September 18 - From Arcata to Miranda
DESCRIPTION: Mileage: 75 miles. Terrain: Flat farmland then coastal rollers. Highlights: Leaving Arcata, we pass the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge before turning inland, passing through the communities of Scotia, Rio Dell, and Ferndale. You will marvel at the classic Victorian architecture. Before day's end, we pedal through the towering redwoods of the Avenue of the Giants.
OVERNIGHT: Miranda Garden Resort, Miranda (707.943.3011)
Today started with full-tilt boogie sunshine and about 55 degrees. What we didn't know then was that the day was building to a real heat wave! By midday, it was over 100 degrees! We biked the first 45 miles in wide-open farmland with little opportunity for shade. It was beautiful, but it kept on getting hotter and hotter. On a bike next to hot, black pavement, that 100 degrees can feel a lot higher.
Above and below: Three or four separate groups of riders started about the same time and we ended up riding the first 20 miles to Eureka in a loose pack. We had to cross three bridges to get to Eureka. Shortly after finishing the third bridge, we all spotted this Victorian mansion, now a men's club, and suddenly it was group photo time. Below, from left to right: Bernie (kneeling), Eric, Harold, Bob, Brian (peaking out from behind Gail), Steve, Dave, Gary and Steve.
Below: We found a goat tethered for grazing and it felt threatened by Barbara and her biking helment. It reared and tried to butt heads with her!
Below: We stopped at The Cheese Factory in Loleta (pronounced Lolita). We sampled all the cheeses and bought some other treats to refuel ourselves.
Below: At one point, we had to wait while a working border collie herded about 75 cows accross the road from the pasture to the milking barn.
Below: After 40 miles of flat farmland, we started climbing into the mountains and got this view of the Eel River.
Below: At mile 45, we reached one of the great treasures of the American park system, the Avenue of the Giants in the Humboldt Redwood State Park. For the next 30 miles, we biked along this small two-lane road which meanders near the Eel River, with towering redwood giants right up to the edge. Instantly it was 25 degrees cooler; what a relief! We felt humbled and privileged to be able to bike through this truly awe-inspiring landscape. There was relatively light traffic on the Avenue of the Giants, so at times we felt like we had the redwoods to ourselves. Here, Harold and Bob pose beside the entry marker to the Avenue.
Below: At the park headquarters half-way up the road, we spotted Gail, Bernie, and Raymond cooling off with cold drinks.
Below: We stopped at the Redcrest General Store for cold drinks. In the shade the thermometer at the door read 95 degrees!
Below: While climbing up through the Avenue of the Giants, we frequently got views of the Eel river.
Below: Finally we reached our motel situated along the Avenue of the Giants in the tiny town of Miranda. We took over the entire facility, a lovely little cluster of cottages among the redwoods. While the luggage was being unloaded, we all gathered for cold drinks near the motel office and exchanged stories about just how hot it really was. From back to front: John, Harold, Gail, Raymond, Bob (partially hidden by George), Joan, Bernie and Jery.
Below: Dave, Derick, and Phyllis picked up their luggage.
Below: One of the many cottages scattered among the redwoods where we were all settled in for the evening. There was a tavern, pizza parlor, and steak house combination across the street that did a great business in bikers for dinner.
Ride Statistics: Today we rode 75 miles, with a total elevation gain of 2,300 feet. One of the two tandems (Ken and Patty) broke a wheel hub while descending a rough road, but the sag support managed to take them to a local bike dealer where they got it fixed and were back in the saddles again, having lost only about 20 miles.