Friday, June 8, 2012

Memorial Weekend Mendocino Coast Bike Tour--Day 3: Climbing back to Ukiah

After spending a wonderful day in Mendocino yesterday, we weren't quite ready to drag ourselves over those same three hills we climbed over two days ago. However, the holiday weekend will soon end and we want to get back with some time to regroup. The day started with some rain, so we took our time eating a big breakfast--we ate 2 tofu burgers, 3 avocados, and two heaping bowls of granola between the two of us--and waited for the rain to subside.

And it did fairly quickly. We packed up, said goodbye to our host, and were on our way. The first stretch on Little River Airport is pretty flat, the gentle and windy climb starts at about 1.5 miles in, and 1.5 miles later we are on the ridge again on Comptche Ukiah Road. Now we are on a roller that's trending downhill. The road is covered, and the pavement is pretty smooth. This was very fun stretch and our speed was high. We got down to Comptche--a 12-mile stretch in just 30 minutes (here are a couple of videos of cruising on this ridge: #1 and #2).

M. has recovered enough and was feeling hungry. We sat at the Comptche Store and at energy bars. I also took her lock from her bag so her load will be lighter going up the next two bigger climbs. Going up to the top of Comptche Ukiah Road from Comptche is a very nice climb. The grade can be high at some point, but we are under the trees for the most part, the pavement is good, and the gentle curves of the road is inviting. We both got on our low gears on our middle chainring (in my case, the small chainring of 34T since I was using a compact double) and a largish cog and spun our way to the top. We ate again at the top, and put on a layer of windbreakers. The roller was quickly replaced by a fast descent to the flat on Orr Springs Road again. Now we are riding a very gentle, almost not detectable grade back through Montgomery Woods and Orr Hot Springs before we have to climb up the big hill.

The weather is still overcast in the valley, but it wasn't so foggy and wet like earlier near the coast. We were worrying earlier that our water supply might not enough to get us all the way back, as on the way over we were pinching during the last 2-3 miles. However, the coolness of weather kept us from drinking too much and we each had a full bottle before climbing up the last climb of the day.

Orr Springs Road rises up significantly before reaching the Ukiah Valley. The climb from the base to the top is just under 4 miles, and averages a good 8-9%. After eating another bar near the bottom, we dropped our gears to low again and began climbing. M. is now feeling well enough and we stuck together the entire way up. Several cars passed us or were coming down the other way, and many of the drivers/passengers stuck their thumbs up and yelled words of encouragement our way, as they recognized the challenge. Even with the load, we got into a good rhythm and had a enjoyable climb up on this scenic road.

We were happy to get to the top, however, and after relaxing our legs a little on the rollers, we put on our jacket and prepared for the screaming downhill. We both stopped a couple of times to rest our hands from braking so hard and long. And soon we are back in Ukiah and we rode easily back into town. It was Memorial Day and many restaurants were closed. We got a burrito each at the Talmage Store, cleaned up, and drove back to the Bay Area to conclude a nice weekend of riding relaxing, and sea-watching.
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