Wednesday, July 27, 2011

San Fran Tour - Day 6

Day 6 - California Ninja Cycling

Stats: Prairie Creek State Park to Eureka, CA; 53 miles; 355.7 total miles.

We slept in the Redwood forest. And we woke up NOT eaten by bears. That was good. But after that it was a mixed bag. Actually, we were awakened by the sound of Jays playing in the trees above our tent, and soon decided that God must have made them beautiful to make up for the way he made them sound. (have you ever hear a Blue Jay caw?? At SIX AM? How about 10 of them??)

The day started out leisurely enough, since we only had about 50 miles to ride, which was, as we all know, "cake" for our fearless group of intrepid bikelists. But before getting out of the park, disaster struck. Sure, every bike has had little mechanical hiccups, but not like this. The bolt holding my rack (which holds most of my gear) had come loose. After closer inspection, I discovered that it had not just "come loose" but it had actually pulled out (stripped out) all the threading from my frame eyelet. (In other words, "It broke the frame of my bike")

After a while, we managed to figure out a system for getting me back on the road, with my gear in tow... but minus a rear disc brake. While Eric and I worked on the bike, Sabrina and Kim went to check out "Big Tree" that we passed coming in (they're so creative with names in the Redwoods). Murphy was impressed. The sign said that a lady wanted to cut it down and use the stump as a dance floor. Murphy would have been impressed by that too.

After we finally left the park, we discovered elk. And deer. Actually, we clarified that elk are indeed much, MUCH larger than deer. *End chapter of wonderment*

*begin chapter of Ninja terror* Then we discovered that we had several miles on 101 without alternate routes. So, as we trudged along, we quickly realized that the drivers on this stretch don't know how to respond to cyclists on the road. None of them slowed down. Well, that's not true. They did slow down a little, and they did give us room... a little. Noticeably less than in Oregon. What took us by surprise was the logging truck drivers.

The logging truckers do not move over. At all. They do not slow down. At all. And they even blast their horn as they approach, in order to tell you to get away from the lane of traffic. As the tail rider, I personally got buzzed by trucks 1-2 feet from my handlebars, before they realized that we weren't trained in the art of California Ninja Cycling. When they realized we were untrained, they gave Kim, Sabrina, and Eric a little bit more room.

For example, on one particularly steep ascent, we stopped for water by the side of the road, after a long straight stretch (good car visibility), and shortly after the lanes split into a passing lane (maybe 20 feet past the split). Our group decided to take a break. Rose, a lone cyclist we met on the way was gaining on us. And right as she got to where we were at, she was buzzed within a foot by a logging truck that could have chosen to move over before yielding to passing traffic, but didn't. These drivers need to get their licenses revoked.

After that, I learned California Ninja Cycling. I watched in my mirror for a logging truck. Then I'd yell out "LOGGING TRUCK" and it didn't matter if the highway was divided, 4 lane, or ample shoulder... we jumped into the ditch. Each time. And many times the truck passed without yielding an inch to our safety. Ninja Cycling. I've never had to do that in my life.

After about 15 miles of Ninja cycling, we got onto more peaceable roads, and the rest of the route kept us away from logging trucks. It did take us on some very picturesque routes with yet more beautiful rugged Pacific beauty. We have finally ridden far enough that people have fuzzy geography about how long/far we've been riding. It's nice.

Also, on a few unrelated notes: We all agree that the riding is easier. Even yesterday; with three massive climbs and 70 miles under our belts, we felt peppy, chipper, and if the sun hadn't given out on us, we could've ridden more. My knee is almost 100%, and other than the bike debacle and the logging trucks, the ride was very pleasant.

Just before Eureka, we rode into Arcadia. In contrast to Crescent City yesterday, which looks like a little run-down LA ghetto, Arcadia looks like it was pulled out of Portland's Sellwood district, or maybe even Eugene. We felt right at home. We rushed to catch the bike shop before they closed so that I could repair the rear caliper on my bike, and asked where we should eat dinner.

Their suggestion was a food cart that was relatively new, that served excellent Indian food. All four of us agreed to go, so Eric was stuck tagging along with a landslide majority vote. The food was amazing. We got green goo, and brown goo, and bread to dip in the goo, and then I got orange goo served in a cup with a straw. The strange spices didn't sit well with Murphy.

Tonight we rode into a KOA which has little known hiker/biker slots. Since so few bicyclists stay here, we are more of a novelty than in our other biker campgrounds. Tonight: laundry, recharging computers, hot tub, blogging, bed.

Despite our frustration earlier in the morning, we are of great spirits, and we feel very rested. Oh, and we're excited to keep going :)

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