Thursday, February 08, 2007

Kneeland 95549

My weekly schedule leaves only Wednesday or Thursday afternoon to indulge in a lengthy bicycle ride, so I closely watched the weather forecast at the beginning of the week.

At first the National Weather Service predicted only a 30 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday. I interpreted that to mean there was a 70 percent chance of it not raining. Those are pretty good odds, so I started planning a ride that would involve both distance and elevation gain.

I decided to ride from my house in McKinleyville to Kneeland and back. It seemed like a swell idea at the time.

By Tuesday it was clear that we’d be getting some rain for sure, and by Wednesday it looked like a lost cause. It rained all that afternoon and more rain was predicted for Thursday.

But by around noon Thursday, my rain gauge showed that it hadn’t rain at all since midnight. Even though it looked bad outside, it was dry. So I loaded up the Panasonic road bike and hit the road. Within minutes, it was raining.

Screw it. If I didn’t ride, I’d miss a training opportunity. The clock is ticking away and the Tour of the Unknown Coast will be here soon.

I put on my rain pants, rain cape (bike poncho) and kept on riding. I crossed the Arcata Bottoms to Valley West, cruised by the LP particle board plant and made my way to LK Wood.

I passed by HSU and noticed that the students haven’t aged a bit since I attended a long, long time ago. I zig zagged through some neighborhoods and connected to Old Arcata Road via Union Street. From there it was a long haul to Three Corners Market, the start of my climb to Kneeland.

Three Corners

I was feeling pretty good until I passed Freshwaterwater Park and then – BAM – the road started going up.

It was a hell of a lot steeper than the RNSP bypass. One switchback after another. Up and up and up.

After awhile I considered turning back. Enough was enough. My legs hurt. My ass hurt. I felt like I was pretty far up the mountain, but where was Kneeland? What is Kneeland? Would I know when I had arrived? The elevation was high enough that my ears popped.


I trudged on and learned something – there’s no there there.

I’m sure there are some nice houses out in the sticks, but for a visitor it’s an unremarkable community. Nothing to see and nowhere to stop.

The Kneeland Post Office would have to suffice for a photo. I took a 5 minute break, slammed some Doritos and a PBJ and headed back down the hill.


Wet. Tired. Cold. Covered in road grit. A burning sensation in the legs.

It was a slow ride home and it rained the entire time. The entire trip was about 45 miles, with roughly nine of them consisting of the Kneeland climb.

It was a tough ride, and it felt like it.


Blogger OrangeElmo said...

The thing I love about Kneeland is the lack of artificial light and the almost perfect view of the night skies.

We would drive up and park at the tiny airport then lie on the runway asphalt, still warm from the summer sun, and watch for meteors during the annual Perseid and Leonid showers.

Usually on summer nights the lower elevations were completely under the usual sea level marine layer fog bank, so driving to Kneeland would get you above the clouds.

We'd also go up there to see the comets that have come and gone over the last 20 years. Fabulous. And great times spent with good friends.


11:05 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Boy...that would be a rough ride. I wouldn't even think of trying to bike up the hill to Kneeland.

6:48 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

This Sacbee article on cycling may or may not be of interests to you:

7:24 AM  

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