Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ride the West - Day 8, Crescent City California to Eureka California

Yesterday was our first rest day. We had a bicycle skill course in the morning, led by Mike Munk. This course was quite beneficial, as it reinforced my faith in some of my skills and showed what could be better. You would think that riding a bike is simply hopping on and start pedaling, but Mike took us through several maneuvers to aid in controlled turning, stopping and agility. It was fun, although it was cold and misty from the fog.

After lunch, Mike Munk, Gary Weinstein and I went to a par-3 golf course intending to hit some balls on the driving range, however we decided to play some holes as well. I needed to get some swing time in, as I haven't picked up a club in several years. Next weekend, a friend of mine, Randy Wadley, and the 3 of us are going to play the 5-star course in Half Moon Bay, and I don't want to be duffing my way around it. The practice was well worthwhile and I played fairly well for not having played in so long. Mike on the other hand was just getting back to playing after breaking his leg earlier this summer. On the 7th hole, a 117 yard par-3, he hit out a beautiful shot that tracked straight at the pin. It landed on the green and with a couple of hops, we heard the distinctive “clink” as it hit the pin, settling itself in for the comforts of the hole. That was the first hold-in-one that I have ever witnessed in person. Gary and I just looked at each other and cheered. After some high-fives, we made our way to the green to ensure it really sank in the hole, as we thought it did. Nice going Mike!

Mike and his hole-in-one.

We went for dinner at a seafood joint that was positioned by the docks in Crescent City. The docks had been taken over by a group of sea lions and we managed to walk to about 30 feet from them, without causing the huge creatures from getting too upset. A couple of other people, recklessly in my opinion, walked even closer causing the sea lions to start barking their warnings at them. I wouldn't want to be so close to a 500 pound wild animal that can move and has big teeth. I had visions of these people getting bitten. One of the people who got too close is also one of our cyclists and he was not moving very fast that day. What an idiot!

Sea lions taking over the dock

Today we started out on a longer ride (84 miles) with a fair amount of climbing (4800 feet). The sun was out from the get go, but it was still on the cool side. Right out of the gate, we had a 4.7 mile, category level 2 climb. Joe and I powered up the climb in order to see if we could get a good strava challenge score (we did).

Crescent City oceanside

At the top, we happened upon “The Duchess” who was riding alone. She started out about an hour before us and left Toronto Mark to load her bags, allowing her to start early. Joe and I rode a few miles on the downhill side of the climb with her, until Toronto Mark finally caught up at the Paul Bunyan tourist trap. From there, the 4 of us rode for several miles together, until Joe and I headed out on our own.

Me, standing by Paul Bunyan's shoe.

Next, Joe and I came across “The Big Tree” sign along the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway. Now normally, big trees just don't seem that interesting, but when you come across a sign that points one out, it's hard to resist. The path to get to the tree was 1/10 mile long and we walked it, passing by many big redwoods that anyone would have thought were really big. But at the end of the trail, we were not to be disappointed: this WAS a big tree! This tree is still alive, 304 feet high, 21.6 feet in diameter and estimated to be 1500 years old.

That's "A Big Tree"

After clearing the scenic parkway, Joe and I came across a side road that we heard had elk sightings as a possibility. We ventured up the road and found about 20 elk grazing in the distance. They were the first elk I had seen so far this trip. I'm still waiting on my whale sightings, but still very hopeful.

A group of Elk watching us

Further down the road, we had a SAG stop that was off the beaten path a bit. It allowed Leo, Baltimore Mark, Joe and me to venture down an oceanside road that 2 years ago had been half washed out to sea. They've repaired it, but it is still full of uneven pavement and now limited to a single lane for both directions to share. There were many places to get some good photos from.

View from Luffenholtz Park

Continuing along the way, we were directed onto a bike path that took us along several miles of enjoyable cycling. This path led us over an old railway bridge and finally onto 3 miles of new gravel roads. The gravel was not a pleasant experience and kind of separated us. Joe was well up ahead and Leo and I rode in the middle. Mark was behind us, spanning about the same distance that Joe was leading.

Old railway bridge that we get to cross over

When we finally arrived back on highway 101, Joe was long gone as he and Mose were racing to the hotel. Leo and I powered up and cruised the shoulder into a headwind, but still making our way at about 20 mph. Mark took his time and came in later. We arrived in Eureka California and along the way, happened across a beautiful Victorian Mansion, now used as the Ingomar Club.

The Ingomar Club in Eureka

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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