Backfill #10: Wednesday, August 17th
Fort Bragg to Eureka
The Tap Room
did last call at 9:30 PM; I was finished with my meal by that time and opted to exit for an early rise. The next morning I woke up at 4 AM when the charger had stopped, and got up ½ hour later to prep the bike. Before the light of dawn when it was still foggy, I departed from the motel and stopped for breakfast two blocks north at Denny’s, seating myself squarely between a couple of locals at the bar. Within a few minutes two more joined up. I enjoy hearing local gossip and carry-on; it’s a great way to learn about the lore of the town. The guy to the right of me bent my ear good and hard relating the economic woes of this once thriving lumber town. Without the mills though – there wasn’t much option for work, and many had left.
There was one other quirky individual that came in; he looked a bit out of place and a little disheveled. Apparently he made his living washing windows and was quite curious about the specifications of my ebike – thinking possibly that it could help him with his business. I guess his issues was the penalty of hauling his own water around; I’ve heard that California has some odd laws concerning water use, and possibly one of the reasons why the complimentary glass of water is no longer offered as freely when sitting down for a meal. Strange times. This guy though was going on a bit stranger yet; after having a frustrated conversation with our waitress over the topic of coffee fills, he decides to inspect my ebike a bit closer. I can’t see what he’s doing cos I’m inside eating. The guy next to me tells me he’s a transplant from San Francisco and been here for maybe 3 years: He says the guy has made claims to being a Vietnam Vet, and suffering from Agent Orange (I suspect he is suffering from more than that
). When the weirdo returns, he starts going off about how someone could steal my bike
, how someone could cut right through my wimpy
½-inch diameter steel rope securing it, and looking pretty hard at me as if to announce his intentions. Without effort I could see the gerbils spinning pot-metal gears in the void between his ears and said “That rope is for keeping the honest people honest… and the stupid from making a mistake
And then I told him that the weight of the whole bike assembly is enough deterrent alone (never indicating my hidden security features). That got him flustered and he left. Big eye rolls all around. The conversations return to normal and casual.
Afterwards, I thanked my new associations for sharing and bade them farewell. The bike was unmolested
. At 7:15 AM, the fog had lifted; the light of the new day was trying to burn through the gray pall of overcast with a clear road ahead. There was no wind or traffic; I headed north and into the unknown ~ as I have never been north of Point Arena on Hwy 1 before yesterday. Immediately the road dips and crosses over a small estuary before climbing back up again, and the city of Fort Bragg
is behind me; this section north is more or less unorganized rural and commercial development all the way to Inglenook. Except for some tight corners to cross over small streams – the road is fairly straight and fast. I pass through Westport without incident; too early for traffic, still damp and foggy in parts, with a breeze beginning to pick up. The sun is trying to peak over the hills and burn off the clouds. Not too much later, the road turns inland.
Checking the map, this is the beginning of the slow migration towards Leggett
/Highway 101. The first of two false starts after some steep twisty winding switchbacks announces the hamlet of Rockport before the long slow methodical hill up and over to the second tease where Usal Road peels off to follow the ragged shoreline north to Wheeler. My road however takes a sharp turn into the sun and begins the true hill climb in earnest up and out of the clinging coastal dampness; it’s already warming up to be a crackin’ day!
Up and up, an easy leisurely grade with hardly any traffic; I pretty much have the road to myself, though I keep an eagle-eye on the rearview mirrors constantly checking my rearguard. Miles go by. Occasionally I am offered a stellar view back towards the coast; the fog is pulling back and out to sea. Marvelous!
Not long after reaching Hales Grove
I spot a road crew; it’s not hard cos they have warning signs placed fore and aft some miles either way of where they are working. This group looks like they are waiting for something; I pull off to rest and chat with the guys – my first real break since breakfast. They are just a road crew out trimming the sides of the road and waiting on others to show up, someone with the sobriquet of “Asshole”
. I ask if that is the supervisor, and they humorously reply that no, he’s just a dude with an attitude, and with grins we leave it at that.
They asked about my bike and I relate the saga. Big trucks go by. They told me that I shouldn’t have any issues going forward, but that this is not the road to be on after Noon cos of the timber trucks; they’re mindful this route is used by cyclists – but best not to tempt fate. Roger that loud and clear; I shouldn’t have any problems (aside from the occasional grinding that plagues my machine). Time to motor on, and so I bade them too farewell.
Soon I was traveling along the ridge-top following it up and up. It surprised me how much more hill there was, but then – this is the highest summit
that I shall cross on the entire leg going north. There’s a lot more hill to go. It weaves as it goes, though sadly I never do get a nice opening on the left where I could pull off and take a shot back towards the ocean. The road crests the ridge, switches back again, then once more at the summit with a pullout right at the top; I’ll take that and free my bladder. I could hear heavy machinery climbing up from the canyon below heading west and decide to wait. Ahh, it is part of the road crew no doubt, and I wondered privately if that is “Asshole”
; he’s pretty late if he is. Time to motor. No sooner had I started than I spot a cyclist coming up from below; smile wave hello – the obligatory gesture of universal friendship. It’s pretty steep going down so I regen as I go and try not to brake. More cyclists – this time women; h-e-l-l-o
Another road-crew truck steams up the hill; maybe is that “Asshole”
. More women cyclists pedaling up the hill. Then some old fart struggling and wheezing on his bike; he shouts at me: “It’s tough, but you’ll make it!”
With certainty, for sure.
Down one last steep decent and onto the flats, then that disappears to reveal the South Fork of the Eel River
on the right; careful – it’s a steep dropoff! I cross the bridge and in quick time I am at the junction of Hwy 101 when the rear wheel makes a gawd-aweful racket and freezes up solid!
Oh, this is not good. I can hold the brakes, pull the throttle and hear grinding inside the hub. My mind is racing as I am imagining that the stator must be spinning inside the hub (sic). It has to be a hub problem; crap! I try again and the sound is absolutely horrible. Then I decide to rotate the wheel; roll the bike forward cos maybe it’s the Hall Sensors miscommunicating. The racket stops and the wheel spins fine. I decide to take a closer inspection: The cabling exiting the axle is pinched between the bike frame and the Ortlieb Pannier. The cable insulation around the phase and signal wires is partly melted in several spots to reveal the wiring! Oh crap; the front hub phase wiring was upgraded, but I didn’t have time to do the rear. But it looks like only the external sheath is melted and not the actual wire insulation, so that is good. But – where the cable was being pinched, there the sheath was worn away. Is it possible this is the cause of the horrible grinding (shorting of the Halls)? I gingerly reroute the cabling and tie it off so it won’t get pinched again. Retest the throttle; seems fine. OK – so maybe that was it: Bullet-dodged. <whew!>
Water-up, eat a Cliff Bar, wait for traffic to clear, WOT to cross and head north on the Redwood (101) Highway
. I had picked up about 0.2 volts from regen on that last downgrade and although I had barely ventured 60 miles, there was still more than half the pack left. The good news is that it’s pretty much downhill to the ocean from here – baring some minor ridge cuts. For the next 10 miles I blast as fast as I can go and stay right in the narrow margins on this very fast and moderately busy 2-lane highway. On one of the down-dips, just after crossing a stream and far too late to do anything about it, I pass a CHiP parked on the side of the road at 32 mph WOT and climbing. I bet he didn’t believe his radar cos he never pulled out or indicated. Oh well – motor on.
More women cyclists touring on the other side of the road; they’re going the wrong way! <pouts>
And that’s the way it went until the road turned to divided freeway and I took the first exit at #625 where Hwy 271 peels off. I had to pee and shed clothing anyways. Checking the map, Hwy 271 parallels Hwy 101 until Exit 627. Unsure if I can take the freeway – I elect the alternate route and follow 271 north, a quiet little road with a single hill climb affording a nice scenic view of Hwy 101 below. Hmmm.
At Exit 627 I inspect the signage: It says “No pedestrians”
and nothing else, not like other freeway signs I’ve seen where the warnings are explicit. Well – it doesn’t say “No Bicycles”
so I decide to take the freeway; worst that could happen is that I get a ticket. The margins are wide and I have lots of room. No one honks at me; great! WOT. The hamlet of Cooks Valley comes and goes; there are no issues as the road returns to 2-lane highway. This is real pretty here! And then I pass the turnout for the “Legend of Big Foot”
and I had to stop and take pictures! (Note: Photos missing)
After this the road divides again into freeway and as I cross the South Fork of the Eel River
on a long sweeping arch bridge when the rear tire makes another nasty racket like it’s going to lock up again; shite
– not here on the freeway dammit! Bounce the frame, wiggle the frame, try anything to get it to stop; tail-wagging wiggling worked
– motor on!
Passed through Benbow, then onward to Garberville and pulled off at Exit 639A, and parked briefly near the Hemp Connection
to get my bearings. A nice lady came out helped me sort it out: Continue north for 6 miles to catch the Avenue of the Giants
; great! I move on down the street and park near the Napa Auto Parts to water-up and eat a Cliff Bar. More Orange People
are migrating through the town here; spotted one dumpster-diving for cans or food – I couldn’t really tell and I didn’t want to stare. Inspected the rear fender for like the 100th time; I still cannot figure out what the problem is. Obviously there are several issues conspiring to create havoc for this wheel. It’s quite warm here; one more sip of Gatorade and it’s back on the road.
I retake the freeway at Exit 639B; it’s very fast, quite safe, and scenic. Itching the whole way, finally at Exit 645 – the 31-mile long Avenue of the Giants
! Right about here is when I finally had enough of the rear fender and I decide to snip it off the bike and stow it in the trailer.
A mile later – I ran into a resurfacing crew who were laying down tar and pea-gravel for the next 8 miles; just my luck!
But – gone was that nasty scraping noise (or at least – that particular version).
It was slow-going through Phillipsville and Miranda, but picked up shortly thereafter. A long lovely afternoon under the Redwood canopy
with not too much traffic; some I could keep pace with, and others… I don’t know why they bothered to come this way if they’re just going to blast through here at high-speed. Somewhere here a butthead decides to hate me and nearly clips my front tire as he passes; right coward, how about you pull over so we can have a conversation about your intent on vehicular manslaughter.
Myer’s Flat came and went; so did most of that traffic. Between here and Weott I stopped and pulled over along a straight path next to a tall sibling and took a few photos. (Note: Half the photos are missing)
Can you see my bike and trailer? This is a “little” tree compared to some.
I was in the process of walking back to the bike when a couple went jogging past. As they did the gal says to the guy “That’s dangerous to park so close [to the road]”.
– I says to myself privately, ’you don’t know what Danger is! I know Danger! Lemme show you what danger is!’
There was hardly a soul on the road after this; maybe three cars passed me between here and the north entrance – I had the park to myself, doing the speed limit at just about WOT. Redcrest flew by; here they say the elk cross. Then Pepperwood, and soon the north entrance; I took a couple more parting shots before leaving this beautiful island of old growth. In short – this was an awesome ride for an ebike! My problem though, still existed occasional grinding on a few of those dips: This has me thinking that the tire is hitting the controllers on either side, possibly from the axle moving up and down on the right side. I need to get those hose clamps affixed to the right torque-arm.
North Entrance to the park; I came up from the south.
Back on the freeway heading north, either just before or right after Stafford – a maroon-red pickup truck pulls off about a ¼ mile in front of me at a turnout; the man is flagging me down to pull over. I know what he wants, so I oblige. I think he said his name was “Steve”
so let’s call him that: He wants to know where he could buy my bike; he was completely blown away at how fast I was going up that last incline. I am relating the details when a CHiP pulls up behind; my gosh she is a petit beautiful blond asking if we need help <big sigh> If only I could meet them some other way… Steve just says we’re chatting, which was true, and so she motors on wishing us well. <sigh> Probably not my type; I’d bet she’d bust me and throw away the key…
Soon Steve has the dope he needs, possibly an ES
-convert, we shake hands, and it’s good-bye.
Scotia, Rio Dell, Belleview: These towns peel away without much notice. Although as soon as I cross the Eel River
after Belleview the headwinds begin to pick up and grow ever stronger as the temps begin to cool down. Going through Fortuna
, between that, the wind, and traffic had me pretty frazzled and I pull off onto Fernbridge Drive at Exit 691, found a tree to park under, and water-up, rest, feed my face.
Not much farther to go – maybe 15 miles. Got back on the freeway at Exit 692 heading north; let’s do this!
The next time I pulled off was just after the freeway returned to 2-way road after crossing Pound Road at Exit 702, about a mile north into the parking lot of a Kragen/O’Reilly Auto Parts
. Snagged a pair of 1.5” hose clamps for about $3, watered-up, and got my bearings. It’s now about 3 PM. Heading into the center of town, I checked out three different motels before going back to the Travelodge
with hesitations. The room is $87.99 and is a royal pain in the arse to navigate; a small double queen with a stupid planter box right in front of the doorway.
The only way I can snake the bike in is to park it backwards into the room; what a nightmare! The motel attendant said the reason that there are so few rooms available was because this is the busiest week of the season with the county fair and families moving their kids back into school (college). Figures.
Anyways – I got the room secured by 4 PM, Started recharge at 4:15 PM, S, S, & S. I’m off to the brewery! Lost Coast Brewery
that is. Here methinks my publican took smitten on me as we hit it off just perfectly!
In fact – this place is loaded with ladies!
No sooner than I am setup with another fine taster than three nice ladies from Susanville
take a sit/stand beside me. The conversation starts up somehow… I forget, but soon we are talking about where we came from and where we’re going. They like my story, so let’s hear theirs:
“We’re here for training”.
“Oh really; what kind of training?”
“Probation Department, regulations, that sort of thing”
Yikes! And so I spill:
“Listen ladies, honest – I don’t drive to the pub anymore, no… I WALK, honest injun, I’ve been r e a l good!”
And that had them in stiches; the truth is always more fun. Soon they get their table and we – sadly
– have to say good bye.
Bubbly barmaid returns with my meal: Steak and Fries. She hands me an error-pour on the house; can’t beat a deal like that!
Guy next to me is about to get his steak and I pass over the fixins. He scarfs his down PDQ and is away, only to be replaced by another lovely lass
; what a pretty thing! She and the barmaid are pals and we have a right good chat. Two, maybe three pints later – it’s time to say good-bye to this charming heartbreaker. Back to the motel for the Sandman cometh early.Stats:
Start V = 63.4; End V = 55.2
Distance = 141.8; Total Odometer = 1844.6 miles
Regen = 3.9%; Vmin = 53.5
MaxS = Buggered – says “360.”; AveS = 25.7
Trip Time = 5:30:24Corrections:
I incorrectly stated that the first
Travelodge told me they were booked up cos of students returning to college, but checking my notes – this was the explanation given here in Eureka and not in Fort Bragg.
Tomorrow I cross into Oregon Country to visit Rassy