I don't know how to put today into words. It was one of those days that I'll probably remember for the rest of my life. After about 40 miles of simply rather remarkable riding, we entered the Avenue of the Giants – this is the road carved through the bulk of the California Redwoods. Without a doubt, this is one of the signature days of this (or any other) ride. Mark was a couple of miles behind me as he was having trouble with his gearing and I made the turn onto Avenue of the Giants by myself.
There were no cars around and I was by myself and there was no sound, save for the sound of my bike along the pavement. This was like riding through a cathedral. Thousands of giant redwood trees silently standing as a citadel against – well – I don't know what against. Time? I can't describe the emotions that started running through me. I'm a little embarrassed but, out of nowhere, I started crying...thinking about how lucky I am to be seeing these sights, how lucky I am to be well enough to ride my bike here, how lucky I am that my family is all well enough that I can leave for 3 weeks, how lucky I am to have Mark by my side, how lucky I am to be with this amazing group of riders (in particular Barb Soley, my riding mate, without whom I am not sure I would have made it this far; actually I have no idea how I am going to make it through the third leg of this trip without her!).
I thought about how hard I've worked in my life to pedal to this spot in time. I started thinking about my dad and how much he would have loved that I'm doing this. These Redwood trees are between 1,500 and 5,000 years old and there is something mystical about them. Apparently, the fact that I suddenly started crying is not news on rides like this. According to Barb (one of our ride leaders) many other cyclists have experienced this at various points in their rides. I remember a couple of years ago during Mark's ride across America, one of the riders (I think it was Katie) had that experience. I wonder why that happens? Could it be that it occurs when circumstances (whatever they are) force an individual to look deep inside themselves to see what lies at their foundation? Once you look that deep, you begin to learn things about yourself you didn't even know you should ask about. Either that, or we're just really really f-ing tired!
After a couple of miles of this reflection I joined up with some of the other riders and Jeff took this picture of me.
The Avenue of the Giants continued for about 30 miles passing through the town of Myers Flat where I went through the Drive Through Tree. Here you have the "opportunity" to pay $3 to ride your bike through a tree big enough for a car. It was the first real touristy thing we've done but you've got to do it. How many times will we be here on bikes? I think I am safe to answer that question with a "once".
The Garmin today shows 79.8 miles and 3800 feet of climbing. I've attached the stats:
We finished the day in Garberville California which is known as the weed capital of California...could smell it on the way into town. Rushed into the hotel, showered and went to dinner at a pizza joint just across the parking lot from the hotel. Since we didn't have any lunch, dinner at 4:30 seemed normal. Imagine that. I'm spent, but not as bad as yesterday.
This experience is amazing. Thank you to everyone back home for your words of support and encouragement. It means the world to Mark and I. We love you guys and miss you.