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Bike Tour Part 4

November 29, 2010

Day 5: Brookings, Or.-Patrick’s Point, Ca 88 mi

Apart from two 1,000 ft. climbs, this day was supposed to be about the same as day four. Unfortunately, I misinterpreted some well-meaning advice from a Klamath smoked salmon vendor (advice I wouldn’t have asked for if I’d have just bought a decent map of California), and ended up adding some extra time and stress to the day.  Oh well.

I started the day off delivering well wishes to Yeonjoo and Toby (who were already packed up by the time I woke up).  I told them I was going to Patrick’s Point, 90 miles away.  They were both trying to increase their pace, so they said they’d try to make Patrick’s Point too.  It was two days in the book*, which apparently seemed like a long haul to them, but they had a good start.

*most of the bikers on the Coast use the book Bicycling the Pacific Coast and you should too.  It recommends all the best campgrounds, has maps, mileage, elevation profiles, and info about facilities.  Also, get a real map with all of the state parks info, as the book’s maps and elevation profiles are sometimes clearly inaccurate (at least in the photocopies I had of whatever edition Nick had).

I tried to get going quickly, but as always it took me one-and-a-half hours from the time I woke up to the time I got on the road.  I still think I could have done it much faster, but it’s a long process and it almost always took me 90 minutes.

Wake up; walk to the bathroom (which is sometimes far away in the earth-raper portion of the campground (as was the case that morning at Harris Beach)); second-guess yourself for not either killing two birds with one trip to the bathroom and brushing your teeth before breakfast (or just pissing behind the tent); walk all the damn way back to your site; boil water for coffee; brew coffee in a can of green beans from last night (if you’re lucky.  if not, make oatmeal first in Jetboil, then pour it into some sort of improvised vessel.  Then make coffee in the Jetboil and drink out of Jetboil); make oatmeal (save some berries or a banana the day before for your oatmeal); eat, while rereading all the same shit you already read last night in the book (remember, reading material is weight, so you don’t really want much); wash dishes at water spigot (no soap, except Dr. Bronner’s in exceptional cases); brush teeth at water spigot (spit in a bush (unless no one is watching; then spit in water drain)); dry dishes with a dirty shirt that you’ve given up on wearing; pack everything other than your clothes and tent; try to figure out where to recycle everything (separate recycling in Oregon.  Sometimes separated by long distances); give up and throw everything left into the trash; walk back to camp; change into dirty chamois and dirty jersey in the tent; break down tent; apply sunscreen; pack up bike; put on sunglasses; ride.

Goddamn, that took me almost 90 minutes to write!  And I’m surely forgetting steps.

The ride to the California border was pleasant, once I pushed my mistrust to the side and took the Oregon Coast Bike Route in what looked like the wrong direction (again, always take the marked Bike Route).

Before I knew it, I was back on the 101 and across the border into California.

California didn’t seem so different at first.  I rode through some farm land on the Bike Route.  I skirted some marshland, and rode some very rural roads paralleling the highway.  But as I made my way into the outskirts of Crescent City, I started picking up some uncool vibes.

Wait a minute… what’s with all these fast food places.  Oh fuck.  Is this road turning into a four-lane?  I feel very hot, suddenly.

Yep.  Crescent City sucks.

"My other ride is a Cat dozer"

I had a bad espresso (In fairness to Crescent City, I should have known better);  I marveled at the bulldozer-venerating pickup truck; rode by the Beach Front Park; then got the fuck out of there.

(sorry, Crescent City.  I never gave you a chance)

Hwy 101, now called the “Redwood Highway,” has some different standards in California.  Immediately after leaving Crescent City, the “Redwood Highway” climbs 1,000 feet with no shoulder.

Very fun at 6mph...

It was sort of nerve-wracking for me, but it must have been doubly so for this German duo.

It wasn’t long before the shoulder returned, and the redwood forest began.  A day that had started out somewhat disagreeable turned into one of those “experiences of a lifetime” by noon.

Riding in the redwoods evoked Woody Guthrie’s This Land is My Land, and I spent about 20 minutes marveling at the redwoods with it all scored to Guthrie’s guitar line.  I passed a couple near the top of the second crest, and they had the same look on their faces as I did: total slack-jawed, grinning disbelief.

It takes longer on a bike to get through the “Crescent Cities” of the Pacific Coast.  But it’s worth it for those forests.  Having driven through the same redwood forest in the back seat of a car as a kid, I can assure you that a bicycle is the way to experience this.  I knew, while riding through those redwoods, that I had really gotten somewhere those last five days.  I wasn’t in Oregon anymore, and I couldn’t wait to see where my legs could get me next.

The highway dropped back down to the coast again for a few more miles of postcard-esque coastline.  Then back inland through Klamath, where I got some excellent smoked salmon and some confusing directions.

I thought that I was getting some insider local advice from the smoked salmon lady.  She told me take “Newton P. Drury road” instead of the highway.  “Just turn right when the climb on the highway starts,” she said.  So instead of just turning the page in the book and riding the route that was clearly marked on the map, I took a right turn “at the beginning of the climb,” that took me onto a road that was considered a “mountain bike detour” in the book.


The thing about people who have never ridden a bike (much less a bike laden with 45 pounds of stuff), is that they don’t have as nuanced of an understanding of topography as us cyclists.  So to her, “the beginning of the climb” started about 700 feet up the climb. Once again, I should have just trusted the Bike Gods and ridden along until the Pacific Coast Bike Route directed me to turn.  Instead I ended up on a gravel road that had me a little worried about the shock-absorbtive abilities of my racks.

By the time I made it to the actual Newton P. Drury Scenic Parkway, I was almost at the top of the climb.  I rode uphill for maybe five minutes, then got to ride downhill, practically coasting, through another redwood forest for almost an hour.

The last 30 miles was one of those “Almost there.  Almost there.  Almost there.  Almost there.  Fucking Christ!  Shouldn’t I be there by now?!” types of rides.

I got to Patrick’s Point State Park just before the sun set.  It had been a long day and I was, for the first time, totally worn out – beaten physically and psychologically by ten hours of riding.

I was surprised to find all the cyclists at the campground in such good spirits, but I quickly found out why: our campground was incredible!

The hiker/biker section was undoubtedly the best area in the entire camp ground.  We had our own bathroom/shower building.  Every shower and bathroom was its own room with its own lock (a note to couples: good place for a two-person “efficiency shower”).

We were seriously like a mile from the Earth-rapers.

And we were right next to the state park’s namesake: Patrick’s Point.

“You should be able to make it before the sun sets,” a cyclists who had stayed there for three days told me.  “Go try to catch it.”

I had to run to the viewpoint, but just made it.

All of the cyclo-tourist archetypes were present at Patrick’s Point: the not-stopping-for-anything roadie (me); the curmudgeonly old man; the creepily friendly old man; the slow-moving/overly packed recreational-cyclist couple; the fun-loving Aussie/Canadian. All we were missing was the foreigner stereotype, and the road-hardened Alaska-to-Mexico-and-beyond bike trekker.

Just as it was getting dark, the foreigner showed up: Yeonjoo!

We ate dinner and talked about the day, read maps and talked about tomorrow.

At about 10 p.m. a cyclist rolled in with a generator light humming.  It was Toby, our hardened German bike trekker.  When Toby was in Alaska, he’d sometimes ride overnight to get to the next campground, so this was no big deal to him.

The next day we were all going to try to ride more than 100 miles, and I figured if these dudes could do it, so could I.

One Comment leave one →
  1. ralph maccio permalink
    December 2, 2010 3:54 pm

    a bright light in a dull cubicle

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