Thursday, May 5, 2011

May Day in Humboldt

On Sunday May 1st at 7AM Marketa and I stood in a crowd of runners waiting for the start of the Avenue of The Giants marathon, trying to stay warm at 45F.

This reminded us of one of our Eastern European traditions (which we don't miss): the May Day Parade. It used to be cold as well and we wore sweaters and jackets stuffed underneath our pioneer (as kids) or Socialist Youth Union (as students) uniforms, waiting for the tens of thousands strong crowd of industrial workers, agricultural workers, the working intelligentsia and students to finally get moving....

The marathoners went off promptly at 8AM and I grabbed my 29er for a ride inspired by the Northcoast Bike Rides blog description (great resource, by the way!).

After riding through the green darkness of the Founders Grove, the Dyerville Loop road followed the Eel river for a while and then turned into a packed dirt as well as uphill. The climb on dirt through dense forest was tough but well suited to the 29er hardtail with 50psi in Kenda SB8's. The good quality dirt surface changed to asphalt (bad quality) and shortly after the last sign of civilization

turned into a gravel surface. The uphill part of the ride continued for about 20 miles, with a few short flat or downhill sections just to stretch legs. Up on the ridgeline (still uphill), the views of snow capped peaks opened, valleys and mountains on both sides of the ridge and no soul in sight (about 40 miles of this 65 mile ride had no civilization).

Below what I think was Pratt Mountain the gravel road turned onto paved, steep twisty downhill of Alderpoint Rd. for about 5mi to Garberville and Redway. The temperature jumped up about 30 degrees F during the descent. After Redway, I had to merge onto the Freeway 101 for about 4mi before exiting onto the Avenue of the Giants. The final 20 miles were flat, shaded by the giant trees and I tried to push the big ring really hard to meet Marketa at the finish. Of course, due to my time of 5:13 I was about an hour and half late. The May Day concluded with a burrito along the 5 hour drive back home to San Carlos. Overall, much better than a Commie May Day Parade.

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