What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
Motivation for the riding part of the trip has been lacking for a couple of weeks now – probably a mix of lack-of-sleep, visa deadlines, hilly cycling, headwinds, and diet. A fortnight’s nothing in the grand scheme of the trip, and down periods were, and are, part of the trip appeal. The mental game is a challenge that can be retrospectively fun to contend with and adds to the overall story, but it’s easy to forget that sometimes. It seems like months ago (it was months ago) since triple-figure days in the saddle. At the time, those big days in places like Texas could actually be a little dull – most of the day was spent cycling, constantly moving – but right now I’d bloody love to just have a stretch of relatively flat road to just remember what a big day is like. No deal on the pacific coast!
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Day 156: Bodega Bay to Sereno Del Mar (6 miles)
The strongest wind so far, to the point of getting blown off the road into the ditch several times. Quite exhilarating for about an hour! Making such slow progress is just a bit demoralising after a while so I ended up calling it a really-early day and camping on the side of the coastal road, using a bush for wind shelter and chowing down on ramen.
Day 157: Sereno Del Mar to Gualala (45 miles)
Still gusty but nowhere near as bad as yesterday. Ultra-steep downhills (and up’s) through huge trees, and coastal landscapes. Initially went past Fort Ross, but then made a quick U-turn to get some water. Ended up running into Lindsey, and shooting a film piece. She’s an interpreter, which basically means she lives as the Russian settlers lived back in the early 1800’s (thanks Wikipedia), with the aim of teaching kids about history. Always fascinating talking to people about the choices they made that landed them in such seemingly unusual situations.
Back on the road, and despite the hills, which are good at halting any momentum you build up, it was the first time getting into the swing of things for absolutely ages. Pedalling is no longer a chore, time flies by and you end up being really focused. Seems like the last time that happened was sometime in the Southern states, so it was very much welcome.
Day 158: Gualala to Fort Bragg (59 miles)
Bit of a bizarre run in with an elderly chap who thinks the FBI are following him every where he goes, and have been doing so for the last 55 years. Wouldn’t they have said something after all these years? Wind pretty much non-existant for the first time in a few days. Such a simple thing makes all the difference. Cruising. Not much to say other than it was mainly a saddle day in typical stunning Northern California landscapes. A day where nothing went wrong, and some progress was made.
Day 159: Fort Bragg
One of those days that make you a year older. Did some work and got some nachos. Had a run in with a tough-looking tattoos-on-his-head dude, who demanded an answer to a question. “Have you seen the aliens?”.
Day 160: Fort Bragg to Leggett (44 miles)
A day battling with more lack-of-energy from the start. There’s an easy short-term body hack though and that is to sink a load of sugary soda to give you a quick high. The hope is once you get into a rhythm, you forget about lack of energy. Seems to work quite well sometimes. It was uphill most of the day, but led to the most incredible full-speed-ahead downhill which lasted for ages. Signs like this are complete mental-wins:
Ended up in Leggett. Hunted around for a while to find a place to bivvy on the down-low, but ended up going for the obvious. A patch of grass in the middle of town. At the moment there’s hardly any activity, most places are closed down (which is a shame because it’s an amazing area), so there didn’t seem to be much of a need to be discreet.
Day 161: Leggett to Garberville (23 miles)
Leggett is the home to the ‘World Famous Drive Thru Tree’. You can’t learn about a tree that you can drive through and not check it out. Hilarious to see a van that was clearly never going to get through, attempt the challenge. A few high revs and some reversing later, it was free. Other than the tree, the rest of the day was a bit of unmotivated and unenergised cycling-through-awesome-landscapes, break, repeat, break, repeat. Ended up in Garberville, which wouldn’t look out of place in the Swiss Alps.
Day 162: Garberville to Fortuna (51 miles)
This stretch involved cycling through the ‘Avenue of the Giants’ which was just insane. It’s an appropriate name – basically it’s a 31 mile highway through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It’s epic. The biggest trees imaginable, and the just as impressive Eel River which is a swimmers dream river. It was one of those moments where any struggles with words like ‘progress’ and ‘mileage’ and ‘schedule’ just aren’t an issue at all. You’re in the most epic place imaginable and could happily stay for ages.
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Day 163: Fortuna to Eureka (after this blog goes live)
Fortuna’s within cruising distance of Eureka, which is where some decisions will be made to do with the next couple of weeks. After an un-expectedly long time in California (which I wouldn’t change at all – it’s been awesome) unfortunately there’s no way that by cycling I’ll get into Canada within the visa deadline. So there’ll be some non-cycle transport that comes into play to win back some time. But hey, the project name indicates the looseness of the route!
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