Daily miles – 57. Total Miles – 259.
Exciting day today! We got a leisurely start from McKerricher State Beach, going north on Hwy. 1. Conditions were just about perfect – sunny, but nice and cool. Not too much headwind (although there was some!). We knew it would be a rolling terrain section followed by a 600 foot steep climb, descent back to sea level, then a 2000 foot climb up the much over-hyped Legget Hill. We were taking it all in stride, but then had a misshift and jammed the chain inside of the biggest cog in back. This happens from time to time, so no big thing. It looked like, once again, the derailleur was a little funky – bent in a touch – so I fixed it and monkeyed with cable tension until it appeared all was cool. And it was, but every time we went to biggest cog, the chain jumped into the spokes. This is all similar to the other day in Dry Creek Valley. Crumbs. Each time it seemed t happen in a terrible place – no shoulder on a blind curve.
Once we hit a nice flat stretch, I took a closer look. No good – the cog got tweaked pretty bad and it became plenty clear why the chain was shunning it. I got out the leatherman and tried to straighten it. Now, anyone who has known me long enough knows I have a propensity to trash equipment I use, and I also do not always exercise a properly ginger touch with things like bending metal. I knew how much it would suck if I made it worse at this point though, so I took my time, took deep breaths, and worked it as straight as I could.
The good news was, it was almost straight enough to ride on, and was definitely straight enough to not interfere with the next cog. Nice. The bad news was, it really needed to replaced and the biggest climb in the first 1000 or so miles of our ride was going to lack our easiest gear – one off would have to do. Amazingly, there was cell reception so I called Op Center West (Dave at the Bicycle Outfitter) and he said he could ship one and a new chain (when a cassette needs replacing, it’s best to do the chain at the same time) to a buddy of his in Arcata – about 120 miles north. Cool. It turned out that he found us a shop in Arcata that had one on the shelf and set it aside for us. Looks like our first hotel and rest day is going to be in Arcata then. Thanks Dave – you rock!
The climbs were both long, but felt awesome! All those hills we trained on – Tunitas, Tam, Diablo – gave us the pacing and mindset to make it up these types of climbs. It was actually pretty mellow – just slow. The road parallels a creek lined with Redwoods with views up toward the Lost Coast and back to huge breakers out on the Pacific. We were in awe . . . We stopped a couple times to stretch and once to eat some cheese, fruit, and crackers for lunch. Other than that, we ploughed. Ran into the French dude at the top – turns out his name is Mirko. We all stopped in Legget for some ice cream, drinks, and Chandra and I picked up our groceries for dinner tonight.
The character of the ride then changed dramatically. The relative seclusion of the climb gave way to four-lane truck and RV craziness. There is a shoulder, but the speed limit is 65 and people are flying. As for us, it’s more challenging to hold the fog line at 40 mph with no room to weave into traffic. The trailer starts to shimmy sometimes and corrections have to be very gentle.
We got to this campground early though, so we’ve not yet even made dinner. Looks like we will blast into Arcata tomorrow – around 80 miles – and hopefully get the cassette and chain before the shop closes. Then Sunday might be a real rest day. We’ll take the bike back to the shop for a once-over as long as we are there, and then chill. Dinner? Movies? Hmmmm. Our reality has become throwing down miles and foods. One of the things I am so anticipating though is experiencing different environments and ecosystems as we progress north and east. Right now, the redwoods, the ocean, mustard, chapparal – it’s all totally beautiful, but it’s also very much like most of the places we have ridden around San Francisco. I look forward to the difference that will come when we leave the coast. For now though, the familiarity is soothing – it smooths the road of transition from one life to another. This trip is such a journey, after all. Besides, I would hate to fly out here from Iowa or something and suddenly be confronted with this terrain and the steep hills and wind. It is our baseline – I will not be so sassy in Montana and Wyoming I suppose, but for now it is just pleasant. It allows us to focus on enjoying time together and moving down the road. Awesome.