Day 9 – Crescent City to Arcata, CA

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Dallas and I started our morning off by breaking our bags before even getting onto the road.  Dallas broke the zipper on one of his panniers, and I forgot to tie down the straps for my Seal Line backpack, so one strap got caught in my rear wheel and wrapped around the hub several times before being wrenched off of the bag with a loud snap.  This was going to be a very long day.

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Snack time at the bottom of our first huge hill

We were planning to get to Arcata to stay with Dallas’s cousin, Mike, and his family.  Arcata is 80 miles from Crescent City, and the bike directions provided by google maps showed that we would encounter three major hills along the way.  The first hill began not even 2 miles after our departure, and rose to 1200 feet over the next 3 miles.  As we approached what looked like the top of the hill, we saw another cyclist mounting her bike and getting ready to descend.  We eventually caught up, and it was then that we learned there were three summits to this hill.  A bit past the bottom of the hill, after stopping for a snack, we caught up with two other cyclists from Amsterdam.  The woman we had passed on the hill was riding with another man to raise money for cancer research, and all three pairs of us ended up coming together on the same road at one point.

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Other bike tourists!

After talking with them for a bit, we took off first since we were trying to make it another 65 miles.  The next major hill came after a town called Klamath and only climbed to about 800 feet.  The descent on this hill was my favorite part of the ride, since we were riding down a winding road amongst enormous redwoods.  We stopped several times just to appreciate these trees and read some of the information signs at various trailheads. 

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We could live inside a redwood tree...with our bikes

By the time we had reached the next town (Orick) it was already 2pm, and we were still less than halfway to Arcata.  We ate burgers and milkshakes at the Palm Cafe and inspected the map on our phones.  We decided to stay on highway 101 a bit longer and take a more coastal road instead of take a detour to the east suggested by google bike directions.  This meant we would be on a higher speed road for a few extra miles, but we ended up avoiding the last monster hill we had seen on the elevation chart.  It still wasn’t an easy ride.

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Riding down Scenic Drive along the coast by Trinidad

In between all of the giant hills were more hills, too small to register as anything on the elevation chart, but definitely registered as tough hills in my legs.  The coastal roads we took were scenic, with beautiful views (we got to see elk by a lagoon and seals by the ocean), but they were narrow, winding, and not flat.  My legs would have been happy to quit riding after lunch.  We made one last snack stop in Trinidad before tackling the last 20 miles to Arcata.  Dallas is a wonderful cycling partner, and has been very encouraging and supportive for all the times I have doubted my ability to carry on.  I’m very lucky to have him here with me. 

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Last glimpse of the sun for the day and still about 10 miles to go

We watched the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean before cycling away from the coast on a bike path that grew darker by the minute.  When we finally reached Arcata, I felt energized knowing that we were almost to our destination.  The last few miles uphill to Mike and Toni’s house in the dark were no longer painful.  Mike greeted us and helped us unload our bikes.  He had dinner ready, which was salmon caught from the Klamath River, chantrelle mushrooms he harvested locally, and baked winter squash.  Not only is Dallas an excellent partner, but he has amazing and supportive family!  It has been wonderful getting to meet some of them.

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About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Cranston - just south of Providence, Rhode Island - and developed a love for travel, music, and outdoor sports at an early age. She had started bicycling long distances at age 12, as a participant of the MS150 bike tours to raise money for the MS Society. She didn't use her bike regularly until she built her own while studying in Montreal and found it an excellent way to get around the city. After graduating from McGill and moving back to Providence, Sarah started working at Brown University's office of Environmental Health & Safety as the Biological Safety Specialist. She was living 4 miles away at the time, and for the first few weeks was driving to work. She made the switch from driving to bicycling when she realized that she could get to work faster, avoid parking tickets, and integrate a few miles of training into her day. Bicycling was better for the environment and better for her own health and mood. She found that she had more energy and felt much happier once she started biking to work. When her car broke down several months later, she never bothered replacing it. After 4 years of working in Biosafety (and on her master's in Environmental Studies), Sarah left her job to pursue her passion. She has been working various jobs in the bicycle industry since June of 2011, including pedicab driver, bicycle tour guide, bike mechanic and traveling bicycle advocate. In between seasonal jobs, she has done a few long-distance bike tours, which is the main reason for this blog. Her dream is to eventually ride around the world and sail across the oceans.

Posted on 15 October 2013, in Bicycle Touring, Portland to San Francisco and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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