Days 8 and 9: Avenue of the Giants

Day 8 miles 187-234
We made it out of Laytonville today. We were sad to go but knowing we have so far to ride makes me want to hit the road. It felt good to get back in the groove today. I hit a new top speed, 34 mph!
We rode out of town north on the 101 around 7 this morning. The roads were really quiet, maybe they always are when the biggest town you pass that day has 7,000 people. We gained elevation to the next town over, Leggets. We had hoped to get something to eat in that town but only 1 of the 3 commercial establishments of this bucolic one street wonder were open at this hour and it happened to be the gas station. Our spirits were unfazed by this adorable set as a swift winding downhill through the first real redwoods of the day took us to a wonderful side of the road everything shop. One of those cramped establishments that sells fine wine, butane, gummy bears and WD40 all on the same aisle. AND OF COURSE THEY MAKE BREAKFAST BURRITOS
We saw another couple bike tourists (can I change it to tourer to avoid the frivolous connotation?) at the everything spot. A father and son from the Netherlands going to San Francisco. The son had been on the road for months and gone the length of Canada to meet his father in Seattle for the last leg. For the record they share my opinion of the parts of the 101 south of here; not worth it.
We are camping in a state park on the banks of the Eel river tonight. Ru was pretty upset to leave the farm this morning, I felt like I was adopting him all over again. With a little help he got into his trailer and lied down to sulk, crying every so often to make sure I know the pain we caused him. Now that we’re camped he’s having a luxurious leaf litter nap. We’ll wake him soon and go down to the river. Early starts are great.

Day 9 miles 234-279
Late starts are pretty good too. Rolled out of camp this morning around 8:45. We biked along the 101 for about 15 miles through Benbow and Garberville. A few whiles past Garberville we entered the Avenue of the Giants. This scenic byway stretches 30something miles through Humboldt Redwood State Park. And now we are camping in the last mile of the Avenue before getting back on the 101 in the morning.
The morning stretch was fairly tame with a small rise into Garberville. It was still a three break hill but last week it would have been a 5 breaker at least. I have found that even just in this second week I am getting stronger and feel my chest loosening to let me take deeper breaths. In high school I played field hockey and our coach focused mostly in interval running. While other teams worked on technique our team’s strategy on being just harder, faster players. I was never the fastest person on the team and I had to really work to get my head around it to make it through those drills. I developed a couple of breathing patterns (like the pregnant lady breathing but for sprinting) that sound like songs to me as I have never been one of those people who could talk or sing their way through hard physical exertion. These patterns keep me occupied these days as well, giving me something else to think about as I make the ever (so slightly) shorter journey upward.
The Avenue of the Giants started with a whimper of sorts. There is a long thin south tail of the park with spotty groves to warm you up to the splendors to come. We wound along beside the south fork of the Eel River. This river, braids its way through a wide bed of sun baked smooth, rounded river stones. Meandering through the channel is some of the deepest blue green water I have ever had the pleasure to assume is snow runoff.
Around 1:30 we reached the visitor center and learned some things about the park. The idea came from a famous naturalist and conservationist who went on a road trip through the groves and it was eventually put aside through government money matched by the Rockefellers. Kind of funny to think about a time when the industrialists of the time were helping to set aside vast tracts of protected lands instead of bribing people to say climate change isn’t important.
But anyway after the visitor center we headed down to find some river access and eat lunch. We got exactly where we wanted to go but as we left the brush to slide down stones on the steep bank of the Eel we noticed that all was not well. The winds kicked up and we could see billowing clouds of sand coming from both the bank and across the river. After running down to touch the water to say we had done it, we scrambled back to our bikes and pulled them from the shifting dune (jk but kind of). I am sorry to say that we had a casualty today. Ru’s travel bowls blew away in the storm and have never been heard from again. They are assumed dead. We will mourn their loss and Ru will eat out of the camp pot when we don’t ❤️


Speaking of Ru, he jumped out of the trailer shortly thereafter. As we neared our chosen campsite, Rubeus flung himself out of the open front flap. Luckily, he missed the trailer wheel, luckily his leash didn’t get caught in the wheel, luckily I was only going 10 mph and luckily there were no cars. All very lucky.
We saw a lot more bike tourers today, but they were all going the other way…..


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