Saturday, September 7, 2013

Go Down to the Sea Again

Pictures from today are here.

Ah! Finally, a couple of decent descents.

The day started with climbing, of course. Some of it was on Hwy 101 when it was a busy pseudo-interstate, and some of it was on Hwy 101 when it had become a more calm road wending through the redwoods, but a lot of it was on quiet roads with good pavement that somehow just ran along next to Hwy 101 so that cars stayed off of it. And that was cool.

The day was cool, too. I got an early start because the weather forecast for Leggett got into the mid-80s in the afternoon, but ended up wearing arm- and knee-warmers all the way up there. When I stopped at the diner across from Standish-Hickey to eat a cookie and chocolate milk about 10 am, I was still cold.

Just past this point, the route finally left Hwy 101 for the last time, turning towards the coast on California 1. Right after this turn was the road that went to the Drive-Thru Tree, which I had planned to go see; however, three other touring cyclists were just rolling out as I pulled up. We chatted a bit, and I decided to skip the tree so that I could climb towards the coast with them.

We all hung together for about half a mile, and then two of them fell off and a fellow named Chris and I climbed together. He told me that the three of them lived in San Francisco, and had gotten a ride with their bikes up to Arcata so they could take the week to ride home. At one point, I stopped to take off my arm- and knee-warmers and see if the other two guys would come up, but they didn't. I then caught up with Chris just before he stopped to "take a natural," and I soft-pedalled the rest of the way to the top ... but neither he nor his friends ever came back up. I even stopped and ate a banana that I had grabbed at the hotel, before finally deciding to start down.

And that was the first great descent, complete with smooth pavement and easy swooping curves. After this came easy spinning through more redwoods for a few miles, still soft-pedalling to see if the three guys would catch up. Then there was a steeper climb for a couple of miles, followed by another excellent descent, and suddenly I was back on the coast.

I stopped a bunch here to take pictures of the beautiful scenery on this virtually empty shore. Somehow, there were almost no cars for the first 10 miles -- it was like the Lost Coast, but without the suffering to get there. Of course, there was still work, since the road regularly curved around and had short steep descents and climbs. By the end of the day I had gained almost 5000 feet of elevation.

When I got to Westport, I stopped at the little store for lunch and found my old friends Jude and Val, along with a cycling tourist from Minnesota named Nate. They were all just finishing their sandwiches, and Jude told me about the places they had been since we last talked before Eureka. They headed out while I ate my lunch and chatted some with Nate, and then Nate left. I paused to put on sunscreen and see if the three riders from San Francisco might show up. They didn't, but another two tourists -- Rich and Sissy Byrd from Spartanburg, South Carolina -- came in on their tandem. We talked a bit, and I discovered that they knew my friends Bill and Sametta Glass, having done "warm showers" with them in Nashville.

Rich and Sissy were getting sandwiches, too, but I had been hanging around Westport too long and wanted to try and catch up to either Nate or Jude and Val. I wasn't fast enough, however, and was soon turning off on the multi-use trail in Cleone and riding back roads into Fort Bragg. I got to the hotel where I had originally planned to stay ... albeit two days from now. And then I checked in for two nights.

Yeah ... I'm going to take a day off. I may not even ride on Sunday, or take any pictures, or write a blog. Don't worry about me, though. By Monday I will be back on the road towards Gualala, where I should be camping.

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