Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Californ. I. A. Chain intact. So far.

Big golden bears welcome us back to California

Relieved to have made it to California, we allowed ourselves a bit of a sleep in the next morning. As I mentioned, what had begun as a slight “tick” in my chain (which we thought we would replace in Smithers, and then again in Vancouver, but oh wait, never did), had become a full-blown tha-wack. Not thwack, like my auto-correct wants me to say, a two parter: THA. WACK. Not a good noise. Yes, I could shush the chain for a little while with the nasty chain wax treatment, but by the next fuel stop, it needed more. And, yes, I know that we should have stopped and sorted this out somewhere, but with a Tsubaki chain and JT Sprockets that were about to hit 28,000 miles, I’ll admit we were harboring some gross curiosity to see just how long this chain would hold out for. This gross curiosity was paired with a fair amount of stress, on my part, the occasional wondering of what it would be like if my chain gave way mid-ride and on Roel's part, likely, how exactly he would coach me through the Sena headset, if/when that moment came.

Redwood Roots

But, now that we were in California, some of that stress had abated. Should the bike and I survive the chain snapping free from the sprockets, we would be able to trailer it to the winery we would be working at for the next couple of months with no significant dramas.

Look how TINY the Transalp is next to this redwood!

So, we had a sleep in and then we set out on one of the most incredible “park rides” either of us have even been on, through Jedediah Smith State Park. We had heard of the legendary California Redwoods, but nothing we had heard had prepared us for the miles of majestic, movie-like scenery we rode through. It was so incredible that we sent back a French rider we encountered a few miles farther down South who had missed this awesome route.

We touched base with a new friend I refer to as the Coffee Fairy, Mike, who I had met at the ferry landing in Haines, Alaska. He’d given me a tiny packet of the best ground coffee I’ve ever had, and we’d kept in touch. So, by nightfall, we were sitting around his family dining room table, enjoyed homemade lasagne and apple cobbler, fully ensconced in the awesomeness that is his family. Mike, the Coffee Fairy, is a wonderful guy, so full of life and energy and excitement, who happens to share a passion of mine: coffee. Namely, West Coast Coffee, which is awesome. His wife, Kathleen is a dedicated teacher, and his adult kids who entertained us with stories and heart-thumpingly insane car racing videos, are obvious products of a loving home.

It was a pretty cool way to spend what will be our last night on the road for a couple of months… Cementing for me that although I will treasure our ride through Jedediah Smith State Park in my minds eye, what made this day special, and what is unfailingly THE most unforgettable aspect of our journey every day, is the wonderful “strangers” we have spent it with.

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