Day 18: Standish Hickey to Van Damme State Park
September 12, 2013. 59.24 miles.
Once again, I was the last one out of the camground. This time, though, it was I decided to go back to bed for a bit after waking up due to some minor indigestion or something. It didn’t take long to feel better, but it did lead to a slow start.
I got on the road by 9:30 or so, peddled the last few miles on 101, turned onto 1, and found the expected hill. It wasn’t actually all that bad. It wasn’t noticeably steeper than earlier hills, and I expected it to be long so wasn’t surprised. I think part of what makes it seem like a big hill is that it has lots of switchbacks that let you see one part of the hill from the other. In places you can see the road climbing in front of you for quite a ways, then finally turning out of sight. You don’t want to get your hopes up that the top is around the next corner, so you just imagine the hill going on forever. It actually doesn’t. The traffic wasn’t too bad, even though I got a late start. There were a few larger RVs and trucks, but it was mainly motorcycles. Motorcycles are loud, but they easily give plenty of room for bikers. They also always come in groups. I very rarely see individual motorcycles.
The downhill on the other side of the large climb went on for miles and miles, which is always fun. It was made slightly less fun my the knowledge that I had to climb back up about 700 of the feet I was going down before getting to the coast. As I was just starting up the second hill, a sequence of three touring cyclists went down the hill the other direction looking quite happy about their descent. I felt bad thinking about the hill they were about to face. From the north, we camped at about 1000 feet, then had another 1000 feet to climb in about 10 miles. From the south, the entire 2000 feet of climbing happens in about 10 miles. Sounds less fun.
Eventually I got the second large downhill, then swept out of the hills back to the coast. After a couple days of being inland, seeing the ocean again for the first time in a while was pretty dramatic. I stopped for a bunch of pictures.
The 8 miles or so before Fort Bragg were on a bike trail on a beach. The trail was paved, which was nice, but at one point the entire thing had washed out forming a rather sudden (though short) cliff. I didn’t fall off the cliff, but had to make my way around the detour which was rather sandy.
In Fort Bragg, I followed the street signs that pointed out a bicycle route through town instead of staying on 101. This turned out to be a good idea, since the cake route dead ended at a street blocked off for the weekly farmers market. I bought bread and sprouts and goat cheese and apple cider, and ate a tasty hot dog with all the toppings.
An older local gentleman saw my bike and asked me “what kind of mileage to you get on that?”. I ended up seeing the same couple later on over by the bike shop and they mentioned talking to a biker who had come all the way from Portland and had been on the road for 8 days already! You have to really love biking to do something like that, they said. They were pretty impressed when I said I was coming from Vancouver and had been on the road two and a half weeks.
I stopped by the bike shop to see if they had any ideas about the mysterious rubbing sound I’ve been hearing. It had been sounding like the brakes were rubbing on the wheel, bit there was nothing actually rubbing that I could find, and the sound only happened while riding not when spinning the wheels when stopped. The mechanic guessed it was being caused by my back wheel being slightly out of true with loose spokes (causing the wheel to bow a bit under stress and maybe rub against the brakes or something). He said he could true the wheel for me right away, so he did. I think it’s mostly fixed the problem. I spent the rest of the day not noticing anything wrong with my bike. How exciting!
I reached Van Damme State Park between 5 and 6, and decided I wasn’t going to be able to do another 30 miles to the next park before it got dark. So I stopped. The campground already had several of the same people as last night, but not nearly as many. Which was good, because the ground is pretty lumpy in the hiker/biker area and it’s a bit hard to find tent sites. I think 5 tents is pretty much the max.
Dinner of goat cheese, pepper and sprouts on a baguette with apple cider to drink and chocolate for desert seemed pretty gourmet. I think I’m going to have to buy bread more often in the future. Crackers are easier to carry and are tasy, but bread is delicious.