Wine and cheese bike tour (day 2)

by Matt Schiff

Day 2

It was a cold morning for this time of year, somewhere in the 30s, and it meant there was little reason to get up and start moving. I think Ray, Alyssum and I managed to get up before everyone left, but what’s the hurry man?

Somehow I was tired, even after perhaps an 8 pm bedtime which meant a total of 10 or more hours of sleep. The problem is it is hard for me to be completely comfortable while camping, and due to my sensitive state, I only sleep well when sleeping on a soft surface of perhaps two sleeping pads and having a pillow nicely contoured around my neck. There is also the issue of rustling when it comes to sleeping with others. I’m of the mindset that any unnecessary rustling should be kept to a minimum so as not to disturb your neighbors. It seems common sense to me, but there are some people who seem to thrive by sleeping in such a fashion that has them turning sides every few minutes like a god damn pork roast over an open fire. I sleep with earplugs. I deal with the noises as best I can. I’ve discussed this matter with my friends, but as I’m sure you’ll agree, I am the victim here.

This is sensitivity of mine is my weakness for bike49 and I will embrace it by sleeping on a soft surface, a contoured pillow, earplugs, and strict set of nighttime rustling laws imposed by yours truly. Anyone want to share a tent?

So as the others left, the three of us cooked a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and more oatmeal until all reaches of the belly felt warm. We hit the road in whoops and hollers and made our way down the still icy river valley.

As bicycle tours tend to go, the time spent thinking about, preparing, or eating food can often equal the time spent on the bike, so as we motored off that morning, it wasn’t long before we arrived in Comptche, met up with the rest of the group, and it was time to eat.

While driving around you would never get out of your car, spread out your stuff on the sidewalk and road (especially at a gas station), and proclaim it was time to eat lunch, but this becomes the norm when touring. Our standards for what is appropriate and comfortable fall quite a bit. Food dropped on the ground is good, even when it needs to be brushed off.  Why this is the case, I’m not sure, but it is not just under circumstances of dire hunger. There certain letting go of civilized aspects of life and general cleanliness and you begin to live as a person of the earth.

As we sprawl out on the sidewalk, we’re also staking claim to the storefront, imposing a bit but generally oblivious to how we may be inconveniencing others until someone asks that we move so they can get by or pull up to a gas pump. Is it that we’ve developed a sense of ownership as we’ve biked hard miles to get where we are? Have we become arrogant and expect others to deal with our sprawling gear and picnicking setup? You betcha! Car drivers can wait, store owners can cope, the bike tourers have come to town!

lunch is where you drop you bags

lunch is where you drop your bags

We left Comptche with no altercations, and in fact, got invited to lunch from the church in town. Even on full stomachs, it was hard to turn down the offer.

on the road to Mendocino, the whole group meets up

on the road to Mendocino, the whole group meets up

Later in the day we were entering a place familiar to many of us from previous bike tours, Mendocino, CA. This quaint tourist village is famous in our minds for coffee, pastries, and a small organic grocery store. Having been here before myself, I habitually went in search for the perfect pastry, a fresh muffin, or maybe a chocolate morsel. Obviously not anticipating my return, the coffee shop I so vividly remembered as having the delicious pastries, had some focaccia bread crap and lunch food, but barely even a good cookie. Did they not realize the customers they might upset by making this switch? It is comical to enter a place like this a year later and expect everything to be as it always was, but Victor was with me in the search for treats and was disappointed as well.

The Mendocino organic grocery store offers a lookout for spying on customers

The Mendocino organic grocery store offers a lookout for spying on customers

We left Mendocino in two groups. Ray, Alysumm, Natalie-Mae, and myself were the non-burger and beer group so we decided to slowly head towards Navarro State Park. Jenn, Eric, Victor, and Andrew were the strap a 12 pack on the bike and we’ll leave town when we’ve had a burger and a pint or two group. We barely had gone two miles before we decided to stop at Van Dame State Park and the accompanying beach, and do some poking around. Not being in a hurry is certainly a learned skill nowadays and my immediate response was to pass by the beach and campground in order to head to our destination. There is something to be said about poking around, such as, “when you spend the day light hours poking around you may end up riding in the dark, suffering from what seems like true starvation on a bike, and praying that your reflective panniers are enough to warn oncoming speeding cars that you are a human, pedaling a bicycle, just praying to eat another meal and arrive at camp.” But poking around that day sure was fun given the sunny, mild weather.

Eventually we met the others at camp, but not before a couple wrong turns, some nighttime riding, and a hitched ride by Victor and Andrew to find us. Out of all these experiences, it’s worth elaborating on the wrong turn incident, and not to poke fun or put blame on anyone. It is in fact, more of my fault as I knew the route best, but often found myself towards the front of the group.

Ray and I enjoy the bluffs

Ray and I enjoy the bluffs

While Ray and I biked ahead after we departed the beach, Natalie and Alyssum trailed behind somewhere. We biked, looking for our turn off to 128, and eventually found a sign stating only two more miles. We stopped a little later to enjoy the scenery and wait up. I got my camera out and set it to video mode. I’d been shooting some clips throughout the ride with the idea of making a short two minute movie/picture presentation when the trip was over. We waited a while and then what seemed like way too long. We eventually decided to backtrack, finding just around the corner a road named Navarro Ridge Rd. (which could logically head to Navarro State Park). Where were the other two and could they have taken this turn? It was our luck that a truck was coming down the road and it gave me the opportunity to flag down a car. Flagging down a car is a no shame act of blocking the road, waving a car down, and pretending a full blown emergency is happening. Giving the driver no choice but to stop, he unrolled his window, and before I could finish telling him about our friends, said, “Yup, they’re up there just a quarter mile”. Ray and I got to hurrying and he put in that hard sprint effort he showed on the first day. I couldn’t match the pace for a while – all natural cycling talent lies within the legs of Ray Lombardi. Soon though we had a car coming behind us and we decided if the wheels are turning and the gasoline’s a burning, might as well put it to use. This elderly woman seemed more hesitant to stop but there’s not much you can do when two cyclists in spandex put up a semi-road block. She seemed very surprised as I talked to her and I tried my best to make her understand the importance of her roll right now. I was out of breath I explained and our two friends are going the wrong way and don’t know it, and the situation might just get worse if you don’t drive up there for us and tell them to turn around. She seemed to comply and that let Ray and I relax as we slowly pedaled up the road. Our friend in the red car was convincing and played her roll well. I thank you woman in the red car.

Before long, the four of us were cruising again and enjoying the scenery, but realized we’ve have to get to where we planned to camp so as not to make others worry, a bummer considering all the vacant space in which we could have thrown a tent up on those bluffs.

The dinner that night was the first feast of the trip; well deserved after the events of the day.

To be continued…

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