Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You haven't blogged in 4 days!!!

Yes, I know. More than a few of you have written me about my lack of blogging of the last few days. Rest assured that I have been living life to the fullest (and without internet access). My time has been spent cycling, meeting new friends, enjoying California sunsets (and night skies), leisurely sipping espresso, and trying not to live outside of the moment. In an era where social networking and being "plugged in" is the norm, it's a refreshing exercise to attempt from time to time.

Let's recap: 4 days ago we left Arcata, CA (and our new friends there) in search of the open road and some coastal cycling. Our travels took us through the Avenue of the Giants (one of the most visited redwood forests in the world) to Garberville, CA, where we met some new friends and enjoyed an absolutely fantastic time. We set out the next morning for the coast (!) and California Highway 1, riding along the Pacific Ocean all day. We rode until the sun set, and ended up in Mendocino, CA for the night. Fortunately we met a lovely girl that took us in for the night, and our stay there has cemented itself as a highlight of my trip. We rose early the next morning and enjoyed a hearty egg and potato breakfast, complete with fresh blackberries and huckleberries from our hostess' garden. The fuel served us well - we had a challenging 125+ miles ahead of us en route to Santa Rosa. After a gorgeous, sunshine-filled day of riding, we arrived at the gateway to California's wine country just after sunset. I am now writing comfortably from our host and hostess' couch.

Let's get detailed, since that's why you keep coming back to read, right?

Arcata is a kind-hearted town on California's northern coastline, and one that we were fortunate enough to stop in. We would've pedaled right by if our friend Max (whom we met the night before on the beach in Crescent City) didn't suggest we stop by. We did, and we couldn't be more excited about it. Within minutes of arriving in town we met our lovely hostesses, and immediately embraced the positive energies of this place. Their hospitality was more than we could've asked for, and we're all very grateful for it. They even had Michael Jackson chronological matrushka dolls - very rad. We spent our first night in town recovering our aching legs and sipping kava tea (highly recommended), and woke with a zest for life on our rest day. I ambled down to the local farmer's market with Simona and Jenny (one of our hostesses and a fellow couchsurfer), and enjoyed the wonderful and vibrant atmosphere in the morning. The variety and quality of the produce and the vivacious community contributed to a very memorable morning. The rest of our stay there was spent socializing, skating, and meeting new friends in the community. If you're ever in Arcata and need any bike-related repairs or products, check out Revolution Bicycle Repair in town. Great people. I'm going back to ride with them someday - count on it.

We left Arcata as enthusiastic about our trip as we've been yet - our time there was refreshing and invigorating. There's a lot to be said about the quality of the human experience in a new place. A little kindness goes a long way, and our hearts were filled during our time there. Moreover, our route out of Arcata took us through Eureka (home of some of California's most famous architecture) and the Avenue of the Giants.

I'm going to go ahead and reiterate: there's nothing I can say/write/do to convey the scale of the redwood forest, although I'll try (and the pictures will help). The grandeur of the place is beyond me, and the experience of pedaling through is truly humbling. We rode past some huge trees, we rode THROUGH some even bigger trees, and I climbed all over a fallen tree that was absolutely enormous. If you want photographic evidence, see above. During our ride, we met Clark, a fellow bicycling traveler. He hails from Norman, Oklahoma, and is on his own Pacific coast tour. Travel well, my friend.

We rode through the day and enjoyed the plentiful California sunshine until it started to fade over the Sonoma county hills - we spent so much time playing in the Redwood National Forest that we didn't make the miles that we were hoping for! With the sun setting, we pulled into Garberville, CA. Knowing no one, we stopped at a local cafe and asked a few folks about places to camp for the night. Fortunately for us, we asked a gentlemen named Russell, who offered us a place to camp on his land. Hospitality is abundant in California.

Russell and our other hosts and hostesses for that night are farmers, and live simply with a focus on human interaction, quality of life, introspection, and positive betterment of the world that surrounds them. Our time with them was very pleasant, and I learned a lot from all of them. In addition to some perspective insight and some great conversation, they introduced me to slacklining. I'm beyond interested in getting good at this new sport, and I intend on buying a slackline just as soon as I develop some expendable income. Check it out at

Pictures were not in the cards during our time with Russell and company - those moments are ours to keep.

We rose to another gorgeous California morning on Russell's farm, and enjoyed a fantastic breakfast of banana pancakes and some chocolate chai tea. Russell - I need those recipes.

We had our sights set for California Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean, and two serious mountain passes separated us from our goals. I've done some cycling this summer, and have tackled some sincere mountains in Colorado and Washington, and these two climbs did their best to test my legs. I give some credit to the 4+ miles at 6-8% grade, and I give some credit to the thousand+ miles under my legs in the last few weeks. Hitting those hills fatigued was a challenge to say the least, but Eric and I soldiered on. A rewarding view of the Pacific was well worth the effort.

We rode on for the rest of the day with the hills on our left and the ocean on our right, as content as we could be. We stopped frequently to enjoy the moments that make travel like this so worthwhile, and finished our day in the sleepy town of Mendocino.

I, for one, am thrilled that we did. The town has an indelible charm, and we ended up meeting two lovely local girls that made the experience incredibly worthwhile. Elimah and Emily are two local girls of pure hearts and a genuine passion for living their lives, and we were thrilled to meet them. Elimah offered to host us for the night, and I can't overstate "host". She has a lust for cooking for guests - which work out for us mega-mile cyclists. I'm fairly sure that we ate most of her kitchen the night we arrived. As if that wasn't enough, she prepared an egg and potato breakfast for us, complete with blackberries and huckleberries we picked fresh from her garden. I wish we could've stayed longer, but our travels mandated that we hit the road after breakfast. We insisted that Elimah and Emily come visit us in Tahoe this winter, and now it's on the internet, so they have to come. See you girls this winter!

Pedaling out of Mendocino, we realized that we had a full plate - 125 miles to Santa Rosa. This is where it comes in handy to be athletes. The "bicycle tourist" caps were taken off, and the "fitness enthusiast" caps got some wear in the California heat. We hammered our brains out up and down (literally up and down - hills are plentiful in these parts) the coast all day, trying our best to enjoy the beautiful views despite the overwhelming amount of lactate in our legs. It was some of the most scenic riding I've ever been a part of, and not a day that I'll soon forget.

We rolled into Santa Rosa as the sun was setting over the local vineyards (there are plenty), and we stopped at the first supermarket we could find. Eric and I swore to each other that we would reward our hammering efforts with a tub of ice cream, which we did. 1.75 quarts of mocha almond fudge ice cream never met a quicker demise.

Now we're staying with our new friends Sheri and Cory and their pups, and the legs are getting a rest. We're going to take the rest of the day to recharge our legs and recuperate, then hit the town tomorrow morning and do some promotional work. Despite more than a few people hinting toward the lack of culture in Santa Rosa, I'm looking forward to seeing the place. I may go to the Peanuts and Snoopy Museum, too.

Update: Due to a shift in our schedule and a lack of exuberance in my legs, I won't be attempting the King's Ridge Gran Fondo route tomorrow. I've been swayed by my time in California, and I know that I'll be back. That being the case, I'm going to save the ride for a time when I'll have fresh legs and an enthusiasm for some sightseeing. One can never have too many reasons to travel, in my opinion, and I'm already looking forward to coming back and tackling that ride.

On to Napa and Sonoma, and some vineyard tours. I can't believe that we'll be touring Napa and Sonoma day after tomorrow. Isn't that what wealthy people do - tour wine country? I thought we were homeless vagabonds? Oh, yeah - you don't need to be rolling in cash to live the good life. Go out and grab it.

1 comment:

  1. Probably one of your best posts yet. Your writing is really beginning to get quite good, keep at it man. On the tubs of ice cream...didn't I tell ya? Haha.