• Cory Howell

Day 17: Go With Caution, Go With God

Westport → Mendocino

29.6 miles

↑ 1240 feet ↓ 1211 feet



Somehow, we’d come all this way without any trouble with the bikes.


It was a staple in my back tire that finally got us.


I sat cross legged on the concrete landing below our room, trying to find the puncture in my tube. I could feel the patch job taking longer than I wanted it to, my frustration slowly rising as the minutes ticked by.


But Lilly saw the bright side. With less than 30 miles to ride today, we had plenty of time. We weren’t stuck on some dangerous strip of road. It was only a flat tire, not a brake or gear or chain issue.


Our neighbors meandered by and stopped to see what we were doing. They were a group of five, vacationing from Chico--three women somewhere in their sixties or seventies, a man and woman in their forties or so. They all eyed my disassembled bike.


“Wow,” one of the women said. “You’re really able to do that all by yourself?”


I smiled up at her.


“Well, we’re doing our best,” I said. She seemed impressed, while I was trying to suppress the feeling that this was only a patch job and it was taking forever.


Our neighbors were all friendly, we ended up chatting. They were genuinely interested in what we were doing, so we talked about the trip, about the mileage. The fun, the difficulty, the beauty and challenge.


“Isn’t it dangerous?” one of them said. “Most of the roads here don’t have any shoulder.”


Lilly and I looked at each other and shrugged.


“This road is recognized by people as a route for bikers,” she said. “So everyone has it in the back of their mind that they’re going to share the road.”


“Yeah,” I said. “And we try to make ourselves visible. We have lights and those neon vests.”

The group all nodded.


“Go with caution,” one of the women said, “go with God.”


“Right,” I said. “That’s all we can really do.”



It’s hard to feel like you can count on anything anymore.


The rides are up and down, up and down, up and down.


We’re not surprised when restaurants are closed, we’re not surprised when we can’t do laundry for days, when we don’t have wifi or food nearby.


We got out an hour later than I wanted to this morning. The sun shone down on us, warm but not too hot. No wind made for a pleasant ride.


We stopped at the Westport Market for a sandwich at the deli. We saw our neighbors again, we chatted again. They left before us, and the clerk told us they’d paid for our lunch.


Twenty miles later we passed through Fort Bragg, and found a TeaZone adjoined to a gas station. We’d never seen boba milk tea at a gas station before, we’d expected to wait until SF for it.


We sat outside in the sun, the sound of the cars on the 1 were so jarring after the silence of the redwoods, after the calm of the Lost Coast.


That milk tea was unexpected. So sweet, so cold.