A few months ago, changes were finally made. See if you can spot the difference.
Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote this post about being bike friendly. It turned out to be one of the most popular posts I've written because it resonates with all the everyday bike riders just trying to get around. Yes, you have a bike rack. No, I can't use it. After the post was published, our local Trader Joes received over 70 phone calls from other customers asking for better bike parking to address the lack of safety and encourage more bike riding. This shop is in a pretty bikeable and walkable location and having a crappy, ineffective rack in a dangerous location does nothing to support their bike riding patrons. We were given the same responses: "We're working on it, there are plans for changes, the property manager doesn't support it, we hear you, etc."
A few months ago, changes were finally made. See if you can spot the difference.
Yep, a canopy to cover their carts that somehow couldn't be designed to cover the bike racks as well. I'm sure they could have built 1000s of curb cuts for the amount of money they spent on this. Do dry carts keep their customers safe? Nope. The carts get left in the parking lot corrals in the rain anyway. That's what the paper towel dispensers are there for. It is so frustrating because it is such a simple matter that keeps getting overlooked. There is so much potential but nothing changes. I spend as much money at that store as any SUV driver and that lot is dangerous and inconvenient for everyone. I just don't get it.
2016 was an interesting year. We passed our 4th year of car-freedom without any fanfare. The added workload and scheduling constraints of being a full-time student on top of work and home life made things more complicated but having our new electric Juiced Rider ODK really helped us maintain our minimal car use and keep focused on biking for transportation. My super cool bikey best friend Neil introduced me to mountain biking and bikepacking, which I've fallen in love with (a post on our recent trip to Point Reyes to follow). Work as a League Cycling Instructor has kept me busier than ever with a career that I love. Thankfully, winter is a time when things calm down a bit and I have a lull between work and my next semester of school. I've been home with my monsters but we've been slowed down by illness and rainy weather.
Luckily, I was somehow able to squeak out some solo vacation time (thank you, grandma and grandpa!) and took an amazing trip up to Humboldt to catch up with a couple of friends and reinact my favorite bike tour. Humboldt county is where I fell in love with biking and started using bikes as my main form of transportation. I used to ride from my dorm at HSU up to Elk Prairie for a quick overnight recharge trip. The last time I'd been up there was six years ago for a short trip with friends to share my love of bike travel in one of my favorite places with two of my favorite people.
This time, I drove up to Arcata, stopping to camp along the Avenue Of The Giants and found some great trail and road riding there.
I spent a couple days with friends and stopping in at my favorite hangouts (Redwood Yogurt!). On Wednesday evening, I decided to pack up and roll out to Clam Beach. It was only about a 10-mile ride but it was already dark by the time I left and the forecast was heavy rain all night and the next day. I knew that if I didn't leave then, I'd miss my opportunity for the trip. Riding around the Arcata Bottoms was just like old times. More than ten years ago, we used to ride that way to the beach, day or night, rain or shine. I rolled through, finding the turns engrained in my memory.
I made it to camp before the rain and set up my tent, bringing all my gear inside to repack and organize. Thankfully, my friends loaned me their 0 degree sleeping bag because mine hadn't been warm enough the past couple of trips. Snuggled into my tent and listening to the rain falling was incredible. I was able to pack up and head out in the morning during a break in the storm.
However, less than a mile down the road and the rains started up again. I realized very quickly that the jacket I had packed was useless. It wasn't even water resistent. Rain drops immediatly started running down my arms, soaking the down jacket I had underneath. My gear was all stashed nicely in dry bags and lined with garbage bags so I knew I'd have dry clothes and gear when I got to camp. My wool leggings and gloves were keeping me mostly warm but I was drenched by the time I got to my second breakfast stop in Trinidad.
There was one more break in the storm while I ate and got a couple of photos at the lighthouse but as soon as I was riding again, it poured the rest of the 30 miles to Elk Prairie. There is a section on this route along Highway 101 from Big Lagoon to Stone Lagoon where you lose your shoulder on the road, get into blind curves and start climbing up hills. This area also happened to be flooded and during the worst weather of the day. At this point, even my boots had filled up with water. It was a stressful 15 miles but once I was passed it, I knew I was almost at camp.
I rolled into the visitors center to use their wifi and wring out my clothes. My plan was to stay at the hike and bike spot for $5 but I had waited too long and was starting to get cold and miserable. When I paid for my site, I learned that there was one unreserved cabin (those were new since I last visited). It was $80 but included a space heater and little else. I was sold! The cabins are beautiful but very poorly designed. There were no benches to sit on, mattresses, or hooks to hang anything up. I draped all my wet gear and clothes around to room and cranked up the heater. It wasn't perfect but it was exactly what I needed after that long, wet ride.
The next morning was gorgeous, as usual. I was reminded as to why I love this place. There was frost on everything which made me extra happy to have splurged on the cabin.
The ride out was beautiful. Everything was bright and green. I chatted with a few Elk along the way and stopped for a big breakfast in Orick at the Palm Cafe, a tradition of mine going back more than 10 years.
It was Christmas Eve and my stop for the night was at Patrick's Point, only 20 miles away. The tough section wasn't nearly as difficult on the way back as it's more downhill and had clear skies. I arrived at camp early enough to have plenty of time to go for a hike, set up camp, cook dinner, and watch the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The $5 hike and bike site helped balance out my expenses from the day before.
Christmas morning, I woke up and made a hearty (but maybe not so healthy) bowl of oatmeal and candy.
I was getting really good at packing up the bike quickly. I had another 20 miles to go to get back to my friend's house in Arcata. Traffic was minimal and the weather was gorgeous again but chilly. I stopped along the road to listen to sea lions on the rocks below. The scenery got more and more beautiful with every turn so I couldn't resist taking plenty of photos.
I was pretty pleased with my packing. I had had plenty of food but not too much, enough clothes, even with the soaking rain, although I am in desperate need of new rain gear. My old tent and new, cushy sleeping pad worked well but even in the borrowed 0 degree bag, I was still a little chilly. I wished many times that I had brought an extra pair of shoes as my boots didn't dry for the rest of the trip. Thankfully, I had lots of wool socks to change out of after they'd absorb the water from my boots. I was really glad I had decided to bring my stove because the warm meals were extra delicious on these chilly days. The Troll was the perfect bike to have as I was able to ride the rougher sections of the road without worry and my Carsick Designs bikepacking bags carried most of my gear easily. On my fork, the Salsa Anything Cages held my sleeping back and tent, which was a new system for me but was really stable and easy.
Once I got back into town, I was able to take a long, hot shower and change into clean, dry clothes. I visited a bit more with my friend before making the drive home that evening. It wasn't a very long trip but it was so rejeuvinating! My heart felt lighter and richer than it had in awhile. I need to make it a priority to visit more often.
This is us. We're fun.