Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Salt Point to Olema, CA. Riding in the Dark ain't a Walk in the Park
Captions: broken wheel, Greg using the broken spoke to point at where the other part of the spoke needs to be removed from, awesome descent on a very winding mountain road, cliff along the road, looking back at what we had just ridden, Dani looking way too happy, Greg looking Greg like.
Salt Point State Park to Olema, CA 11/10/09
What a huge and crazy day. We started this morning with a goal of reaching Olema, a town just past Pt. Reyes Station to the South. We got out of camp early enough and were making great progress. We felt like we were on the down hill slide even though we were climbing some pretty stout hills today. San Francisco has sort of been our first goal so the thought of being so close was very exciting.
As we left Salt Point, we climb some magnificent cliffs right along the shore of the Pacific. We climbed a good 800 feet, dropped down some, and then climbed up even higher. Just as we reached the top of the climb the fog lifted, the sun came out, and everything was incredible. This part of highway one is like one of those spectacular roads you see in postcards or on car commercials. Roadway lined on one side by huge grassy hills with grazing cattle, and to the other side, precipitous cliffs dropping without a change in grade all of the way to the ocean. We stopped to put on another layer and descended down from the high point.
We rode much slower than we usually would for this grade, maybe only 20 mph. The road was a total sensory overload. Steep incredibly winding roads with a huge cliff on one side and often no guard rail. I tried to keep thoughts out of my mind of a story I heard from the 70's about breaking both brake cables on a steep descent on a loaded touring bike. Thank god cables are better made now. We dropped into a town called Jenner and stopped for a snack and to make a few phone calls (we had been out of cell service for a couple of days). When we were there we met another cyclist from Berkley who had been riding in Alaska, and then down from BC in Canada. He has been doing 100 mile days on a heavily loaded solo tour, getting up before light, and riding past sunset. Craziness. We exchanged information and hopefully we will run into him again.
We left Jenner feeling great, perhaps too great, maybe a bit smug. We though we were making great time and had the day in the bag. We were both thinking how it seemed like we finally have our bikes dialed in, no flats for awhile and all of that, but we never actually vocalized it. Cyclist superstition. You don't want to tempt fate and talk about a lack of flats or broken parts when things are going well. We rode easily into Bodega Bay, a nice little town, when as we dropped down a hill into the downtown I heard a loud tink cachunk, cachunk thunmp. "Dani stop! Oh s--t what just happened. Dani Stop!" I pulled up next to Dani and looked at my rear wheel. I had actually been thinking today how it was actually going to make it all of the way to San Fran, but nope. I broke another spoke, but this time on the drive side right next to the cassette full of gears. We stopped at a little food stand with a parking lot and I worked and worked to remove the broken spoke from the hub. I don't carry a tool to remove a cassette so prying the spoke out was very difficult. For awhile I didn't think it could be done, but I prevailed. We secured our temporary spoke and after over an hour of fussing and many helpings of french fries from the food stand we rode off. I could feel that my wheel was out of round or slightly oval shaped, but I had no options, so we continued.
This set back and the constant tinkering that followed to make sure my wheel would survive made us way behind schedule for the day. We got groceries in the tiny little town of Valley Ford and realized we only had on hour of sunlight left to ride about 20 miles. Right about as the sun went down we reached 1,000 miles total for our trip!! Yee haw. We were excited about that. After the sun went down, we ended up riding deserted roads at night. Much better than busy ones. We were along the Tomales bay and could see the stars reflecting off the water as we rode along. Once we left the bay we peddled through very nice agricultural land until we reached Pt. Reyes Station. When we reached this little town, we were hesitant to leave lighted streets to continue on to Olema, but we only had a few miles to go. We trudged on through the darkness and reached Olema only to find that the campsites for tents cost $32. Ridiculous. And they have no food boxes to keep away raccoons. We may or may not have stayed at that campsite....