September 17 - From Crescent City to Arcata

DESCRIPTION: Mileage: 73 miles. Terrain: Series of ascents and descents. Highlights: As we leave the dunes and marshes of Crescent City, we pass through the Northern gateway of the Redwood Coast. We will be traveling through Del Norte Coast Redwoods State and Redwood National Parks. After passing The Trees of Mystery, we cross the Klamath River Bridge, the community of Orick, and then rejoin the coast to Arcata. SPECIAL NOTE: Joel and Tina write about this day: "You have a formidably stiff climb just south of Crescent City with a double top. But it is a very pretty area."

OVERNIGHT: Quality Inn, Arcata (707.822-0409)


Today was certainly the most challenging. Over the course of the day, we moved each of our weights and that of our bicycles through 4740 feet of elevation gain! Some of the climbs were major: the first was a seven-mile-long hill at a fairly constant seven-percent grade.

But the day held outstanding and breathtaking beauty. Many bikers described the day as biker heaven. For those of us doing the full Canada-to-Mexico trip, we agreed that today was the hardest and the most beautiful so far.

Above: John always wears his South Bay Wheelmen jersey at the beginning ride in each state. Standing next to John is Brian. Brian, usually in the lead, managed to bike this 73-mile hilly segment at an average of 16.9 mph. Behind John and Brian are Sandy, Allen, and Jim. Allen is the one riding the recumbent.

Above: We've got 23 people now and lots more luggage to get into the van each day. Here Hans climbs up to the top to adjust something.

Above: The Denver coalition took off from the motel in the morning ready to start the big ascent. From left to right: Eric, Gail, Bernie, and George.

Above: No picture can do justice to the next 30 miles. We biked through a continuous cathedral of giant redwoods along winding, two-lane roads. The bases of the redwoods were covered with ferns, the tops reached 300 feet and more. It was impossible to take pictures--too dark and too majestically tall. At one point after the seven-mile climb ended, we came out into this spectacular view. We were above the clouds! The mountain cast its own shadow on the clouds in the early morning light.

Above: We spotted a herd of elk. Of course, as soon as they spotted us they started to move out; after all, we must have looked like strange new animals on our bicycles!

Above: At mile 40 we stopped to have lunch at a beach in Redwood National Park. Sandy set out a lovely picnic buffet and everyone eat heartily. There were convenient driftwood logs next to our picnic area where we could park our bikes.

Above: The beach near our picnic area.

Above: Trinidad Bay. We all took a lovely side trip off Highway 101 through the backroads of Trinidad. Mostly it was a one-lane coastal road, some of it in gravel, but no one complained because the scenery was spectacular.

Above: At the end of the day, we gathered for Happy Hour. Sandy couldn't convince us to gather on the grass lawn near the motel. We all wanted to set up our chairs as close to the food and drinks as we could. After riding, bikers love lots of salty food and lots of liquid. But its the sharing of great stories that absorb our time. From left to right: John (Brian, Ken and Patty are behind him), Allen, Joan, George, Gail, Steve, Gary, Steve, Dave, and Leonard. Jim has his back to the camera, digging into the ice chest for another soda.

Ride Statistics: Today we rode 73 hard and breathtaking miles. We had a total altitude gain of just under 5000 feet, our most challenging day so far. Most agreed that the best part of the day was the incredible ascent through the cathedral of redwoods. The worst part of the day was the last 10 miles, which were on lovely, rural one-lane backroads through dairy farms; the problem was that these rural roads were very rough. That was the last thing our tired bodies and saddles needed after this challenging day.