Another day, another puncture. It’s a good job I have lots of patches, I feel as though I’m a puncture repair expert now. I do check every part of the tyre when I’m repairing the puncture, it’s not a reoccurring problem; it’s a new thorn or piece of metal. Every, single, fricking, time. It’s getting to the point where I’m getting impatient with the bike. Maybe it’s someone close by, this has only started happening since I’ve been riding with the group. I shall keep my eye out for any saboteurs.
The town of Eureka was compact but well equipped, not explicitly for cyclists though (no bike shops). The gas stations air pump broke as I was pumping up my front tyre. That meant I had to hand pump the rear tyre, something which I dread doing. It takes about 15 minutes of frantic pumping and I can only manage to squeeze about 60PSI into it. Ideally that figure needs to be closer to 80 to make the ride a little easier, especially with the impending hills later today.
We stocked up at the market which was very reasonably priced and very well stocked for being in the middle of nowhere. Han then declared a photo shoot was taking place by setting up his tripod. Yes, this crazy South Korean dude has brought a full tripod which he attaches to his handle bars. It’s not even lightweight!
We finally set off at around 12:30, and with 70 miles to Austin we knew we’d be arriving after sunset. The terrain was fairly flat for the first half of the ride, not exactly strenuous, but my arm had started really hurting again. Yesterday I bought an elbow support, and today I put it to use. This isn’t the first time my elbow had been in pain. It was worse when I only had one riding position but the purchase of handle bar ends; back in Rawlins, eased the pressure to a bearable point. Self-diagnosis indicated that I’ve got identical symptoms to Golfers Elbow. It’s a dull ache but prevents me from bending my elbow and it’s very unpleasant. Anyway, enough whining.
We stopped for something to eat at around 17:00 and during this stop we came across a very excitable and enthusiastic truck driver. He was hauling the set and props for a play in Santa Cruz and would be there tomorrow evening. After he mentioned that, all my mind could think about was that we are within driving distance to the coast. That thought excited me greatly. The chap also told us about his book that he’s been writing for 30 years and is just finishing now. I forgot the name.
He tooted his horn as he left and he was promptly replaced by a lone guy who pulled up in a car. I like talking to people, I love that people take an active interest in tourers, but it doesn’t half slow you down! We spoke for a while and then had to excuse ourselves in order to make camp at a reasonable hour. Ahead of us were some delightful hills, a cloudfront that indicated rain and a slight chill in the air.
It rained. Thankfully not for too long, but long enough to cool us all down. None of us bothered with getting waterproofs out, it didn’t look like a massive storm and it passed within fifteen minutes. Even the rainbows came out to play which was a nice surprise.
I was dreading the climbs. They consisted of one long 8 mile climb, a short downhill section, and a final steeper 2 mile climb. Han and myself were leading the pack at the start of the hill and Han took a commanding lead over the first mile. I was struggling with my rhythm and for some reason felt pretty drained. After two miles I thankfully got a second wind, I had found a pocket of energy somewhere and was happy with a lower cadence in a higher gear. I soon caught Han and assumed the front to try to provide a tow. After ten minutes I turned around, expecting to see Han sitting on my wheel, but instead he was a tiny speck in the distance. I hadn’t climbed this well before and I soon reached a peak.
Halfway down the hill I realised this was the short downhill section on the map, and that I probably should have waited at the top to regroup. Sod it, I wasn’t doing more climbing than necessary. The downhill ended more abruptly than I would have liked (such is life) and the last climb of the day lay ahead of me. The sun was setting as I was at the halfway point of the last climb. There was a bench and table so I decided to sit and wait for the others to catch up. It was also a good excuse for some snick snack snoos to keep the energy up.
Ten minutes later the lone guy in the car we met at earlier drove by and stopped. We chatted some more and he very kindly offered some soup and crackers which he had spare in his car. Han caught up not long after and between us we managed to demolish the whole packet. It was another forty-five minutes later when Kat, Tim and Joe decided to join us. It turns out that they got offered burgers at the peak by a camper van which was parked on the side of the road. Joe’s eyes apparently lit up, but Kat and Tim had to pass them up. It must suck sometimes to be vegan. Joe, like any respectable bloke, never passes up free food, you can always count on him to finish off everyone’s meal. In that respect, he reminds me of a female dustbin friend back in England, Sally. If you read this Sally he’s cute too!
Now we’d regrouped we took on the last part of the hill together. It was now very dark and it’s a lot safer to ride together in the dark. We stayed close and got very excited when we saw the green sign for the summit. The descent was very windy, steep and treacherous. We let Kat go down first. She was a trooper and led the way pretty quickly. My light wasn’t bright enough to be of much use so I had to keep close to the guys in front. We all made it to the bottom safely and braked hard as we saw a baseball field on our left.
Thud!!! Tim couldn’t unclip his shoes quick enough after our sudden stop and fell to the side in what seemed like slow motion. He was fine, just his pride was bruised. After a bit of nosying around the baseball field didn’t seem too bad, not ideal though. It was then we saw a park a bit further up some steps. I volunteered to scout it out, and it was perfect! Ample place to pitch our tents, a shelter with power sockets, toilets with warm water – we had hit touring heaven again! Everyone made some more food and we settled in for the night, just before all the hoards of bugs attacked us.