August 1 – 54 miles, 2,123 feet, 2,982 calories
Meeting Vince, a very steep climb and getting stung stand out most about yesterday’s ride.
More great weather, frequent spectacular ocean views, problematic traffic and shoulders, both the road’s and mine, have all been par for the course and yesterday was no exception.
When Google directed me off 101, I started up what would definitely be called a country road and saw a road bike ahead of me. I learned that Vince has lived in Arcata for 40 or so years after having moved from the San Francisco South Bay. Five years ago he retired from owning a bike shop, which featured Trek. He rode with me on a route that avoided 101 for a number of miles. Although Google had directed me the same way, his company was reassuring, especially because he correctly told me that a stretch of gravel road wouldn’t last long so I wasn’t tempted to turn around to avoid it. I noticed that he dealt with the gravel better than I did and I can’t blame my thin tires because he was also riding on 25 mm tires. Oh, well.
Plus, I enjoyed Vince’s company for about 8 miles.
I soon returned to 101 with its alternate stretches of fun mixed in with riding I would prefer to avoid. After a few miles of that, I was again directed off of the highway to what was in the main a very pleasant country road. I passed by the College of the Redwoods, a number of cattle and generally very pastoral scenery.
At the start of the day’s ride, I had seen the Google profile of the route and it featured what showed up as a vertical climb a few miles south of Eureka. It turns out that that climb was on this otherwise very serene road.
I started going up and soon got to 11% with nothing but more climb within view. I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but I definitely wanted to try. Only a pickup pulling a trailer coming at me from the opposite direction around a hairpin turn that went steeply up from my direction ruined that goal. Since there wasn’t room for both of us around that turn, I got off of my bike so the truck and trailer could pass me. The problem was that the climb was too steep for me to be able to get back on my bike. Well, I could clip in 1 foot and get on the saddle, but I couldn’t get enough forward movement to get my other shoe clipped in and it was too steep for me to push that pedal without being clipped in. It was one of the few times I have wanted a Speedway pedal that lets you clip onto either side of the pedal. In any event, I had to walk my bike until the ascent lessened enough so that I could finally get back on my bike. After a number of tries at various places on the road, I was finally able to get on and clip on with both feet. There was still a pretty good climb left but I actually enjoyed it because of the setting, because I didn’t feel constantly threatened by cars and because my legs were feelings pretty good. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wasn’t relieved when I reached the top.
The descent didn’t make up for my lost time because the road was rough enough, narrow enough and windy enough that I was especially careful going down hill. I had no desire to run head on into a car coming up hill that was over the middle of the unmarked road. And there were a couple of those.
Back to 101. And then to a stretch of 3 bridges that were in fairly close proximity to each other. As you may have gathered, I am not especially fond of bridges. Many have inadequate shoulders and most have guard rails that are at a height to keep a pedestrian from falling over but are about perfect for a cyclist to flip over if we were so unfortunate as to hit it. And the falls off of some of these bridges would likely be fatal. So my imagination lets me think about either getting hit by a vehicle coming up in back of me or swerving, hitting the guard rail and unsuccessfully trying to float 50 or so feet to whatever is below.
To add to the challenge of the first bridge, which started with a climb, I was stung on my left eyebrow. It didn’t swell my eye shut but the distraction didn’t add to my sense of confidence in going over the bridge. So I swatted away whatever it was that stung and started the climb.
There was some shoulder so that wasn’t too bad but the rail guarding me from a very long drop gave me no confidence at all because if I hit it, I figured the odds were that I would go right over. Better that I had just been enjoying the water view. But I suppose that wouldn’t have been me.
Ale caught me at 54 miles which was only a mile short of what I had planned. It was about 15 miles past where we were staying but knocked that many miles off the next day’s ride, getting it down to 55 miles. Plus, Those extra 15 miles included the steepest climb between Eureka and Garberville.
We ended the day with me eating BBQ and Ale getting Vietnamese because she wanted the vegetables. We ate together outside at the BBQ restaurant. It was voted best in Eureka it wouldn’t have fared as well at home.