Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ride the West - Day One

My first day riding the "Ride the West-Central Leg" met my expectations... and probably exceeded them. We began our day at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast at the hotel followed by some time to gather all our gear and ready for the ride. Luggage was loaded on the van at 8:00 a.m. and I was out of the parking lot six minutes later under a foggy cool morning. The fog stayed with us for most of the day but as we began our 10+ mile climb out of Crescent City and into the Redwood National and State Park, we soon got a pleasant glimpse of sun and blue sky. As we climbed out of the fog, the sun cascaded through the the mist creating inspiring beams of light shining down upon us. The trees were enormous. And, as I was warned by Mom, it's hard to ride while gazing up at the treetops.

The long climb warmed me up and was promptly followed by a fast descent into Klamath where I once again visited Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox at the Trees of Mystery. The other cyclists were entertained by the talking Paul Bunyan and how he could turn his head and wave his hand.

After Klamath, we rode through another portion of the Redwoods along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. The tree trunks were huge and seemed to just get bigger. I found myself quietly saying, "Wow... Wow!... Wow!!!" as I passed larger and larger trees. As I caught up with two other riders, Craig and Dan, who were slowly riding by admiring the Redwoods, we passed a tree with a hollow trunk and climbed inside for a quick photo. Shortly after, we passed a sign reading "BIG TREE" pointing to the left. Good thing there was a sign... cuz you really wouldn't notice the BIG TREE without it! We thought that was pretty funny. But then realized that was the name of the park where our first SAG stop was located. (A "SAG Stop" is for "Support And Gear" and is where our rest stops are with food, water, facilities, and a chance to get off the bike.

Shortly after leaving the SAG stop, we passed through a large viewing area with a herd of Roosevelt Elk. While Roosevelt Elk are not uncommon in Oregon and Washington, only a small number of these animals are in California and principally in northern Humboldt County where we were riding today.

The next 20 miles took us through the small town of Orick and rural areas along Hwy 101 with occasional views of the ocean. We took a parallel road as we neared our next SAG stop that featured lots of bed and breakfasts and small motels tucked along the ocean in the town of Trinidad. We were a long ways from the Caribbean... and the weather was anything but Caribbean-like, but our stop in Trinidad did feature some savory Mexican food at the Chevron before we headed out along Scenic Drive and enjoyed even better views of the ocean including haystock rocks and beaches dotted with rock formations.

Our next interesting portion of the route was along the Hammond Trail bike path that fronted the ocean beach. At one point, I stopped to inspect a large group of what looked like big dead fish about 300 ft. away on the banks of a small inlet. On further inspection, it was about three dozen harbor seals lounging on the sand.

After the bike path, we hit some farmland and dairy farms along some bumpy farming roads. We entered Arcata, which struck me as a small community with mostly young hippy kids wearing dreadlocks and riding skateboards. We then followed the perimeter of Arcata Bay as we rode into Eureka, CA.
Our route took us through Old Town past stately Victorian homes and businesses in historic buildings. We arrived at our hotel, Best Western, just after 4 p.m. Route Rap (where we discuss tomorrow's route) and Dinner (at a nearby barbecue diner) filled out our early evening. Time to rest and get ready for another nearly 80-mile ride tomorrow to Garberville!

If you'd like to read the blog by our route leader, Mike Munk, visit this link and see more photos of the route and meet the other riders.

Dist: 84.89 mi.
Time: 6:29:09
Avg.: 13.0
Max: 33.8
Total Ascent: 4935 ft.
Max Elev: 1181 ft.
Temp: 60 degrees
Weather: foggy, cloudy, some sunbreaks

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