Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Sunday, June 08, 2008
We started the day by heading down to the beach in Fort Bragg. One of our faithful readers, Dwight, told us about Glass Beach, where residents used to dump their trash right into the ocean. One unexpected result of this was that the glass containers were broken and churned around by the waves until they became smooth pebbles which were then deposited on the beach. So we went down to look at this marvel, but didn't see any and thought we must be in the wrong spot. We saw a couple taking a stroll along the beach trail and asked them where the glass was. They very apologetically said that it was pretty much gone, tourists had carted them all off, some by the bucketful! They said the trash dumping had stopped in 1965, which seemed awfully recent for such a shameful practice. At any rate, we decided we couldn't go hunting around on the rocks in our bike shoes, so we left and headed north.
Today's journey was pretty arduous. We went on Hwy. 1 most of the day, which hugged the coast most of the morning, going up and down hills as usual. We went through one little community, called Inglenook, and one town, Westport, which had the only grocery store we expected to see today until Leggett, our endpoint. So we bought some lunch and snacks to take with us. The woman who owned the shop used an old iMac for her transactions. She was very proud of the fact that it had served her well for so many years and that she could fix it herself when it broke down. She said she could get replacement parts for cheap, often free as people wanted to get rid of the old versions in favor of newer ones.
Right before Westport we had the first of our warm-up hills, fairly steep but only about 300 feet high. The second came a little while later at Rockport, also fairly steep and about 600 feet high. At this point, the road turned inland a bit, so we didn't see the ocean the rest of the day. We did see a lot of redwoods, though, and hillsides lush with ferns and woodsy plants. We stopped to eat our lunch at a picnic area in a redwood grove. The grove had a sign up explaining that the forest was being sustainably logged and had nesting boxes for owls on some trees (I'm not sure why they couldn't make their own nests). As we were sitting there eating, we saw a bike pulling in. The biker's name was Audrey and she was from Quebec, traveling by herself from San Francisco to Vancouver. She pulled over when she saw our bike and we chatted for a while. She's only the second bike we've seen going north of the coast. She went on ahead of us, but ended up staying in the same campsite we're in so we saw her again at the end of the day, along with a group of 4 bikers from Austria who were heading south down the coast.
What the 2 hills were warming us up for, though, came at about mile 32, a 1600-foot-high, 8-mile-long hill with lots of very steep parts. The 5% grades began to feel like a rest - there were several 8-10% stretches. The road wound around with several hair-pin turns and was very narrow with no shoulder. The traffic was fairly light and very respectful of us (some actually cheered us on). We were sometimes against the mountain and sometimes on the cliff side, which had a very sharp drop down through the forest. We tried not to notice how little space was between our tires and that stunning drop! The wind, however, was remarkably calm today, for which we were immensely grateful as we struggled up that hill. I'm sure we wouldn't have made it if the wind had been as bad as it has the last 3 days - I'm surprised we made it as it was. It was a little chilly earlier this morning, but got nice and warm as we went inland and uphill.
At about mile 40 we were on the downhill side, taking only 4 miles or so to get down. It was very steep as well so we had to brake nearly continuously, stopping once to cool the brakes down. Then we headed into Leggett and stopped at a deli, Peg's House, that we had heard about, right across from the campsite where we would stay for the night. The people working there were terrific, with a great sense of fun, and the food was wonderful, too. We snarfed down cheeseburgers and macaroni salad and took the most delicious brownies in the world back to camp with us for dessert. A number of the customers, both locals and campers, asked about our trip; one guy in particular, Carl from Reno, NV who was camping across the street too, was awestruck that we had come from Philadelphia and we chatted with him for quite a while. Then we headed across the street to set up camp, chatted with Audrey and the Austrians for a while, and then worked on the web site. We may not get it all up tonight because of the battery running out, but we'll do as much as we can. Tomorrow's another campsite (towns are few and far between here) so we'll see what we can do then, too. We ended the day with 46-1/4 miles in 6-1/4 hours of bike time, a record low of 7.5 mph.