Back into the redwoods

Day 20, Arcata to Burlington Campground, 54 miles

I wake feeling creaky and uncomfortable. I pack up, trying to find inspiration for the ride ahead. But I’m feeling apprehension instead. Not much today, but many hills like in the following days, as 101 rises to Leggett, then I climb and descend to the Mendocino Coast. My fears of my lack of preparation, my weak condition seem to dominate my thoughts. Just yesterday, I felt strong, powerful, relaxed. And now, nearly the opposite.

Acceptance, the practice of mindfulness and non-violence. Don’t judge myself for my condition. Nor for judging myself. Merely notice, here I am, in this place, with these thought, these feelings. And on I will persist. I will ride. I’m rolling down the busy 101 to Eureka, stopping in Old Town to marvel at the Victorian architecture, and the wild modern murals. Then, back on the road, riding up the freeway towards the Avenue of the Giants. A stop in Rio Dell mid afternoon for tacos, some of the best Mexican cuisine on the trip!

But now, more climbing, and the sun is fading fast. I don my headlamp, decide to stay on the freeway a couple more exists, bypassing the Avenue, since I won’t be able to see the trees in the dark anyway. Traffic on the freeway is mercifully light, but there are many more miles before camp. And it’s cold, as the sun has gone and there are clear skies above. I decide to rejoin the Avenue at Weott, but as I exit and take a long decent into the town I realize my third exit from 101 was one exit too much. I’ve climbed a couple hundred feet I didn’t need to.

Just a few more miles, then I’m arriving at the Burlington Campground, part of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Tanguy is there, and we greet each other. I set up camp, grab a wonderfully hot shower, not minding the quarters required in California for the privilege of hot water. I tuck myself in, trying not to think of tomorrow’s ride, which involves climbing all day. For now, rest.

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