Summary – day 10 – Klamath to Miranda (Sunday 4 September)

Summary – day 10 – Klamath to Miranda (Sunday 4 September)
Posted by Mike

Estimate: 131 miles, actual: 122 miles
Avg. speed: 15.2 mph
Cumulative distance: 854.39 miles

Our first night in California, the ‘sunshine state’. Perhaps inevitably, it’s foggy, damp and rather cold at 6 am. Ah, well – at least it’s not windy!

When they wake up in the morning, the first thing a cyclist thinks about – before anything else – is their legs. How are the legs feeling today? Muscles? Joints?
Good legs = a strong day; riding will be easy and fast.
Pretty good legs = a comfortable day… a reasonably easy day’s riding, but don’t over-exert
Not good legs = stay in bed!

So, after two days in the wind, I was expecting to want to stay in bed, but a hot bath and an early night had worked its magic and I was feeling ok. There was even more good things to come. Breakfast at Ravenwood Hotel was quite a lavish affair – oats, bagels with strawberry jam, fresh fruit, freshly made coffee … and they had soya milk in the refrigerator! The first hotel/motel that we’ve stayed in who had any. Good old Gary and Perry!

Today’s ride was sheduled to be the longest we’d be doing, (we figured that we’d have found our cycling legs by now and would be unlikely to be tired out yet!)

I was a little nervous about doing 130 miles, especially after a couple of difficult days; so we were up at 6.00 am, eating breakfast as soon as we could at 7.00 am, wrapped up against the weather and on the road by 7.45.

The fog seems to be very localised – mostly in low-lying areas near the sea. We started to climb out of Klamath and it cleared, (but still cold). We had a nice start to the day as we rode off Highway 101 and through Prairie Creek State park – a quiet wooded valley. We spotted two cyclists ahead and caught them up.

Christie was cycling from the Oregon/California border to where she lives in San Diego – all this to celebrate her 30th birthday. (Perhaps big cycle rides and round number birthdays just go together! I wonder where I shall want to go when I’m 60 – anyone fancy cycling across Australia with me?!). Christie works for an energy company in San Diego on energy conservation measures – it’s really pleasing to learn about that sort of work. She was being supported and paced on her ride by friends and family. For three days it was Dominic, a friend who is a firefighter in San Diego and a colleague of Christie’s fiancé – Matt, who was driving a support vehicle along the route too.

Dominic told us about his work and the effect that public sector cuts were having in the USA. I had no idea, but in California all firefighters must also be trained paramedics – so it takes quite a while to qualify. They usually work shifts of 10 days on (24 hours a day) and 10 days off. Firefighters can retire at 50-55. Dominic was well travelled – he’d been all over Europe and to Africa. Dominic had another day riding with Christie, then Christie’s father was joining them. One thing I was puzzled by, (so Christie – if you’re reading this, maybe you can tell us), Christie was pulling a little Bob trailer along, which seemed odd with Matt in a support vehicle that could have transported her stuff for her! Anyway, they all made a fantastic team. Matt would drive ahead for a mile or so and pull in while Christie and Dominic caught up. We stopped to take picture and gave them our blog address. After we had ridden away Matt overtook us and pulled over a little way ahead, as we passed him he called out: “Good riding. That was fast.” that cheered us up somewhat!

We passed through Humboldt Lagoons State Park – several large lagoons separated from the sea by an isthmus along which the road passed – so there were large lagoons on our left and the sea on our right. We noticed some cars parked by some dunes up ahead with people looking out with cameras and binoculars. We stopped to look too and there were a herd of elks grazing and not minding the people at all! Amazing – almost the Magic Moment of the Day.

We thought that we’d stop in Trinidad for a second breakfast, but we were going well and chatting with Christie and Dominic had made the time go by, so we continued on to Eureka for lunch. The road to Eureka curves around Arcata Bay; the water was incredibly flat and calm. Mist was rising and billowing off the water at its edge, almost like steam. It was a little eerie. We saw some herons and some similar-looking wading birds, that were all white, (help with that anyone?!)

Eureka is a beautiful historic town, with extraordinary buildings – some huge, elaborate detached wooden houses – painted in bright colours. Matthew had read that they were built on the profits of the local rich dairy industry and were colloquially known as ‘buttermilk mansions’.

It’s a public holiday tomorrow – Labor day and we rode past the ‘Blues on the Bay’ music festival – sounded brilliant – a violinist was playing Country and Western or Hoedown music as we rode into the old town. That seemed fitting. (I’ve no idea if there is any difference between Country and Western or Hoedown and if there is, what it might be).

Lunch was as Los Bagels in Eureka – lovely! We’d noticed a smart-looking tandem outside, too, so that was further incentive to go in. Turns out that the tandem cyclists were from Sweden – Barbara and Claus. They were heading to San Francisco from Vancouver! We had a really nice, interesting talk – our lunches often last longer than we intend when we meet nice people, and if they’re cyclists too they’re almost bound to be nice. Claus had been a stockbroker, but became somewhat disillusioned with it. Now he was working on a device for cutting wood safely to use in stoves. Sounded like like we could use one – might save me all that chopping! Barbara had done some welfare, charitable work. They were staying in Eureka for the night and it was a shame not to be able to spend more time with them. Maybe we’ll meet up again in Bristol or in Oslo! That’d be good.

Just outside Eureka on the last leg of the day to Miranda, puncture #3 (Matthew – rear, another piece of fine wire – this time it had pierced the tube three times, the holes weren’t close enough together to repair with one patch and two patches overlapped and leaked – so annoying. We ended up taking the wheel off and replacing the inner tube. The whole thing was a pain and wasted lots of time. But once we were off we were soon in the Avenue of the Giants – mile, after mile of great, soaring redwood trees along the Eel River, (31 miles in all). There was even a Butler Grove (my mother’s family name). The Magic Moment of the Day – just us on our bikes on a winding road, it was like cycling down the nave of a massive, ancient, twisted, high cathedral. Stupendous.

We arrived in Miranda at 7.30 – just as the local store had closed – so we ate the extra bagels that we’d bought at lunchtime with cheese and then some fruit. There was a huge log fire outside and we could hear people talking around it – but we were too tired to join them. In bed and asleep by 9.30 feeling safe and somehow protected by all those beautiful giant redwoods.

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