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I’m writing from inside my tent outside of Leggett. My backlegsneckarmsass hurt too much to stand or move. I left Manchester this morning bright and early just past 7 o’clock. It seemed like it was going to be a not so horrible day. That was good, because the day before had been truly miserable.
I had left Bodega Bay in fine spirits, stuffed as I was with bacon, eggs, sausage, and coffee. I was immediately met with a bitter headwind and Angeles rollers out of town. The day before, Darell had told me that all the way to Point Arena it was downhill, and a tail wind, and that once you reached Point Arena, there was a pot of unicorn farts as your reward.
Darell is complete fucking liar. It was mostly uphill, bitterly Wendy, and a couple of the claims were truly the kind that make you wonder what in the world you are doing on a bicycle.
From Point Athena it was a mere 17 miles to Bodega Bay and every one of those miles was loaded with fast moving facial air. I staggered up the main street before turning off towards Manchester where I met roller after roller after roller after roller.
Eventually I got to Manchester, where there is an awesome state park. Unfortunately it isn’t all that awesome right now because it is closed. The feeling of riding for six hours into the wind only to be met with a giant closed sign is not really a very good feeling unless you like feeling like shit, which, if you are riding 1000 miles into the wind for no reason, you probably do.
Luckily, next door to the state park there was a KOA campground. Instead of paying five dollars, it cost $11.50. Still a huge bargain as the alternative was a ditch. After setting up camp I was able to reflect on the extraordinary beauty of the ride. Once you leave Bodega Bay, you have left behind all of the mess and the traffic clotting the roads and your life for the past six hundred miles.
But this is actually the beauty of bicycling. With a magic carpet you buy an economy ticket, drink ten mini-vodkas, and wake up in London or Honolulu. Somehow all the emotional shit you thought you were leaving behind wound up in your suitcase.
On the bike? It’s a gradual letting go. Bit by pedal stroke things fall away, ideas that don’t fit any longer, feelings that are too heavy to keep hauling up the steep hills, chains from the past whose shackles crack and clunk by the wayside.
I slept soundly and in great pain, got up at 5:30, made breakfast and sallied forth. It wasn’t windless but it wasn’t windy except for the constant wind. I made Fort Bragg, 34 miles distant, in four hours including a long coffee stop in Mendocino and a Mac stop outside Ft. Bragg.
I met some tourists, all going south, shockingly, and they were just starting for the day.
“Where are you coming from?” they asked.
“Wow .., that’s fast.”
“Felt pretty slow.”
“No, that’s super fast. But …” and then I got a supercilious look “slow and steady wins the race.”
“Where are you coming from?”
“Seattle, three and a half weeks ago.”
“You’re for sure winning then.”
“Aren’t you done for the day?” He asked as I remounted.
“Thought I might make Leggett.”
“Leggett?? That’s forty miles away.”
“I’ll try,” I said, “seeing as I’ve already lost.”
From Ft. Bragg a huge tailwind sprang up, and I passed the last campground in Westport confident I’d make Leggett by three at the latest as it was only 28 miles away.
Then the 18-mile climb commenced and I experienced the seven, eight, or nine stages of grief over the next THREE HOURS. You know the stages:
- I got this.
- Fuck fuck fuck.
- I quit.
- I’m crawling off the road and sleeping under that giant fern or poison ivy tick palace.
- I got this.
- Who am I kidding?
- Is there Uber in Mendocino.
- Ah fuggity fugg fugg.
- There’s the top!
- False flat FUCK YOU!
Finally I got to Leggett only to find out it’s not a place but rather trailers. Up the 101 I found a state park with camping and a store across the street selling bacon and ice cream.
At camp I opened up my bags. They were lighter even though I’d done just under 90 miles and — maybe — 7-8k of climbing. I rummaged around for some of the sadness I’d been lugging with me, the really heavy kind.
It was gone, left by the side of the road under some towering redwood in Mendocino County.
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