Saturday, February 17, 2007


Everything east of Blue Lake is unfamiliar country. I’ve only travelled those roads about a half a dozen times and those trips were far and few between. And all of those trips were in motor vehicles, including one bone-chilling ride in the back of a pickup truck. But that’s another story.

For this week’s Thursday training ride I decided to pedal from McKinleyville to State Route 299 and head east to the top of Lord Ellis Summit. I don’t know much about the summit except that it is mentioned on the police scanner as a place where there’s snow.

I got a late start due to the demands of the paper and my proclivity to ramble on, leaving the house at about 1:30 p.m.


Within a few minutes I stopped to say hello to this cow at the Fischer Ranch just down the street. If this cow continues to produce milk during the upcoming strike, will she be considered a scab?

I rocketed across the Arcata Bottoms to Valley West and then got on 299. I went by the new Almquist Lumber store, which reminded me that I should shop there more often. It’s practically in McKinleyville, even though I suppose it’s technically in Arcata. (When the civil war breaks out between McKinleyville and Arcata, we’ll have to fight over this territory.)

The ride to Blue Lake was pleasant and familiar. After Blue Lake, the freeway ended and I started climbing. I was in new territory and sweating like a pig.

I forced myself to drink water, even though I wasn’t thirsty. I operate on the theory that it’s better to drink water before you feel the thirst instead of after. By the time you’re thirsty you have a hydration deficit and it’s too late. (Note: This applies to water, not vodka.)

A short distance east of Blue Lake, there’s a different look, smell and sound. Between the occasional swoosh of a vehicle whizzing by, all I could hear was the roar of water. There are hundreds of little streams rushing downhill towards to the Mad River. There are pipes, culverts and countless mini waterfalls. There’s so much water coming downhill that it made me wonder why the Mad isn’t as wide as the Mississippi by the time it passes by Mack Town.

When I go on a ride, I always set a turnaround time. Since I left at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. seemed like a reasonable time to head back. That would give me enough time to get back before dark with a little wiggle room for unforeseen technical problems.

At 3:30 p.m. I stopped. I wasn’t sure where I was, except that I had crossed a bridge over the North Fork of the Mad River and was about a mile and a half east of what appeared to be the Simpson Rifle Range.

I didn’t make it to the summit, nor was I clear how far away the summit was. I turned around. Before 5 p.m. I was home, sipping on a hot cup of tea and scarfing down a piece of white cake with fudge frosting.

If I wasn’t training for the Tour of the Unknown Coast, I would consider this week’s mission a success – I pedalled about 33 miles, climbed some elevation and had plenty of energy left over. The legs weren’t sore or stiff. I could have pedalled for another couple hours, easy.

But then it occurred to me: If I pedalled more than twice as far, from McKinleyville to Willow Creek and back the same day, the ride would be shorter and easier that the TUC.

Holy crap! I have a lot of training to do. This week’s riding was insufficient. I have to turn it up a notch, or two, or three...


Blogger Jennifer Savage said...

Jack! You're my hero!

I start biking in... 11 days!

11:55 PM  

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