Day 14 – Leggett to Fort Bragg
A relatively short day but short days are normally for a reason and today was no exception.
Roy and I left Leggett at around 08:15 and retraced are run in from yesterday back to where Highway 1 forks off of the US101 towards Fort Bragg. It was quite interesting to see how much climbing we had done in the last couple of miles of yesterday’s ride, this time however we were enjoying it as a downhill ride past the small town of Leggett itself. Between us and Fort Bragg stood two major climbs and after descending for a mile or so on Highway 1 we hit the first climb – Leggett hill.
This hill climbs for the best part of 1,000′ and although Roy and I started off together climbing is best achieved at your own pace. I changed into my very bottom gear (34/32) and started the ascent. I knew it was going to be a long climb so sat on the saddle and spun my legs the best I could all the way to the top. There were a couple of steeper sections where I really had to work hard but overall I was pleased that I made it to the top without having to take a rest stop along the way. I guess that overall the last couple of weeks my overall stamina has improved considerably because had this climb been at the very start of our trip I know I would have struggled for sure. At the summit I rested a while before starting the very long descent.
After a while Roy caught and passed me on the decent but I didn’t mind too much. We were cycling in the shades of the trees for a lot of the time which made it very difficult to see some of the rough spots in the road and with some hairpin bends I elected to take it cautiously, not wishing to ruin it all at this stage in the trip by crashing out. After what seemed like an eternity the road eventually bottomed out but then we were faced with our second climb challenge of the day. Although a lot shorter than Leggett hill this one was a beast and my legs were cold from the long descent which made it even more of a brute. Again I engaged bottom gear and literally ground my way to the top. I was nearly caught by a touring cyclist with panniers who was following me up the hill but I just managed to stay ahead of him! Down the other side and then up another short incline and we were once again at the Pacific Ocean which we had not seen for a couple of days.
At mile 30 we pulled into a small cafe at Westport and I had a nice cold strawberry milkshake. I was joined by Steph, Roy, Steve and Jason and we stayed a little while sat on the veranda in the morning sun – Dom also arrived and it was his birthday today.
The last 15 miles or so to Fort Bragg were hard work, ups and downs and although the up’s were not particularly long they were quite steep. I eventually made it to Fort Bragg shortly after 13:00 and joined several other riders for lunch at a small restaurant next to the Travelodge hotel.
This afternoon I cleaned my drivetrain and then walked into Fort Bragg and found a Laundrette where I found several of the other riders also sat waiting for their washing to complete. It had been a hard day and the next two days are going to be tough with two back to back 80 mile rides. But, I am feeling in reasonable shape now and know that in two days we will be in touching distance of San Francisco and the next major landmark of this tour.