Leggett to Fort Bragg, CA

Today was our longest scheduled day of the trip. It went well, except for the part where we were attacked by dogs. Don’t worry, everybody is fine.

Because we expected the day to be so long, we actually set an alarm this morning. Between that and eating in the room, we rolled out at 9, rather than our more customary 10ish.

We got things started with a prelude climb into Leggett proper. Or at least what looked like it, it can be hard to tell with these small towns. We stopped for some supplies at the Leggett Mercantile, a rather nice small grocery store at the intersection of 101 and Highway 1.

Then it was time to say farewell for now to our faithful friend US 101. It’s served us well since Washington, but it will be seeking its own destiny further inland. Instead, we’re turning to CA 1, but will visit 101 again in San Francisco.

Highway 1 teased with a brief descent before taking us up through the mountainous redwood forest. Traffic was quite light, which was appreciated, since the road offered no shoulder, few turnouts, and short sight lines. There was plenty of shade, but sadly also no good viewpoint opportunities. Despite steep dropoffs, the trees were too thick below to see through.

We had to stop once for water, but since the grade really wasn’t especially harsh, we got through the first climb without too much trouble. That let us descend, back through winding roads, both the elevation gain from today, and some from the last few days, too. We passed through a couple small towns (if three houses and a no trespassing sign counts as a town, anyways). The down was fun, as always, but the blind turns meant we had to moderate speed pretty aggressively. It can be surprisingly tiring.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in a turnout. While we were eating, the lingering fog cleared and the sun came out to say hello. We could hear the sounds of the forest, including some owl-like hoos, and something that sounded like bongos.

After lunch, we broke out one of our secret weapons: phones with kid’s music and books on tape recorded by Gramma. We’ve been hauling these things, separate from our regular phones for redundancy and battery purposes, but have been saving them. Since we’re over halfway through with the tour, it’s go time.

The second climb, despite being shorter, was harder. Our legs were less fresh, of course, but it’s also steeper. I called for a water break. Max took a long time to give back the bottle, but I was secretly happy for the breather, since my back was more sore than I wanted.

We finished the climb, of course, and came out to the coast. We’ve spent a few days inland, so it was nice to be back.

With the two biggest climbs of the day behind us, we were feeling pretty good, especially since we were ahead of schedule. The highway was still two lanes with no shoulder, but instead of forest, we were riding up and down grassy hills overlooking the ocean. We could see the road ahead for miles, except when it would hide around a bend.

All the small climbs added up, especially when the road would drop down close to sea level to get across some cove before shooting back up. Traffic remained pretty light, and turnouts of varying quality were abundant.

Through one section it went to a single lane, controlled by a light. It cycled slowly enough that cars were lined up waiting, although the group would always clear. When we got to go we split the group, with maybe six cars behind us. We couldn’t see the end, as we had to climb up and around a cove. I was pretty worried we’d be slow enough the light would cycle, and oncoming traffic would enter without being able to see that we were still on the lane. We’d be able to get through okay, but it would be pretty messy for the cars behind us. I was quite relieved when the waiting cars were visible over the top of the curve. They would hopefully be attentive enough not to enter while they could see it wasn’t clear. Then we got through, as did the cars stuck behind, just before we saw the light turn green in our mirrors.

In Inglenook, just a bit north of Fort Bragg, some dogs started barking at us. Nothing too unusual. Typically, one or both of us look and call out “dogs restrained!” once we see that the dog is behind a fence or chained or otherwise contained. This time, they weren’t. Two big brown collared dogs came running out of a driveway, onto the road towards Anne’s bike. She screamed, and seeing no oncoming traffic, evaded into the other lane while pedaling furiously. I saw them come within a foot of Ruth in her trailer, barking angrily. I also accelerated as much as I could, while shouting encouragement at Anne. I don’t really know what my plan was, other than maybe ramming one if Anne was unable to outrun it. Fortunately, we didn’t have to find out, as the dogs gave up the chase quickly and returned to their driveway, while we sped along. We were probably half a mile down the road before we considered it clear and talked through with Ruth what happened, and yes it was scary but we’re safe. She doesn’t seem traumatized.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to note the address, and call the police. They weren’t just a menace to us, if they’re unrestrained and willing to run into the highway, that’s a hazard for everybody on the road. But I didn’t, and I certainly wasn’t going to go back to check.

We’ve considered carrying bear mace or something on this and other rides. It always has seemed a little silly, and much more likely for one of the kids to spray themselves than the intended use. This may get me to rethink.

For the last few miles, we cut over to a multiuse trail along the beach through MacKerricher State Park. We were a little worried by signs indicating that some parts were closed to horses due to erosion, but we pressed on. In parts, sand was covering the asphalt. Ruth was excited about her trailer “zigzagging” (aka fishtailing), but we were not. It’s amazing how much momentum sand sucks away.

Back to the road, we got a quick tour of Fort Bragg as we approached our hotel. We beat the estimate by a substantial margin. I think we were both tired and ready to get off the road, but not exhausted. All in, a good day’s ride.

Ruth was excited about McDonalds for dinner. Fast and salty sounded good, plus we were too tired to fight. So we walked across a bridge overlooking the harbor on the way, for some bonus scenery.

After dinner we got some quality pool time, a grocery run for ice cream, and bedtime. It was more challenging than usual today, since everyone was tired.

Tomorrow is a rest day, which sounds excellent. We’ll have to find adventure. High on the priority list is laundry. We haven’t found a machine for longer than I’d like to admit. We’ve been adapting.