Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 18

June 9, 2011

Day 18 was a pretty easy day with some nice scenery. I rode from Elk Prairie Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park near Orick to Eureka. I woke up this morning realizing that I did not have my rain jacket! The one I bought for $80 a month ago. After looking everywhere in my camp site for it, I realized that I had left it pretty far back on the road. It wasn't worth it to me to back track, possibly adding 2 days to the trip, just to find the jacket. So I resolved to buy a new jacket in the next major town.

So I left the campground and started riding south. In Orick I bought some cherries from a road side stand where they assured me it would not rain today. It was very foggy, so I was a bit concerned. I encountered a few shorter climbs between 200 and 400 ft.

Just south of Trinidad was one of the cooler stretches of road I've been on. It was a lot of uphills on a very narrow side road that traversed a bunch of cliffs next to the beach. The beach was beautiful with a bunch of rocks and pretty waves and the road was just a lot of fun to ride on because it was so narrow and windy without any traffic. Along the way I saw about 10 surfers in the water catching waves in their wetsuits. It looked like a lot of fun. Definitely something I'd like to try out someday.

Just north of McKinleyville I joined a bike trail. Bike trails are so nice after riding on the highway. At this point the 101 had turned into a 4 lane highway, so it was a bit annoying to ride on. The bike trail was nice and then there was a really fun stretch where it was steep and dirt. It was almost as fun as mountain biking in Golden.

I crossed over the Mad River and was soon to go mad over my bike issues. I was riding along with a man who was on a day ride and we were talking about cycling and the city we were approaching when I heard my spokes clinking. I told the man to go on ahead and looked down at my wheel. My front rack was rubbing up against the spokes and upon closer inspection I realized that the screw holding the rack on had been broken about 95% of the way through and it would be a matter of seconds before it completely broke, allowing my pannier to just dangle there and possibly break a spoke. I took the pannier off and mounted it to the back of my bike with a bungy cord. Luckily there was some business nearby and I asked the man at the gate where a hardware store store was. He gave me directions and I was off, riding along with one pannier on the front, which makes stearing challenging to say the least. I soon arrived in Arcata, bought a new screw, bought a new rain jacket, and left town.

The day was a short one around 45 miles and I was planning on treating myself to a restaurant dinner. Surprisingly I haven't been out to eat for dinner a single time yet. A man a few hundred miles back told me about the Lost Coast Brewery which had amazing beer and amazing food. Camping only 5 miles from the brewery, I had to go there for dinner, so I didn't buy any groceries for eating at the campsite.

Well I arrived at the campground, the Eureka KOA, planning on setting up camp and heading out soon after to get some dinner and a beer. I strolled into the hiker/biker sites and saw a couple sitting at one of the picnic tables. They smiled at me and said hello. I started setting up my stuff while we talked, having the typical touring cyclist conversation: Where are you riding? Where'd you come from? How's your tour been? Et cetera. They looked to be around 40 and were from Scotland. They were working on a tour that started in New Zealand. They spent some time down there, then rode fom LA up to where I met them. They planned to go to Astoria and then do the Trans-continental tour to the Pacific. That's a lot of time on the bike.

They invited me to sit down with them for tea. Awesomeness! Tea with Brits. “It's Earl Gray tea. I hope you don't mind. We've been surprised at how many Americans don't like it.” My chest puffed up and I proudly said, “I actually really like Earl Gray.” The Banks family drinks a lot of tea and other hot drinks, so I had been introduced to it a long time ago. It must be in our English blood. Well I sat down and enjoyed some tea with them, talking about all kinds of things, but mostly cycling and I learned that their names were Warren and Esther. They've been touring for many years, so they have lots of wisdom to share about touring and different gadgets that are very helpful. They also gave me a hard time about all the things that I've lost and how heavy my can opener is. I compared mine with Warren's and there was a slight difference. He insisted that the slight difference made a huge difference in the end. I found out that Esther is a huge fan of the Iditarod, which excited me a lot. Warren told me that she's the only person in all of Scotland to own the 5-part Iditarod dvd series.

I looked at my clock and saw that it was getting kind of late. I was having a great time with them, but I still wanted to go to the brewery for dinner and get back before dark. So I said goodbye and started to get ready to go. Looking at the gray sky, the late time, and thinking really hard about how long the ride was, I decided not to go. It would be a 10 mile round trip, which probably isn't really worth it, especially since I was having such a good time at the campsite. So I just bought chili at the campground office and ate with Esther and Warren at their table. While we were eating Warren started talking about how important it is to keep your chain clean. The conversation quickly led to him saying that he has a gold chain on his racing bike back home. “A Gold chain! Are you serious?” I laughed. “You know Gold is really heavy right?” After how much he had obsessed over his lightweight cycling and camping gadgets, I had to give him a hard time about this. After we ate, Esther washed my dishes for me while Warren gave me a chain cleaning lesson. It was pretty great and now I'm a chain cleaning expert. That was also the first time a fellow camper ever offered to do my dishes for me. We exchanged blog addresses and said goodnight. If you're curious, theirs is here.

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