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Day 49

Myers Flat. That’s not a description, it’s where I am now. A small little ‘town’ of 200 souls and a camp site by the river, deep in the heart of redwood country. Charming.

I’m on the long climb up to Leggett, which I’ll be tackling tomorrow. It’s at over 1700 ft elevation, but I think it’s quite a steep climb, so it might be a long, hard day in the saddle tomorrow. But if I make it in good time then it’s a free-wheeling, feet-up on the handlebars glide to Westport (pop. 238), and a beer and good times. Haven’t a clue what Westport is like, but it’s going to have beer and good times whether it likes it or not!

Today was pretty much more of the same; cloudy to start, sunny to finish with wind out of the north. The knee felt fine, but I only made about 65 miles. I also got my third flat. This caused by a small bit of roadside shrapnel that managed to penetrate the Batman-esque aramid layer in my tyres. There is so much junk on the side of the road out here; bolts, fishing lures, a piston con rod I saw today, wire of various sorts, shredded tyres and lots of bark. In fact it took me quite a while to figure out why there was so much bark everywhere. Fallen from the trees? No. Discarded by beavers? No.
You’re probably ahead of me here, but I only twigged when another huge logging truck roared past and actually dropped some bark… ahhh, I thought, that’ll be it then. It’s been by the side of the road since Anchorage. There is still an awful lot of logging going on up here.

Here’s me stood in a redwood tree. Before the loggers get to it.

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Someone say, ‘hobbit’?

The cyclist’s tan is coming on beautifully. Arms are bronzed, as are the lower legs, but I’m especially proud of the fine patterning I’m achieving on my hands.

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I think I’ve invented a new make-up for some sort of subtly different sci-fi human. Get me Spielberg, stat!

Love
Pete

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Day 48

A day of two halves today. It started in fog and cold, and ended in glorious sunshine and a fair wind. Let me show you…

Lunch at Trinidad was made more interesting by sitting next to the palm-reading Mary at the diner bar. She reminded me of one of those elderly matrons beloved of Gary Larson’s Far Side – diamant√© studded glasses and pink fingernails. She was in turns blithely rude and then flattering. She read my palm for free(!) and got some things right and some things wrong. There’s a surprise. And apparently I have some Japanese in my background!? Mother?

After lunch it was all sunshine and fair winds until I stopped in Eureka for the night. I wouldn’t bother with Eureka. Bit of a dump.

Here’s what the afternoon looked like.

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Elk it would appear are bothered by The Honker.

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That looks like a pretty interested elk, if you ask me.

And whilst you can’t see their expressions from this photo, the seals on this rock certainly answered back when I honked. They must have been thinking there’s the Chris Bonnington of the seal world at the top of that cliff and we must salute him.

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Love
Pete

Day 47

Well, a mixed day. It’s cold and foggy over here at the moment, but if you get to the top of some of these hills then, for a brief moment, you get to see the sun before you dive back down into the gloom.
It looks a bit like this.

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The beginning of California hasn’t filled me with confidence for the rest of my trip through it. The towns have been pretty nasty and the shoulders to the roads, so generous in Oregon, have all but disappeared here. It makes for some exhilarating downhills! I’ve driven through California before with Amanda, but it’s a different kettle of fish on a bike.

I think the lack of pedestrians makes it less human over here. Maybe it’s the same in all developed countries, but I’ve never ridden a long tour in them. So the only regular point of human contact I have is with shop and campsite/motel staff. And you don’t really get to strike up a decent conversation or make a lasting relationship with a conversation of only 89 seconds. I shall seek out bars and force people to talk to me! Although I did meet Hamish and John, two fellow Brits, who are kite-surfing the California coast. Good luck fellas. At least we’re used to the cold, eh?

Pip pip
Love
Pete

Day 46

Here are some things I’ve learned about long distance touring so far:

1. It doesn’t appear to be a weight-loss program. Sure the legs are now made of steel, but the bit in the middle doesn’t seem to want to go. He and his stomach can now leap buildings in a single bound!
2. Don’t skimp on the lube. It’s the only thing between you and the dread chafing.
3. Maintaining your ‘form’ when pedaling is vital for efficiency. Nice and smooth revolutions gets you up any hill.
4. Keep your hands on the brakes down hill. And, conversely keep your hands on the bar-ends up hill.
5. A cadence of between 80 and 90 seems to suit me. Change gear accordingly.
6. Stop when you like. It’s not a race.
7. Wear a hat with a peak. It soaks up the sweat and keeps the rain or sun out of your eyes.
8. Always wear gloves. Your hands will be the first things that get it when you come off.
9. Stand up out of the saddle down hill. As long as it’s not too fast, it gives things a chance to air and you can stretch out the calf muscles.
10. Honk your Honker at least once a day. The following is a non-definitive list of the effect on some animals: Bears, bemused. Moose, never Honk a moose, especially with children. Cows, not bothered. Sheep, not bothered. Goats, not bothered. Horses, slightly bothered. An ass looked up, but I don’t think it was bothered. And crows positively stare you down. The research continues.

Let’s try another video…

Anything?

Love
Pete

Day 45

Good riding, but nothing eventful. I’ve met a few more tourers – mostly from Seattle heading to San Fran. Seems like a popular thing to do, and I can’t blame them. This is spectacular scenery and perfect cycling weather. I’ve also seen a few unfortunate cyclists battling the other way against this wind, and they don’t look happy at all. Head down, arse up grinding slowly along a flat bit of road. Not much fun. You’re lucky to get a wave or a grunt from the poor beggars as you whistle past them barely touching the pedals, reading a paper and enjoying a small espresso. Still, I had about 600km of headwind on the Cassiar and Alcan, so suck it up!

I stayed in an enormous state park campsite, which I imagine is what Bedlam would have sounded like had it been outside. Screaming, whooping, whistling, crying, maniacal laughter. Kids and parents alike just letting rip with the sheer joy of being outside and separated by the enormous distance of three feet from the next nest of harpies. And then at about 2100 it all goes silent as they all retire to their RV’s to watch TV. To be replaced by the screaming, whooping and whistling of the local fauna. This can’t be helped, I understand, and once the raucous crows have turned in the the rest of the wildlife gets their chance to gently scream you to sleep. Ahh, the great outdoors! I love it.

Love
Pete

Day 44

A huge thanks to Elliot and Darren at Bike Newport. Not only have they fixed the bike, but after a day in the saddle of my newly adjusted bike, my knee feels so much better. Just goes to show that buying the bike is the first thing then getting it fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing is the next. Might be a bit of a journey for you guys back in Blighty, but anyone local to Newport should give them a go.

And for my next trick I am going to attempt to upload some video. Let’s see what happens, shall we?


Hopefully that’s a video of me up-tiddly-up-up. If it’s worked then expect more…

Sorry if this is becoming repetitive, but it was another great cycling day here in Oregon. This strong northerly is still blowing me south and eating up the miles. As soon as my knee is back to normal I should be pulling 100 milers with ease. I’ve met quite a few touring cyclists on this part of the trip. They’re mostly doing a couple of weeks touring down the coast. Nothing as magnificent or awe inspiring as me, but bless them for giving it a go! There are a few who are going to San Diego so we might be crossing paths on a fairly regular basis, but we all have such different agendas that we might miss each other completely. We shall see.

I had another ‘moment’ today. I was so busy planning in my head how far to travel, where to stay for the night, where to get food, how long it was going to take me to get to San Francisco, how my knee was going to hold up and a million other things that I suddenly realized I was sort of missing the ‘now’. I stopped and just took in the view for a bit…

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And that got me back to just enjoying the day. It’s not hard this cycling thing. At all! Just pedal a bit, then pedal a bit more. You get to where you get to eventually and then you stop. And that’s about it. It’s nice to not really think about anything. But then you start to think about everything. All the things that are important, anyway. Yes, I have discovered the Zen of Cycling! (“he’s gone ‘hippy’!”) What seems important to me now – and I think in this order – is Bridget, a family and our own business. I just have to get this cycle thing finished then it’s full steam ahead with the important stuff. Better keep pedaling then…

Love
Pete

Day 43

I think Oregon in the summer must be one of the best places to ride. I’ve had sunshine and a fair wind behind me since I got here. The north wind is cooling so you don’t overheat and the people are friendly and helpful.

I stopped at Newport to have the guys at Bike Newport look at the Rohloff hub and check the bike geometry to see if we could sort out my knee problem. Darren and Elliot were great. Darren changed the oil and suddenly the slight grinding disappeared and I ‘found’ the lost gear! Looks like I lost quite a bit of oil on the flight to Anchorage and I’d been riding with a fraction of the oil it should have had. It says something about the quality of the hub that it survived about two thousand miles with hardly any oil in it. It’s all working smoothly now and I have a full set of gears to play with.

Then Elliot got work on me and the bike and after a bit of finagling I’m now set up with the correct geometry. The saddle had to go back and up by about 6mm in each direction, which is quite a bit. My left leg is slightly longer than my right, so the seat position has to be a slight compromise. I may fit a shim under my cleats to correct my leg length issue. (Is this getting technical enough for you, Sam?!)

And the other thing I did was have a flight in a 1939 bi-plane!!! Oh, yes! I couldn’t pass up the sign by side of the road offering that. In the true spirit of 1930’s barnstorming, the guy had his plane out on the slightly underused airfield. Just him; no crew or in fact anyone else, unless you count his small dog. So after putting on the cloth flying helmet, goggles and headset we were up, up and away! And here’s the proof…

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Brilliant! Now I just need a pipe and some outrageous flying jodhpurs and I’m set.

Pip pip

Love
Pete