Derailed Plans

Crescent City, CA

Job number one of the day was to get my bike fixed. The local bike shop opened at 9:00 and I planned to be there at that time. Or not. Well, that WAS the plan but, as so often happens, the plan didn’t exactly work out. Sure, there was some lollygagging when I first got up. But the delay was mostly just the result of chit chat with the other cyclist tourists as we all arose from our respective slumbers at essentially the same time. Remarkably, I actually remembered to get a group photo before the group started to scatter. As for me, it was about 9:45 before I scattered my way over to the bike shop.

Broken housing.

Broken housing.

When I arrived at the shop, I was reasonably confident that the necessary repairs would be relatively minor. Last night, Austin had given my bike a bit of an pre-exam as he’s an experienced cycle mechanic – I was happy to have him check out the damage. He confirmed that the housing of the cable was the only issue – he even suggested I could just get a replacement housing at the bike shop and do the work myself. In theory I could have done that but I thought I’d leave it to the experts. My experience with gear adjustments and replacing cables is more than a little light.

The bike shop in Crescent City is called Back Country Bicycles and it is owned and operated by Tom. And it has been for 22 years. I figured he would have more than enough experience to do the job. He did. And, when it came time to pay, I knew I had made the right decision to NOT do the work myself. The repair bill was a whopping $4.05. I was more than a little surprised. And happy.

With my bike fully functional again, I was free to check out some of the sights that my host, Katie, had recommended yesterday. First destination: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Shortly after arriving in California, I was welcomed with a “Welcome to Del Norte County, The Redwood Gate to the Golden State”. Today’s journey would be my first exposure to those Redwoods. Spoiler Alert: They’re really big!

Can't ... hold ... much ... longer.And this is one of the  SMALL trees.

Can’t … hold … much … longer.
And this is one of the SMALL trees.

The ride to Stout Grove at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (aka. Endor in Return of the Jedi) was about 15 km with much of it being on a road that’s not entirely friendly to road bikes like mine. Fortunately, I decided to make the journey without my fully loaded panniers. I learned my lesson at Louise Lake! The steep climbs and rough road were quickly forgotten as I made my way deeper into the State Park and started to see the redwoods. Truly remarkable. I mean, I knew they would be big but, seriously … they are magnificently beautiful.

The rough road stopped being an issue as my pace had slowed so much to observe my surroundings. As I pedalled past one couple who had gotten out of their car, the woman mouthed what I was thinking. A simple, “Wow”. At times like this I really wish my default response wasn’t “Wow”. I feel those giant trees deserve something more distinguished. And yet, “Wow” was all that came to mind.

I ended up meeting the aforementioned couple a bit further down the road when they again stopped for photos. They were from Maryland and had driven out here through Montana and, much like myself, were in awe of the trees that were surrounding us.

This WAS a big tree.

This WAS a big tree.

I continued on for another several kilometres before finally reaching Stout Grove. It ended up being a brief stop. As I slowly pedalled around the trailhead, my rear derailleur unexpectedly dropped my chain onto the smallest cog making it very tough to pedal. It would seem I had another problem. Upon closer inspection, the cable had freed itself from the derailleur. Sigh. I mentioned earlier that, “My experience with gear adjustments and replacing cables is more than a little light.” That may have been a little bit of shameless foreshadowing.

Even though I didn’t bring all my panniers with me, I still don’t go anywhere without my seat bag – the one that holds most of my tools. And now we know why I don’t go anywhere without my seat bag. I couldn’t do a full repair but I could at least get the gears somewhat working again. And more than the two gears I had the other day.

With my bike once again in a partially functional condition, I reluctantly turned around and headed back into town to the bike shop. I seriously considered going for a hike (I mean, I was in Endor after all) and waiting until tomorrow to return to the bike shop. However, my tentative plan for tomorrow was to get an early start so waiting for the bike shop to open wouldn’t really mesh with that plan.

The details of my return to the bike shop are uneventful. Suffice it to say, my bike is once again working again.

Battery Point.

Battery Point.

It was too late to return to the redwoods so instead I pedalled over to the ocean. A nice option to have. Specifically, I headed for Battery Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is only accessible at low tide and as it happens, it was low tide. Even with it being low tide, cycling to the lighthouse wasn’t possible because, even though the water was gone, the remaining rocks were not passable on my bike. And so, I carried my bike.

The view from the lighthouse was beautiful. Especially with the sun almost starting to approach setting – okay, sunset was still a couple of hours away. It was still a nice view though. I took a few photos, relaxed for a bit and then carried my bike back to the mainland before high tide had a chance to strand me at the lighthouse. Although, that would’ve been a bit amusing.

Two might have been too many.

Two might have been too many.

With my stomach needing some attention, I rode back into town for my first ever stop at a Jack in the Box. I can honestly say I have no idea whether it was a good idea or a bad idea. I had a coupon for “2 Buttery Jack Burgers for $6”. Okay, two was probably a bad idea. I opted for the “Bacon & Swiss” variety and, I won’t lie, they were good. Very good. My arteries would likely vehemently disagree – as may other internal organs in an hour or so. But my mouth wasn’t complaining. Again, two might have been too many though.

As I returned back to the house … uh, correction, church hall … I remembered there was one other thing I was hoping to do today. Sadly, the barber shop was closed again. I decided to take a new approach – inspired earlier in the day by a suggestion of Becky’s. And so, I headed over to Walmart (ugh) and bought some hair clippers. It made sense. After all, the clippers cost less than paying for a haircut. And while I had no intention of taking the clippers with me – although, maybe I could be a travelling barber – I figured I would leave the clippers with my host in the event that future guests want a haircut.

When I finally returned to the church hall there was no one else around and no one else expected. I was on my own for the night. And so, I cut my hair, tried to digest my dinner (the aftertaste was still surprisingly pleasant), and reviewed maps for days ahead. I have a feeling I won’t be getting the early start I originally planned for tomorrow but we’ll see what happens. As usual.

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 41.57 km
Ride time: 2:56:38
Average speed: 14.12 km/h
Maximum speed: 49.97 km/h

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