Monday, August 25, 2014

Eureka to Humboldt Redwoods. People: Brent and Gabby. Mark. Kelsey. E.T. and Hugo.

Back to the redwoods.

After having my back pain recur, I decided I should limit my daily mileage on the bicycle and use the bus to help me if I needed to get to campgrounds/cities.

This sounded like an efficient plan to me but it was a bit trickier to implement than I expected.  The Humboldt county bus is extremely well-used.  In Arcata I had tried to catch the bus, but the bike rack was full and there were three other cyclists trying to catch the bus as well.  In my next try from Eureka the following day, it was also full but fortunately Rosemary was willing to take her bike off the rack and leave her bike at the stop.  She had someone who was going to give her a ride on the other side as she was heading to a wedding.  She did have to walk a bit to get to the point where she was getting picked up though, so I really appreciated her help.  One more example of generosity.

The bus was full, running behind schedule, and many people were obviously stressed.  I was standing next to a tall, thin guy in a top hat who kept meowing loudly (like a cat meow). He’d meow every 30 seconds or so and then on occasion make some type of statement (to no one in particular).  It definitely added a sense of absurdity to the bus ride.

I exited the bus got off the bus after a bit and then resumed bicycling.  It was nice to have peace and quiet with no crowds and no meowing - though I also appreciated that the bus helped me on my journey.  Stopped at the grocery in Scotia… note to cyclists, Scotia has a nice grocery store (unlisted on my map).

The initial part of the ride was uneventful except when I dropped my helmet in to poison oak.  I put my helmet in a bag for the rest of the day (for washing at camp).  Shortly after that I was back in the redwoods.  I rode through the Avenue of the Giants - I have a hard time thinking of a road with a better name.  It just sounds so cool.

It was great to be back in the redwoods.  The redwoods were equally beautiful and impressive here as in Elk Prairie - hiking around was great.  For the first time on the trip, the weather was dry and hot (it was surprising after all the fog and mist).

My back was still not feeling great after the first night so I decided to stay a second night - had fun conversations with other cyclists both nights.  While there I spent some time making arrangements to do an inland detour to visit a Ch'an Buddhist center.


Brent and Gabby.  Brent and Gabby were the only people I met on the tour who rode similar mileage to me each day.
It was nice to meet them and for once not receive any grief over the low amount of miles that I ride (it’s usually just jokes as most folks are appreciative of taking the time to appreciate things, but I one guy at Elk Prairie was almost miffed).  They’re educators from Calgary and we had a pleasant dinner and breakfast at the campsite.

At one point, Brent and Gabby were asking me about my work and the interview process came up.  I explained how my interview process was long (8 months) with many people (11 interviews with 9 interviewers in 2 different cities).  They expressed surprise at this and thought it was crazy and made a statement on how it wasn’t like I was a director there or anything.  It was quite funny to me (I didn’t mention that I am actually a director there). :)  Anyways, it was fun talking to them and meeting the only other people who seem to do low miles per day.

Mark.  Mark is a super-experienced bicycle tourist and he tours with a carbon fiber bike and panniers that he hand-made himself.
I had been thinking about making panniers for a few years and never got around to it - Mark has made some really cool panniers and has everything on his rig tricked out to be ultralight.  He has gear made by companies I had never heard of.  For example, his tent is only 1.5 lb., made by a specialty maker, and it cost more than my bicycle.

Mark's gearing ratio is that of a normal road bike to allow him to cover lots of miles quickly.  He could do this as his bicycle and gear together weigh only 45 lb.  The weight of our camping gear was not that different (I did go pretty light with my gear), but my bike is ~13 lb. heavier plus I have the additional 9 lb. of surfing gear - so I'm carrying about 22 lb. of additional weight on my bike... that's quite a difference over several hundred miles.  Mark has one of the coolest set-ups I have seen.

Kelsey.  Kelsey attends Humboldt State University and has worked for the State Parks for two summers.
She is considering doing seasonal work with the parks after graduation.  This was one route I had also considered after university (particularly after spending a summer fixing trails in Utah) so it was fun talking about work in the parks.  It was also nice to be reminded of how lucky I am now as well (Kelsey was commenting on how great things sound with respect to my life and the balance between work, home, surfing, etc.).

One other fun conversation was with two hardcore bicycle tourists.  I shared with them how I missed friends at home and how they dealt with it.  The younger (E.T., maybe late 20's) cyclist mentioned how it happens to him as well and how it can be a downer but typically passes after a bit.  The older cyclist (Hugo, I'm guessing early 50's), who had been all over the world, vehemently expressed how he doesn’t like people because they are disrespectful to each other and how he likes animals more than people.  He preferred to be on the road and felt restless when at home.  It made me think maybe I don’t have the right outlook/personality for really long (greater than one year) solo tours as I also love my life at home (surfing, meditation, music, etc.... as Kelsey reminded me, it's a pretty darn good life).  :)

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