Alan spent time last night and this morning researching a strategy for us to get off the bikes for a while. I spent last night and this morning deeply reflecting on what I wanted to be doing, period. And after breakfast this morning, as we packed up, I told Alan that despite my protestations yesterday, I thought we should get on the bikes and keep going.
I’m not crazy (okay, that’s arguable). But seriously, let me explain.
This bike trip, all this traveling, is not something I’ve ever done before, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, and something not many people get to do at all. I feel very lucky for that. I set out with Alan back in June to ‘ride around the country, and maybe the world’. That’s a pretty tall order right there, I knew it would have its difficulties, but a voice in the back of my mind keeps saying ‘Finish what you started’.
So laying in the tent this morning, putting things in the plus and minus columns, I just couldn’t quite get enough things into the minus column to tip it in favor of quitting. The traffic is a very real, and dangerous, stress out here on the road. I’m constantly amazed at the indifference of people to anyone outside of their vehicle, especially here in Northern California. Honestly, fifty foot motorhomes are actually scarier than the logging trucks, they sail by inches away from us, seemingly oblivious. I’m floored by bike tourists who find barely 18 inches of shoulder on the side of a double lane freeway to be in any way ‘adequate’. The Pacific coast is beautiful country, but involves thousands of feet in climbing up and down under my own power. I have many times doubted my ability to physically do this. My butt hurts, and don’t get me started on the ‘female problems’. And yet, I just don’t want to quit. I don’t. I know more redwoods are coming along our route and I have longed to ride my bike through the big trees. I want to ride my bike across the Golden Gate. I can’t quit just yet, because I need to be able to say ‘We did it’.
And so we ride on.
As if the bike gods heard my pleas, we enjoyed a few miles on bike path around Arcata. Between Arcata and Eureka, we rode on the freeway on especially wide shoulder painted red, as part of the ‘safety corridor’. At one point early in the ride, we stopped at an overlook to watch some surfers and saw a humpback whale popping up in the water, but we couldn’t get the camera out quick enough. After the humpback disappeared we spotted two or three other whales surfacing in the vicinity. We watched them for a while before pressing on. It was a good day of riding.
We’re spending the night in Eureka at the Quality Inn. We’ll do some laundry and plan out the next few days, since more rain is very possible. Some of the worst sections for traffic are coming up, so we’ve been talking about how to minimize the stress and get there in one piece. We moved my bike mirror around so I can see behind me better and we’ve agreed, as many riders have suggested in online discussion forums, just to get off the road when something menacing approaches us from behind. Hundreds, if not thousands of bicyclists ride the Pacific Coast every year. Clearly, this can be done. So I’m aiming for a better mental attitude about the traffic and all the while appreciating the beautiful scenery whenever I can!