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  My Tours: Pac West Tour 2007 - Journal Day 13

Wednesday 08/22/07 - Hidden Springs State Campground to Fort Bragg

I awoke this morning to the sounds of birds. It was too early to get up, stupid birds. I rolled over and went back to sleep for a bit more. About 6:30 am I decided to go ahead and get up. This would be the last day of the morning routine. Maria was up early as well and getting things packed. She was eager to hit the road. I was sitting there eating breakfast enjoying the last breakfast on the road. Maria and I talked about the road today and what we would encounter. She was hoping to get all the way to MacKerricher Beach but wasn't sure if she could make it that far. She had heard that the Leggett hill was a real killer and would be difficult to climb. 

Maria was geared up and ready to go before I was. I took her picture before she headed out and she said I would be passing her soon enough. After she left I thought to myself I should have been taking everybody's picture on this trip. Most of the pictures I have been taking were from only being on the road. More pictures, more pictures.

I took me another 30 minutes to finish putting things away, get dressed, and load the gear onto the bike. After filling up the water bottle it was time to hit the road. The morning was calm and peaceful. It would be a beautiful day on the road. I was on the road by 7:45 am. Pretty good for me. I'm lucky if I can get out by 8:30 am. I went down the steep hill out of camp and back onto the Avenue of the Giants. It's another 10 miles before you're back on Highway 101. As I rode through the next few towns it was still quiet, too early still for anyone to be up. But then again maybe it was rush hour for these folks. Who knows.

Soon enough I was back out on the main highway and had plenty of room for me to ride. Up ahead I could see Maria with her bright red panniers. I was gaining on her quickly and soon was passing her by. We exchanged well wishes and soon she was a small dot in the mirror.

Garberville was up ahead, it was only 9:20 am, way too early for lunch. I'll get something later. I should have stopped. This would be the only place to get much of anything for the next 40 miles. I went up and over the hill enjoying the down hill run. 

About an hour later I was at the top of the 2nd climb major climb after Garberville. I pulled off the freeway using the off ramp, it's at the top of the hill. I found a spot in the shade and decided to eat the last two fruit pies and a snickers bar. I should have stopped in Garberville. Rested and fueled up I started down the next hill.

The next 10 miles are probably some of the most difficult and most dangerous. The traffic is fast. The roads are small and windy and there is minimal room for a bike. This is the area that you go through Benbow, Richardson Grove, Piercy, and then on to Standish Hickey. Growing up I spent time in this area during the summers. I also remember traveling through this area every Summer on our way to Eureka. Beautiful scenery but definitely not for the timid or first time cyclist.

Much of the Highway is following the Eel River, you actually go over it a few times. In this area I pulled over a few times because of the trucks going both ways. I wasn't in a hurry and I didn't mind. My rule has always been I don't care if I have the right of way, give them the room, and you'll live to see another day.

The last difficult part is going through Richardson Grove. Not only do you have a small space to ride but you are up against the large redwoods. I actually came to close to a tree and knocked my sleeping back loose. I had to pull over, adjust it, and then wait for traffic to lighten up before I continued on.

Finally I was through the area and had made it to Standish Hickey State Campground. I remember as a kid camping here. It was so nice to camp next to the river and play in the cool water, but not today. There is a small general store across the street, but traffic was heavy and I didn't feel like stopping.

Using the Pacific Coast Book this is the stop for the day, if I wasn't finishing up in Fort Bragg I would have stopped here. It is a good stopping point after having done a difficult 45 to 50 miles. As soon as you pass Standish Hickey there is a bridge that you cross, then you take the off ramp to Highway 1 to the right. You then see a welcome sign to Leggett and then you're heading up the hill. It's at this point that I realize I'm running low on water. I've got about 1 bottle left and will need it for the next 18 miles as I climb up and over to the coast. I must be delirious to not stop. I should have stopped at Standish Hickey.

Everyone calls it Leggett Hill, but by the time you climb to the top you are almost at 2,000 feet elevation. So what constitutes a hill verses a mountain? How high does it have to be before you can call it a mountain? What ever the number this was more than a hill. Most hills just go up the mountain. This one you wind around it, switchback, and slowly make you're way up. Traffic was light and I was moving slow. 

I remember an RV coming from the opposite direction, he slowed down to tell me that the top was just about a mile ahead. He cheered me on, that was actually a nice thing at this point because I didn't think the hill/mountain would end. 

You definitely know when you're almost at the top. As you round that last bend you are blasted by this cool breeze, you can smell it, the coastal air, and then you feel the temperature drop a few degrees. But it felt good, smelt good, and was good since I was at the top. I still had some water left so I was okay but would need to stop soon.

The next 10 miles were a blur, literally. If it wasn't for the number of switchbacks and sharp turns I know I would have hit 50 mph. But today the high would only be 41.2 mph. As I screamed down the mountain I had to make sure that I gave myself plenty of room as I went into the turns, no cars from behind so I had the whole road. Once down at the bottom there was a bit of a straight away, not much, it was nice to just use gravity on my side. I was constantly on the lookout for a place to stop for water. There were signs about a camp up ahead but it was a Retreat Property for a Church. It was just a road that lead back through the trees, need to keep going. 

On the profile map the last climb of the day doesn't look that big, but that is because it is on the same profile map as Leggett Mountain. As I climbed this hill I kept thinking of all the places that I should have stopped for water but didn't, you would think I'd learn. One last corner and then I could see it, the ocean, I could actually see the ocean. It had been days since I had seen the ocean. It was another beautiful view as the coast opened up before me. And then the strangest thing happened. I had a shoulder, a huge shoulder. I don't remember having this much room on any part of Highway 1, it was nice. But still no water. The cool breeze from the Ocean cooled me down a bit, I could last a bit longer. Only 10 more miles to Westport.

As I rode along it was at this point that I remembered riding on Highway 1 from my Pacific Coast Tour in 2005. The rolling coast line. You are constantly going up and down. Up around the bend, then down into a cove, and then back up and out of the cove. It was all coming back to me.  

I was in count down mode to Westport.  As long as they had some sort of a store I would be fine.  Finally there it was up ahead.  A couple buildings, that was the town of Westport, population 238.  On the left hand side is a little grocery store.  The only one for miles.  So I pulled over went in and ordered lunch, water, soda, candy bars, and chips.  I came out found a nice spot in the shade and enjoyed a meal like I had never enjoyed before.

After a bit I sat there reading emails and catching up on the previous two days.  That is when I found out that a dear friend of mine, Karen Fraga, had passed away.  I called back home and talked with friends and found out that I had been asked to speak at the funeral.  I assured them that I would be there.  I sat there pondering life for a moment or two more and realized how much had happened without me during the previous two weeks.  Life is so fast at times, you don't even realize it, whether you want it to or not life will not wait for you, it just keeps on going.  I was glad that I had said my goodbyes to Karen before I left on my trip.  Time to move on.

It was 3:00 pm and I was now full, feed, and ready to finish.  I loaded up and headed out on the road again for the last time.  The road from here on out would continue to have little to no shoulder.  It would continue to go down into the cove and the back up and out.  Signs up ahead tell me I'm almost there as they count down the miles and then there it is Fort Bragg, CA.

I pass McKericher State Park.  One I've been to before.  Maria was hoping to make it there tomorrow, hopefully she'll meet back up with her group.  My stop was on the other side of town.  Coming through town isn't bad, but you do need to watch traffic, they're in a hurry to keep moving as well.  Plenty of tourists in a hurry to get somewhere.  

Soon I'm on the other side of town and take a left turn up the road that I came out of just 2 years ago as I started this journey.  I soon remember that I get to climb up hill this time around.  Another 5 miles and I'm making my way down the little gravel road that leads to Megan's place.

And there it is, the little brown house at the end of the lane.  I stop, I look down, 91.54 miles, the longest distance of the trip.  What a way to finish.  Strong and on top.  I could do another 9 miles to make it a century, about that time Lynn comes out the door with a Martini in hand, "You made it!"  

"Yes I did, I made it, in one piece."

We take a picture or two, I unhitch the trailer, drag all my stuff in the house and enjoy a nice hot shower, a great meal of chili, and sit down on a couch.  Wow, that's something I haven't used in a bit.

Lynn is a great host and we talk about the trip, she can't believe that I made it all that way.  Neither can I really, it doesn't seem like it was that hard, just one day at a time.  That night I settle into bed, a nice warm cozy bed, and drift off to sleep.  It was another easy time falling asleep.


Pictures for the Day

Maria is all packed and ready to go. Devin finally packed and ready to head back on the final leg of the trip. It's a beautiful morning in the Avenue of the Giants. Finishing out the rest of the Avenue of the Giants. The end of the Highway 254 and the Avenue of the Giants.
Back on Highway 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway. Crossing the Eel River again. A well known tourist stop. Be careful through Richardson Grove, there's not much room. Back out into the open space for a little bit...
...and some serious climbs. Be sure to stop in Garberville. Be careful through this stretch, not much room. Not much room going through this stretch of 101. Still not much room.
Across the street from Standish Hickey State Park. Highway 101 to the left Highway 1 to the right. Crossing the Eel River one last time. Time to climb. Known as Leggett Hill to most of the cyclists.
It winds back and forth. Finally you get to the top. And feel the cool... ...ocean breeze. Then you scream down the backside...
....only to find another hill waiting at the bottom. Up and over the last hill finally. Finally back out on the Coast  Plenty of shoulder here. Almost back to Fort Bragg.
No more shoulder, now this is how I remember Highway 1. A great view of the coastline. It's the home stretch now, Fort Bragg is just up ahead. Coming into Fort Bragg Going through Fort Bragg Near Noyo Harbor, the best place for fresh fish.
Turning left from Highway 1 I make my final climb. Down the gravel road... ...where I started my trip 2 years ago. I'm finally back to the beginning with Lynn. The cyclist after a long day on the bike finishes his trip.  


Daily Stats

Rider: Devin Holmes
Time Left: 7:45 am
Time Arrived: 5:45 pm
Max mph: 41.2
Avg mph: 11.6
Distance:  91.54
Actual Time Riding: 7:51:03
Camp Fee: $0
Total Cost for today: $12


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