Saturday, November 7, 2009
Big hills and big waves... Benbow to Cleone, CA
Check out the huge elevation for these hills. 7% grade on the big one.
Captions from the top: Sets of waves coming ashore, huge wave crashing at Westport, Wave crashing through rock, Dani at the start of highway one (called "the one" by locals), Greg at sunset, California sunset, Greg with some new friends in the background.
Benbow to Cleone
Day 22 60 miles
Total miles thus far - 855
We were about to get out of camp before 9 AM today and decided to do one last tire check to prevent a pinch flat. When we put the pump on to give the tire some air, the tip of the valve broke off of my tube. What luck! So we changed it pretty quickly and got on our way. Today is a big day because we are climbing the biggest hill on the coast route and then as soon as we hit the bottom, we climb a 750 foot hill. We get out with fresh legs after a nice rest day with my dad. We start climbing and stop at the town of Leggett to get groceries. After Leggett comes the really steep climb and the map, as Greg put it "looks like intestines." We knew the day would include more elevation gain and loss than any other day we have had before. Just check out the elevation profile picture.
We get nearly the entire way up the huge hill and see a couple of cyclists stopped on the side of the road. They are riding a sweet tandem all the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Their names are Roland and Belinda and they are from New Zealand. They are stopped on the side of the road because they had a blowout on their rim and are waiting for help. The rim had literally peeled away from the wheel. They told us they are volunteering all along the way at Salvation Army locations. Their website is www.cyclingwithsally.com (Sally is what they call Salvation Army in NZ.) Not five minutes after we stopped to talk to them three more guys pull up on their bikes and join in the conversation. Two of them started together and the other guy, Nickol, joined the group more recently. Nichol has been riding since July and started in Arkansas. The other guys had been riding about three weeks, I think. Not two minutes after the trio arrived another guy, Nathan, pulled up on his bike. We really liked Nathan's bike, a Rivendell Atlantis. Nathan had a plastic sword which he told us he kept in order to fight off plastic Vikings. Nathan is a local from the San Fran Area. So we found ourselves up on a huge hill in the middle of nowhere California in a group of eight cross-country cyclists. It was really incredible and energizing to meet more people with as much excitement for cycling as ourselves.
Nathan told us that when we get to San Francisco we need to go to a French Bakery called Tartine. We are going to meet up with Roland and Belinda at this bakery when we get to San Fran.
We parted ways after a nice long break with our new friends and then began a really fun descent from the summit. We met up with the trio of guys when we got to the bottom and then rode with them for awhile. It is so nice to see other cyclists and share our stories. It is also great to hear obscure details from their adventures. For example... Greg and I have discovered a great purchase found in many markets in the area. It is a 2-pound, $2 bag of mixed broken cookies from a nearby bakery. We found out from the guys we met that they have been scarfing down the same cookies and are nearly as excited about them as we are. We also felt good about our dinners when we heard that Roland and Belinda had had a can of chili and a can of beans for their supper one night. Sometimes you just don’t have very good options.
We came down off of the second hill to a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean near Westport. There has been a large off-shore storm creating HUGE waves that we saw crashing into the shore. It was quite a sight. The last remaining miles of the day were incredibly hilly and it was rewarding to get to our campground at MacKerricher State Park. They had to close down part of the campground because the waves were cresting at thirty feet and had flooded the road on the other side of the campground. We heard these waves crashing against the shore all night long. We slept really well. Raccoons swarmed like mad in this campground but thankfully we had a food box to keep them out of trouble.