WEEKS 3 AND 4

You can see pictures here.

WEEK THREE MONDAY: AVENUE OF THE GIANTS

 
Took the alternate route off 101 that headed for Loleta but the road was washed out so we headed back towards 101. A couple of miles later got off 101 again and took the alternate route just east of Ferndale. Saw a sign saying the road was closed to thru traffic.

HMMM, I thought. Does through traffic include bikes? But I saw no total barricading of the road and assumed things were torn up but locals could still get through. Had a nice tail wind so we went with the flow. Until we saw the road blocked with saw horses. OH OH!! Now what? Being too committed and with no desire to make the tail winds that helped us along into headwinds, we pressed on.

All of a sudden we faced a horrid uphill on a dirt road. My rear wheel kept slipping and skipping. I was afraid of losing traction and crashing. Got to the top of the hill, sweating like a convicted felon on the run and had a screaming downhill finally rolling into Scotia. It is owned by the lumber company lock, stock and barrel. All the building were made of wood (of course!) and some of the houses had signs in front saying, “This household supported by the lumber industry.” Sounds like they were trying to kiss ass or curry favor from their employer.

Got out of there and began riding the Avenue of the Giants. We all found it to be very ironic that on the same roads where magnificent redwoods stand like sentinels, lumber trucks roared past loaded with dead trees. It actually bordered on the sacrilegious.

Spent the night at the Marin Garden Club which is situated on the Eel River. Dennis and Kurt went skinny dipping while I stayed writing in my journal. I knew the water would be cold for me and since I have absolutely no fondness for cold water did not even venture down to the river’s edge.

Being inland, the campground is considerably warmer than we’ve been used to. A nice pleasant break from the fog and cold.

Dick and John went to a private campground to get showers, stop in at the store in Weott and return but I found out they’d gone to Weott and the grocery store no longer existed. So they had to go to Myers Flat to eat and by then it was too far to come back. So don’t plan on getting food in Weott. Although it may not have showers, Marin Garden does have running water (and a river for bathing!) The site is quite huge with plenty of room for many bikers.

At the campground we met up with Tracy who is from Victoria, B.C. We shared lots of stories. She is pretty cool and daring to do this by herself. She’s putting in some serious miles. Much of our conversation dwelled on sporting activities. She’s into kick boxing, karate, soccer, squash, biking, running, and swimming. With the exception of soccer, they are all individual sports so suffice it to say her orientation in solo sports allow her to take an individualistic approach. A very interesting young lady.

Today Bill Clinton testified to the Grand Jury and the stock market seems to be taking it well. We listened to Clinton’s address to the nation and I got pissed at his implications that he was not fully at fault. He should have come clean (I guess he did with Monica!!) from the beginning and saved Americans from this mess. Even more amazing is that there were so many Democratic Senators and Representatives who believed this bozo. He lied about Gennifer Flowers, is known to be fond of young ladies, and still they believe his lies. Talk about living like ostriches.

A Republican conspiracy indeed!

He should be impeached for lying and obstruction of justice. What a lousy example this man sets for our children. What a disgrace to our country!

WEEK THREE TUESDAY: TOURIST TRAPS GALORE

 
A short day today—only 32 miles. Said goodbye to Tracy and made it to Myers Flat for breakfast. Waited on Kurt and Dennis then headed back into the Avenue of the Giants.

I took my time snapping photos and even walked along the paths that snaked into the different cathedrals and groves.

Sure were lots of huge trees and in riding through this stretch a person feels absolutely humbled by the presence of these magnificent sentinels of the forest. One must realize that there has to be a supreme being responsible for this beauty.

Stopped off at Garberville for some groceries and then headed to Richardson Grove. Had a great downhill from Garberville. Built up some good speed and would have gone a bit faster if it weren’t for the wind resistance created by my flapping jacket.

Pulled in to the park, paid for my site, and unloaded gear. Dennis and Kurt just stopped for lunch and then decided they were going to go to Standish-Hickey.

I knew ahead of time that there would be some climbing to do between last night’s destination and tonight’s and since I was in no hurry to finish the trip, decided to split up the days and split up the climbing so as to take it a bit easier. After all, these are the redwoods and there is no rush to leave this beautiful place.

Took my shower and saw Dick and John arriving. Note to campers: keep at least 2 quarters in your shower kit. This site required quarters but I was not told at the gate. So I went to shower and realized I needed a quarter. Went back to the site, got one, and when I got in the stall it only operated if you inserted 2 quarters. Experience with other sites down the road was that only 1 was required so this campsite must have been a bit greedy.

Dick was having problems with his rear axle in that it would not freewheel so using a variety of crude (sticks, rocks, tire irons) and normal we completely disassembled his rear hub and realized the last mechanic put parts in the wrong place. We rearranged them and it worked like a champ. Dick was very relieved because if he’d not been able fix it, then he’d have had to quit the trip. Amazing that his mechanic put shims in the wrong side of the bearings! Moron!!

Met up with a couple of bikers going NORTH!! They must be crazy. Their destination tomorrow is Arcata—90 miles or more into a headwind! One of them is going to Eugene (he’s a lawyer just graduated from law school and never biked long distances before. Would you want a guy defending you who does not have the common sense to at least STUDY his case (the ride) before he goes to court (actually rides the course)? And these guys are supposed to be smart. DUH! The other is going to a wedding in Grant’s Pass. Interesting characters who have a lot of huevos and little common sense to attempt this trip with no shoulders and headwinds.

Today was another beautiful riding day quite a bit warmer than I was used to. It stayed sunny all day, too.

Tourist attractions abounded today. Or better yet, tourist traps. Went by the chimney house, the log house, and the drive-thru tree. All very cheesy and full of tourists gawking and snapping poor quality pictures—the kind only your memory knows what was supposed to have been represented by that blurry dark blob. Sorta like Scott’s photos of the ocean and claiming there was a whale there just a second ago. Or his photo of a tent with the story being that 4 lesbians were sleeping in there. Good ole Scott! (you’ll read more about Scott later!!)

WEEK THREE WEDNESDAY: THE UGLY AUSSIE

 
Almost a non-riding day; but a beautiful, warm, and sunny one. John and I left early and made it to Standish Hickey in 2 hours. There was one thing I did not like about the ride and that was the number of trucks we encountered on the road. One after another! And considering the climbs and many turns coupled with small or non-existent shoulders, well, you get a better picture.

There is a small store across the highway from the campground so John and I stopped in there for coffee and a snack. No hurry to check into the campground. Dennis and Kurt walked up and we chatted for a while. Also got cursed by the presence of this Australian cyclist who was loud, obnoxious, abrasive, and overly critical of our country and our government.

Granted, I am the first to criticize our government, but to have a foreigner do it is intolerable. Wouldn’t be so bad if I knew him more or was a good friend but as a complete stranger………

He supposedly has been on the road since 1991 going around the world being sponsored by Specialized. Says his 1984 frame has 270,000 miles on it (I suspect many are airplane miles!!) J

In the winter he says he goes to Costa Rica where, according to him, you can get a cottage for three months for $1200 and the girls are lined up and smiling giving you the opportunity to choose one for each day. HMMM?!?! Now for the visual. This guy is short, very overweight, a lush, and definitely NOT studly.

We talked for only a little while and found out from Dennis that Tracy spent the night there last night at the hiker/biker site. Dennis and Kurt got a regular campsite as they could not stand being near him. Good choice, guys! Anyway, this asshole says Tracy was a lesbian!! He probably did this because she would not give him the time of day and this was his way of affirming himself.

The one thing I did not like about this campground and last night’s campground was the fact that they are very close to the roadway so you hear lots of trucks laboring to climb the hills or using their jake brakes liberally on downhills. Virtually every truck that passed by stopped in at the deli/market across from the campground. Very unusual I thought. For those that did not stop, they’d blow their horns. A real mystery to me. The market was a bit on the pricey side so I do not get the attraction—unless something nefarious was going on!!

Well, it seems as if our group is on the verge of splitting up. Dick is no longer interested in going to Mexico. Says he does not want to go to LA and deal with the traffic. For someone who rides in Portland I find this a strange comment to make but…… I’ve been expecting it for a while.

Kurt will end in San Francisco. Says he just has too much going on in his life and needs to go back and resolve matters. John, of course, will leave in San Jose but we knew that going in.

It’s been four days since we’ve seen Saving Private Ryan and it is still as topic of our conversation. Also high on our list of topics is Sweetness’ beliefs that our bodies have spiritual energy that is given back to the universe upon our death.

Had us another nice fire tonight but no beer. Also quite nice to have such a low expense day. If I can keep this up then I can finish this trip at less than $40 per day.

John entertained us with stories of his days as a warden. Poachers seemed to be the biggest problems and to get their attention and make sure they took him seriously, he’d approach them, crank a shell into his shotgun, and then order the perpetrators to the ground. If he didn’t get the upper hand right away, they’d have taken him out first. Assholes. More candidates for Vilmar’s school of neutering.

One day he was in civilian clothes and observed this guy digging clams illegally. He brandished his badge and asked the guy to open his bags. The guy turns out to be Portuguese and tried to nail John with his clamming pitchfork. John finally got the guy to the roadway and asks this lady who happened to be there if she spoke Portuguese. Wonder of wonders she did and translated for him. Odd that she just happened to be there, huh??

She told him the guy spoke English and understood John but was making it hard on him. The guy got busted.

I can’t help but wonder if John made this up knowing I am of Portuguese descent and he was trying to get my goat.

Another time in the 70’s, this girl in a virtually see through bikini walked up to him and yelled, “You fucking pig!” Nice, eh?

The campground has a swimming hole which requires a 3/10 mile walk down a step path It was considerably warmer down there but very nice and possessing a fine sand beach.

WEEK THREE THURSDAY: TIPS FOR RIDING OFFENSIVELY (OR AGGRESSIVELY)

 
Demanding is what best sums up today’s ride. Anyone that thinks the Pacific Coast is easy must either be a masochist or extremely well conditioned. Don’t get me wrong. It is not difficult in the sense of having to do 5000 foot elevation gains with miles and miles of 7% grades. But it is not for the unprepared. It can be a trip-stopper for those folks. It IS challenging.

My knees are beginning to act up and from here on until the end of the ride they bothered me virtually every day. Since it took so long to surface, I now know it is not because I was out of shape. Been climbing and descending for several days and if it were weakness then they should have crapped out long ago. So I must obviously have a physiological reason for this. From which I conclude I may not be able to tour again.

I tried tightening the traps for my shoes thinking foot placement caused the knees to travel through an unnatural arc. Did not really work.

Started the day with a nice cruise into Leggett only to run into an inhospitable and down right asshole restaurant owner. Dennis arrived first at about 720 and the guy said he did not open until 830. The proprietor than went back inside, sat down at a table and did not move from it. Then I arrived and asked a service station operator if there was another restaurant in the area. Answer—no. The other three guys arrived and we sat on the restaurant porch in the hopes the guy would open up. If it were me with the business, I’d have invited 5 customers inside, fired up the coffee pots and engaged them in conversation until normal business hours.

Not this numb nuts. Finally a delivery driver shows up at 745 and Mr. Personality walks out to let him in with not a word to us. I stood up and said that if this jerk wanted my business he’d just blown it. I headed off to the local store to buy breakfast. The other guys followed. Knucklehead lost about $35 to $40 worth of business. We just transferred the money to the store owner (and no, they are not related!!)

Personally I hope this Butthead goes bankrupt. He has the business sense of a chimpanzee and does not deserve to make any money.

Since the post office opened up at 830, I took advantage of it to mail back my radio—which gave up the ghost and I did not feel like lugging it around with me.

Stomachs full, we headed for Leggett Hill, summit 2000 feet. We were already at 950 so it was not as bad as people like to make it out to be. Arriving at the top I got a psychological edge out of it since I had expected much worse. One good thing was that the climb took us back to the coast and away from truck traffic. There was also little construction and few cars on the road so that helped immensely.

Once at the top the ride down was awesome and involved lots of hairpin turns and switchbacks. This then required intense braking and power accelerations around the curves. Then another straight stretch, brake hard, swoop into a corner and barrel down again. Lots of fun!!

Being on the other side of the mountain was like entering another planet’s atmosphere. One side hot and humid resulting in a overheated cyclists with sweat pouring off then crest the top and run smack into cold, fog, and cloud cover. That’s when the sweaty clothes came into play doing an A-Number One job of chilling the old overheated body.

All good things must come to an end and so did the exhilaration of descending Leggett. Soon I was climbing to Westport. The elevation gain was not as great but the slope was steeper, resulting in another fast blast downwards to the Pacific. Got to see lots of sea stacks, bird rookeries, and vista upon sweeping vistas. Just absolutely beautiful.

Pulled into Westport and had a great deli sandwich seated on a sunny porch discussing how many blow jobs Clinton got. Dennis’ theory is that he was asleep in the Oval Office when she walked in and had sex with him. He woke up, became confused as to his situation and declared that since he was a non-participant, it could not be considered sex for him. Plausible deniability is the term I believe they use. We had a lot of fun with that.

The next 10 miles involved lots of short, steep climbs and descents. Reminiscent of the Ozarks but with much better views!!

Far too much traffic, though, and I came close to getting hit 3 times. Resolved then and there that if this were to continue I’d find the nearest bike shop and pack it in. Too dangerous. These people are assholes!

Then I hit upon the perfect solution: riding in the middle of the road and if necessary, sticking my arm out to stop traffic. I could see them in my rear view mirror and if they looked like they were getting into the other lane to give me room, I’d start to move over a bit to the right. If they were making no effort to give me room, I’d move farther out into the lane, stick my arm out and either force them to stop or move completely into the opposite lane. And you know what? Not one person got angry or beeped their horn at me!!

I’d discovered that if I hugged the right side of the road, drivers would be more reluctant to move to their left thereby creating a squeeze play with me being the squeezee. The more room I gave them, the more they forced me over. And then they’d get irate and yell or blow their horn! So my change of habit proved to be very effective and I recommend it to everyone. But please have a very good mirror before you do this so you can get a good idea of what options are available to you. In traffic you can not afford to be looking over your shoulder especially if there is no shoulder to ride on!!

Did a little grocery shopping at Cleone and then headed into MacErricher Beach State Park about 230 in the afternoon. When I arrived it was sunny, I was wearing shorts and no shirt. Between 230 and 530 it got foggy, cold and I resorted to sweat pants, sweat shirt, and socks. Pretty radical but expected on the coast.

Make no mistake, though, about this stretch of the ride—services are few and far between. Stay well stocked to avoid paying overly high prices.

Heard on the news that we bombed Sudan and Afghanistan in retaliation for our embassies having been bombed earlier. I can just imagine tomorrow morning’s headlines, “HOLLYWOOD’S ‘WAG THE DOG’ COMES TO LIFE”

For all we know there will be conspiracy theorists saying Clinton orchestrated the embassy bombings to allow him to make these retaliatory strikes in order to get the heat off his hot seat. Nice theory, though, eh?

An older guy rolled into camp about 7 PM headed northbound. We warned him about it and he related how he’d be going downhill and still had to pedal in lower gears just to keep moving!! He was fed up and would be going east then south again. Another example of not having studied your opponent before engaging in battle with him. Wasn’t that one of Clausewitz’s lines?

A younger guy who wants to be a doctor also rolled in after having ridden south 120 miles. He pitched his tent in the dark and during the night had to move it as a mole was trying to burrow underneath him. Not sure what satisfaction he gets out of doing 120 miles a day but there must be something there. I guess if all you want to see is the little white line on the roadway, that’s fine.

Since it had turned so cold, I’d pop out of my tent occasionally to let earlier ingested liquids take their course and would catch up on chatting with Dick, John, and the two new arrivals. The southbound doctor-to-be told us about running across a guy who’d been clipped by an RV and was trying to get a ride for 2 hours with no success. From the description it sounded like the Aussie loudmouth. We suspect his accident was caused when he missed a curb and fell off his bike after having drunk several beers. Probably never even got close to an RV. This happened near Leggett so Mr. Personality never even got too far. Fortunately he was not hurt, regardless of his mouth.

WEEK THREE FRIDAY: SOMETIMES LAUNDRY CAN BE EXCITING

 
Had excellent riding conditions today. Fog, of course, was the order of the day. It prevails well into the afternoons as I ride south.. It does keep everything cool which is great for pounding up hills but a bummer as you can’t see anything along the coast. Another advantage is that cheese, yogurt, and milk keep longer without refrigeration.

Got on the Old Haul logging road as we left the campground and had a nice peaceful 3 mile ride without traffic. Just before the bridge, we took a short dirt path down to an access road and headed into Ft. Bragg and a Denny’s for breakfast.

Came to the conclusion today that maybe laundry isn’t so boring after all. Today we got entertained by this very drunk/drugged/stoned guy wearing swim trunks hanging half off his ass. He was trying to do laundry and had just finished putting the third box of laundry soap in the washer when the manager came out and challenged him. This guy then proceeds to entertain us. He started yelling and calling the manager names. So next thing we know two of Ft. Bragg’s finest roll in. Have to give them credit. They were models of patience in dealing with this guy. If it were me I’d have smacked him for GPs, taken him in, and left him in there until someone claimed him. Sad, in a way, to see how low people allow their lives to go. I regret not having taken a picture. Oh, well.

Tightening my traps resulted in a relief from some pain today even though we climbed about 2500 vertical feet.

It is very perilous to cycle the coast and I’d not advise it to just anybody. At this point I need to finish but this is not for the faint of heart. I promised myself that if I were to experience what I did yesterday I’d quit. So time will tell.

Fortunately today went well. I employed my OFFENSIVE riding technique today repeatedly with no problems. I will add one more thing: if you’ve slowed traffic behind you, pull over as soon as it is safe and then wave thanks to the passing cars. Many will appreciate it and wave back.

One last thing: if it’s a truck behind you, just get the hell out of the way immediately. They like it when you do that and will toot their thanks or wave. Plus you will live to ride again.

Awesome scenery all day long as I slipped in and out of fog cover. I don’t know if I could live in this area but it is splendidly beautiful when you can see it. Watching the fog slithering up and over canyon walls, snaking its way vertically up the cliffs and then blowing over and across the road surface along the tops of the headlands was magnificent. Photography was difficult but I managed to pull off some great photos. Especially of the rookeries and stacks found just offshore and many times a couple of hundred feet down the cliff faces. One mis-step and sayonara.

That’s not to say I’ve not been riding with my heart in my throat. Of course, it does not help to be talking to folks along the way and invariably almost every single one of them knowing or hearing of some cyclist who got whacked while riding out here. Of course, they do not know the details but it is still no consolation even if we did know. But the attraction of cycling the Pacific Coat is just too much for many cyclists.

Riders need to be very careful as it’s easy to go blasting down the many hills only to find yourself riding into one of the many coves that hide along the coast. Winds blow in from all directions and it is easy to lose one’s balance in a gust. Discretion and a low speed are advised.

Got to ride through Mendocino. Quite a cool little town just perched above the ocean. Too bad it was so foggy or the views would have been killer.

Then we stopped in at Albion for lunch and groceries. A cool looking fog shrouded bridge over the river into town greeted us. At times it was so thick we could not see the other end of the bridge. More good photo ops.

Outside of Elk, once over the small bridge, I was expecting a severe climb but it turned out to be a piece of cake. Then I hit some construction and the flag lady said we’d have to be taken over the construction area in one of their vans. Kurt and I were in no position to argue with the lady so we waited. The van comes, we load our bikes on it and the driver takes us about one mile and over what had to be the most grueling looking uphill switchback seen to date. This one was the nasty hill the book mentions was to be found after the bridge outside Elk. We were SO HAPPY and grinning from ear to ear for not having to ride that ugliness. Made it to camp about 45 minutes later.

Stopped at the KOA for the night. As a rule we do not like to stay at places like this as they are quite pricey but this one turned out to be reasonable since we split the cost so many ways. We did not want to go to Manchester Beach as there were no showers. Plus we ate ice cream at the ice cream social held by the park.

WEEK THREE SATURDAY: WHAT A DAY! WHAT A DAY! WHAT A DAY!

 
Having satisfied my urge to water local shrubbery at odd hours of the night I noticed the skies were quite clear. Went back to sleep hoping the morning would dawn clear also. And clear it did! And cold!! 42 degrees cold!! Needless to say, I did not dawdle long!

Started the day off well with the sighting of a 4 point deer or elk—still not sure which—in the fields next to the campground. It just stood there all by its lonesome chewing away on the native grasses, chowing down on its version of breakfast.

Cruised about 7 miles into Point Arena and tried to find a place for breakfast. The first one I came to was just like an instant replay from yesterday so no more time was wasted there. Headed into town only to find the next restaurant also closed. Things were beginning to get ugly in my stomach. Finally some migrant workers mentioned that a restaurant named “Giannini” or something like that was open on down the hill. And it was. Warmed up with some coffee, our little group proceeded to put on some miles.

Saw some stunning scenery riding the crest of the headlands.

Also, today was the first fully sunny day where it started without fog, had no fog during the day, and ended with no fog.

A fantastic ride but at the same time mentally and physically exhausting. Had the day been foggy I’d have packed it in for a campground at the 40 mile point. Now I know what it is like to have a love/hate relationship with a bicycle. Poor Betty Boop, though. She’s been a trooper and I’ve had no problems so far.

By the end of the day I was beginning to wonder if I should have sought psychiatric help for doing this ride! Not only me, but all of us were very stressed out when we got to camp. It manifested itself by our being eerily giddy at having accomplished this day’s ride.

Ended the day with about 4000 feet of vertical gain. By the end of the day my legs were intimately familiar with every one of those feet. Yet amazingly, and probably due to the intense amounts of adrenaline launched into my body, I actually felt good at the end of the day. The last 10 miles from Jenner, a little yuppie place by a harbor where I took a long break, I actually picked up my average speed from 11.3 to 11.6; quite impressive when you’ve already done 58 miles. Powered all the way to the campground.

If it were not for the beautiful scenery, today would not have been a fun ride. Let me make that perfectly clear: today would have been a miserable day.

Along the way, met a couple of abalone fishermen and asked them about their sport. Seems abalone’s been overfished and is very expensive (about $50 for a 7 inch specimen.) Divers are required to use snorkeling gear as o scubas are permitted. Strict limits are set as to size and quantity and John confirmed the seriousness the state takes with people who break the law in that regard. Signs everywhere threaten people with $1000 fines!

These guys had a couple of huge ones in their bags and based on the prices they fetch, I am sure they were quite happy with their day’s adventures.

To prepare abalone I was told you need to pound it (similar to what I saw fishermen do to octopus in Athens) and then it can be cooked in a variety of ways. The preferred method is breaded and fried. If I was going to pay that much for something I sure would not want it disguised by breading and frying but what the hell do I know?

Stopped at Stewart’s Point for lunch and ended up buying groceries and making my own sandwich. There was no real restaurant nearby.

John got to meet up with the local game warden who he knew from before his retirement. So, since John’s been retired a few years now and grown considerable amounts of facial hair, he was not readily recognized. He goes up to the guy and said something like, “Hey you motherf*****, I want to talk to you.” The guy wasn’t facing John at the time therefore all he got was this angry sounding voice behind him. He turns and asks, “Were you talking to me?” and John responds, “yeah, you, motherf*****!”

I missed it but it must have been hilarious when it finally dawned on the guy who this lunatic talking to him was. I am certain that before that point his hand must have been making its way slowly and surreptitiously towards his 9 mil. AHHH, those funny moments we have on the trip! How we cherish them!

I (we) did encounter treacherous climbing from Ft. Ross. It was 10 miles of sheer drops, hairpin turns, cattle guards in the road, steep roads, and more. My riding clothes smell from the sweat of fear versus the sweat of exertion

Finally got to Bodega Bay State Beach Park and was disappointed as it is really not such a great place for hikers/bikers. The sites were accessible by a short stretch of uphill through deep sand. Obviously, the climb through that mess was laborious. Especially after a long day.

On arrival, the ranger said the hot showers near the site were not functioning so three of our group walked a mile or so to the next convenient hot shower. Luckily, as I was going to take mine, a guy (who was on his honeymoon—but more about that later) told me the showers functioned just fine. Unfortunately I had 4 guys ahead of me and had to wait 40 minutes. I might as well have walked to the further ones.

Now, as to this guy. He’s on his honeymoon, in a state park, in the hiker/biker site. No backpack. No bike. Just luggage he hauled off the bus, to the campground, and through the sand! He and his wife had been there for a week!! Lives in Las Vegas, took a bus to San Fran, then another bus to this park. Woo me, baby, with your romance! He fractured his foot while at the park and his wife, a bit overweight, had braces for her knees. And these folks are living in a 2 person tent for their honeymoon! I could not believe it. Too weird.

Built ourselves a roaring fire and I mean ROARING fire! All courtesy of John’s friend who brought us lots of oak logs instead of that overpriced cheap soft crap wood the parks sell. At one point it was so hot it looked like a scene out of the “Backdraft” movie. We could not be near it. But boy, were we proud of ourselves.

Trying to find the best way to sum up the day and the lessons learned, I can only repeat what I’ve already written:

1.) if traffic intimidates you, if long climbs with no shoulder intimidates you, if you are faint of heart, if you are hesitant to claim your space on the roadway, then do not embark on this trip

2.) vigorously take control of your lane and do not let cars pass if you feel you may be in danger by allowing such. If you try to play Mr. Niceguy, they’ll push you over the edge. Especially the old folks in motorhomes. Use a mirror, use your outstretched arm, ride in the center. These will improve your state of mental well-being.

WEEK THREE SUNDAY: AND NOW WE ARE SIX

 
Started the day by having breakfast at the Sandpiper restaurant where we met up again with Ken, John’s friend. We thanked him for the firewood as it lasted through the night and even left us embers to start another warming fire this morning.

Ken also used to be a warden but left the business to begin his own—diving for sea urchins. He sells them to the Japanese who use the roe as a sort of delicacy. He has his own boat and uses a wet suit and compressed air via hoses from his boat usually staying underwater 4-6 hours at a stretch!!

Headed out of town and into a rough and tumble climb into Tomales. Man, am I glad I changed my gearing! I may not climb any faster but I do not have to pedal as hard!

Blasted into town to find it is a popular meeting place for roadies—local cyclists coming from the Bay area and Petaluma. We were advised to check out the Tomales Bakery, renowned the area over and a favorite of local cyclists. A very cool place doing an hellacious amount of business. Today, many cyclists were loitering in front of the place and if I do not miss my guess, most of them were either gay or lesbian. Dress, mannerisms, and the extreme amount of coziness displayed by members of the same sex were a dead give away. Somewhat humorous to watch how, when the women saw us four guys approach, they made it a point to drape their arms over each others’ shoulders as if to say, “she’s taken so go away!”

Unfortunately, while in Tomales, I committed one of those really stupid cyclist things—fell over from a dead stop trying to get off my bike! WOW! It hurt. Clobbered my knee, smacked hard on my tailbone, and sprained my wrist. For several seconds I just lay there, stunned. Pretty embarrassing and I will suffer for it the next several days.

The closer we got to San Fran, the more we could smell money in the air. At Point Reyes, the money spigot got turned on. Everyone trying to look chic. BMWs, Mercedes, SUVs, Lexus everywhere. Women are dressed nicely, cyclists on their $3000 bikes trying to look studly and being very aloof. Shops are quaint and spelled with an extra “pe” at the end. The stuff they sell is pricey and trendy, even the food.

Had lunch at Pt. Reyes. The Adventure Cycling maps do not take you into town but it has a good market/grocery store so if you are hungry or need to stock up, go into town. At first Kurt and I couldn’t find the store as we’d just screamed downhill into town but upon wandering around a bit we located it. Dennis, John, and Dick were rolling through the intersection away from us so I bellowed Dennis’ name. I was a block away from them and when I bellowed, Kurt cringed as if he were a Vietnam vet suffering from shell-shock. One thing I have is a voice that carries. Must be my military training!

Stuffed my face and then we headed out of town for Sir Francis Drake St. There are two options for leaving town: one is to climb the hill you descended or the other is to take Sir Francis Drake. I think Sir Francis Drake is easier to get to the park from so I recommend it.

The climb was not the most fun but then again it was quite warm out. On the descent I almost blew by the bike path entrance to the park. So to avoid doing same, begin to slow as you approach the end of the downhill!! The path was very nice. What a great park!!

Rolling into camp, Scott, who’d already been there, yelled out mine and Kurt’s name. Amazing that he recognized us at that distance. It saved us having to go to the registration desk to locate him. Scott looks good and has not changed much. But then again, none of us have with the exception of more or less head and facial hair.

The hiker/biker site is situated in the midst of redwoods and the spot I pitched my tent was within a ring of 6 large trees. Supposedly the “mother” tree died hundreds of years ago leaving these 6 “babies” to mark her passing.

Having purchased a bottle of scotch in Tomales Bay, most of us proceeded to get quickly, thoroughly, and goofily besotted. Had our standard liberal/conservative YAK-OFF, then got into other political issues complete with finger pointing. A good time was had by all.

Didn’t even bother to put rain flys on the tents as the night promised to be dry.

We talked a lot about last year’s ride and what each others’ plans are. Looks like Scott enjoys SF and will be here a while. His apartment has a killer view of the city and although the rent is exorbitant, shared between three it becomes reasonable.

WEEK FOUR MONDAY: RACCOONS IN OUR MIDST

 
Kurt had a rude surprise this morning. Woke up to find his handlebar bag unzipped, his chapstick on the ground, and his power bars gone. He remembers zipping the handlebar bag before going to sleep so the only thing we can figure is that some raccoons got up on his bag, opened it, took out the contents and finding power bars, ripped them open, ate the bars, and left the wrappers. Pretty smart little critters. They left little raccoon footprints all over his bag so that was a dead giveaway.

Made it to San Francisco!! Scott was the herder of cats this morning and we all tried to stay close to one another.

We failed to find a restaurant once out of the park but did locate a little store where we were able to buy good coffee and some breakfast treats. Once in Sausalito, Dick stopped in to get his bike fixed and we went to a café for coffee, snacks, lunch, whatever was desired by this motley crew. The ride across the bridge was done in very foggy and quite cool conditions coupled with strong winds. Made it scary and for a white knuckled ride. It did not help that it was packed with tourists not paying attention to where they were walking.

Once on the other side, we all gathered for the obligatory photos and glancing towards the bridge I saw this one worker walking around in some netting underneath it. Got my binoculars out and it did not look like he had any protective ropes or straps or anything to hold him in case the netting broke. No amount of money would get me out there on a regular basis.

Had an easy cruise into Sausalito, a bear of a climb to the bridge, and climbs from hell to get to Scott’s. One street even had a descent approaching 25%. Because it was only a block or so long, the intersecting street was level so there was no way to ride down safely. Had we attempted it, upon hitting the intersection, the frame of the bike would literally crumple. Plus the right of way was with the intersecting street so there was no way I was going to let my 80 pound cruiser pick up speed with the expectation that I could stop it in time.

It was on our way to Scott’s that we said goodbye to Dick and John. They were headed to San Jose. Almost lost them though as we were riding through the city. They did not want to take the route Scott was taking thinking (rightfully so) that there was a way to get where they needed to go without needing to climb this nasty hilly city block. They went one way, we went another and two blocks later ran into one another again so were able to say proper good-byes.

As for me, I am still sore from my fall two days ago.

One thing I noticed in San Fran is an absence of malls (not missed) and large chain-type grocery stores. I guess the real estate values prohibit it plus the town is so built up there are few empty lots available for new building.

With expectation of a hurricane on the east coast, Kurt’s imminent departure is causing him to be stressed about the weather and he spent a great deal of time checking the internet, making phone calls, re-checking the Internet, etc. Not much could be done, but still…….I know it is a great waste of mental energy possibly resulting in ulcers and other bodily ailments because I experienced it myself. Then I had to learn to not fret over these things but only learned this lesson when I was in my late 30s. Since then, I know the telltale bodily signs and cleanse my mind of those unnecessary worries and within 2 days all is well again. I guess we all have to learn on our own

Having showered and rested a bit, we went into town and had a beer at the Toronado Bar then went to a nearby mid-east restaurant and had quite a tasty meal. Found a little side room with a low table and pillows to sit on then sat around BSing and chowing down.

WEEK FOUR TUESDAY: REST DAY

 
All of us slept on the floor in Scott’s apartment. Sure beats setting up a tent and the night time view from his living room window was quite nice. Early in the morning the Bay Bridge was a solid ribbon of headlights flooding into the city. It extended for miles.

Dennis and I took the opportunity to do laundry, check email and send a few while Scott took Kurt to the airport.. About 12 he returns and heads back out on a lunch non-date. Dennis and I head downtown and ended up at the Pier area for lunch at a tourist trap.

The day was cloudy and cold but we tried to enjoy it as much as we could given the circumstances. Got to go on all the ships and the dock adjacent to it and even got to see part of the Hollywood set for Nash bridges. Saw the chairs for Don Johnson and Cheech Marin but did not see the actors themselves.

Got the right bus routes and made it to Haight Ashbury. I thoroughly enjoyed the people watching. Even got to see a building I’d taken close-up pictures of years ago. It had a new coat of paint on it and looked quite intense. Noticed while riding on the buses that we’d go through certain areas of town (Castro, Noe) and see many rainbow colored flags displayed on buildings, in windows, on cars. Turns out it symbolizes gay pride and in some areas every building and car had it displayed.

Had coffee, called Scott to meet us and headed for a pub. Drank beer, played darts and then participated in a trivia contest. We sucked. Got home about 1230.

WEEK FOUR WEDNESDAY: REST DAY

 
Nice and sunny today. Didn’t do much–a little bike maintenance, read email.

The excitement of the day was watching Scott’s neighbor across the street traipse across her living room buck naked—twice!! Got a nice jolt of excitement from that one.

Also took advantage of the lazy day by sitting in an easy chair perched near the living room window overlooking the city. This is the place you get a nice scotch or brandy and sit just watching the fog roiling in the near distance, working like hell to get closer and closer to you, looking for all the world like a tumbler in a washing machine, rolling round and round, getting closer and closer swallowing rows of buildings as it sweeps over the city. Now that’s what I call a view.

Went to see the movie “Blade”—it sucked! Get it? Huh? Get it? No really, it was a stupid movie not worthy of the $1.50 it will cost for the video rental. Maybe if it were shared among three friends, then 50 cents may not be too bad.

WEEK FOUR THURSDAY: THE THREE MUSKETEERS HEAD TO MEXICO

 
Woke up to a fairly clear day, showered and went to breakfast at our favorite little restaurant. Returned, packed our bags and said goodbye to Scott’s house. Was obligated to walk my bike one block up this nasty hill and then rode the rest of the day. Granted, some of the streets had nasty surprises for me but all in all they were rideable.

It was time to move on but I really enjoyed San Fran. I took in as much scenery as I could along today’s ride and then the fog resumed control of the environment.

Scott led us out of town and did a great job avoiding hills. Unfortunately, he wasn’t so great at avoiding freeways so we became stuck on the 280 Freeway at a major merge point. Going back was not much of an option as it was quite a distance so we were faced with three lanes of traffic zooming by on the left and three lanes of traffic zooming by on the right trying to merge with the left hand side traffic. Of course, as luck would have it, the highway went from 3 lanes to 6 lanes so none of the traffic was slowing down.

We were quite the sight, stuck on this little island of tranquility, trying to get our behemoths across 3 lanes of 65 MPH cars. So today I got to experience first hand what the expression, “Go out and play in the traffic” really means.

Made it over the Devil’s Slide area but did not get to see much due to the fog.

Got to Half Moon Bay Park after a very short 27 mile ride. Did more grocery shopping and headed into camp. Made the mistake of checking the stock market and found it closed down 350 points. This is not pretty and I am not happy. May have to hurl myself off a cliff top. So far it is down 1200 points from the high in July. I am certain our fundamentals are strong but global fears of recession grip the traders.

When we arrived we were warned by the rangers that they’d been having problems with bikes being stolen at the hiker biker sites. They made it a point to pass out leaflets and also tell us to bring the bikes into the tent with us.

As we were arriving this guy wanted to make reservations for a site tomorrow night but the ranger said he could not do so in advance but if he wanted to get the site tonight and pay for it he could keep it for the weekend. So he looks at us and asks if we’d like a regular site. Having just been warned about the H/B sites we jumped on his offer like stink on shit. He said he’d paid for it already so we just gave him what we would have given the ranger for our H/B sites. Good deal, I say!

Built a roaring fire to get warm and spent about 4 hours chatting about relationships, God, the universe, and the amazing ability of women who could tie a cherry stem into a knot with their tongues. Stimulating, adult, intellectual conversations, all of them.

Thinking we’d be smart and outwit potential bike thieves, we each removed our front wheels and locked our bikes not only to each other but to the picnic table. Then we got really wily—I suggested we run a piece of twine from our bikes to a light sleeper’s tent. That way if a thief tried to take the bikes they rattle the hell out of the tent. We went so far as to dig a little trench and bury the twine plus disguise the area with pieces of grass. Very clever work on our part.

Tomorrow will tell if we were successful in our deception.

WEEK FOUR FRIDAY: SO WHAT’S THE CONSISTENCY OF YOUR SHIT?

 
Well, woke up this morning and the bikes were still there! Of course, it wasn’t the weekend (when the latest series of thefts had occurred) but it mattered not a whit to any of us.

Lest I forget, last night’s camp site was where Scott took another one of his “mystery” pictures. We were taking great pleasure in observing these 4 young ladies just a couple of sites down from us. All we saw was a car and a small tent. Could not figure where they spent the night. So Scott takes a picture of their tent and declares he has one hell of a story in that photo and it revolved around 4 lesbians in a tent. Scott! Scott! Scott! Mr. One Track Mind.

Typical morning though, cold and foggy. Got going and asked some folks where a restaurant was so we could get coffee and breakfast. Were told by a local to head south a couple of miles and we’d find one that looked like a Denny’s. Our guide books and maps indicated nothing headed that way so we relied on the local. Bad, bad thing to do. We should have taken a left into town versus right and south.

The situation was salvaged by a sign I saw indicated the local golf course had a restaurant so we deviated towards it. A very swank country club and we show up looking like the rejects from a spandex factory. Buses were off loading rich Japanese tourists and their golf gear, too. Must be nice to be decadently rich and fly around the world to take in its various golf courses.

Had coffee and at the end I got the southern Californicator waiter statement at all these damned places around here, “Do you want change?” Of course I want change, shithead! If I did not want change I’d have told you. Don’t assume I will say no in a sense of embarrassment that I may be cheap. If I want to leave a tip and it turns out to be the change, that’s my decision! Dammit, that pisses me off! Arrogant little morons!

It was today that I decided my long distance touring days are over. Of course, every subsequent day since confirmed it but today was the first time it made my journal.

As the day went on I noticed it got a bit warmer than it usually does on the coast so I guess we are getting into southern California. Nice and cool at night, though, even if it does get hot which is nice. Makes it that much more tolerable and also quite pleasant to sleep.

All in all a very nice cycling day today. Sunny, warm, beautiful!

Even though we went 37 miles without services, the highlight of today was twofold: riding along the crest of the coastal headlands I came upon a sofa (oops! bad choice of words!) I happened upon a sofa just sitting all by its lonesome facing the ocean. Of course I could not pass it by! Waved down Dennis and Scott and we photographed ourselves on it, looking very pensive and reflective and all that rot. It was a riot! A great idea by whoever put it there. Also observed some sculpture created by folks using the rocks laying around by the side of the road.

The second thing was running into Marta. Having just finished doing some heavy trading in the stock market and then settling down to a really lousy burrito in Davenport, it was time to hit the road. While waiting for traffic I happened to notice this young lady looking in our direction. She asked a question but since I could not hear her for the traffic noise, I went across the street soon to be followed by Dennis and Scott. We chatted for a while and then she asked if we’d mind if she rode with us. Right! Like we would mind! She was on a mountain bike and had a rather unorthodox riding style but nevertheless left me in the dirt when we got to the hills. I hate hills! We rode all the way to Santa Cruz. Then it was coffee time so she selected this coffee shop and we sat around shooting the bull. We shot a lot of bulls on this trip, that’s for sure!

She was quite the character. Why can’t we find women like this to cycle with? Anyway, she’s ridden from San Francisco to Los Angeles and when she did it, the end of day conversations she had with her friend centered around food and the consistency of one’s fecal matter! I did a double take when she said that! Maybe because I didn’t expect the conversation to take such a quick downturn into the toilet, or I really did not expect that sort of topic from a woman? I don’t know.

In any case, she’s a med student and wants to be a rural general practitioner. Hooray for her. Too bad so few find that calling. I wished her luck.

We parted ways and went grocery shopping where we ran into Bluey and Tricia, an Aussie couple doing the coast. They are pros at this having done it a couple of times already. They are retired from the Australian Armed Services and have spent a lot of time bicycle touring in the US, the Baltics, and Europe (not to mention Australia and New Zealand.)

They gave us lots of tips about what we could expect, where to stay, where not to go, etc. It was a lot of fun talking to experienced tourers!

WEEK FOUR SATURDAY: A RELATIVELY BORING DAY LACKING MUCH IN NEWS

 
A clear night turned into a fog shrouded morning quickly. Wasted no time getting my act together and headed out of town looking for a place to have coffee. The last two mornings I’ve been eating out of my bags in an effort to keep costs down and so far it works well. Coffee and a bagel for $2 beats $6 or $7!

The ride was relatively boring but I did get a few shots off of migrant workers doing their thing. It’s quite impressive how the whole thing is set up. Many workers come in buses towing Porta-Potties either owned or leased to the farm. The workers were literally swarming all over the fields and many would wave as I went by. Which is more than I can say about the population at large or the snooty nose in the air local roadies.

The day lasted so long yet the mileage was so small that I thought the day would never end. But I broke 1000 miles today!

Finally got to see the sun on approach to Monterey but just before getting into town proper, it got foggy, cool, and windy. Monterey itself was clear and warm. I wonder how much trial and error the early settlers went through to figure out where the fog tended to stay in order to eventually sort out where the town should be?

Did some grocery shopping and then headed up this nasty climb to the camp ground. Of course, it was shrouded with fog!! From the town center I could look up the hill where the campground was supposed to be and see nothing but fog. Word of caution: Unless you really enjoy mile long climbs, do all your shopping prior to heading for the campground. Your legs will thank you.

Getting a bit annoyed at this fog crap. As I’ve learned over and over, timing is everything. And the timing for this trip was probably off by a couple of weeks. Should have started later on in August and I am sure much of this fog would nor have been around.

One thing for certain, I’d rather have this cool weather than the oven found just a few miles east of this mountain range running north and south. Temperatures of 110 degrees are common! Yet the coast is 65 max!

One of the nice things about touring is that you tend to keep running into people and sometimes the same ones over and over. This was the case today with Bluey and Tricia who we met yesterday. Ran into them several times culminating at the Safeway in Monterey. Also met a couple on a tandem (Eddie and Kathy) who hail from the Virgin Islands who we’d met over a week ago for the first time. They live a good life—on a 48 foot trimaran!! They are doing this ride so as to avoid hurricane season.

My back and hand still hurt from my fall of a few days ago. My back gets really strained while climbing and does nothing to improve my disposition. I sleep miserably and simple things are now difficult.

Scott and Dennis walked into town to see if anything special was going on. Details to follow!

WEEK FOUR SUNDAY: REST DAY

 
Woke up thinking it was raining this morning but it turned out to be the heavy fog causing water droplets to fall off trees. Pretty nippy, too.

Scott had himself quite the adventure last night and we started breakfast with a shortened version of 20 questions wherein he asked the questions. First he tells me that I’d never guess in a hundred years what happened then proceeded to ask me to guess what it was. I told him that I thought Dennis had been picked up by two gay guys. (I figured, the more outrageous it was, the quicker I’d hear the real story!!)

So he proceeded to tell me, Bluey, Tricia, Eddie, and Kathy that he was chatting up this woman at a bar and found her to be very well spoken, artistic, and interesting so he continued to pursue his chase. (Better a literate roll in the hay than an illiterate roll in the hay, right?)

Turns out she was also quite the lush and proceeded to get tanked. All the while, Scott’s hanging around, biding his time., wondering if he’d get lucky, I guess. Between his drinking and her drinking, he was nearly wiped out of money in the process. All this time Dennis and Scott had been together. Exchanging unspoken “manly” signals, Dennis departed, leaving Scott to his conquest.

That’s when the fun began. After a little more chat, our little lady decides to leave for some fresh air. Scott, sensing she’d been gone a while, begins to look for her. He even went so far as to have a barmaid check the ladies’ room. Contemplating his next move, he happened to glance out the window and there was his sweetheart kicking and screaming and about to be hog tied by 5 of Monterey’s finest!

Apparently she’d gone outside for a smoke and when the bar would not let her back in due to her inebriated state, she began to get rude and offensive. Since no patron was allowed out while the local gendarmes were hog tieing this sweet thing, our Scott did the valiant and chivalrous thing by slightly opening the front door and kicking her purse out! He felt so good about himself doing this little act of kindness.

Too funny. Scott, the wolf, finds his prey abducted by the 5 little pigs.

Rode into town with Dennis while Scott recuperated from his evening’s adventures.

Had coffee, hung out at a bookstore, went to the wharf and checked out sea lions lazing on the dock. Also stopped in at a Turkish festival and enjoyed the sunshine. Monterey itself has excellent placement protecting it from the fog that envelops its north, south, and east sides. We hoped it might be cleared up by late morning because we wanted to do the 17 mile tourist loop but since it didn’t, we didn’t. I had no great desire to ride any distance in fog. Did ride around the town a bit and saw sea lions, sea otters, pelicans and a variety of other wildlife. Toured Cannery Row, the setting for John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name. Pretty cool as there were lots of murals depicting scenes from his book.

Found an internet café (can you believe the local Monterey Library did not have internet? In this rich as hell town the library was not hooked up!! I was amazed.) Anyway ,it’s called Bytes Internet Café located on 403 Calle Principal. Checked email and then had a sandwich. They offer a good deal where you can get internet in 15 minute increments. Check them out if you get a chance!

Ran into Eddie and Kathy. They were headed out of town when their tandem’s rear tire went flat and the wheel potato chipped. Looks like they will be here a few more days awaiting repairs. At least it happened in a town with repair facilities. Since they have a couple more months before returning to the Virgin Islands, this will not affect their ride.

Got back to camp at 430 and of course it was foggy up there. Also, if it gets quiet enough, you can hear the barking of the sea lions from up at the top.

Click here to read Weeks 5 and 6

You can see pictures here.

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