Day 13: Benbow - Mendocino
Monday, September 19, 2005

74.46 @ 15.3 = 4:51'29, max: 38.2, trip total: 1009.7

cool and sunny - nice day, with fog rolling in from the ocean throughout the afternoon

pop-tarts, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, pancakes, toast, cookies, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, chicken Mcnugetts, fries, vanilla shake

Van Damme Campground, $2.14 p/p

Sleeping next to the redwoods makes the tents look even smaller. Waking up next to them puts you in your place - nature is definitely the one in control. The elements all day long will orchestrate the day. But it was already sunny and we were up and ready on our scheduled 7.30am ride start. A new day. A new attitude. Ready!

It all started with some climbing. OK, it seems like everyday starts that way. Truth is there is a ton on climbing on this trip - from day one there have been some punishing hills, mountains, and passes. But this morning is was relatively calm, or I should say - moderate.

It was a good way to warm up and we were all off for a cruise through the redwoods and then head out to the coast again. We were on a small section of 101 that goes inland a bit through the forests. Then we pick up route 1 which leads us back right along the coast.

The first 10 miles flew by. The legs fresh as ever - roight - they hurt like mad. I've been beating them up quite a bit - dropping the hammer whenever I feel, pushing them at will. The toll is accumulating. And I have yet to use my small chain ring-- something that started as a joke and now is more of a "well maybe I can do without". Ok, its more stupidity than anything- there's nothing to prove, I realize this all this. But at this point having come all the way from Canada (over 1000 miles) so far and not having used it- it's an internal challenge.

Knowing this still of riding - 40 cadence up hills - is not the best for the legs/knees etc. So that's were part of the pain comes in. The other part is the fact that we're pushing some distance through "bumpy" terrain.

And so with my fresh pair of legs I hit the 5 mile / 1000 foot climb - or something like that. I heard it was 10 % grade but I have a feeling it was more like 7% average with sections of 10% and long. More than a sprint. So with the iPod in gear I pushed through and felt great. I really warmed up after that. And that's when the downhill really woke me up. WOW.

video clip: slamming down an awesome descent »

It was awesome. Going 30mph around hairpin curves that were marked with 10 and 15 mph warning signs. It was a thrill. Holding the line - using both lanes (traffic was almost non-existent) - hugging the wall of rock on one side - and hugging the white line on the edge of the mountain on the other. Easily the best and most technical descent yet. It was all turns- no straights. And over the course of the next 10 miles the majority was downhill - from about 2000 feet at the way to about 10 feet above sea level.

Yes it was dangerous at times. But all within the limits of a good ride. There was a brief moment where I thought about 'what if' and the next second I was pre-occupied with making sure the bike stayed on the road. Did I mention it was totally thrilling - oh, it was awesome.

With all that and a few more climbs I ended up on the coast were I met up with Tim and Aaron to have some breakfast (at 11am) after pounding out the first 46 miles of the day. It was a much needed stop- food / fuel and a seat without pedals. Relax- enjoy - and get ready to roll.

Coming onto the coast the change was instant. The fog was rolling of the sea and onto the shore- so thick it blocked out the sun as you looked out into the ocean. Yet, if you looked toward the mountains it was nothing but blue sky. We were on the fringe - and the temperature was a noticeable 10 - 15° different depending on the roll of the fog. As we headed down the coast some of the higher section only a couple hundred feet up would be sunny and warm while just seconds later we would be in dense cold fog right along side the beach.

The guys seemed to step it up a notch in the afternoon- not sure if it was me that was feeling like I had pushed all morning or just had 5 pounds of food -- or BOTH. But they certainly kept me in check and made me earn my keep. We alternated pulls through the rest of the day.

The campground- also very nice. Brand new bathrooms with enough grass to lay out 100 tents. The day had plenty of sunshine left and we were in good shape. Camp was set up and laughs were all around.


< BACK :: NEXT >