Day 10: MacKerricher Beach to Manchester Beach campground, 43 miles
The tour resumes today, with renewed energy and inspiration. I’m glad for the day off, time to let muscles heal, strained tendons relax, and to wander the terrains of mind and heart. I also look ahead to the end of this section, and likely separating from my new found cycling friends. A dream last night, crying at loss. How is this related? I ponder how I become attached so quickly, and fear loss just as well.
The days ride over the central Mendocino coast goes easily, though the weather is chilly, high fog or “hoch Nebel” in German, a new term I’ve learned from Steven. Route 1 speeds long the headlands, dipping into deep coves and then climbing over the crests that follow. Many hills to struggle up then fly down. Similar to moods of the past, which I’m glad have seemed to even out in my middle age. Oh, the torment I struggled through, so much of it self inflicted.
Tim and Lawrence catch up to me just before Elk, and treat me to lunch at Queeny’s Road House, a cute cafe perched on a hill. A break, to enjoy a chopped salad. Steven joins us after his visit to the local history museum. The cafe is filled with Memorial weekend visitors. Gracefully, the traffic isn’t as busy as expected. Likely the chill weather has frightened away the softer Americans. We cyclists are generating enough heat, we don’t notice the cold until we stop.
Just past Elk, the steepest climb of the coast, a 1/4 mile of switchbacks which climb out of a hollow. I wait and catch two of my companions climbing this notable hill.
A few miles more, and down the hill to the KOA. A campground filled with weekenders, noise and kids and RVs and drunk parents and the trucks which seem to threaten us on the highway. The cyclists huddle together, answering questions in the group kitchen from an appalled woman: “How do you do this?” and “Why?” and the obligatory “I would never” and “People get hit all the time…”
I mutter to Tim, “I’m ashamed to be an American”, half in jest. These the average citizens of car culture, they cannot understand why we do what we do. But in cycling, we see what cannot be seen for the protection and insulation of excessive consumption and oversized transportation: the road, the hills, the flowers, the cypress, the surf, the arched rocks. And we feel what cannot be felt: the chill breeze, the exhilarating descent, the aching muscles, the deep deep satisfaction of a day’s ride.
Good night, fellow cyclists. Good night KOA Kampers.