady spots, so I was forced to ride my brakes all the way down, weaving and dodging what I could, bracing myself for what I couldn't, and worried throughout that I was going to either break a spoke or a wheel or at least get a pinch-flat. Towards the bottom, my brakes were a lot looser than they had been, making me wonder just how badly the pads and rotors were now worn.

The road stayed bumpy as I entered another redwood forest, so although the scenery was nicer it was difficult to enjoy it. I stopped a few times to get some pictures, but was basically glad when I finally crossed Hwy 101 and turned on to the Avenue of the Giants.

I now had a tailwind and a gradual climb. Soon, I was in Myers Flat, where I had originally planned to stay the night. However, the only restaurant in town had gone out of business, the grocery store had a sign telling bicyclists not to park there, and the whole place just felt mean. Besides, it was barely 1 pm and I still had a good tailwind. I would have liked to have eaten lunch there, but decided that it just didn't deserve my money.

Pressing on, I passed through more towns, finally stopping in Phillipsville for a snack. From there I had to get on Hwy 101 for a bit, and found that the road was just as busy as ever, but the shoulder was thinner. After a couple of miles of this, the route turned onto a quieter road going in to Redway.

In Redway I stopped at a bike shop that the guys at Henderson's in Eureka had told me about. The Redway guys checked my brakes, ruled them functional for another few hundred miles, adjusted them so they were tight again, and then refused to take any money for their work. I left a twenty on the counter anyway, telling them to buy a post-work six-pack on me.

From there it was just a couple of miles to Garberville, where the Best Western hotel beckoned. I checked in, got cleaned up, and finally had my first real meal of the day at a pizza joint next door. Then it was call RandoGirl and the RandoDaughter, do some laundry, and write this blog.

My plan for tomorrow is to press on up to Leggett, which makes for a long day with a lot of climbing. If I get there early enough, I may go ahead and roll down the coast to Fort Bragg. That will officially put me two days ahead of schedule, so if Fort Bragg is nice I may take a day off there and just hang out.

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