Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The final two weeks revisted... I have heard from many of you that I didn't update the last two weeks of the tour. For that I apologize. I was exhausted from the arrival home and I just wanted to let everyone know I made it.

So here are details from Thanksgiving on...

Arriving on the west coast was special. Seeing the Pacific triggered emotions of completion and accomplishment that were mine to relish for the chilled moments I stared over the cliffs in complete awe of how far I had come.

These waters would also mark the beginning of a distinct climate shift. No longer would the sun provide warmth and comfort. And the daily ride became more a quest of survival toward the next evening shelter. My endurance would soon be tested on greater levels.
For the next two days I passed through several coastal communities climbing up down the mountanous cliffs. The views provided by the assortment of rock formations accompanied by the endless sounds of the saltwater's powerful force smashing against the beaches seemed infinite. Every angle looking at the same formations transformed the spectacle of beauty into a new perfect image. I couldn't stop enough times to capture the complete beauty and enormity of California's north coast.
At Westport California, the road turned inland to a 3000 foot climb toward the redwood forest. I was looking forward to speeding through the Avenue of the Giants. I remember as a child and then again as a teenager, from a car, the ride through the massive trees. The ride on the bicycle prove to be even more humbling. The roads were narrow and the trees passed by more slowly. Some of the giants encroach into the road and completely shadow the light from the sun. Its cooler and darker here and quietly surreal. I made it 95 miles this day to a motel in Rio Dell California, just outside the southern redwoods. Tomorrow I would be in Eureka.

On my way to Eureka, I suffered my second crash. This time I could only laugh. I was pedalling about 8-10 mph up a straight slow incline on a busy narrow single lane two way highway. The shoulder was useless to me because it was a soft dirt and rock mixture my tires were far to narrow to glide over. I caught the front edge of a small L shaped piece of tree branch with my front tire and it flipped up into my spokes, halting the bike as I quickly squeezed onto the brakes. The wood jammed between the spokes and the front forks elevating the weigth of my pack and the rear of the bike over the top of the front wheel. But it all happened in seemingly slow motion because of the relatively slow speed I was travelling. I felt like I was suspended for a moment, balancing on the front wheel before gently laying the bike in the soft shoulder as the rear of the bike rolled over on top of me completing the full sommersault. Luckily, I fell away from the traffic and not into the congested road. Once again, I found myself laughing at the moment. I picked up the little 6 inch stick that stopped over 200 pounds of momentum in split second. Then I looked at the front wheel expecting spokes to be bent or broken. Absolutely nothing. Wow! I wish I could have seen the crash from the 3rd perspective's point of view. I put the stick in my jacket pocket... I will burn it later.

I wasn't quite in the clear from the crash. My front wheel was no longer round but it was ridable. It would be nearly 60 miles and a day later that I would find my way to Adventure's Edge in Arcata California to replace the wheel and get a few necessary tune up repairs.
The cold weather would prove to test my resolve the next day as the winter air in the upper 30's numbed my hands and feet quickly. My tires struggled to maintain tire pressure as well, and I found myself fixing 4 flats in the 1st 20 miles. I needed a break and the Palm Cafe had the warmth and friendly people I needed to cheer me up. It was Betsy's birthday so it was eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes and birthday cake for breakfast. Two hours later I was on my way to Crescent City, anticipating my next ride to the Oregon Border.

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