Day 10: A Slow Lull Below Us
Klamath → Arcata
↑ 3100 feet ↓ 3156 feet
There was no wifi, and with no wifi, we had no map.
We sat outside a closed market, hoping for a single bar, the light from our laptops illuminating the unsteady wooden table. Darkness descended, the shadows from the surrounding redwoods grew larger, the cold evening air tickled every pore.
Cory caught a flash of Google Maps before the signal dropped: 62 miles to Arcata.
Every night before our ride we reviewed the route, the elevation profile, and Yelped potential lunch spots together. But tonight, we were left not knowing what to expect--an opportunity to embrace whatever came our way.
Cold bit into our fingertips as we left Klamath the following morning. We crossed the bridge out of town, and waved goodbye to the two golden bear statues standing sentinel, blue face masks pulled over their mouths.
The 101 led us through Orick, where the movie theater, cafe, and inn all stood with peeling paint, signs in disarray, windows boarded. We stopped in a gravel lot at the edge of town to share almond butter and bananas. Was this all shut down because of COVID? Or had this happened before?
It was mile 40. We needed caffeine and a change of shirts, a little warmth, a carby snack. The road into Trinidad was a long, gradual uphill grind, with no cover to stop and pee if we had to.
We parked our bikes outside the only open cafe. The seating was all outdoors, each table six feet from the others, the interior reserved for staff and bathroom goers. As I sat still for the first time in hours, my hands wrapped around a hot cup of chai, a couple across the patio made eye contact.
“Those your bikes?” the man asked, his expression masked by a pair of sunglasses. He wore a gray hoodie, his arms crossed across his chest. I couldn’t make out what was written on his baseball cap.
“Yeah,” I said smiling, nodding toward our bikes. “We rode in from Portland.”
A woman at an adjacent table turned and looked at me, her expression halfway between amazement and disbelief.
“Portland? That’s far,” the first woman said. Her sandy blonde hair was in a ponytail, she wore a matching gray sweater. “We were just in the Gold Beach area. We were supposed to meet my sister, but had to turn around because of the fires.”
We shared stories of the road--us on our bikes, the couple in the RV. Our cinnamon roll arrived, hot, fresh, the icing melting like dew on dough.
They left before we finished our cinnamon roll. When we asked the waitress for the check, she said that they’d paid for our meal.
Life doesn’t have a map. There are destinations, paths, roads, but the only real tools we have are our mindset and our being.
I feel it’s so easy to settle into the definitions we have about people and the world. And while these definitions create a sense of stability, it can also render us unwilling to change.
What we need then, is a full embrace of whatever comes our way.
That cafe was our lucky charm. It had wifi; we checked Google Maps, and found a bike path parallel to the 101.
The energy from the caffeine kicked in as we gripped our handlebars and rode past cars on the cliffside, the Pacific a slow lull below us.