Day 19– June 3, 2015 – Wednesday
We load up our bikes, do one last check of the hotel room and head for the elevator. We chain the bikes outside in front of a neatly carved wooden bench, then eat a continental breakfast. We need to lube our bikes chains before we go, but I don’t really want to do that at this bench because it’s by the front door of the hotel. We ride to Target to do it there, but there are no benches! So we ride around the parking lot and are considering sitting on a parking lot rock when dad says “I can’t find the lube, I think I left it on the bench over at the hotel.” I say “Okay, let’s go get it.” I try to hide my slight irritation that Dad is so unorganized and pedal off toward the hotel. It’s only across the parking lot and an alley and takes about 20 seconds, but we are eating up riding time. We go back to the hotel’s bench, but the lube isn’t there. He finds it in his packs.
After several trips into the hotel and our bikes maintained, we are ready to leave. I asked the young guy at the desk which way to South 101. He said “go up to the stop light, take a left and another left and it connects to 101. I verified “that is South 101?” He said, “Yeah, it should be.” Dad thinks the kid’s directions will take us to North 101, but I assure him that I specified South 101. We follow the kid’s directions and enter 101. We are clearly on North 101. Idiot kid! We pull over at a gas station and ask the girl at the register and she tells us, we have to go back through the whole town to connect to South 101. Her directions match up with the map, but I was trying for a highway shortcut. No such luck!
Around 9:16 am we pull over at a gas station, yes, still in Eureka! I take our picture in a shiny window.
We ride on the sidewalk, navigating through traffic and at 9:27 a.m. we stop outside a military, guns and surplus store so dad can adjust his packs. A few riding minutes later and we connect with South 101. We ride for about an hour then have to stop for some tree trimming. The road worker tells us it could be 30 minutes. I eat and Dad chats with the guy. It is 10 minutes, at the most, when the worker gives us the go ahead. We ride under some very tall trees and zig zag through workers, machinery and tree branches.
This is very hilly farm country. It’s warmer because we aren’t near water (that we can see). In Loleta we can’t find a bathroom. It’s like they put the town one street up a hill from the main road. The one port-a-potty is on the other side of a farmer’s fence, so we just keep riding.
At 11:00 a.m. we stop at a Fernbridge gas station. There is an outdoor port-a-potty so I park my bike and go over and pull on the door handle. Some guy inside yells. Haha. Dad looks at me with shock like “you didn’t knock.” The guy comes out and smiles. I use the facilities and Dad says to the guy “Good thing there are locks on the door.” I think this is all quite funny, because while I have no desire to see some strange old guy’s weed-wacker, I feel like I already lost my dignity 19 days ago when I started peeing beside the road.
We look at the map and are pretty sure which direction to go, but we ask a local trucker and he confirms it. We ride to the edge of the parking lot and at the opportune moment head across the busy intersection and up across the bridge. We take the lane because there is no edge for bikers and we don’t want any of the huge trucks to try to pass us. We pedal at a moderately fast (to us) pace, but still jam traffic. The trucker at the gas station told us people were pretty good about letting bikers get across the Eel River Bridge safely. He is right, if anyone was annoyed we didn’t see it.
In 20 minutes we are in Ferndale. It’s one of the prettiest towns I’ve seen. Most buildings are small town early 1900s Americana style.
We pass an old red car parked in front an odd looking tree that my Scooby Doo loving husband says looks “spookified.”
We turn left at Ocean Avenue and stop so Dad can take a picture of a very large church he thinks is cool. He goes across the street to try to get a better picture, and still can’t get the whole church in the camera’s frame. We ride a little further and take a picture of the Ferndale Cemetery. It’s on a hill-side. I’ve never seen a tiered cemetery before. We ride further when the road goes from flat to really steep! My legs are so tired that I feel instantly irritated. I’m staring at the road, huffing, puffing and pedaling when Dad rides across traffic onto a dirt area in front of an old barn that smells horribly of fish! This smell is not helping my irritation. I’m wondering why we are stopping in this horrible spot. I just want to ride as fast as possible and forget it. Dad says, “Look at that Cemetery.” When I look up, there it is.
St. Mary’s Cemetery is the coolest cemetery ever and I almost missed it! Dad is really great about looking around while riding, where I assume a narrow focus, especially when I am miserable. I take pictures, while Dad searches and discovers a bunch of rotting fish at the edge of the parking lot, hence the nasty smell.
There are lots of steep hills and the road condition is poor. The elevation map tells me that we will go from 0 to 750 ft in about 13.5 miles, then from 750 to 2000 in a quick 5 miles. It’s the dreaded hill right after Leggett. All the biking community knows and talks about it and on the elevation map it does look quite torturous!
Fortunately we won’t be doing all of that today. We’re in cow country. I see this super skinny cow with its ribs sticking out, it’s so gross! Dad says it probably just had a calf and is skinny while nursing. It is so gross I can’t even take a picture. A big hay truck pulls in front of us and for the first time Dad and I are the traffic being jammed! He is so slow I take a picture while riding and looking backwards.
We stop for a break and I take a picture of Dad, which shows exactly how awful these roads are.
We pass a barn with questionable sustainability. I’m amazed that it hasn’t fallen down, but I hope it doesn’t. It’s definitely what I would consider interesting architecture.
I’m riding over a bridge and suddenly see a skunk! It looks scared, but probably isn’t half as scared as I am! I’m holding my breath and riding quietly way over on the other side of the road. I’m thinking if we get sprayed on the ride, we are never going to get the smell out! Fortunately that doesn’t happen. I thank God and breathe a huge sigh of relief!
We ride up and down, up and down, finally we get up to the top of a pretty steep hill and stop. We are on Grizzly Bluff Road. I take a picture of some big tree stumps and as we start down-hill, Dad’s light gets bounced off the back of his bike. I stop quickly to pick up his light. The road is narrow and there is no edge, just two lanes and a weedy slope downhill. I’m not exactly sure what happens next, but I started to go or stop again and unclip my foot there is a dip in the road because it is so rough and my foot doesn’t hit the ground when I expect it to, I panic and try to unclip and land on my right foot which doesn’t work and I fall over, right into the patch of weeds, right as the only car on the road passes. I’m not hurt, but my leg is all scratched up. This is my 3rd time falling over on this trip! I’m never hurt when I fall, but my goodness! We have taken some steep and big hills today so I am very tired, maybe that will be my excuse. Riding down-hill isn’t very fun, because the roads are awful, so we have to hold the brakes and watch for holes very closely. We finally ride into Rio Dell. They have a wiggly sidewalk.
We stop at the E&J Liquor store/Deli/Subway for lunch at 1:05 pm and are on the road again around 2 p.m. We take Hwy 101 instead of the Avenue of the Giants because Dad says his legs can’t take anymore hills and sometimes the highway is flatter than the back roads our map takes us on. I am a bit disappointed because the Avenue of the Giants sounds cool, but I change my mind as we hit the first ramp *up* onto Hwy 101. My legs are so fatigued.
After a bit, I stand up to rest my butt and a huge truck flies by me. I heard him coming so I had braced myself, but he’s so loud and fast, he still startles me and makes my bike wobble. I shake my finger and scowl at his truck as he passes, like I’m some old matron and he’s a little rascal. What I really want to do is pull out a paint gun and shoot his rig about 27 times.
A government worker of some sort passes us and pulls his truck over about a city block ahead of us. He gets out of his truck and waits for us. We stop. He tells us we are missing everything by not riding on the Avenue. I tell him we will have to catch it on our way back in the car. It’s probably not very nice, but I’m thinking “Dude, you are a fat guy in a truck and we are on mile 41. Please don’t tell us where to bike!” Dad and he talk a few more minutes.
Our map shows there is camping in Weott, so when we see the camping sign we take the exit. It doesn’t look much like of a town, and there are no people, so we follow the road around a curve and start down a hill. We both stop. We are thinking the same thing. We don’t want to go down this hill and then have to come right back up again, however, the only signs of life are a building and lights ½ down the hill, so we decide to go ask. We pull into the parking lot of a barber shop and Dad goes in. He comes back and says “If we follow the road it leads to the camp ground and then connects back to 101 through another exit.” “So we don’t have to come back up this hill?” I ask. “We don’t have to go back up this hill.” He says. “Good!” I say.
We ride down the hill and have to wait (go figure) for the only two cars in 100 miles to pass before we pull across the road. We are officially on the Avenue of the Giants!
The trees block some of the sun and the temperature is definitely cooler. The roads are narrow so traffic is uncomfortably close, but there isn’t much of it, so it’s pretty great. We ride for about ten minutes and turn left into Humboldt Redwoods State Park Burlington Campground at 4:13 pm. We pay $5 each for hiker/biker spots right by the bathrooms. The Ranger tells us to go to the bathrooms at the far end to make sure we get hot showers. We pull in and lean our bikes on the picnic table and start unpacking. I LOVE this campground! Giant redwoods are everywhere!
They have a wood cubby for our food and some plants behind a fence with a sign that reads “Area Closed for Plant Rehabilitation.” Dad and I have to make jokes about this, because, well, they are just asking for it. A kid named Colin asks if he can camp beside us. We say sure! He’s from California, riding alone, packing super light and seems nice, but might be stinky. This unverified fact is assumed because when told about the hot showers and he says “I’m not showering.” (I suppose now is a good time to add this is today’s second stinky character sighting because this morning when leaving Eureka, Dad saw a Pirate. He could tell because he had an eye patch.)
A bit later a biker couple pulls in and asks if they can camp beside us, we say “Sure, there’s plenty of room.” Dad warns them that he snores and with all these people around, I’m thankful I brought ear buds. A guy, I will call Bicycle Bob, camps a few camp sites away from our group.
Dad’s speedometer was on the wrong setting today, so I read the directions and fix it for him, while he fixes the hot water for our top ramen.
My legs are so fatigued. Any resistance and I immediately shift to my lowest gear and ride so slowly that even snails could pass me… on the left. It’s okay though, I want to lose more weight and the longer I ride, the more that will happen.
No cell service. Marc told me last night there might not be any and I told him there probably would be. I didn’t realize what the terrain would be. He is really smart, but don’t tell him I said so.
Bike Stats: Time: 5:25:33 Dist: 57.64 Ave: 10.6 Max: 35.7 Odo: 726
Day 20– June 4, 2015 – Thursday
I slept badly last night. I woke up hot, took off some layers, went back to sleep, woke up cold, then put some layers back on, but I never could get warm again. Last night’s lack of sleep doesn’t matter though, because I am looking forward to riding. I love riding these roads. Technically it’s SR 254 aka. Avenue of the Giants, but with lighter traffic and the beauty of the forest around us, it’s going to be wonderful!We are also beginning to see familiar faces as we ride South. It’s nice to be around others that share my interests, even if I rarely talk to them. There were three other bicyclists in our camp site last night and Bicycle Bob camped a few sites over.
We leave camp a little after 8:00 am. Riding this road reminds me of Lost Lake Camp when I was growing up. The fresh smell of trees and relaxing environment are thoroughly enjoyable.
At 9:16 am we stop to take pictures in front of the green sign that tells us we are entering Miranda, population 350.
At 9:43 am we ride past a tall skinny indian carving, which I think is neat, but we are riding by too fast for me to get a quality picture of it. Dad sees the Deerhorn Market up ahead and says, “I need to stop and get something, my breakfast has worn off.” I need to go to the bathroom, but they don’t have any bathrooms. I think this is ridiculous because we are in the middle of nowhere and this is the bicycle route. If it was up to me I’d leave and wait to buy stuff at a store that provides a bathroom, but Dad is hungry. I see a picnic table and am about to sit down, but see that it has a napkin on the top of it with what I am pretty sure is poop in it. Apparently someone else must have been irritated about no bathroom and left a gift. I sit on the top of the table as far away from the “gift” as I can. My options are limited and I’m not going to sit in the dirt or dead grass. Dad comes and sits down too. I decide to buy something to eat. I want chocolate donuts, but the gas stations since we hit Oregon and California have Franz and I want Hostess (Franz aren’t very good). I settle for a chocolate chocolate-chip muffin and chocolate milk. I eat half the muffin and give the other half to dad, which he adds to his chocolate milk, crackers and fig newtons.
The Avenue of the Giants dumps us back onto Hwy 101, which we ride for a while, but it’s busy and hot. Our map suggests taking Redwood Drive as a detour from Hwy 101, so we do. This route is longer on the map and we always wonder if it will have huge hills that the main highway would have avoided, but we take it anyway, just to get away from the traffic. As we near the end of Redwood Drive and are riding up the on-ramp to the highway this older dude comes out of nowhere and flies by us saying something like “sounds like a good plan.” He’s obviously a local out for a ride, but when anyone flies by and says some indecipherable statement, well, it’s one of my pet peeves! (Yes, I have a few).
We finally see the life of Garberville, but the town is UP a hill! We’ve been riding uphill all day and we are tired, hot, and worn out and when we get near the town, it’s up a hill! Well, what can you do but keep on pedaling? I slowly progress into town, lunch large on my mind, and I happen to pass this tree that has two hobo looking dudes under it. They start clapping for me as I pass by. I look over at them say “Thank you” and give them an exhausted smile.
We stop at the gas station/Subway for lunch. I am never so happy to see a Subway as when I’m exhausted from a hot day of cycling! We go inside and get in line. My usual is the turkey italiano melt with nacho Doritos, pop and a chocolate chip cookie. Their cookies have a slightly weird taste, but I don’t mind lately.
There are only two tables and they are both occupied, so I’m not sure where we will sit after we get our food. Dad’s knee bothers him too much to sit low on the ground, so I’m so thankful when two ladies who were sitting at a table (not eating), get up and let us have the table to eat our lunch.
I sigh a relaxing sigh as I plop down into the seat. We say a prayer of thanks for our food. I say “You remember that old dude who sped by us earlier while talking to us? I hate when people on bikes or cars speed by us and say long sentences we can’t hear or understand. All I could hear was ‘sounds like a good plan.’ What did he mean? Maybe my plan was to ride off the next bridge! He didn’t know. Is that a good plan? People who ride by should limit their chit-chat to ‘morning’ or ‘evening’ or ‘HI!’ I’d even rather them pass by and just grunt, than say some long sentence I can’t hear.” As I am finishing up my tirade we both start laughing. I have to admit it’s pretty funny, but if I see the guy again, I still might have to slap him.
We finish eating and call Marc and Mom. We haven’t talked to them since early yesterday, so I want to call while we have cell service. When I talk to Marc he points out that he was right about us not having cell service at our camp site last night. For some reason, I find the fact that he is usually right attractive and daydream about holding him in my arms. My daydream is interrupted by the realization that I am probably pretty stinky. Sorry Honey.
Our plan is to camp at the Standish Hickey State Recreational Area before Leggett tonight. It’s as close as we can get to tomorrow’s approximately 1500 ft. climb, but there aren’t any towns near, so we ride over to Ray’s Food Place to get supplies. We see Bicycle Bob (not his real name) shopping too. He’s not very friendly. He left camp ahead of us, then we passed him by taking a Highway instead of the recommended bike route, which put us in Garberville first.
We have been over several bridges today, all of them over the South Fork Eel River! I’m getting tired of seeing that name on every bridge, it makes me feel like we aren’t going anywhere. However, it’s been hot today and the river is beautiful and makes me want to swim in it.
Benbow Drive takes us back off the hwy for a few miles.
Many times when riding with someone else you need to signal that you are going to stop and you can’t use your voice (they can’t hear you) or take your hands off the handle bars (you could crash), so Dad came up with an original biking signal for stopping, that as silly as it looks, is quite handy and we both use it.
At 1:17 pm, we stop on yet another bridge over the South Fork Eel River and look at the water down below. We take some pictures, then ride up the road less than a minute and decide to go to the bathroom. We are stopping where one highway crosses over another. It’s the only shade and there isn’t and hasn’t been any cover for quite a while, so I just hurry and hope nobody sneaks up on me. It’s now or never, because the map shows we get back on Hwy 101 soon. I know, it’s not my finest hour, but as Annie says (in the 1982 version with Albert Finney and Carol Burnett), “Mister, when you gotta go, you gotta go!”
About 1:30 pm we pass a roadside souvenir shop, several parked cars and a big sign that reads “The Legend of Bigfoot.” 15 minutes after that, we take the exit for “Piercy/Hwy 271 Cooks Valley turn off.” It takes us parallel the main highway, and we soon are back on 101 again.
The funny thing is that Bicycle Bob comes up behind us and passes us – again. This morning after we left Ray’s Food Place, we were ahead of him, but he passed us. Now we pull over to take a picture and a break and here comes Bicycle Bob passing us again. We acknowledge him as he passes and this time he’s a little friendlier. I take a few photos, but regretfully I don’t take any of Bicycle Bob. He seems the type that wouldn’t want his picture taken.
Dad says “We are probably driving that guy crazy! He’s thinking, ‘I know I’m faster than they are, how do they keep getting ahead of me?!” We laugh. “We should let him get ahead of us on the big hill tomorrow then we can take a bus over it and wait for him!” Dad says. We laugh! That poor guy, but then again, we aren’t doing anything but pedaling and eating all day long and we don’t know anyone else, so Bicycle Bob gets to be our unfortunate entertainment.
The weather has been quite hot today, so at 3:45 pm when we see the sign for the Standish Hickey State Rec. Area, we are worn out, very thirsty and ready to stop. We bought food at Ray’s Food Place for tonight but Dad is so thirsty he says he wants to stop at the store across the street from the park’s entrance. It’s called the Peg House. It’s packed with health food, souvenirs and a little bit of everything. It’s fairly expensive, but has the green shakes I like, a huge thing of Orange juice for Dad and some large delicious looking salads. When we get back to our bikes we have to rearrange our packs so we don’t squish the food. Dad drinks some of his orange juice and raves about its cold deliciousness, then almost has a freezie headache. We ride across the street and check in to the campground.
The first thing we do is find a spot with a picnic table, close to the bathrooms and sit down to eat our salads.
The mosquitoes start to come out, so we set up our tents and I go take a shower. Dad decides to nap till I get back. When I get back I wake him up. His eyes are bloodshot and he looks tuckered out! His head and feet push out the ends of his barely big enough tent.
This camp ground has a holder for bicycles so you can do maintenance on them, but it’s not adjustable so it won’t work for our bikes, so we clean and lube our bike chains at the picnic table, using the seat to prop up the bike so I can spin the wheel and shift gears as dad cleans and lubricates the chains.
I write in my journal. There were a couple of times today when the roads were uncomfortably narrow and scary. Sometimes I have horrible flashes in my mind of awful accidents happening to us, but I push them out of my mind. I never let fear stop me from an adventure.
We are starting to see more sun, so I’m starting to get biker tan lines, on my legs, wrists and fingers from my fingerless gloves.
Dad says that Bicycle Bob is camping with us again. Ha! At 5:32 pm I take a picture of the scratches on my leg from my last fall.
It’s time for me to read a bit then go to sleep. Tomorrow is the huge hill outside of Leggett that we have been thinking about since we first saw it on the elevation map. I’m not too worried. I will treat it like every other obstacle on this ride, by clicking my shoes to my bike and pedaling one stroke at a time.
Bike Stats: Time: 4:53:20 Dist: 46:63 Ave: 9.5 Max: 38.4 Odo: 772