Mendocino Coast

Day 8: Leggett to MacKerricher Beach State Park, 40 miles

Yes, stopping to enjoy the flowers, Sarah. So many today, along with eucalyptus, cypress, redwood, pine. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m up at 6am, actually 4am, anticipating the double ascent over Leggett Hill, as the route turns from 101 to the Coast Highway, California Route 1. I grab an espresso at Peg House, then head out. Legs are feeling good, but my mind has a bit of dread. A long way up.

About halfway in, Stephen rolls up. We end up climbing most of the hill together. He talks about Germany, his English a challenge, but his attitude is stellar. Always on the bright side of life! The miles go quicker with company. Tim blasts by, yelling “Big Ring!” as he climbs up at top speed. Impressive. Lawrence follows, passing us as well. Soon we reach the top, and descend at a rapid pace, down mountain curves and hairpin turns. This is such a joy.

Rockport Hill follows almost immediately, the second climb, nearly 700 feet. Stephen climbs ahead, then I’m passed by Sebastian and Stephanie. I enjoy talking with them as well, then set about my own climb, in solitude. Soon I reach the crest, then descend again, down and out to the Mendocino Coast. High fog obscures the sun, but I’m still thrilled to be at the ocean again.

I catch up with Stephen, and we ride on to Westport, over rolling hills, the highway dipping into deep coves then climbing over headlands. We catch up with the four others in our group at the Westport store, stopping for a well earned lunch. And to connect with the free wifi, as everyone dives into their smart phones for the first time in two days.

Just a few more miles to Fort Bragg, over the same terrain, coves and headlands. I stop to photograph the vistas, an old redwood fence, flowers. The scent of salty air and wet eucalyptus reminds me of past tours, and perhaps more. A nostalgia. A warmth in my heart.

This Mendocino Coast was the place of my birth, and a more recent rebirth, into a more conscious life, marked with cycling, exploring, sharing and connecting. I’m so glad I’ve come here again.

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