Creme de la (organic, locally sourced) creme: Best of the California Bike Tour, Part Two

Welcome back to the illustrious four-wheeled, cider-powered journey of Sylva and Tyler in picture form. Let’s roll right back into Day 5, like a phat joint on a downhill slope (What? We’re in Cali after all..), where we transition from the towering Redwoods on the Avenue of the Giants, into the (strange, edgy) innards of Humboldt County.

Our home for the night will be the Nadelos “tenting area,” which amuses us to no end. Nestled again in the King Range National Conservation Area, Nadelos proved to be a fine Bureau of Land Management establishment which got the award for Quietest Campground in the Fine Land of California and Beyond. I couldn’t argue, besieged the day before by a wicked cold which, after the initial liquid-hot-magma-throat subsided, became quite indecisive. This particular blight could not choose whether to infect my sinuses or my lungs, so — like the Protestants splitting from the Catholics — it left my sinuses to its opponents and staked a second claim in my unwilling lungs. Lucky me.

Nonetheless, come hell, high waters or hellish colds, we bicycle tourists shall climb on…

Day 5: Phillipsville, CA – Nadelos Tenting Area (near Shelter Cove, CA)

30 miles, 3200′ climbing

Day 6: Nadelos Tenting Area – Usal Road – Howard Creek Ranch Inn (Westport, CA)

42 miles (24 miles of dirt), 5200′ climbing

Day 7: Howard Creek Ranch Inn – Mackerricher State Park

20 miles, rolling

Today’s key term: Racoon Red Alert, brought to you by Sylva, Tyler and their new friends and camp-mates Sara (from Scotland) and Sam (from Australia). The pair met in Canada working at a ski resort and decided when their visas ran out to ride from there to Baja, Mexico. We liked them immediately, and spent the night chatting and sipping our respective adult beverages. That is until full Racoon Red Alert, which began after dark when one fat, tenacious racoon knocked over Tyler’s bicycle. Their beady eyes peered out of bushes on all sides — we were under attack! Armed with rocks from the parking lot, we beat the enemies back into the bushes… or so we thought.

After I returned from a tactical mission in the bathroom, six pairs of eyes shone out of the darkness in the adjacent camp; one more scout peered out from the bushes by Sam and Sara’s tent. At this point, we had scoured our gear for everything remotely food-like, even wrappers. But the little buggers kept up the siege nonetheless. Tyler and I managed to tree three of them. Peppered with rocks, they climbed over each other in a panic to get higher up in the trees, causing us all to laugh until we peed ourselves. But when we turned our backs, we could hear them scurrying loudly back to earth, readying for the next wave of attacks.

At some point, we reached a tenacious equilibrium. The racoons that skunked around our tent relentlessly in the early hours of the skirmish seemed to retreat. But apparently poor Sam had to leave the warmth of his tent several times under cover of darkness to fend the enemies off his and Sara’s bikes.

Day 8: Mackerricher State Park – The Andiron (near Mendocino)

20 miles, rolling

Day 9: The Andiron – Gualala State Park

50.5 miles, 2800′ climbing

Time for me to be like the ocean and sea you next time! Part three comes on the next tide, with more tales of fantastically strong winds, National Park sojourns and our imminent arrival via Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco…

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