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Vancouver to San Fran by bike. Days 16 – 20

This is part 4 of my trip down the Pacific Coast, read Part 1 here and Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Day 16 – Elk Prairie to Eureka KOA. 78km

This morning was a later, more relaxed start after the long day before. It started off misty with the four of us riding out of the site and then spending five to ten minutes taking photos of Elk. Six miles down the road we pulled up for a typical American diner style breakfast in Orick, good greasy food once in a while is okay, everyday could be too much. The decor of the diner gave it atmosphere too, confederate flags hanging on the walls, a little grimy, and a great host, just the way it should be.

My GPS says I passed the 1000 mile mark near Trinidad, CA where I was able to find a cash machine and obtain another $200. It was around lunch time so the four of us stopped for some fish and chips with iced tea, lots of food so far today and the expectations for this evening involve a lot more food.

Our only option tonight is to stay at a KOA, a private campground without much of the charm of the state campgrounds that I am accustomed to. It is nice to have a few more facilities like laundry, although we overloaded the washing machine so had to do two loads and in the end i had to hand wash some items. The dryers also took more cash and more time than expected. During the downtime we all hung around the recreation room, charging, browsing the Internet and just generally relaxing. We were going to have a US v UK fuss ball competition, it’s a shame the balls were missing for the fuss ball and the pool table, UK would have won.

Somehow I was responsible for tonights meal, earlier I ran around Wildberries in Arcata while the others completed their shopping twice as fast as me. It was a curry but i could not find poppadums, I bought some Mango Chutney and also some Cilantro pesto. We all set to the task of the curry, my plan worked pretty well. About 2lbs of chicken cooked up in one pan with a jar of curry sauce added at the end. In the other pan we cooked up zucchini, onion, garlic and green pepper before adding another jar of curry sauce. The Naan bread was cooked in the microwave and wrapped in foil, the instant rice was made with water from the coffee machine and then everything was laid out on the table. The Naan br!ead was dipped in the chutney and the cilantro pesto, the pesto was a surprise to the other three who really enjoyed it and I took great pleasure in introducing them to it. All in all the curry night was a great success and I have some spare veggies, chutney and pesto for the next couple days.

Day 17 – Eureka to Burlington Campground (Avenue of the Giants). 88km

If I could find my book I could confirm today was supposed to be a difficult ride with a long stretch down a busy highway 101. The trickiest part of the ride was crossing the 101 from the campground, when we went across a group of twenty young tourers had been trying to cross for a few minutes. I found the best way to cross busy intersections is to find a way to travel in the same direction as the traffic and then cross, the filter lane allowed me to be the first out while it took a few more minutes for everyone else.

Once on the 101 and into Eureka we made a mess of finding our coffee stop but got there eventually. Leaving about 30 minutes later two of us made good progress before stopping near our planned grocery stop to wait…10 minutes later and nothing so a quick text message to discover a delay due to a nail through a side wall of a tire, all patched up with some duck tape, always have duck tape with you!

During lunch I had wi-fi access so I took a longer break than I usually would. After packing the trailer with the evening food it seemed a little wobbly, one of the disadvantages of the trailer is getting the weight balance correct, you need to keep as much weight low over the axle to prevent an amplified push/pull motion. Even after stopping at a view point and trying to repack I had an imbalance so i took it very slow into the next campsite. On the positive side the maintenance from the other night has stopped my knee pain.

Riding through the Redwoods is the best time for a slow ride, they are huge and offer shade and a lot to look at. At the site I half setup my tent before dragging the other two down to the river, time for a swim! The water was cool, not as cold as North Vancouvers creeks so I enjoyed a splash around before sitting on the river banks and then finishing the nature trail on the way back to the campground.

Tonights food is Tacos, the four of us cooked it up together and sat around eating a lot of food for an hour or so, with the post meal cleaning it pretty much took us to sundown and time for bed. The guys have been really good with the gluten free and dairy free supplies but I have still been eating a little too much “bad” food which will catch up with me. It’s more fun eating together but my diet makes everything more expensive so I decided to pull out of the group meals so the others could eat what they wanted at a more reasonable price.

Day 18 – Burlington Campground to Rock Creek Campground. 75.5km

I started out early as it looked like a hot day and I wanted to make some progress before I would take a longer break waiting for the sun to pass through it’s hottest period. In Garberville, around 20 miles into the days ride I stopped for coffee, there was no wifi but they had gluten free bagels that were good toasted. When the others showed up we rotated keeping an eye on the bikes while shopping at the farmers market and the expensive organic market. I found sushi rice, wasabi and seaweed, so I am all set for some camp sushi.

Riding out of Garberville we passed the site of Reggae by the River, I think that’s why Garberville was so busy and why the campsite was full. The store just outside the campground was more extensive than it sounded in the book, it would have been possible to buy cheaper supplies here than in Garberville but then I wouldn’t be able to try out sushi, not only have I never made it at a campground, I never made it at home either.

I partially erected my tent before rushing off to swim in the river, the sun was passing over so I figured the river would be in the shade soon. It was pretty busy with people sun bathing, swimming, drinking and jumping off of a 20 to 30 foot cliff. The goggles I have been carrying came in useful when I was swimming around looking at the fish, at least I got a bit of use for the extra weight.

Before taking my shower I left the sushi rice to soak for 30 minutes, before rinsing and cooking. Everyone else had food that only took 10 minutes to prep and cook. The first roll I made was avocado, I passed a couple of pieces around along with my wasabi and soy sauce. It may not have been as pretty as a proper roll but the taste was good and everyone concurred that it was a success. My next two rolls were zucchini and chorizo, perhaps I should try and get that flavor in Vancouver.

The evening ended back down at the river with a glass of wine and another Oliver who was heading North. The evening for some of the other groups ended after midnight when they had enough of drinking.

Day 19 – Rock Creek to MacKerricher State Park. 77km

The wind is supposed to blow from the North pushing cyclists South, the wind for my trip has been roughly 60/40 in favour of cyclists going North! Yesterday would have been easier going South if the wind had cooperated, today is going to be no different.
The infamous (amoung pacific coast tourers) Leggett hill stood in our way today. We made it wait by going to the ride through tree for $3 per person. I left Steve to get on his bike and went up the track to the road. At the top I assumed Chris had left however the track out of the tree did not exit at the same place so both Steve and Chris were riding behind me. Legett hill is really not too bad, I made semi easy work of it and stopped at the summit where I mistakenly thought I would get some nice panoramic views. Ten minutes passed as I ate an orange and dried banana chips. Thirty minutes passed as I took photos of signs and walked around a bit to keep my legs loose. Time carried on ticking away and then I saw a cyclist coming out of the last steep turn, it was one of the tour leaders with the group of twenty kids. They had passed Steve and Chris on the way up the hill and told me what had happened. Both guys were not far behind and they explained that the broken spoke had gone into the chain and now the chain had a couple of stiff links that needed attention. I got a couple of tools out and then watched Steve do his magic and after another thirty minutes, maybe more, we headed down the hill in a convoy of three. The bike held up, the descent was fun until near the end when I led and a driver who wasn’t paying attention crossed the middle line and was about to t-bone me when he looked up and swerved back into his lane. It could have been nasty and gave the others a bit of a shock at how close it was….that could have been bad luck or fate but luckily I survived.

We pretty much stayed together until we hit Westport and refueled with snacks and drinks. Another 10 miles which were harder than expected and we arrived at the campground. As it was still early I headed into Fort Bragg to find a coffee shop for wifi and much needed device charging. The place we found with wifi had decided to cover up all their electrical outlets so I will not go there again, I did use the wifi for a while before riding back in the mist. Luckily at the campsite I found a live socket in one of the washrooms and spent the next 30 minutes standing outside talking and practicing some climbing on the breeze block wall and wooden roof.

My dinner consisted of leftover sushi rice with a few other items I have been carrying, even after eating I still have enough food for tomorrow! The mist/rain fell on the tent most of the night but at least it detracted from the noise made by the party in the site next to us.

Day 20 – MacKerricher State Park to . km

Our plan was to watch the women’s football (soccer) at Pattersons pub in Mendocino and possibly visit the craft fair to buy my sister and Mum gifts. 50% success rate is pretty good, just have to apologise to my Mum and sister for not buying them gifts.
We all started separately with the intention of meeting at the Starbucks that was a couple miles away, coffee, internet, electricity all for a couple bucks. I sat at Starbucks waiting for the guys and then I saw Chris leaving Safeway but I was unable to attract his attention even when I ran out Starbucks shouting and waving with everyone giving me strange looks. I went back into Starbucks and continued to wait for Steve and Ritchie who showed up just before my waiting cutoff time, a quick coffee before Steve and I headed off for Pattersons. We knew it was a little way into Mendocino and time was passing quickly so we followed each other closely, I pushed up the hills and Steve led the way on the descents.

When we got into the pub we had missed the first five minutes although we had found Chris on the way who stayed for a drink and the first half. As the second half drew to a close and the US led 2-1 I started to prepare to leave and then Japan managed to equalise, we went through extra time to penalties and the atmosphere in the pub was buzzing with everyone expecting the US to win, unfortunately Japan can take penalties and the US can’t. During the game we were joined by a friendly guy from Sacramento who gave us a bottle of wine for our travels, I like free stuff.

The ride from 14:30 onwards was warm, scenic and hilly with the wind blowing into our faces! As we got within half a mile of the site we found Chris waiting for us, he explained the state campsite sucked and had no water so a larger group of tourers stayed at the KOA. The KOAs are more commercialised with swimming pools, hot tubs, grocery store, laundry facilities and this one even had cooking facilities. I leveraged the shop and laundry before getting in the swimming pool, relaxing in the hot tub and finishing the night off by sitting next to the group campfire. It was a nice relaxing end to a fun and busy day.

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