California dreaming

We FINALLY made it to San Francisco! To get here we have cycled through forests of redwoods, over high passes, made massive detours to find bike shops, Herb got a ‘big knobbly’ and we even visited Westport.

So happy to be in Crescent City for a couple of days and sit out the rain, only the rain didn’t arrive, it was beautiful. So on Monday after two full days mostly sat on our bottoms and doing laundry we decided to hit the road again, straight into the face of a stinking headwind and torrential rain. At least my clothes were clean…. The first order of the day was up a massive climb which although tiring at least it was getting me warm and there were lots of enormous trees to look at.

The first couple of days back on the road were a diverse mix of scenery and weather. One minute we were cycling through ancient redwood forests, mainly in the rain. (Now, I would not normally call myself a tree hugger however these things are stunningly beautiful and so colossal that they are impossible to describe without doing a great injustice.) Next it was scorchingly hot and we were cycling though tiny towns full of trimmers. Let me explain about ‘trimmers’. We had crossed paths with another cyclist earlier in the day and she had said the town we were aiming for seemed to have hundreds of backpackers in it. Not thinking anything too much about it we continued on our merry way, as we got closer to Garberville there were more and more people walking on the side of the road, trying to hitch hike or just parked up and sat out on the bonnet of their cars. Lost of them had cardboard signs stating they were looking for work. They certainly looked like a cross between backpackers and hippies, or just people who had been on the road a while. When we entered Garberville it was an explosion of these people. Just everywhere, not threatening in any way but it looked like we’d just cycled into the aftermath of Glastonbury. I’m not sure who finally straightened out my naive little brain but these people were ‘trimmers’ looking for work. You see, it’s currently harvesting season for weed.


Big trees and small cyclists

From big trees to weeds we then entered the dairy plains, it was like coming home. I never realised how much I like the smell of cows before, but apparently I do, cows smell better then weed in my opinion. Anyway, cycling through dairy farms was like being catapulted back to the UK. We camped in a state fairground and on a locals recommendation had breakfast in ‘Papa Joe’s’ the next morning. We piled in to find ourselves surrounded by farmers who were back after their morning milking. The lady cooking behind the counter looked about 106 and everything on the menu was under $10 and enormous. I ate myself into a light coma, gave the rest of my food to the bottomless pit that is Herbie Griffin and still had trouble raising my leg high enough to mount the bike afterwards. There is a saying I’ve heard ever since I was a child ‘The Queen says ‘ you should always leave the table feeling like you could eat a little bit more’’. Well I’m sorry Liz, I disobeyed, passport is back in the post.

As we met other cyclists along the road we had found out that we’d been nicknamed ‘The Peloton’ due to there being seven of us all riding together for a few days, however since leaving Crescent city we’d cut our numbers (or the others cut us?) and we were down to four, we also knew our days with Dave were dwindling. Dave, future founder and CEO of ‘Moore’s Smores’ is en route to his sisters wedding down in San Diego. Every extra day he spent with us meant his average daily mileage to get to the wedding on time was increasing. Not wanting to let his sister down and probably having had enough of Herbie’s banter he finally cut ties in Westport.

Westport Ireland, I’ve only been there once and it rained. Westport California, I’ve only been there once and it was beautifully sunny. Just saying…..

From Westport onwards it was back to the rolling hills and a beautiful California coastline. The weather and wind were being kind to us and we spent two days once again in beautiful scenery heading south and topping up our tan lines. We were pushing big days to try and get to San Francisco as we knew this is where we were going to take our first real chunk of time off the bike. After the seventh day of consecutive cycling I woke up to very sore legs, I knew I needed a rest day but at the same time we were pushing ahead to make it to San Fran. Then disaster happened. Herb and I had an argument. In hindsight it was really silly, I think he spoke to me in a tone I didn’t like, and he was annoyed because we couldn’t find anywhere to buy lunch. First world problems right there. The reality was we were both tired and needed a rest day, however six weeks in to our trip is a lot better than our European practice tour where we lasted six hours before a bust up so we bought a beer and toasted our first argument as a success.

It was that evening Herbie’s tyre wall blew out. He’d struck a nail back up in Washington that went into the bottom of the tyre and out the side wall. We’d been patching it up periodically hoping it would last until our new tyres are shipped to us in a few weeks time. No such luck. The nearest bike shop was 17 miles inland and off route. It was with heavy hearts (and legs) they we swung east in search of a new tyre. By some absolute miracle, or just luck of the Irish, the mangled tyre actually got us to the bike shop. He bought the cheapest gnarliest tyre in the whole shop which is how he has become to be affectionately named ‘big knobbly’. We sat in the park for nearly two hours doing bike and tyre maintenance. The upside being that while Herb and big knobbly were getting acquainted, I had a proper look at my back tyre too. It had been plaguing me for some weeks that every 5/6 days I would get a slow puncture, I would then ignore it for a few days just pumping it up throughout the day before Herb got the puncture repair kit out again. SUCCESS after 20 minutes of poking around I found half a staple so embedded into the rubber it was almost impossible to see and took all my muscles plus some plyers to get it out. There are some lessons to be learnt here. 1 – boys aren’t very observant. 2 – fix your own punctures….

It was another exceptionally slow two days pedalling before we finally got in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were luckily to see it in beautiful sunlight and rolled into San Francisco knowing we were having a week off the bike.



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