Arboletes to Montería
20 November 2017
We woke up with the sun next to this amazing view that we couldn’t appreciate the night before. An open crater of a volcano, full of mud, with the backdrop of the sea just behind it, created the illusion of an infinity pool inside the volcano. It was breathtaking. There were a few sets of wooden steps leading into the crater, and Lenin and I had the pleasure of being the first two to jump in before other tourists started arriving. As the heat from the sun intensified, the mud provided a cooling layer of UV protection. Immersing oneself into a volcano is not the easiest thing to do, but once you can bring yourself to relax, it is incredibly soothing. The mud is so thick, that it is nearly impossible to go very deep, and swimming is very slow-going. This particular volcano was much cleaner and larger than the one we had visited in Necoclí, and it felt safer being in a public place with a caretaker and public bathrooms and showers nearby. We had been playing around in the crater for maybe 15 minutes when I noticed a handful of people working on the far end with shovels, perhaps harvesting mud to sell to tourists in town. The mud supposedly has healing properties, but this could just be a marketing gimmick, and I never researched it further.
Instead of paying to use the shower, we ended up walking down a slippery trail to the beach, where we stripped off our soiled clothing and swam in the sea, with only a fisherman in the distance as a witness. If I ever start a bike tour business, I will certainly take people back to this place to experience bathing in a vulcan de lodo. We talked a little bit with the caretaker and some of the other Colombian tourists before heading off on our bikes.
From Arboletes, we headed directly east, towards Montería. Montería is the capital of Cordoba, a department in northern Colombia that is known for its prized ganadero, or livestock. Ranchers are very proud of their livestock, and some of the highest quality meat and leather come from Cordoba. We passed by many cattle ranches as we cycled inland to the city.
It took us a while to locate our hostess, the woman who we had met the previous day in San Juan de Urabá, but we eventually connected with her and found her house. Montería is quite a large city, or at least it felt like one after riding through farmland all day. We ended up staying two nights there, since our hostess was so welcoming and her puppy was so damn cute.
On our day off from cycling, we walked to downtown Montería and explored the shopping area. Every large Colombian city has an open-air marketplace where you can find pretty much anything. We bought some second-hand clothes for just a few pesos, and on the way back we picked up a machete to bring with us for chopping coconuts along the road. Montería also has a pretty nice bike path that parallels the river. In the trees along this path, monkeys hang out and take food from people. There are some neighborhoods on the other side of the river that are accessible via ferry, and there are several crossings for these rudimentary ferry boats. The boats do not have engines, and they are tethered with a rope to a cable that crosses the river from one bank to the other. The captain just uses a stick to push off the river bottom and move the boat back and forth across the river. They are more like rafts with small shacks built on top of them.
Thanks to our lovely hostess, we were able to stay two nights in Montería and share meals for only the cost of food from the market. On the second morning, we continued on our way towards Cartagena.
Cycling in and around Medellin
Cycling is among Colombia’s most popular sports, second only to football (soccer), and you will find all sorts of riders out training or commuting on the roads both inside and outside of the cities.
Aside from the heavy traffic and air pollution, Medellin and its surrounding areas are incredibly conducive to cycling. Following Bogota’s lead, Medellin also hosts a Ciclovia every Sunday from 7am to 1pm, closing 42 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles so people can feel safe to bike, run, walk or skate freely. Some of these same roads host a smaller version of Ciclovia every Tuesday and Thursday night between 8 and 10pm. Additionally, there are over 100km of ciclorutas (separated bike paths) within the city. For the BMX riders, there are parks and pumptracks sprinkled throughout the city, including a pretty big one named after world champion Mariana Pajon, a native of Medellin. While there’s no velodrome (yet) in Medellin, there is a decent track where roadies can train, riding circles as fast as they want out of traffic.
If you’re comfortable riding with traffic, the autopista (highway) is one of the fastest ways to get around town, and it is not off limits to cyclists. While there are many bike routes throughout the city, they can be slow due to the numerous pedestrians who are not paying attention to their surroundings while strolling down the bike paths. Most road cyclists will end up riding out of the city on one of the highways and inevitably end up climbing switchbacks up one of the steep mountains on the outskirts of town. It is not uncommon to see pelotons of professional cycling teams training on these roads every week. Possibly the most popular spot to ride on the weekends is the road leading to the airport in Rio Negro. It’s basically straight up a mountain for 16 kilometers, but you can find hundreds of riders on both road and mountain bikes cycling up Avenida Las Palmas on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The worst part about riding in Medellin is undoubtedly the pollution. Medellin is currently the 8th most polluted city in South America, and you can really feel it when you ride a bike. Most of the buses and trucks emit thick clouds of black smoke that encompass you and your bike as they accelerate away from you, and the numerous motos are not much better. Traffic can be very slow, and you really have to be careful when going around buses and taxis because the motos are usually speeding along in between the lanes of cars. I regret not having a GoPro to take video footage of one of my rides through traffic, because I think the video would be quite exciting.
On our first full day in Medellin, Dallas and I took a tour of the city with BiciTour Medellin. Carlos and Mateo were excellent guides, and I was lucky to be able to ride with both of them a few weeks later when I had finally acquired my own bike. The tour is a great way to learn about Medellin while seeing more of the city than you would be able to on foot. They will teach you about the city’s violent history, show you some of the graffiti, buy you salpicon, and take you to Pueblito Paisa, a model colonial village with one of the best views of the city.
Every Wednesday night SiClas organizes a ride called Sicleada that leaves from Carlos E. Restrepo park at 8pm. The route changes weekly and is never repeated. It varies from easy, flat rides within the city to fairly difficult rides that include climbing the surrounding mountains of Medellin. This ride draws over 1000 riders every single week and is a great way to meet people and make friends. The ride is usually more or less 20 kilometers, and very slow. Volunteers block cars from intruding on the ride from side streets, and the front of the group waits at the top of every hill for the rest of the group to catch up before moving on. There is always a break about halfway through, where some of the riders sell homemade sandwiches, cookies and juice. People are talking, laughing, whistling, playing music, and generally having a blast throughout the entire ride. If you ever find yourself in Medellin on a Wednesday night, you should rent a bike from SiClas and do it – this is an experienced not to be missed.
Another encouraging program in the city is EnCicla, a free bike share service. Drawbacks to this are that it can take a few days to get a card to use the program, since you have to apply with ID and a utility bill to prove you are a resident. The other down side is that the service is only available on weekdays from 5:30am until 7pm. There are some stations that are manned by a person and others that are automatic. Because it’s a free program and doesn’t generate any income, it’s expensive to operate. Maybe in the future it will be more like existing bike share systems in the US that are all automatic and available 24 hours a day, but this will probably require them to charge a small fee to rent the bikes.
The cycling community in Medellin is expansive, and there is something for every type of rider. Groups on Facebook, Meetup, and Couchsurfing exist for mountain bikers, road cyclists, and casual riders who just want to socialize. The people are friendly, and it’s very easy to make friends and find people with whom to ride. I did have a bit of trouble finding a good road bike, and it’s not easy to find a good, inexpensive second-hand bike. Most shops sell new bikes for the same price that they would cost in the US. They do come with an ownership card that includes the serial number in case your bike ever gets stolen, which is a system I think should be adopted everywhere. If you know where to look for used bikes, they can be very cheap (30,000-100,000 pesos). But depending on what kind of riding you plan on doing, I’m not sure how reliable these bikes are.
Now that I’ve written enough material for three blog posts (and I could go on), I should conclude by saying that cycling around here is really great, no matter what kind of biking you’re into. There are obvious concerns with exercising in such heavy air pollution, but I think my positive experiences and the excellent views have outweighed the risks.
Closing our PeopleForBikes Season and Looking Ahead
While we’ve taken a hiatus from writing to our NomadicCycling blog, we have been busy traveling, writing and posting to social media for PeopleForBikes. In case you didn’t follow our blogs for PeopleForBikes, you can find most of them at the following links (there were two that didn’t make the cut to get published):
- May – Seasoned riders learn new tricks
- June – Bike trail development makes better communities
- July – What’s in North Dakota?
- August – A visit to a velodrome
- October – Confessions of a traveling duo
We had the experience of a lifetime traveling around the country in the name of bicycle advocacy, and we feel honored to have been able to work on making a difference in the political climate for cycling in the United States. There were definitely some places that were discouraging, but the majority of people we talked to were supportive of bicycling and wanted to see more bike infrastructure in their cities. While living out of a car for six and a half months was definitely stressful on our relationship, we would do it again in a heartbeat if offered the opportunity.
The best part about our short job was getting to network and meet so many people in the bicycling world. Not only did we get to make some awesome new friends, but we were able to visit old friends and family all over the country that we hadn’t seen in months, or years. We visited over 70 bike shops, mostly on the eastern half of the US, and really felt that we were able to connect with some of them to improve cycling conditions for them locally.
The second best part about the job is that we got new mountain bikes from Giant/Liv, and we got to take them to some of the best trails in each of the states that we drove through! We didn’t get to do quite as much riding as we wanted to, but we did get to go to places that we never would have otherwise. Now that we’ve surrendered our car, we’re not sure we’ll get to use the mountain bikes that much, sadly.
Since our contract ended at the end of October, Dallas and I are taking some time off to relax and make up for all the long days we spent on the road with no down time. I’m trying to focus on the remainder of the cyclocross season, and we’re both hoping to go somewhere warm (South America?) for the winter. In the meantime, Dallas is in Portland and I am in Providence until further notice! Also, follow us on instagram for photos! (I’m too lazy to include any in this post right now)
Cycling in the City vs. Nature: A Collaborative Article
While I love the way cycling through a bustling city gives me a rush of adrenaline, heightening my awareness of my surroundings, since going to Alaska I have been gravitating towards a different kind of cycling. A fellow blogger pointed out that there are many ways to enjoy exercise, and we agreed to collaborate on a post to highlight the differences. Whether you live in a city or in the middle of nowhere, exercise is a necessary outlet for most people, and it can be enjoyed at both extremes.
When I lived in Montreal, I would regularly go running. I trained for and ran my first marathon in Montreal, and most of those miles were on busy city streets. City running (and cycling) is my favorite way to learn a new city, or get even more familiar with a city you’ve lived in for years. As I steadily increased the distance of my long runs in Montreal, I familiarized myself with more streets and parks than I ever knew existed during my first 3 years of living there. However, something can be said for escaping the city and getting out into nature.
In Alaska, nature was more accessible to me than ever before, and my love for trail running and mountain biking grew stronger. Fortunately, many cities have huge parks where you can run, safe from traffic – I have utilized many of these parks in various cities where I’ve lived or visited. If it weren’t for the noises of the city, you might actually believe that you were far from civilization while you lose yourself on their trails. In between our bike tours, stopping for a few weeks or months at a time allows us to explore and find some of our favorite ways to stay in shape while we’re not touring.
It may seem like bicycling from place to place every day is plenty of exercise, but if it weren’t for these in between times, I’m pretty sure I would be ten pounds heavier. We’re actually pretty energy efficient when touring, and our bodies quickly adapt to cycling 50-60 miles daily. These miles become predictable to our muscles and are rather slow – the miles are more of a mental challenge than a physical one after the first week or so of touring. The mental fatigue from the long hours on a bicycle prevents us from doing much of anything at the end of each day on the road, and we probably end of eating more calories than we burn. Variation is needed – whether it’s a different sport or just a different style of riding – so we don’t plateau and lose fitness. I like to run on my days off from cycling – but city commuting or mountain biking (without 40 additional pounds of gear) is a great way to mix it up.
At opposite ends of the spectrum, both city cycling and mountain biking are totally different from touring. I was surprised by how many different muscles, including upper body, that I used when I was mountain biking in Alaska. It was so different – so fun and challenging, and something I wish I could do more frequently. Likewise, city commuting really conditions your legs to accelerating from a stop after every stop sign and light (which can be quite frequent). I also enjoy the challenge of racing up hills and having my own secret races against other commuters who have no idea (or maybe are racing me in their minds). And then there’s trail running. Trail running is like playing Tetris with your feet. You have to figure out where to plant them before they hit the ground, and there are plenty of obstacles to make that challenging on your ankles. Each type of exercise comes with its own mental game, and the variation really helps me to not burn out.
While some people are able to go to the gym and run on a treadmill every day, I know I could never do that. Here in Durango, it has been incredibly cold and snowy, but I would still prefer to bundle up and go snowshoeing or ice skating outside than to concede to the gym. I will make exceptions for swimming, and I have been going to use the pool, but if it were warm enough I would choose to swim in a lake or ocean any day. The problem with winter sports for me is the cost, but many people around here ski or snowboard during the winter and there are enough professional athletes living in the area to either motivate or depress me (I haven’t decided yet). Read Bridget’s perspective, below, on exercise and cycling from a totally different city.
A Cyclist Makes Friends with Las Vegas
It’s amazing what some of us will do to get our exercise. I used to spend almost all my free time at the gym. After work, I’d head there and stay most of the evening before going home. I didn’t exactly enjoy spending so much time in that cramped space with sweaty people running nowhere like so many hamsters in a cage. Like many others, I simply hadn’t found a better way to stay fit. Sure, I knew that some folks ran outside and others would cycle around town on errands, but those options seemed unsafe. Then I moved, and my life and habits changed radically.
A move to Las Vegas seems an unlikely catalyst for becoming an outdoor enthusiast, but that’s exactly what my move became for me. Although I originally thought that outdoor exercise in Sin City likely entailed too much to drink and a faltering march along the strip, I found out that many outdoor activities lay waiting for those willing to participate here.
If you’ve seen pictures of the Las Vegas strip lit up in all its promotional glory, you may tend to forget that the city lies in the heart of the Mojave Desert. This natural landscape features miles of bike trails, and I love taking rides through the area. Of course, getting lost here would be a travesty, so I use this handy resource to help me keep my bearings.
I also enjoy cycling in urbanized areas near my home. Las Vegas earned the designation of one of America’s Cycle-Friendly Cities from the League of American Bicyclists. In part, this has to do with the 390 miles of bike lanes located in the city. Downtown, several new bike racks and lockers have also been installed for the convenience of cyclists.
Travelers also benefit from the culture of fitness here. Hotels in Las Vegas offer a myriad of fitness amenities. In addition to well-equipped gyms, many local accommodations provide exercise sessions and outdoor fitness recommendations to guests. In order to find activities and accommodations that suit your personal fitness needs, use that link to filter pretty much every establishment in Las Vegas based on your travel and fitness preferences.
You don’t have to be a fitness nut to know that exercise is only one aspect of a healthy lifestyle. The fitness culture in Las Vegas has also given rise to a number of healthy eating and drinking establishments. Vegetarian fare isn’t hard to find, and several restaurants offer healthy menu options that accommodate those on the paleo diet or similar healthy food plans. If you find a juice bar more appealing than a tavern, you’ll easily find several from which to choose here in Vegas. I hope you have a chance to visit my city soon and experience all this for yourself.
Trying to be good travelers
What happened on Dallas’s last day of riding before he reached San Francisco remains a mystery for now, as I have given him ample time to update us and cannot wait any longer to update our readers on where we are and what we’re doing now! Not that it’s very exciting. We have paused our bicycle touring again to spend time with family in the bay area and to figure out our next move. We have been considering a variety of options, which I wasn’t going to reveal until we made a final decision, but maybe writing it all out and sharing the possibilities with everyone will help us come to a conclusion in a more timely manner. So, here they are:
Option 1: Go sailing!
We have been fortunate enough to meet up with David, a sailor who owns a hand built 40 foot catamaran sailboat and is looking for crew for some segments of his sail around the world. He is very much like us in that he has been traveling and working random jobs wherever he stops, literally going wherever the wind blows him. We started talking to him via e-mail after the website, findacrew.net, matched our profiles. He was in Alaska for the summer, but never made it far enough north to see us while we were in Skagway. We finally caught up to him in San Francisco where he is anchored while working on replacing the hatches, and we had the chance to go sailing with him around San Francisco Bay last week. I have to admit that sailing across the ocean would be my number one choice, since I started my journey two years ago with the hopes of combining bicycling and sailing, and still I have yet to actually sail anywhere. However, the boat is a work in progress, and David has not done an ocean crossing yet. I have no doubt that he is taking all the appropriate safety precautions and am confident in his sailing ability as a captain, but we are still not ready to trust our lives to a small sailboat that is untested on such a long journey. If David decides to head south first, to San Diego, before going west, we do want to join him. Hopefully we will know more about his plans by the end of November.
Option 2: Bike South
We can always hop back on our bikes, but it’s going to get a lot colder before it starts getting warmer. It only makes sense to go south. We could bike to San Diego, and potentially crew on a sailboat from there, or keep biking south. There are a completely different set of risks associated with this plan, but we would get to work on our Spanish. Dallas was hoping to have saved up some more money before getting into South America, since it may be hard to find legitimate work outside of the US. If we do go this route, we could spend the next year or two bicycling around South America.
Option 3: Work seasonally in Durango, CO
Out friends, Anna and Brendan, from Sockeye, live in Durango, Colorado. We really enjoyed getting to know them while we were all living in Skagway, and we even got to witness their wedding in July! They have extended an offer for us to live with them for the winter season. Durango Mountain Resort is hiring people for the ski and snowboard season, and it would be a good way for us to earn some extra income before leaving the country. It would also be cold, and would delay our departure from the US for a little bit longer. Although, we would get to be a little closer to friends and family for a little bit longer.
Option 4: House sit and work odd jobs through the holiday season, and then bike south or sail across the Pacific.
Thanksgiving is approaching quickly, and it would be nice to stay close and accessible to family throughout the holidays (and so I can attend my cousin’s wedding). While we’re already in the country, we may as well stay a little bit longer so we can afford to visit with family. House-sitting is a great way to stay somewhere, rent-free, and lots of people need house-sitters during the holidays (including our friends in Durango).
We recently discovered a very cool website that connects homeowners to trustworthy house-sitters while they are away for extended vacations or business trips. The website is called trustedhousesitters.com and we have just started exploring the possibilities of living in beautiful homes in all parts of the world, watching over the house and sometimes caring for pets and plants while the owners are away. There are several websites like this, but trustedhousesitters.com seems like the best so far. Membership is required in order to apply for house-sitting jobs, and there are ways for previous homeowners, employers, or others to leave references on the house-sitter’s character and caretaking abilities. There’s even a section for a police check, so you can show that you have no criminal record. We see the site as a great tool for helping us find places to stay without the commitment of a lease or the cost of rent, while also providing homeowners or pet owners a piece of mind, knowing their home will be in good hands. If we do land a gig through this site, I will update our readers with a more detailed review.
We have been entertaining all of these options, and are open to other wild and crazy suggestions that people may throw our way. Don’t hesitate to comment on this section! It may not affect our decision, but it’s good to hear what y’all think. While in the bay area, Dallas and I have been lucky enough to stay with his sister, Sherilyn, and her family, his friend, Linus, and his family, and his step-mom, Sandra. We are working temporary jobs until we move on to the next locale!
“A good traveler has no plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
Day 12 – Weott to Leggett, CA
It was too cold to sit and eat breakfast in the forest, so after breaking down our tent, Dallas and I rode about 3.5 miles before we found a space where the sun penetrated through the trees. We sat in the warm sun and shared an apple, banana, pear, and an energy bar. We only had to ride another mile before coming to a coffee shop in the town of Myers Flat. Three shots of espresso and two cookies later, we were back on the road.
This was one of those rare days where I was ahead of Dallas for most of the day. I was able to keep a fairly good pace once I got going, but would stop and wait for Dallas every few miles. The stopping and going was draining though, and overall we progressed at a slow pace. We stopped again outside of Garberville to eat our tuna and crackers with some pistachios, a grapefruit and dark chocolate. Even though we were on the road before 10am, we had only gone just over 20 miles by 2pm. As the day went on, the terrain grew hillier, and the second half of our ride involved a LOT of climbing. Dallas was feeling undernourished and sluggish, and I was feeling frustrated for having to stop and wait.
As we crested a hill just a mile or two before Leggett, I saw signs for food across the street. I suggested we fuel up over there (The Peg Room) while deciding our next move. The burgers we ordered there were incredible, and they had outdoor picnic tables where we could sit with our bikes. It was starting to get dark, and we had completed just under 50 miles since morning. A couple that showed up while we were eating told us they had biked the coast two years ago and that there is a pretty tough hill coming up to Leggett. It didn’t look like there were any other campground options for another 27 miles, so we ultimately ended up camping across the street from the Peg Room. Maybe we can get breakfast there too!
Day 11 – Eureka to Weott, CA
Getting started this morning was a struggle. Dallas and I didn’t roll out until almost 11am, then stopped less than a mile down the road at the grocery store for another 20-30 minutes before we really hit the road. I think the long days and miles without much rest in between has been wearing on us, and it has been tough to motivate ourselves out and onto our bikes for another long ride. Personally, I have been dealing with some knee pain and saddle sores, while Dallas has struggled with an ingrown toenail and mental challenges. Miles have been going by painstakingly slowly lately.
Fortunately, it was another beautiful day, and it’s hard not to be happy out in the sunshine. The traffic and hills were not too bad today, and after lunch we got to experience riding down the Avenue of Giants, through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We stopped about halfway through our ride in the quaint town of Rio Dell, where we had amazing Mexican food at Tonetta’s. The Avenue of the Giants took us off the highway and into the forest, where it grew darker and cooler under the super tall redwood trees.
The Avenue also took us through a small town called Redcrest, where we made one last stop for hydration and a bathroom break. The lady working at the shop where I bought some lemonade asked in a hoarse voice if I thought it would be a good idea for people who use bicycles for transportation to be required to have registration and insurance. I’m curious to know what other people think of this, but I like that bicycling is accessible to people of all ages and income levels, and I’m afraid requiring registration and insurance would only be an obstacle to discourage cycling. I do think that it’s a good idea to teach cycling to kids in schools like they do in other countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark. Maybe having them pass a course in school so they can earn a license to ride will make cycling more popular as a transportation method. As for insurance, I all insurance is generally a rip-off.
We continued through the forest until Burlington Campground, after having gone just about 50 miles. Dallas and I had just enough time to pitch our tent before needing our headlamps to see. Now, under these giant trees, it is really quite dark. Our campsite is pretty close to the road, but hopefully traffic will be light enough for us to get a good sleep. I think we’re both so tired that it probably wouldn’t matter anyway.
Day 10 – Rest in Arcata, Ride to Eureka
After such a long day of riding, Dallas and I slept in at his cousin’s house and enjoyed a relaxing home-cooked breakfast while playing with Mike and Toni’s son, Felix. Mike brought us on a walk through the Redwood Park and Arcata Community Forest, and then we went out for lunch and ice-cream in town. It was a much needed day of rest, since our limbs were still aching when we finally did hop onto our bikes again. It was after 5pm when we left Arcata, so we didn’t make it too far today. We’re spending the night in Eureka and hoping to cover more distance tomorrow.
Day 9 – Crescent City to Arcata, CA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 8 – Gold Beach, OR to Crescent City, CA
This was such a beautiful day. Dallas and I enjoyed sunshine and comfortable temperatures all day, with gorgeous views of Oregon’s coastline along much of the ride. The first half, from Gold Beach to Brookings, was awfully hilly and included some of the longest climbs of our tour so far. The descents were rewarding but were over too quickly. I felt like much of the first 30 miles was spent climbing hills at a pace of around 5 miles per hour.
Brookings is the southernmost town in Oregon, and Dallas and I spent a little too much time there. Since all the hills slowed us down, we got there a bit later than anticipated and didn’t actually get our daily dose of espresso until after 2pm. This coffee shop we found was nestled by a harbour, with several docks and a cluster of little food places right off the road. In between coffee and pizza, we spoke with Jeremy, who was staying with his girlfriend on their sailboat. Like us, he had quit his job for a more adventurous and fulfilling life of seasonal jobs with plenty of vacationing in between seasons. Hopefully we will run into him and his girlfriend again down the road.
We ordered a pizza with salad on it from the nearby pizza place, and then moved on to the place next door for ice-cream cones before hitting the road again. It was after 4pm when we finally left Brookings, and it was another 30 miles to Crescent City. We finally made it to California! So far, I think Oregon is more beautiful, but our route took us inland a bit once we crossed the state border. More coastline and redwood forests await us tomorrow, so I’m sure California will redeem itself.
Dallas and I had hoped to make it a few miles past Crescent City and into Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park to set up camp, but the sun was setting as we stopped at the grocery store, and Dallas had remembered climbing a steep hill with no shoulder to get out of Crescent City. We didn’t want to deal with that in the dark, so we’re staying in town tonight and will try to get an early start in the morning to make up for it.