Thursday, July 28, 2011

San Fran Tour - Day 7

Day 7 – The Not Cake-r Day

Stats – Eureka to Weott – 63.8 miles

We were reluctant to leave our wonderland of fun at the Eureka KOA, but in looking at the map, we calculated our miles as the same as Day 6, and the elevation climbs were easier. So while we were packing up, I told the group that while yesterday was cake, today will be cake-r.

It didn’t quite end up that way.

Before we left, the camp stove we were using tipped over, spilling boiling water on Ben’s leg. We were able to get some burn cream from the KOA, and stopped by Target on the north end of Eureka to get some ointment and groceries, knowing we would have few services available for the next few days. After we got started, the ride was easy and flat, just like we predicted. We rode past Humboldt State University, and I remembered that this was one of the environmental colleges I looked at as a teenager. This totally explains the environmental vibe we got in Arcata.

Hippie fish hut on the water in Eureka.

Outside of Eureka, we left 101 and went on back roads, headed towards Ferndale. Everything around here is named “fern” or “redwood” something… We passed the small towns of Loleta and Fernbridge, which only has a population of 59. The terrain was relatively flat, agricultural land that reminded us a lot of the Willamette Valley tour – only with rougher roads. It was slow going after Fernbridge because we also hit a nasty headwind.

Once we got to Ferndale, we (well, I…) couldn’t take enough pictures of all the cute houses and shops, all with an old Victorian theme.

Main Street in Ferndale, CA

As we were riding down Main Street, Sabrina and I smelled pizza and almost crashed in our hunger. I would highly recommend the Ferndale Pizza Co – we could hardly eat two slices of pizza without being stuffed, and this in our ravenous state!

Yummy pizza place...

After we left Ferndale, things got pretty rough. We enjoyed our time in the town, and even explored a unique cemetery just outside of town. As we were heading out on Grizzly Bluff Road, we were surprised by a really steep hill. And then surprised by another really steep hill. And another. The map we have shows elevation, but not grade. And these were steep hills. What made it worse was that the road was in such bad shape, we didn’t get the reward of bombing down the hills for fear of hitting a bump that would pitch us over the handlebars. We had to take a lot of breaks to get through that section.

Shortly after we returned to 101, we got off again for the long anticipated Avenue of the Giants. We once again experienced wonderment as we rode through the groves of giant trees. Fortunately for us, since our afternoon of steep hills took longer than expected, we were once again in the redwoods in the evening, and traffic was almost non-existent so we didn’t have to pay attention to how straight we were biking while we were also gawking.

Sabrina pretending to hug a giant redwood (there were spiderwebs...)

We called it a night at Weott, staying at the Burlington State Campground. We had enough time to take some unsatisfying showers (you have to pay $0.50 for a 5 minute shower in CA, and our water temps/pressure was sub-par) and eat a satisfying trail-food dinner. We begged, borrowed, and stole bug spray, because the mosquitoes were horrible. Us Oregonians don’t think of these things. We all look like we have the measles now… so there won’t be any up-close pictures.

We haven’t blogged about all the people we’ve met on our journey, but it’s interesting that you see the same faces for a week or two. The ones that aren’t barmy (and even some of the barmy ones) look out for each other, barter food and other goods, and talk bike shop. There’s a kindred spirit of adventure and independence that pulls us all together. But then we also meet some new people at every spot. At this campground we met a young couple of bikers named Mike and Nicole, friends in their 20’s who decided that since they were unemployed and unhappy in L.A. they would bike together from Vancouver, BC to Mexico. Kind of a self-discovery mission. They were also at the Prairie Creek Campground when we were, but we didn’t get to chat much there. Mike’s stories had us in stitches sometimes. We also met a sketchy gentleman from Bend (we think…) who was biking because he doesn’t have anything else to do, though he’s held jobs doing just about anything. He was also really looking forward to the large bag of weed he was planning on procuring and smoking all at once in Garberville. We made mental notes to avoid Garberville. Finally, we met an older gentleman who is from Illinois who is biking this route for the who-knows-how-many-ith time, and is very familiar with bikes and biking trips all across the U.S. We muse that he must be a teacher, using his summertime to bike everywhere.

Even with the rough climbs we had, we still enjoyed our day and experiences. It’s hard to put it all down in words. There’s always a sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that you propelled yourself 60 miles on your own steam. There’s things you can see on bike that you would never notice in a car. It’s not always cake-r, but it is always worth it.

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